Wednesday, November 30, 2022

What We Read in November

Well after several months full of stellar books, I was due for a month that was a bit "meh." And that was this month. I've read some good books, but lots of 3 star reads which is the rating I give books that were meh to just ok. 

Best books:

Let's start with the good news! These 3 were the best books of the month. Think Again is a non-fiction book by Adam Grant. It's a book about questioning previously held beliefs and leaving yourself open to changing your mind. I was drawn to read this book after hearing the author interviewed on Steven Levitt's podcast, People I (Mostly) Admire. Grant sounds like an amazing professor! Wrong Place Wrong Time is a thriller/suspense book with a sci-fi'ish element. At the start of the book, a woman witnesses her son stabbing someone to death. The next day, she wakes up and it's the day before - and then she keeps moving back in time. In her author's note, she says it's the story of a crime told backwards - you see all the things that led up to the crime occurring. Lastly, The Measure was another really great book. The world wakes up one day and everyone aged 22 and older has a box delivered to their door with a string inside. The length of the string tells them how long they will live. This would make an excellent book club book! 

Meh books:

Now for the not so great read. The Maid was promising and I enjoyed much of the book, but there were some things that happened in the final 1/3 that felt unrealistic, and I didn't love the epilogue. I'll Show Myself Out is a collection of essays about motherhood. Some of the essays were really funny but omg this book is dripping with privilege. She acknowledges her privilege, but still. For example: they came home from the hospital to a full time nanny and a night nurse. So I struggled to relate to the challenges she experienced given all the help they had... So I felt less sympathy towards and comradery with the author. Acts of Violet is an example of a book with magical realism that didn't work for me. The main character is a magician that goes missing, and it just didn't work for me. The Crane Wife is another collection of essays that was critically acclaimed but was a very uneven read for me. I liked some essays but some were just ok and I was glad to be done with the book.

Abandoned Books:

I abandoned 3 books this month - I've abandoned 7 YTD, so 3 in a one month is a lot and speaks to the "meh" mood of my reading! First, I gave up on the short story collection, "You Have a Friend in 10A" by Maggie Shipstead. I want to like short story collections but unless they are linked stories, the genre doesn't seem to work for me. I abandoned this after reading 2 stories. Next I abandoned "Our Wives Under the Sea" at around the 20% mark. It's only around 220 pages, I think, but it was feeling like a slog so I gave up. Lastly, I abandoned the memoir, "Once a Poet" by Ada Calhoun. I've seen this book on several "best of 2022 lists" so take my abandonment with a grain of salt. I abandoned around 10%. It's a memoir about her father who was a student of the poet Frank O'Hara. But I have no clue who Frank O'Hara is and couldn't be bothered to care, and I think her father was kind of a jerk, which luckily is a parental dynamic I have not experienced so I didn't feel like I needed to read about it.

Paul's Reads:

Here are some recent library books that were read multiple times!

First up, the latest Mo Willems book! These books are so delightful. I will continue to read anything Willems writes, even when my kids outgrow picture books. The pigeon is just hilarious. 

This was a random book I pulled off the shelf at the library. It's about a cow that just can't figure out how to dress for the seasons. The story is told in a rhyming cadence and Paul thought it was so funny!

Lastly, we have read nearly all of the "Bruce" books by Ryan T. Higgins. This was probably the best of the batch, but you can't go wrong with any of them. Bruce is a grumpy bear. One morning he goes fishing and his brother, Kevin, shows up. Kevin is soooo much fun - too much fun actually. The funniest part of this book is when one of the mice that lives with Bruce says Kevin is Bruce's doppelganger. Another mouse says, "he's Bruce's dingle pooper?" Potty humor lands very well with Paul. He laughed so much on that page! 

Did you read anything you loved this month?

Monday, November 28, 2022

Our Long Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Monday. We are all very happy to be back at work and school today. We had a very busy Thanksgiving weekend but it was full of really fun things. But we were all very weary by Sunday night! Here's a photo-heavy recap of our weekend! 

Phil and I both had to work on Wednesday. Luckily it was a quiet day for me so I did the bulk of the childcare. Paul is easy because we let him have his iPad on days like that. He only has access to PBS kids games/videos and ABC Mouse so we feel fine about the excess screen time he occasionally gets. Will is the challenging one to manage, of course. He's in a tough stage of having VERY big feelings and an inability to tell us what he wants. Which = lots of screaming/tantrums. Being a toddler is HARD. Being a toddler parent is HARD. 

He insists on sitting on our laps for most breakfasts. This morning, he wanted a car. Which car? I don't know, which is why he has about 10 different toys next to him. 

"Helping" mommy work. 

The weather was really beautiful over the holiday weekend so many walks were taken with Will. 

Thursday started off with a 10k around the lake in our neighborhood. I ran it with my neighbor and we took it VERY easy. I've basically been sick for most of the last 6 weeks and she's had a busy schedule so we took walk breaks when we needed to. Neither of us cared about our time - we just wanted to start the day with some fitness! 

