Monday, February 27, 2023

Back from Chicago + weekend recap

I’m back from what felt like a long 3 days in Chicago. I had a jam-packed week. I did a lunch presentation on Tuesday and then 18 zoom client calls over the course of 2.5 days! It wasn’t the best use of my time in Chicago to do so many zoom calls as I was closed up in an office for most of my time there. Ideally I would be out talking to people. But it was the way it worked out. Hopefully next time I am in Chicago I will have more time to connect with people. I did manage to have lunch with my boss and tea with another colleague. I also had dinner both nights with women I work with. The Wednesday night dinner was at the home of a good friend I work with. It was awesome to meet her husband and boys. So all in all, it was a good, productive trip. 

But oof - did Phil have it bad back here. Minneapolis got a big multi-day storm. Daycare was (needlessly, IMO) closed on Wednesday. They re-opened on Thursday morning (I think because they felt bad for closing on Wednesday) but there was no way Phil could get our car out of the garage with the 15+” of snow we had gotten the last 3 days. Plus Paul threw up on Thursday morning. So he handled work, 2 young kids, and snow removal… Paul only threw up that one time luckily. So as long as my days were, I think Phil had the bigger challenge at home! I was thrilled to make it back home as planned on Thursday so I could give him a break. Paul’s iPad is connected to my apple account so I can see all the pics he takes with his iPad. Seeing all these selfies of my sad, pale boy really tugged at my heart strings! 

Enter the weekend. Paul threw up AGAIN on Saturday morning. This is the 3rd time this has happened in February. It always happens in the early morning hours. I think he has mucus draining in his stomach during the night that is giving him an upset stomach or something. I hope this stops soon! So we canceled all of our plans and stayed in on Saturday. It felt like a very very long day! 

Will is ready for bike season. I am, too.


Paul has gotten very good at coloring! 

I took Will for a short 30-minute stroller walk which was pretty challenging given all the snow we’ve had. We were on the road for most of the walk. Paul was feeling better so spent a little bit of time outside, too. 

Sunday was better since no one puked! Woo hoo! The bar for a good day is very low around these parts. I went for my first run in over a week and then Paul and I worked on his birthday cupcakes. He turns 5 (!!!) on Wednesday so we will enjoy them over the course of the week. He LOVES to bake and is a great helper!

Phil took Paul out to his mom’s on Sunday after quiet time and I stayed home with Will. So we did our go-to activity to kill time - wandering Target! 

I got a latte, he had a cookie. I talked him into only eating half.

He played with what felt like all of the bowls in our kitchen when we got back, but it entertained him! 


I’m starting off the week by presenting on our weekly national sales call. I’m interviewing a portfolio manager so at least I’m not in the ‘hot seat.’ Then we have Paul’s bday on Wednesday and his family party on Saturday. I’m kind of ‘mailing it in’ on his party. We are ordering pizza! I’ll assemble a salad to go along with it (for the adults) and we will have a cookie cake for dessert. My parents are coming for the party and will spend the night so we are all excited to see them as we haven’t seen them since Christmas! 

How was your weekend? 

Monday, February 20, 2023

Weekend Recap, Bullet-Point Style + Chicago Bound

Today is the happiest of Mondays because Phil and I have the day off for Presidents' Day - but the kids still have school! This so rarely happens so we really enjoy it when it does! Like I mentioned in previous posts, I really love to be home alone in my house. Obviously Phil will be around today so I won't have the house completely to myself, but even with Phil home I will still get plenty of "me time." We are planning to take advantage of having childcare and will go out for lunch after running some errands this morning. 

Here's a bullet-point style recap of our weekend!

- On Friday morning, Phil did drop-off so I could be on the website at 7am when registration for the Minneapolis public school summer program opened. We've decided to put Paul in that program this summer to make his transition to Kindergarten smooth. They rotate the location of the program and this summer, it's at the school he'll attend in the fall! Plus, there is no nap in the public school summer program. They do nap at Paul's daycare and it makes bedtime tough at times because he really does not NEED a nap! It sounds like those who register on the day it opens get in so hopefully that is the case for us! I also have heard summer families are guaranteed to get spots in before/after care in the fall, so that’s another reason we are doing this summer program. 