I got home got, showered, and got our food contributions together (a brussel sprout salad, veggie tray and dip) and we headed to my brother's in the west metro. We had a great day together. The boys enjoyed playing with their cousins and my mom got to hold Will quite a bit. He hasn't always let her hold him so she was thrilled to get so much time with him - especially since the boys will spend a week there in December! 

We ate at 1pm, which is when Will typically is sleeping. We thought we could put him down after dinner. Nope - he refused. But then fell asleep on my mom around 4 and woke up in THE WORST MOOD. He screamed for the whole 30 minute ride home and then for 45+ minutes when we got home - basically until he calmed down enough to go to bed. I share to keep it real around here. The holiday was wonderful, but holidays with young kids can be HARD. I remind myself it's only going to get easier as the kids get older!

Snuggles with nana, the baby whisperer

On Friday, I took Will for a long walk in the morning. You can see how excited he was for the walk at the start. But he perked up when we saw tons of ducks on the lake. 

That afternoon, my Chicago niece and nephew came over. I had planned to take them to a really cool local children's book store. I checked their website that morning to see what their mask policy was - and found out the store was closed on Friday! Doh! So we pivoted and went to Barnes and Noble instead. We got some treats at Starbucks and I bought a book for each kid. Will stayed home since he was napping at this time. After that, we headed back home and had pizza for dinner. 

On Saturday, we went to my MIL's after naptime. We took a picture for her Christmas card and ordered them for her. The boys had a great time playing with all her toys! 

And that brings us to Sunday. I hosted my college friends and their kids for our annual cookie decorating party. It was our first one since 2019! 

Paul helped me make the GF cookies in the morning and everyone came over around 4. My boys enjoyed participating and got lots of attention from the big kids. 

Will really enjoyed the sprinkles. I gave him a spoon so he could put some sprinkles on his cookie, but he took a big spoonful - and ate them! 

I served chicken wild rice soup to the adults and the kids had frozen pizza. 

And that was a wrap! We have a busy week ahead of us as I have book club Wednesday night, I have a wine work event on Thursday, Paul and I go to a light show at the local arboretum on Friday, and then it's Will's birthday on Saturday... So we just need to get used to being busier than usual for the next couple of weeks!

How was your weekend?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Day Off + Weekend Highlight

This is an extra short week for me. I ended up taking yesterday off because I had 2 doctor appointments - a mammogram in the morning and a pre-op physical in the afternoon as it turns out I have some uterine polyps that need to be removed so I am having that procedure on December 20th! Merry Christmas to me! I met my out of pocket maximum earlier this year - not to be confused with a deductible! I meet my deductible in Jan or Feb every year because of my crazy expensive RA meds. So I wanted to get the procedure done now so I wouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket. I had planned to bring lunch to a friend who had a baby, but they are fighting a virus so I stayed away as we have enough stuff going around our house! 

It was nice to have a day off, though. After I dropped the kids at daycare, I headed out for a 4 mile run which was my first run in about a week. I ended up getting some sort of stomach virus on Thursday that left me feeling not-so-great and not well enough to run over the weekend. I never threw up but was really nauseated Thursday/Friday and had no appetite for much of the weekend. I am still not quite back to my normal appetite! But I was glad I felt well enough to run on Monday as I have a 10k on Thanksgiving!

There were hundreds of ducks on the water! This is just one small section of ducks.

After my first appointment of the day, I worked on my puzzle in front of the tree with the fire place on. It was so cozy and delightful! A keen observer might notice that we have 2 P stockings (for Paul and Phil), 1 L (for me), and 1 T. Why the T? Well, William actually primarily goes by "Taco." That's what Paul named him when I was pregnant and the nickname stuck. I sometimes call him Will or William, but everyone else calls him Taco except a few people at daycare and he calls himself Taco. That said, I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to find a matching W stocking for the last 2 years. I thought surely at the start of this Christmas season I'd find one. But nope! They are nowhere to be found - not online, not in any local stores. So I decided to just get the T stocking. It's hard to imagine him going by something other than Taco at this point and if we do shift to calling him Will someday, the stocking will mark the time of our life when we called him Taco and can be an inside family joke. 

I finished the puzzle around lunchtime. And oddly - instead of having a missing piece, there was an extra piece! Isn't that weird? 

I spent the afternoon reading, took a nap, went to my pre-op physical, started dinner (white chicken chili) and picked the boys up from daycare. I need to take more random days off! 

Now, flashing back to the weekend. There were some highlights but overall it was a little bit meh? I had no appetite/felt off and it was so so so cold. Like feels like temps of 1F which is very cold for November. We were cooped up inside a lot. We really need to figure out a plan for what to do with our kids on cold winter weekends. Being inside as much as we were this past weekend is NOT good! 