- I got up with the boys both mornings as a way to compensate for all the solo parenting Phil is doing over a 2-week stretch. I think I kind of prefer being the early parent and having nap to myself, but it is nice to have the option to sleep in sometimes. To be clear, Paul does not nap during nap time - he gets his iPad where he only has access to PBS kids and ABC mouse. I took a nice long nap during quiet time on Sunday! I slept so hard that I dreamed! My body clearly needed the extra sleep. 

Phil surprised the boys with donuts on Sunday morning!

- I have a run-of-the-mill runny nose/cold so skipped my runs/workouts and went for walks instead. We had a lot of rain last week that then froze when the temps dropped so it’s not really ideal running conditions anyways, even with yaktrax on. This has been the iciest winter I can recall! Not a fan. 

Will came with on Sunday and walked for almost an hour!

We saw lots of ducks on the creek! 

- Gymnastics was cancelled due to staffing shortages so on Saturday we just went to the library where I ran into a neighborhood friend (that I met through my blog!). After the boys and Phil had lunch, I met my "second time mama" group for lunch sans kids. There is a local organization that puts together a class for new moms and then has a second time mom class, among other programming. I'm still in touch with both of my mom groups all these years later! We went to Restoration Hardware which has a beautiful restaurant. IMO you are paying for the ambiance/environment. The food was fine but kind of expensive… like $22 for a sandwich - with no sides. A side salad was $9, a side of fries was $10. That is on the pricier sode for Minneapolis but oh well. It was fun to have midday social plans, but I don’t think I’d go back to this place.

- On Sunday I took the boys to a new-to-us indoor playground in a close-ish suburb (Eagan) and my neighbor and her kids came, too. I wanted to give Phil some extra me time in the house since he solo parented last week and will again this coming week when I go to Chicago. 

Getting some air on this huge jumper

Building a fort together 

Playing together nicely - not always a given!


I was going to try to limit myself to 1 work trip/month, but I'm traveling again this week as I'm doing a presentation to our sales group tomorrow which I couldn't say no to. So I fly out at 7am tomorrow. I don't love early flights but chose an early flight over flying in the night before/being away from Phil and the boys for another night. Luckily Chicago is an easy trip for me. I go there so often so it's kind of like a home away from home, in a way. While I'm in Chicago, our sales group is especially focused on setting up calls with me and my teammates. So I have 16 zoom client meetings while I'm in Chicago, on top of that sales presentation I'm doing on Tuesday at lunch. On Wednesday alone, I have 11 zoom meetings! Ay yi yi. I feel like I'm going to want to curl up into the fetal position when this trip is over. Ha. But then I get a break until I head back to NJ/NY in the 2nd half of March. 

Sometimes I will think, 'wow, people are taking investment advice from me - I guess I'm not a kid anymore.' That's probably a discussion for a whole other post, though!!

A sample outfit I wear when traveling. I wore this in Texas last week and paired it with a blazer since I freeze in office buildings. I would not wear this in Chicago in February - I would FREEZE! But it was nice to wear something springy for a change!

A storm is forecasted for Wednesday/Thursday and we might get over a foot (!!!) of snow. I really hope this does not happen! A) I don’t want to get stuck in Chicago and B) managing snow removal on a corner lot house on a hill is A LOT on top of solo parenting for Phil. Fingers crossed the storm is not as bad as predicted. I could try to move my flight to Wednesday night if need be. We will see. 

How was your weekend? 