But the highlights! Friday night, Paul and I decorated the tree after Will went to bed. He handled all the kid-friendly ornaments and then put hooks on the ornaments I hung. He is at such a wonderful age for things like this! Admittedly the toddler stage is NOT my favorite, but I LOVE age 4!

We also hung their little felt Christmas tree up. Paul had fun showing Will how to take the ornaments off and put them back on. 

The other highlight was seeing The Grinch at the Children's Theater on Sunday afternoon. It was amazing and exceeded my expectations. I would go again in a heart beat. It was the perfect length - 2 hours including the intermission. Paul thought it was wonderful! 

And now Thanksgiving week is upon us. The kids' school is closed Wed-Fri. Phil and I both work tomorrow, so we'll tag team to take care of the kids. I expect the day will be very quiet. Then Thanksgiving is at my brother's, we host my niece and nephew on Friday afternoon, we go to my MIL's on Saturday since we won't see her on Thanksgiving, and then I host cookie decorating on Sunday. It's kind of a lot, but it's fun stuff so I am focusing on that to keep any potential stress at bay!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Looking Forward: Holiday Edition

It's mid-November so that means the holidays are upon us. The holiday season seems to start way earlier than it used to but I love the winter holidays so it's not the worst thing that it starts earlier! I think it can be easy to get bogged down with to do lists and holiday stress during this time of year, which is kind of a shame because it's such a fun and exciting time of year - at least for me. I used to regularly write "looking forward" posts and was reminded of how they generate joy/excitement when I read Jenny's recent post about 5 things she is looking forward to. So here's what I'm looking forward to this holiday season!

This holiday season, I'm looking forward to...

- Putting our tree up this weekend. I used to be team put the tree up after Thanksgiving but we put it up in mid-November in 2020 because we were desperate for some cheer. I loved it so much that I've been converted to team decorate the tree mid-November. People can change!

- Going to How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Children's Theater with Paul on Sunday. We are going with my friend and her 2 kids (the family that hosted him for a play date last weekend). I think he's as excited to be attending something with his buddies as he is to be seeing The Grinch! 

- Celebrating Thanksgiving with my family at my brother's. This means we do not have to travel for the holiday as my brother lives in the metro area. I'll start off the day by doing a 10k with my neighbor. The race is at the lake we run around multiple times/week. While it's a "race" it will be more of a fun run for us with no pace/finish time expectations.

- Having my Chicago niece and nephew over the day after Thanksgiving. I haven't seen them since last Thanksgiving so am excited to get some extra time with them. They are 11 and 15 I think (I have the hardest time keeping track of ages but I do have 8 nieces and nephews to keep track of...). I think I will take them to this local children's book store that has animals - like pet cats, chinchillas, birds, etc and then to an ice cream place down the block and then we'll get pizzas? It might be boring for my older nephew but my boys and my niece will love it, I think. Surely the ice cream and pizza will at least be of interest to the teen!

- Having my college girlfriends and their kids over for a cookie decorating party on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. I haven't hosted them for a cookie party since 2019! I took a break from hosting this during the pandemic but am excited to bring it back!

- Getting out the Advent calendar on Dec 1. The boys get a few m&ms every day and then they get to pick a present every 2-3 days which is a Christmas-themed book. 

- Going to the outdoor light show at the local Arboretum the first Friday in December. I did this with Paul last year and he still talks about it. 

- Celebrating Will's 2nd birthday! Since his birthday falls on a Saturday, we'll have his party on his actual birthday. We are team "low key birthdays" so we'll just have a birthday dinner with some family. No theme or decorations! Paul will help me bake the cake since he loves baking with me and is a really good little helper.

- Going to Mexico for 4 nights/5 days with Phil in mid-December! We are so excited to get some time away together for the first time since having kids. It will be an adjustment to be away from the boys but I know they will be in good hands with my parents and some alone time will be so good for us. Since we are old, tired parents, we are excited to sleep in, eat meals without someone (I'm not naming names but his name rhymes with dill) having a breakdown, lay on the beach, etc. We'll do an early Christmas with my parents when we go to get the boys (the boys will spend the week at my parents' lake home). 

- Celebrating Christmas at home. We'll go to Phil's cousin's house for Christmas Eve and then will have a quiet Christmas with my MIL at our house on Christmas Day. 

That is a lot of activity/celebration but it's all stuff I love and am looking forward to. And after several years of going nowhere/doing nothing, I am welcoming a full calendar with open arms! Plus any holiday stress that accumulates in the weeks to come will probably dissipate when I'm laying on the beach with a margarita in one hand and my kindle in the other!!

What are you looking forward to in the next 6 weeks? Do you love the holiday season as much as I do?

Monday, November 14, 2022

Weekend Recap

Well we woke up to snow so I guess winter is coming. Le sigh. At least it's pretty outside? Here's how we filled our weekend!

On Friday night, I picked up take-and-bake pizzas on the way home from daycare pick-up - but when I got there they told me they were out of GF crust. So no pizza for mom. Womp womp. But after eating out so much last week I was happy to eat some eggs and toasts while the boys ate pizza. 

Phil got his bivalent covid booster on Friday so I planned to get up with the boys on Saturday as we figured he wouldn't be feeling well. Since he has an amazing immune system, the boosters always hit him hard. I have yet to get a single side effect. Luckily the boys slept until 6:15. Will woke up in a HORRIBLE mood, though, which seems to happen pretty often these days. He screams for no detectable reason. Being a toddler is HARD. So I'm not sure how much extra sleep Phil got what with all the screaming and carrying on that was happening in the kitchen.

We facetimed with my parents after breakfast and then headed out to the library with a pitstop at Starbucks so I could get a coffee. I finally asked why they don't have holiday cups and found out that it's because the holiday cups are not recyclable (I guess because of the red dye?) so they are banned in Minneapolis. So at least I'm missing out on them for a good reason, but c'mon Starbucks! Design something festive that is recyclable! When we got to the library, I set my coffee down to help Paul put the books in the book return slot and Will tipped my cup over. Uggggghhhh. There goes $6 and mom's caffeine boost. I salvaged about 1/4 of the coffee but was very grumbly about it. The boys had fun at the library. They had another search and find set up in the kids area - this time it was pictures of pies. Paul is obsessed with these search and finds! After checking out about 20 books from the library, we headed to gymnastics and then home for lunch. 

After lunch Paul got invited over to a friend's house for an impromptu playdate. The parents are our best friends and when the mom sent the text, she said we could just do a drop off if I wanted to rest/get a break. I've been feeling exhausted so I took her up on that.  Phil dropped Paul off and stopped to get the GF pizza that was now back in stock. Will napped well that afternoon so I got an hour nap in! Then I picked Paul up, dropped him at home, and went to CVS for my bivalent shot. The boys had leftovers for dinner and I had my GF pizza. 

On Sunday morning I got up with the boys since Phil was still feeling rough from the booster. But they slept until 6:15 again so it was another good night of sleep! When Phil was up I ran 4 miles with my neighbor with so many stops to blow my nose. I'm feeling better but I guess the drainage is not going away. After the run I showered and headed out for a morning at the zoo. I wrote earlier this summer about learning to not DO EVERYTHING when we visit the zoo. That change in mindset has been so helpful. It was in the 20s on Sunday morning so we planned to just do the indoor tropical exhibits. 

We were there for about 90 minutes and the boys had an absolute blast! I let Will out of the stroller when we got to the tropical fish area and he did not want to get back into the stroller but he was happy to hold Paul's hand! While we were at the zoo, Phil made a Spanish Tortilla for lunch and the boys had leftovers. 

The rest of the day kind of dragged. We watched the end of the exciting Vikings game after quiet time. The Vikings pulled off an overtime win against Buffalo. They really love to stress their fans out - they've had so many close wins this year! 

I made instant pot Chicken Tikka Masala with cauliflower and peas for the adults and the boys had grilled cheese for dinner. We joked that the last hour before Will went to bed felt like it lasted about 3 hours. And then he had a really rough bedtime. I really do not remember Paul being this, um, emotional/volatile. I think we had it a little easy and are getting a true toddler experience with Will. He is a delightful, sweet little guy much of the time but oof he gets mad over things and really has the stamina to scream for quite awhile. 

Phil and I ended the night by watching part of an episode of the Jeffry Dahmer documentary on Netflix. Gosh it is hard to watch. That guy got way too many second/third chances. I would hope this wouldn't happen again but who knows. I think the show does a good side of telling the stories of his victims, though. We want to stick with it but I'll be glad when it's over and we can watch The Crown instead!

I think I made up for my time away last week with all the time I spent with the boys this weekend. Typically Phil would come with us to the zoo but I figured he had earned a break with all the solo parentings from last week. 

And that was a wrap! How was your weekend? Do you have a screaming toddler in your life or can you relate from when your kids were younger?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Five Things Friday

I got back from my NYC trip yesterday. It was a great trip but it is ALWAYS good to be home! Here's 5 things on my mind!

1. Several people commented on my ability to navigate NYC confidently. Even though I grew up in the tiniest of towns (500 people, graduating class of 28), I somehow feel very confident/comfortable in large cities. I find NYC very easy to navigate, though, since it's on a grid system. Plus google maps makes it so easy to use the subway - it tells you what lines to take/where to transfer. I messed up on the way back to Midtown on Tuesday night but I was thinking I'd be getting off at the 42nd St/Times Square station but the station was labeled 41st St. I should have known that was the same as 42nd St but oh well. I got off at 50th instead so it wasn't a big deal and resulted in a 20 minute walk back to my hotel. 

2. I think I'm also confident navigating cities because I traveled by myself quite a bit in my 20s/30s. I took 3 trips to Paris by myself in my last 20s/early 30s and feel like that experience has helped me feel confident getting around in large cities. I had also asked my NYC co-workers if the city felt safe to them and where I should go for dinner/where would be safe for me to walk around. Several said I'd be totally fine at the time I'd be out and about. I am very careful when I am walking in a city. But I felt really safe in NYC overall and didn't see anything that raised any red flags for me.