Friday, February 17, 2023

From URL to IRL

On the tails of Kyria's visit, I thought I'd talk about how so many of my blogging friendships have progressed from URL to IRL. I've been blogging since the summer of 2008 so am definitely one of the "old school" bloggers. I started blogging at a time when most of my peers were getting married and starting families. Meanwhile, at age 27, I was nearly perpetually single. I was happy to be the 5th wheel but my social options started to diminish since having kids makes it much harder to do things like girls weekends, dinners out, etc. But luckily, blogging allowed me to connect with all sorts of (mostly) women across the continent who had similar interests; namely, running and/or reading. 

My first blogger meet-up was in the fall of 2010. I'd been friends with a woman, Amber, who is no longer blogging (womp womp!), for several years. We decided to virtually train together for the 2010 Portland marathon. At the time, she lived in Kamloops, BC so it was a destination race for both of us. She picked me up at the Vancouver airport and then we did a 5-day road trip down to Portland. It may sound odd/crazy to go on a road trip with someone you've never met in person but our friendship was at the point where we were exchanging Blackberry messages (remember when everyone had Blackberries?) on a daily basis and had done many google hang-outs/video chats. We had the time of our lives on that trip and an innocent bystander would never have guessed it was our first time meeting in person. We also met up with another woman who is no longer blogging at the marathon. To this day, Amber is one of my closest friends. 

That was just the start, though. I've done countless meet-ups and hosted friends from all over the place over the last 13 years. These relationship were and are incredibly significant. It's notable that I have been in the weddings of 2 bloggers, gave a blessing at another blogger's wedding, and had 2 tables of blogger friends at my wedding - including Kyria, of course! 

I'm glad that I'm feeling ready to dip my toe back into travel again now that the boys are a little bit older so I can start to reconnect in a more meaningful way with these women. There is no replacement for spending time in person with a good friend, in my opinion! I'll be meeting up with Amber in the Banff region of Canada this summer. It will be our first time seeing each other in over 6 years as I last saw her at my wedding when she was pregnant with her first child! We now are moms to 2 kids each so a lot has changed over the last 6 years!

I'll be forever grateful for the friendships I developed through blogging. These ladies (and one guy - hi John!) came into my life at a time when I was feeling a little out of place with the friends I'd made in college and at work. Of course I was very happy that my friends were getting married and starting families, but I had an out-of-place sort of feeling. Meeting similar-minded people was so good for me. If you are reading this blog, you know how well you can feel you know a person - especially once you start to comment back and forth on each others' blogs and especially when you take those friendships to email/text. 

I'm a little sad that most of my original blogging friend gang are no longer blogging, although I recognize how hard it is to fit everything in when you are juggling career, family, friends, etc. But I'm glad that I've met a whole new batch of people through blogging in the last couple of years! With my return to work travel, maybe I'll cross paths with some of you in the future!!

Have you ever turned a relationship from URL to IRL? 

Monday, February 13, 2023

Weekend recap + Texas bound

Another weekend is in the books! This was a pretty good one overall! 

On Friday, Phil got back from the airport around 3:30. I had the boys home with me all afternoon as their school had an early close at 12:30. I was able to work while Paul had iPad time and Will napped but Will took his usual super nap and was up at 2. I was happy to get out the door and enjoy some fresh air when Phil got home! 

The geese are ready for Valentine’s Day!

The boys were both IN A MOOD that evening. I don’t know what was going on but both were crying and upset. Phil and I joked that maybe we were on candid camera? It was kind of comically bad. After both boys went to bed we finished the Bernie Madoff documentary while I finished a puzzle I borrowed from a friend. It was an extra tricky puzzle as the picture on the box was purposely inaccurate! 

I slept in until around 7 on Saturday and Phil got up with the boys. Then it was tine for our usual library + gymnastics combo while Phil grocery shopped. Will’s gymnastic class was cancelled so to minimize the time we sat there waiting, we dropped Paul off and went to a GF bakery nearby to get treats for our afternoon playdate. This resulted in Will having a huge meltdown in his car seat. I don’t know if he was worried about leaving Paul or what. But you can’t reason with a toddler! Luckily he calmed down after we picked out some treats. 

I did a back and biceps workout during nap time and then we headed to my friend’s house for a playdate when Will woke up. The playdate was great! I sipped tea and caught up with my friend, Will enjoyed playing with new-to-him toys, and Paul had fun with his friends! On the ride home Paul commented on how he had SO much more fun than me since all I did was talk. Ha. 

I made some lentil soup for dinner that night. 

Enjoying his after dinner apple. Phil, Will and I share one almost every night. 

We tried watching ‘Break Point’ on Netflix that night after the boys were in bed but it wasn’t a good fit. We usually like sports documentaries but neither of us follows tennis and the first athlete they profiled was a total jerk from Australia. So we gave up and I went up to read. 

I was up with the boys on Sunday but they slept until 6:30 which is pretty great for them! I went for a run after Phil was up and fell towards the end! Ouch! I just skinned by knee through my running tights, so it wasn’t too bad of a fall luckily. I was wearing my yaktrax but must have slipped on some really thin ice. I’m really ready for winter to be done! 

Watching tv on Sunday morning. Will is telling me ‘no picture!’

The boys and I went to target that morning to get a few things while Phil made lunch. 

Pretending to have a picnic

That afternoon, Phil took BOTH boys with him to his mom’s after naptime. He usually just takes Paul but decided to take both this time so I would have the house to myself for a change. Outside of when I am working, I am NEVER alone in the house! While they were gone, I caught up with my older sister on the phone, watched A Million Little Things (I love this show!!), read and just basked in the quiet!! I don’t think he will take both boys for quite awhile as Will was quite a handful… but it was nice to have time to myself at home for a change! When Phil got home with the boys, we watched the super bowl but I went up to bed at 8:30 to read. I cared about the Super Bowl but not enough to miss my block of reading!

We have another busy week ahead of us as I go to Austin and Dallas for work Tuesday through Thursday. I travel again the following week so February is feeling crazy especially with Phil traveling last week (he was also in Austin!). I’m trying to only travel once/month but couldn’t say no to the Chicago trip as it’s a good way to see lots of sales people and I’m co-presenting to the sales group with a senior guy in my division. But February is not my favorite month (because I’m over winter by then) so it’s not the worst thing that it’s going by fast. 

How was your weekend? Did you watch the Super Bowl? 

Friday, February 10, 2023


Hey hey, it's Friday! This has felt like a bit of a long week since, for a change, I'm the one solo parenting while Phil travels for work! Here's how my week shaped up. 

The book I read this week was The Girl in His Shadow which is historical fiction set in England in the 1800s. It's about the female understudy of a surgeon. My doctor/surgeon running partner suggested it and I am loving it!

The high of my week was my birthday! It was great to have the day off and to spend half of it with a good friend, followed by a massage and then family time in the evening! I need to take my birthday off more often! I also had a fun birthday lunch yesterday with 2 coworkers that I've gotten really close to over the 7+ years I've been at this company.

The low of my week was a rough toddler tantrum on Thursday morning. Will strongly prefers Phil lately so he was not happy that I was his only option when he woke up that morning. When he is upset, his clutch phrase is "go away!" so I heard that many times that morning and had to wrestle him into his clothes. Luckily Paul was wonderful that morning and tried to help out as much as he could. This is my first experience with a child preferring daddy. Usually it's kind of nice to not be the preferred parent for a change but it sucks when you are the only parent home! There have been some fun highlights, like bath time on Wednesday night.

They lined up all the toys so they could jump into the water.

How could this sweet boy be sooo angry at times! Note: the bath water is pinkish from a bath bomb.

A recipe I made was absolutely nothing. Luckily we had plenty of leftovers in the fridge so I haven't cooked since Sunday night! 

A show we are watching is the Bernie Madoff documentary on Netflix. Since Phil and I both work in asset management, this documentary is of particular interest to us. It's mind boggling that he got away with the ponzi scheme for SO LONG!! 

For workouts I ran with Kyria on Monday morning and today I will hopefully fit in a strength training workout. Tomorrow I'd like to squeeze a run in before going to the library/gymastics and then I'll hopefully do some strength training on Sunday during quiet time. 