3. My busy Tuesday really did a number on me, though. I woke up on Wednesday morning with a really really hoarse voice. I guess 4+ hours of talking on Tuesday was just too much for me. I was glad I didn't have any client meetings on Wednesday. I had intended to walk around the office and meet everyone but I didn't want to have to explain to each person that I sounded worse than I felt. It sounds like I'll be back in NYC in March to do client meetings again so hopefully I'm fully healthy on that trip and can meet more coworkers in person. 

4. I had a great dinner out with 2 portfolios managers on Wednesday night. I feel incredibly lucky to work with such nice people. One of the PMs gave this really nice toast about me at the start of dinner. It was really touching and if I was a crier I might have teared up a bit! For several years, I was in the fog of new parenthood and while I was working hard, I was kind of staying a bit under the radar at work. But this year I've really made an effort to get on more calls, get more entrenched with our sales group, etc, and it's nice to see my work being recognized. 

5. All that said, I am SO happy to be home. I missed Phil and my kids. 3 nights away is definitely the max amount of time I can be away right now. Phil had some tough nights and mornings with the kids so he was very happy to have me back home! When I was waiting to board my flights at LaGuardia, I saw a couple of toddlers and it really made me miss my kids! Paul was all about cuddling with me last night and told me multiple times that he missed me. It feels good to be missed but I am glad that was my last work trip until January!

What is on your mind today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

A Day in the Life - Work Travel Edition

Hey hey! I have read so many ‘day in the life’ posts and always meant to do one - and decided this work trip presented a good opportunity to show what a day of travel is like. So here we go! This was a day in the life on Tuesday, November 8th when I was in NYC.

2am - I have to share that when I woke up to use the bathroom around 2, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my work badge that would give me access to the building/floors of the building in NYC. I was a little panicky because it’s a huge hassle when you forget your badge where I work in Minneapolis. So I stressed for about an hour even though I rationally knew worrying about it wouldn’t change a thing and that I would figure it out. 

6am - My Fitbit alarm wakes me up. I put workout clothes on and do this in room workout which I also did in Charlotte. The hotel has a gym but it’s nice to be able to stay in my room and this workout is tough for me. Those wall sits are killer  

After that I shower and get ready. I have a big day of client meetings today so I wear my go to dress although I forgot to pack the statement necklace I usually wear with this but oh well!

I used to wear suits for business travel but now I am team wear dresses only. I hate suits and do not feel comfortable/confident in them like I do in a dress!

7:30am - My first stop is Starbucks, of course! I have learned to load up at breakfast while traveling as I don’t know when I might get a break to eat lunch. So I get a triple shot venti skinny vanilla latte, classic oatmeal and yogurt. 

Jenny, I thought of you when I saw this store had holiday cups! For some reason the store in my neighborhood didn't have them over the weekend - nor did they have them last Christmas season!

7:45am - I get to the office and luckily am able to exchange my driver’s license for a temporary badge. Phew. It was so easy, I kick myself for losing sleep over it. When I get to the elevators, I see the head of HR for my massive company. I introduce myself and then he ends up going up to my floor and helping me find the trading floor. This guy is in the c suite so there is no reason he should be helping a peon like me, but he is so so nice! 

I spend the next hour or so catching up on emails and read a few blogs. The office is very quiet when I get there. I forget that New Yorkers come into work a bit later. I didn’t know when I should be in - not that anyone cares or is watching me, but I don’t want to come off as the lazy slacker! 

9:30am - I track down the sales rep that I am doing meetings with. We have talked so many times over zoom, teams, etc but it’s my first time meeting him in person. Finding him is a challenge. Our NYC office is a total and complete maze. It’s hard to find the elevators, the bathroom, you name it! I chat with some of the sales people until we head out for our first meeting at 11. 

10:30am-2:45pm - we head out for 3 meetings in the Midtown area and grab salads for lunch in between our last 2 meetings. The meetings all go well. It’s been a really awful year for financial markets but the guys we meet with get it and understand the opportunities we are seeing in the market. 

2:45pm - We get back to the office and I have time to use the restroom and fill my water bottle before going to an internal meeting at 3.  

3pm - I listen in on a meeting about opportunities in fixed income markets/how we are positioning our portfolios. After the 30 min meeting, I catch up on emails and send a question that came up during one of my client meetings to the portfolio management team.

4pm - it’s time for my final call of the day which lasts about 30 minutes over zoom.

4:30-5:30pm - I respond to emails and tasks that piled up when I was in meetings all day and I talk to a senior guy who is also in from Minneapolis about what I am going to do for dinner. Since it’s election night, I didn’t make any evening plans. A younger woman on the trading desk gave me 4 suggestions for the west village so I look at all the menus to see which has the best gluten free options. I decide on a French place - St. Tropez. 