The best money spent was on Valentines for Paul's classmates. He wanted to hand out dinosaur Valentines. I got some packets of m&ms to hand out with the Valentines. It might be controversial to hand out candy but I figure it's fine since the kids are 4-5 years old? We've gotten things like organic granola bars or fruit snacks in the past and a few candy items. I decided to go old school and have him give out candy. To be clear, I did not buy Valentine's or candy for Will - I hold off until they are in the preschool rooms. 

My plans this weekend include nothing tonight - I'll be reveling in having my partner in crime back! After naptime on Saturday we have a playdate with another family. Sunday is plan-free but we'll find something to do. Maybe we'll go to a park if the parks don't look too wet/soggy? It will be in the 30s which is warm for us! The Superbowl is that night so we'll probably make chili or something along those lines to enjoy while cheering for KC!

What was the high of your week? What are your thoughts on giving candy with Valentiness? Should I have gotten organic fruit snacks instead? As a child of the 90s, I only received candy for Valentine's Day. I do not think there was such a thing as organic fruit snacks or the like back then - at least not in my tiny town in North Dakota.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Kyria's Visit

We had a great time with Kyria last weekend! We hadn't seen each other in over 3 years but we have the kind of friendship where you pick up where you left off! She landed on Friday night and Paul came with me to pick her up from the airport since he was so excited about our visitor! We had take-and-bake pizza when we got home from the airport. I stayed up a little bit past my bedtime since we were having so much fun catching up after the boys were in bed. 

On Saturday morning, we headed to the zoo. We had tickets to the dolphin show at 10:30. Paul has been talking about it for weeks so he was especially excited. He had fun showing Kyria around the zoo. Will was even interested in holding Kyria's hand at one point. 

Waiting for the dolphin show to start.

The dolphin show completely exceeded my expectations. The dolphins were so very adorable and they did lots of different tricks for us. I would like to go again and get better seats. We couldn't get there too early as I knew Will would be very squirmy so next time I'd like to go on my own with Paul. 

Phil made a Spanish tortilla for lunch. Once we'd digested our lunch, we headed out for a 4 mile run and then hung out at home for the rest of the day. I made chicken tikka masala with cauliflower and peas for dinner that night. 

Reading books with Kyria

We had a slow morning on Sunday since we didn't need to leave until around 9am for our snowshoe race. Kyria ended up doing a 4 mile run before the race (she has a marathon next month so needed some extra miles). The snowshoe race was really well organized and the weather was very nice for Minnesota! Our snowshoes were not designed to be run in so we mostly walked. The course was really pretty - we crossed a lake and walked through a big nature preserve area. We talked the whole time, especially about careers/work topics! We work in similar industries so really understand what each other does. 

Walking across a lake at the start of the race

On the way home from the race we stopped at a new-to-me GF bakery for some lattes and treats and then had a quiet afternoon/evening at home. I made seared ahi tuna, asparagus, and Asian rice for dinner. 

Monday was my birthday! After sending the kids off to school with Phil, Kyria worked for a bit while I read in front of the fire in my bedroom. It was so cozy and delightful! 

My shins/calves were very sore from snowshoeing - it definitely used different muscles! So we did a shorter run that morning that ended at Starbucks so I could get my birthday latte which I enjoyed on the walk back to the house. For lunch, Kyria treated me to a meal from this cool food hall that has lots of different places to order from. We shared a grain bowl, a dosa from an Indian place, and kimchi coleslaw from an Asian place. Then I dropped her off at the airport and got a massage at a lovely spa by my house. 

The boys got home around 5. I had thought about getting Indian take out but decided to have it belatedly next weekend since I had lunch out earlier in the day (eating out twice in the same day is a bit much for me). We had leftovers for dinner and I enjoyed a bowl of ice cream for my birthday treat. 

Now we need to visit Kyria - maybe next spring or summer! The last time we visited her was 2016 so we are overdue for a trip out west to visit her! But I'm grateful that she was willing to come to us, especially during our cold winter season! Having her around made my birthday weekend extra fun and festive! 

Monday, February 6, 2023

This is 42

Today I celebrate my 42nd trip around the sun! I'm writing this ahead of time as I'll be busy hosting my dear friend Kyria this weekend so won't have time to blog. But I anticipate that the days leading up to my birthday have been very wonderful since she's been here to make it extra festive and fun! She didn't intentionally plan to come for my birthday weekend, but it worked out that way! Besides the 10k snowshoe "race" we signed up to do Sunday (I'm using the word race loosely - I can't imagine we'll be fast with snowshoes attached to our feet!), I imagine we've gone for runs around the lake and have had time to really catch up on life since we last saw each other over 3 years ago! 

When I look back on the last year of my life, I can say it was a really good year. It was not without it's challenges, of course. But overall, it was a "normalish" year of life following the double whammy of having a baby/adjusting to a newborn while dealing with the pandemic. We still took a lot of covid tests over the past year but we were able to mostly do the things we wanted to do and see the people we wanted to see. 

We went on our first trip as a family of 4 last February and visited my younger sister and her family in Arizona while my parents were visiting her. 

Hiking with Phil in the Saguaro National Park 

We took several trips to my parents lake home and got to spend lots of time with my little sister and her daughter since she was home for 6 weeks while her husband was traveling a ton. I especially enjoyed going to my nephew's grad party with her as we had lots of time in the car to catch up! Besides seeing my sister, I saw all of my siblings, nieces and nephews over the course of the year. I'm just extra glad that I saw a lot of Abby as we are 2 peas in a pod and have similar-aged kids (Will is 2.5 months older than Maddy) so are in the trenches of parenting together!

I started to travel again for work in April of 2022, and logged trips to Kentucky, DC, Charlotte, NYC, and went to Chicago twice. 

Running along the Mall in DC before giving a presentation later that morning!

I recognized that training for and running a 10 mile race in 2021 was too much in this stage of life so I downshifted and focused on the 10k distance. I logged lots of miles with my awesome neighbor/running partner/best buddy and ran a strong 10k race with her in early October. 

 Our shirts matched the sky that morning! We saw lots of sunrises that stopped us in our tracks!

We survived an epically bad family photo session that is sort of funny to us now... And were amazed by the shots our photographer captured. They are worth the pain of that photo session!

Phil and I grew as a couple and learned how to better navigate being a family of 4. I came up with a Saturday routine that has served us well. We figured out how to give each other breaks by taking turns getting up with the boys on the weekend and giving the early morning parent a break during naptime. 

And we finally went on a kids-free vacation after talking about wanting to for quite awhile. The getaway was a win-win for everyone: Phil and I enjoyed reconnecting while soaking up some vitamin D, and my parents and the boys had a wonderful time together! 

I'll celebrate the start of a new trip around the sun in a mellow way, which is what I prefer. Kyria and I will run this morning and I'll enjoy a free birthday drink from Starbucks. I took a page from Suzanne's book (who also has a February birthday) and will get a massage after I drop Kyria at the airport. We'll get Indian take-out tonight (no, the boys won't eat this which is fine - more for me!).

I know there are people who don't like their birthday - but I do. I'm not over-the-top with my celebrations (not that there's anything wrong with that - it's just not how I celebrate things generally), but I enjoy my birthday - because I am happy to be alive and to have such a rich, beautiful life. I've watched people my age and younger battle cancer or other awful diagnoses, and I know of people who have passed away by this age. A long life is not guaranteed so I try to remember that each day on earth is a gift. That doesn't mean I don't have hard days and wallow a bit at times. But overall, my sentiment is "how lucky I am to be alive." 