5:30pm - I drop my backpack at the hotel, freshen up, and figure out how to get to the west village. I need to take 2 subway lines but it’s pretty easy. 

6pm - I arrive at the restaurant which is basically empty. I know people dine out later in NYC but this is to my advantage as I can snag a spot at the bar. While I eat dinner, the restaurant and bar fill up! It’s been a long day, so I treat myself to a glass of white wine, a scallop entree and chocolate mousse for dessert. I am impressed by how generous the wine pour is! I write most of this blog post on my phone during dinner. The meal is delicious and I'm charmed by the bartender's French accent. Newer readers to my blog might not know about my total and complete obsession with France. I've been there 3 times and absolutely adore Paris. I haven't been there since November 2013 and don't see us going over there for a long time so for now I get my French fix through reading and eating at French restaurants!

The ridiculously generous wine pour!

7pm - I walk through the West Village a bit and end up finding the apartment where Carrie Bradshaw of SATC lived. Then I get into the subway and head back to Midtown. The boys FT me when I am on the subway. Paul is thrilled to see that I am on a train! The connection is not great so the call drops but they clearly enjoyed seeing where mom was. I mess up on the way back home and don't get off the subway in time. I meant to take it to 42nd/Times Square stop but end up getting off at 50th street and decide to walk home instead of getting back on the subway. It's a nice night so a 20 minute walk feels good. But that does mean I walk through Times Square which is an area I've managed to avoid in all my visits to NYC. I know it's a tourist destination but ay yi yi, it is not my scene. All the bright lights, noises, and crowds are overwhelming.

7:45pm - I make a pit stop at a drug store to buy some advil. I've had headaches all day and didn't replenish my advil stash before this trip so I need more to get me through the trip. I think I must be dehydrated from travel/a full day of meetings. When I get back to my hotel room I FT the boys. They are more interested in talking to me than they were the night before. I hear about their days and how Will has had several meltdowns over who knows what. Oh toddlerhood. 

8pm - After we talk, I turned on the news and watch the election coverage. It's too early to know much and hearing all the talk over what might happen stresses me out so I turn off the tv and read my book - "Wrong Time Wrong Place" which is sooo good! 

9:30pm - I turn off my kindle and go to sleep!

Phew, it was a long day. I don't have many travel days like this that are so booked up with meetings, but I think this is what life will be like going forward when I travel! And I think I'm extra challenged by this day since I had that pesky cold. 

Monday, November 7, 2022

Weekend Recap

This was probably our first weekend of typical Minnesota fall weather - which means it was kind of cold, or colder than we are used to! And guess who got ANOTHER cold! Me! A lot of people are talking about how sick they/their families have been lately. But this is just the baseline for me. Luckily this cold is pretty mild/run-of-the-mill so I am feeling better and can go to NYC as planned this afternoon. But it does have me wonder about my commitment to travel once/month. It seems like there is a 50/50 chance I will be sick from Sept-Feb! Paul doesn't get sick very often anymore so maybe/hopefully things will be better in a year when Will is sick less? But for now, I get everything either boy brings home from school. 

Friday was a half day since daycare closed at 12:30. Will took a decent nap and then after much cajoling, I convinced Paul that we should walk/scoot to a local church that has a little park. He really wanted to stay home but I needed to get out of the house and tire Will out a bit. That night I made Wild Rice soup in the instant pot.

I got up with the boys both weekend mornings since I'm gone Tues-Thur mornings this week and wanted to give Phil some extra rest ahead of my work trip. Saturday morning was our usual library + gymnastics routine but OMG the library was SO busy. We get there when it opens at 9 and typically there are maybe 5 kids total. I didn't count but there had to be 10-15+ kids on Saturday. It was a chilly morning so I guess everyone was looking for something to do! 

That afternoon we all got into the car and went to Once Upon a Child so I could get another winter coat for Will and some pants for Paul. It works best to have 2 winters coats and 2 snow pants so we can leave one at school. Phil came with so he could help corral the kids. It was not a pleasant experience as there was much begging for toys by Paul... but we walked out with a nice winter coat and 3 pairs of pants for about $40. A thin winter coat at Target is $40 so it's worth it to go to a second hand store! I always buy the boys' winter coats/snowpants there! 

The rest of the day was spent in our house. I made chicken enchiladas with rotisserie chicken and Spanish rice and everyone enjoyed the meal which is kind of a miracle! 

Reading in a laundry basket!

On Sunday, both boys slept until 6am which felt like 7am with the time change. So pushing Will's bedtime back last week appears to have worked, thank goodness! I facetimed with a old blogging friend turned IRL friend that morning. I need to schedule catch-ups like that more often! 