My birthday wish is that you'll consider leaving me a comment and tell me how you like to celebrate your birthday! For those who don't typically comment, tell me a little bit about yourself! 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

National Rheumatoid Awareness Day

For many of us, at least those of us in the US, we associate February 2nd with Groundhog's Day. For me, today is National Rheumatoid Awareness Day. I haven't posted on National Rheumatoid Awareness Day since back in 2016 when I wrote about the path to my diagnosis. Groundhog's Day does have a link to how this disease presents/gets treated. As I said back in 2016, "(You can) compare disease onset to the moment the groundhog comes out of his hole to look for his shadow. It's impossible to predict how aggressive the disease will be or whether treatments will be effective. The six weeks that the groundhog forecasts correspond to the short window of opportunity for people with rheumatoid disease to get early diagnosis and treatment, which has been shown to be a crucial component of positive outcome." (source: Rheumatoid Patient Foundation)

Sometimes I'm reticent to talk about RA because I don't want to come off as someone who is seeking pity or sympathy. But having a chronic autoimmune disease is part of who I am and it does impact my every day life. In my early years of having this disease, I kind of wanted to shove my diagnosis under the rug or ignore the fact that I have RA - I took all of my medications, saw my doctor regularly, etc, but I just wanted to be a "normal/typical" 30-something. But as I've gotten older - and wiser - I've recognized that I have to respect the fact that I'm not on an even playing field with my peers. 

So what is RA, you may wonder? Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints and causes inflammation along with other dangerous conditions. It is also one of the most common autoimmune conditions in the world. An estimated 1.5 million people/1% of the population in the US have it; 70% of those with the disease are women. There is no cure for the condition, but it can go into remission with proper and timely care. 

I was diagnosed with RA in August of 2013 so I am coming up on 10 years of dealing with this disease. You'd think by now my doctor and I would have it all figured out, but like many health conditions, it's a wily disease that requires you to pivot often. I thought that now that we are done having children, my disease would be easier to manage (my RA was HORRIBLE during pregnancy), but my bloodwork in December was pretty crappy and showed the disease was not well-managed, necessitating a drug change. So I'm back on a more potent drug that I was on back when I was first diagnosed; hopefully, with time, I can drop some of my other drugs and reduce my pill burden. I'm on A LOT of drugs to manage it. I take about 5 pills/day morning and night, except for Mondays when I take 4 additional pills in the morning. 

These are all my pill prescriptions which require an am/pm days-of-the-week pillbox. So sexy, right?

Besides my oral meds, I also give myself an injection every other week. I've been on 3 different injections but am hoping to stay on this one (Humira) for quite awhile as I like that it's not weekly and it is the least painful injection of the 3. The consistency of one of the injections was so thick which made the injection uncomfortable. This one is nice and thin and the needle is so very tiny! Thank goodness I don't have any issues with needles! These drugs are insanely expensive - Humira costs about $6,600/month but luckily I only pay $10 out of pocket at most. Since the drug company makes so much money off this drug, they provide co-pay assistance and cover all but $10 of what the insurance company doesn't pay. 

I'm lucky that I got diagnosed at a time when there were excellent drug options available. A former co-worker was diagnosed before the advent of these modern treatments and has permanent deformities in her hands since her disease wasn't well-managed. I'm also lucky that I have a wonderful physician who takes such good care of me. Before I found her, I had a pretty horrible (male) doctor who was never on time (I would wait for an hour plus for appointments) and at one point questioned whether I actually had RA... There is such a process to get approved for the above-mentioned expensive injections. An insurance company would NEVER approve them if it wasn't very clear that I had RA and needed an aggressive, expensive form of treatment. I did get a flare under his care so he eventually came to believe that I did have RA, but that experience pushed me to find a different doctor. 

I don't want it to sound like having RA weighs on my mind all the time; it truly doesn't. Most of the time, I live a full, active, wonderful life. But I have to be more gentle with myself than pre-RA Lisa would have been. I have to prioritize sleep and when I get sick, I have to prioritize rest. I cannot "muscle" my way through a virus and expect my body to recover like a normal person. The drugs I am on suppress my immune system so that it doesn't attack my joints (that's the simplest explanation for what is happening when I have a flare - my immune system goes into overdrive and attacks my joints). Since I have a suppressed immune system, I catch nearly everything the boys bring home and it takes me longer to recover from viruses. 

I also had to be extra extra careful during the pandemic, especially when vaccines were not available. That's why I did not eat in a restaurant until February 2022; it wasn't worth the risk of me getting sick. I had to say no to so many things which made me feel bad/guilty and resulted in some not-so-great comments/reactions from others. But I reminded myself I was following the medical advice of my doctors and making the right decision for myself/my family. I, of course, had the full and complete support of Phil through all of that! 

All that is to say that managing this disease is tricky. On the surface, I appear to be this normal 40-something, but under the surface, that's far from true. I don't personally know anyone with RA - I'm obviously glad that no one I know has this disease but I sometimes wish I had someone to vent to who fully understands how I feel when I have a flare, for example. I am on the wait list for the book, The Invisible Kingdom, which is about managing an invisible chronic illnesses, based on the recommendation of Catherine of The Gilmore Guide to Books. I think that book will be helpful as I'll feel "seen/understood." 

I'll close by saying that writing this post definitely moved me outside my comfort zone... So hopefully I struck the right balance between explaining the disease and acknowledging the challenges it presents without giving off a woe-is-me vibe! 

Any questions? Do you know anyone with RA or another autoimmune disease? 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

What We Read in January

January was a decent month of reading for me. I read 7 books which is on the lower end for me, but I had a ton of social plans during the month which cut into my reading time. Also, in the past I would read during both of Will's weekend naps but now I spend one of them working out so I can hit 3-4 workouts/week. Plus most of what I read was very heavy and heavy books tend to slow down my pace of reading. Lastly, after several months of multiple 5-star reads, I only had one 5-star read this month so my reading didn't feel as stellar but was still quite good! Here is how our reading shaped up.


My favorite of this bunch was "All the Broken Places" by John Boyne. It's technically a sequel to "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" but if you haven't read that book, you would likely still enjoy this book. It follows the life of the daughter of a Nazi commandant and looks at culpability. "The Midnight Library" was our January pick for book club. I re-read it since I didn't remember much from when I read it in November 2020. When I read it for the first time, I felt pretty meh but I was 9 months pregnant and expecting a baby during the peak of the pandemic so I wasn't in the right mindset to ponder existential thoughts. I liked it more this time around and we had a good discussion about regrets and roads not taken in life. "The Four Treasures of the Sky" is historical fiction set in the Western part of the US in the 1880s. It focuses on the horrific treatment of Chinese immigrants and is VERY HEAVY/SAD. "Solito" is another heavy book - it's a memoir of the author's journey from El Salvador to Arizona at the age of 9. I had to keep reminding myself that the child makes it since he's alive and writing this memoir. "And Yet" is a beautiful collection of poems that focuses on the experiences of women and mothers. You could read this in one sitting. 


Neither of these books worked for me. "The Midcoast" is literary fiction set in Maine. It's the examination of a family that pretends to be something that it's not (they exude wealth but it's all based on lies/dishonesty). "The Ingenue" had promise as it was about a young piano prodigy. But overall it was a miss for me. The protagonist is around my age in this book and I didn't understand some of the decisions she made/how she dealt with challenges in her life. 

Paul's Reading:

These were our 2 favorite picture books from January, both from repeat authors that we love! I highly recommend both!

Paul and I have started to read chapter books and most have worked well but Socks by Beverly Cleary was a bit of a miss. I have such great memories of reading Cleary books but hadn't read this one. It wasn't as good as her Ramona series and I think the content went a bit over Paul's head. It's about a couple who gets a cat - and then the cat is kind of benignly neglected when they have a baby. This book hasn't aged well either as it talks about the post-partum mom needing to go on a diet... I'm really sensitive to talk of diets/body shaming/etc since I was so very critical of myself from an early age. So we'll be putting this in the little free library as I don't plan to read it to Will down the road. 

Did you read anything great in January?