Phil and Paul headed to his mom's after quiet time so I was on my own with Will for the rest of the day. It was crazy windy outside so an outdoor walk was not appealing. So we headed out to a western suburb (Wayzata) so I could pick up my re-sized engagement ring. When we got engaged, I had it resized to a 4 (from 4.5) but it was still a little big. But I put up with it as I thought my hands might swell during pregnancy. But they never did! When I came back to the office this past March, I could not handle it flopping around when I was typing so I took it in to get resized again. Turns out my ring finger is a size 3.75. Isn't that crazy? So basically I have the hands of a child. 

Reunited with my resized ring. My poor hands are already dry from all the hand washing.

After the jewelry store stop, I did something I've never done as a parent before. I went to the mall because walking in a mall was more appealing than entertaining a toddler at home. Those who know me well know I ABSOLUTELY LOATHE SHOPPING. Will was pretty confused about what a mall is. Since he's a pandemic baby he's barely been anywhere. He was pretty entertained by the Christmas decorations and was happy to walk around and check out the various stores. I made one purchase - some Ilia mascara at Sephora which I've heard good things about. But can I just say that Sephora is NOT designed for moms with strollers? Ay yi yi. I had to say "excuse me" so many times to get through the narrow aisles to the cashier at the back of the store. Terrible design, Sephora! I guess a mom with a stroller is not their target market?

He's pointing at some Christmas decorations!

We headed home and had dinner which he barely ate, I think because he's getting another 2y molar. It pushed through this morning so hopefully he'll be in better spirits and start eating better again? 

I gave him a bath and let him play with the couch cushion because it was the only thing that entertained him (hopefully this means the fort-building couch we are getting the boys at Christmas will be a hit?). I was happy to put him to bed around his normal bedtime of 7. We kept him up until 7:30-7:45 last week and those made for some long days! 

Rocking Christmas jammies in November. He'll still be wearing Christmas jammies in March!

Phil and Paul got home around 7:30, I did Paul's bedtime and worked on a puzzle until around 8:30 when I went up to bed to read. I'm almost done with "Acts of Violet" which I am enjoying! 

And that was a wrap! I fly out this afternoon for NYC and come back Thursday afternoon so it's kind of a longer trip. For my last 2 trips, I flew out at 7am but have determined I can't hack that kind of schedule. It makes for a very long day since I have to be up around 4:30 and then have a full day in the office. I have 3 client meetings tomorrow and will spend the rest of the time seeing my NYC colleagues in person. I'm very glad this is my last business trip of the year! It's my 5th of the year so the most work travel I've done since before having kids! And lest you were worried, Phil and I both voted at an early voter absentee place 2 weeks ago! I've never not voted in an election! 

How was your weekend? For my American readers, have you voted or will you vote in person tomorrow?

Friday, November 4, 2022

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday! I'm working a half day today as daycare is closed in the afternoon for teacher training. I could try to juggle work and caring for the kids but it's just not worth it and hopefully it will be a quiet Friday afternoon at work anyways! But my morning won't be as I have 2.5 hours of meetings! Here's 5 things on my mind. 

1. We had a really nice Halloween! Our block met for a photo at 5:30 and then Paul, Will and I went to all the houses on our street. Obviously Will is not going to eat much of the candy he got but I wanted to take him around so the neighbors on our street could see him. Our street is on a hill so I had to carry him up and down many steps so was very happy to hand him off to dad when we were done with our block. He did charm people, though, as he said "tank you" at every house and sometimes blew kisses as we walked away. Paul and I were out for about an hour total and then he went out for 30 more minutes with Phil. 

A dinosaur and Chase from Paw Patrol

2. A couple of other bloggers have commented on their experiences with dentists recently so I had to share that I changed dental practices this month solely because the hygienist I was seeing was SOO TALKATIVE. I get that they are trying to establish a relationship with the patient but I can only handle so much chit chat, especially when it extends the length of the appointment and requires me to awkwardly attempt to answer questions while she was cleaning my teeth. I want to get out of there and back to my day as soon as possible. So I go to the new practice for my appointment this week and it turns out the hygienist moved to this location this summer! So I just have to let this go and deal with more small talk than I'd prefer

3. Speaking of the dentist, the hygienist and dentist were complimentary about the state of my teeth. But let me tell you - I had so many cavities as a child so dental visits were not always pleasant. Meanwhile, Phil has ZERO cavities. I think it's genetics, though, and I hope my kids got Phil's genes for oral health. I still brush Paul's teeth even though the dentist said he could do it once he can write his own name, which he can. But I want to prevent him getting cavities like I did so will keep brushing the boys' teeth until I'm confident they can do it on their own. I do serve as a great cautionary tale - I just open my mouth and let Paul look at at all my fillings. Also, I should note that I never had Novocain when I got all of those cavities/fillings. I had one cavity when I was in college and the dentist was floored that I had never had Novocain! Then when he used it for that cavity, I hated it and vowed to never get it again. I had to have a filling replaced several years ago and declined Novocain. The dentist I saw at the time in Charlotte said we could try to go without but she didn't see how I could get through the process without it. But sure enough I did. I guess I have a decent tolerance for pain. 

4. As I mentioned earlier this week, we've been pushing Will's bedtime back in anticipation of the end of DST. I am very skeptical it will work but I am desperate to do anything to avoid 4:30-5am'ish wakeups. On a good day, both of our boys sleep until 6am. If Will wakes before 6, we nearly always leave him in his crib until 6am to try to teach him that that is when the day starts. But if Paul is up early there is no convincing him to go back to bed (yes, we have an ok to wake clock, no it has not worked for him). Our kids are programmed to be up early since we leave the house at 6:45 on week days. So this is why I HATE the time change. If our kids weren't such early risers and, for example, were typically up at 7, it'd be fine because then our days would start at 6 while they adjusted to the time change. 6 is doable. But when your day starts at 5, it is the absolute worse - or at least for old, tired parents who need their sleep. Have I mentioned that parenting is a young man's game? Also, I travel Monday-Thursday of next week, so I feel extra motivated to try to avoid super early wake ups because it will all fall on Phil while I'm gone. The senate passed a bill to end daylight savings earlier this year and I hope the house does as well but I have little faith in that happening. But the area where my friend in upper BC lives doesn't observe DST and neither does AZ and it doesn't seem to matter so surely we could do away with this! *steps off soap box* 

5. We don't have much planned this weekend which makes me a little nervous. We have our usual library plus gymnastics on Saturday morning and Phil plans to take Paul out to his mom's on Sunday but that's it. Last week was the last Farmer's Market for the season so now our Sundays are open. Plus it might rain on Saturday, which we desperately need but that means being trapped indoors... I'm sure we'll figure it out, but I'll miss our farmer's market/park Sunday morning plans!

What's on your mind today? Have you had many cavities? Do chatty hygienist bother you or is it just me?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

What We Read in October

October was a more "normal/average" month for me in terms of volume. I read 7 books. 4 books were 5-star reads and another was a 4-star read. There were only 2 "just ok" books this month so it was a successful month!

Best reads:

All of these books were excellent! Carrie Soto is Back is Taylor Jenkins Reid's newest release. It's about a tennis pro who comes out of retirement to defend her grand slam record. This book made me want to learn to play tennis and that is really saying something since I generally avoid sports that involve balls. Ha. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow was such a nostalgic read for me as much of it is set in the 80s/90s. It's about 2 best friends who develop video games, but you don't have to be a gamer to enjoy this (I'm certainly not - I haven't played video games since I was a child but boy did I love the original Nintendo and the Mario Bros games back then!). All My Rage is technically YA but I would only let a mature teen read this. It's about 2 teens of Indian descent living on the margins in CA. Trigger warnings abound! Corrections in Ink is a memoir about the author's time in prison. She was a pairs figure skater that competed in nationals but she falls from grace and ends up using drugs and dealing heroine in college. It was an alarming inside look at womens prisons. Lastly, Bad City is a stranger-than-fiction book about the dean of the school of medicine at USC. He was found on the scene of a young 20-something overdose but nothing comes of him being on the scene where there is meth and all manor of other paraphernalia. It's about all of the cover-ups that resulted in this awful person leading a medical school and practicing medicine. It also uncovers some other controversies at USC. Man that school has had some series issues in the last several years! This book got 4 stars because it drug a bit at the end when the author went into things that were happening at the LA Times. The other 4 books were 5-star reads!

Meh/Just Ok:

The Roughest Draft is an enemies-to-lovers romance that was pretty good, but was needlessly long and drug quite a bit at the end, which knocked my rating down to 3 stars. The Book of Goose was loved by a reliable recommendation source but I just didn't get the appeal. It's about a female friendship in the post-WWII era of France. But it felt flat for me and was a 3-star read.

The boys' reads:

The boys really enjoyed reading the Halloween books that I pulled out on October 1st. Will especially loved the Little Blue Truck Halloween book since it has flaps! He is all about books w/ flap or touch and feel books. Here are some other gems we got from the library!

Dear Abuelo was something I randomly pulled off the shelf. It's a collection of letters from a little girl who immigrates to the US from Mexico. It's a very bittersweet book about adjusting to a new country.

I found out about this book from my subscription to Can We Read (highly recommend this substack newsletter! I get so many recommendations from it!) Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue is the first in a series about a little girl whose mom is a super hero. It's a chapter book but there are pictures throughout so it held Paul's attention. I requested the other books in the series. I love picture books but am enjoying introducing Paul to chapter books! 

We love Julie Donaldson (she's best known for Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo). So I requested everything she's written. This was our favorite of the ones we're read recently. A little monkey lost his mom, so the butterfly is helping him find his mom. Is it this elephant? Is it this parrot? They finally find the dad at the end and the butterfly says - why did you tell me your mom looked like you. As a butterfly, her babies look very different since they are caterpillars. Donaldson's books are so fun to read because they all rhyme! 

Did you read anything great this month?