Friday, April 28, 2023

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday! Oof it's been a jam-packed week again. Here are 5 things on my mind this week.

1. Work has slowed down and I have far fewer client calls than I did last month but I am still busier than I've ever been. I think part of it is because I'm taking over things my colleague who retired earlier this month used to do plus I'm adjusting to regular travel after several years of barely traveling. And it's quarter end season which is a busy time as we are updating marketing materials, writing commentaries about performance, etc. But I am just so ready for a QUIET week. It's good to be busy but this level of busy is a bit much for me. 

2. This week I was in Chicago for work on Monday/Tuesday and I snapped this photo on the walk to meet my colleague for dinner on Monday night. Chicago is so pretty! This was my 3rd time traveling this month. 1 of those 3 trips was a vacation so that's a different kind of travel... but I'm just generally feeling worn out and tired of airplanes and hotel rooms. 

3. Besides that work trip this week has just generally been really busy. On Wednesday night I had book club (which was very fun!) and then last night my sister came over for dinner as she was in town for a conference. I was shocked to realize that she's never seen our house - which we moved into in the fall of 2019. I blame the pandemic. My boys were especially excited to see her. When Paul woke up that morning he asked if she was there yet. 

4. We were supposed to have Paul's park birthday party this Sunday but the day is forecasted to be a "blustery, cold day." So we pushed it out another week. It seems like the weather is going to improve starting next week. I hope this is true because I need some sunshine and mild temps. If we can all go outside after dinner, everyone is happier.  

Will is very into bubbles these days!

5. With no birthday party this weekend, our weekend is blessedly free of plans. It's supposed to be cold, rainy and windy so I imagine we'll seek out an indoor playground or something like that. But I am very much looking forward to no social plans. As an introvert, I'm totally peopled out after the last week. I'm sometimes mistaken as an extrovert because I'm pretty outgoing but I've definitely had a "Berenstain Bears and Too Much Social Interaction" kind of week. Phil and I often use "Berenstain Bears and Too Much X" to describe our weeks. Are we the only ones who do this? 

How was your week? Did you read Berenstain Bear books when you were growing up? I've checked some out for Paul and I have to say that series has not aged well. Papa Bear is such a dufus. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Weekend Happenings + Chicago Bound

Happy Monday! I wasn't supposed to travel again until the 2nd week of May but I found out last week that I have to be in Chicago for a meeting on Tuesday. So I'm on the (dreaded) 7am flight to Chicago this morning so I can get into the office in time for the string of client calls I have today. I don’t love flying out at 7 as it makes for such a long day but it was the only option that got me into the office in time for the calls I have scheduled today. Luckily this is a short trip as I fly home tomorrow afternoon. I set a goal to travel 10 times in 2023 and this will be my 5th work trip of the year so I guess I will NOT have trouble hitting my goal... But at least Chicago is an easy, short trip for me. I come here so often so it's kind of like a "second home" for me. 

But let's flash back to the weekend!


- Things have quieted down a bit at work so I was able to log off at 3:15 on Friday and go for a short, chilly walk. The geese in the neighborhood have different costumes! 

- I went for 2 runs. The Saturday run was with my neighbor. It was not pleasant as it was damp, windy and around 32F. We cut it short since it was icky out. Sunday was chilly but sunny which makes a big difference. I ran 4 miles and felt really strong.

- After naps/quiet time on Saturday, I took the boys to a Lego lab event at our library. They do this every couple of months and we were finally able to go! We stayed for about an hour; we would have stayed longer if not for having a toddler along. I was envious of the parents sitting along the perimeter of the room. We are solidly in what I call the ‘active management’ stage of parenting. But I can see that in about 2 years things will get a little easier (on the physicality front; I know there will be new challenges). 

- During my Sunday run, I listened to the Mom Hour podcast about spring and it put a bee in my bonnet to do some spring cleaning. I dropped off a car trunk full of clothes and kid stuff at Goodwill. There was a long car line at Goodwill so I guess a lot of people had the spring cleaning bug. The pile had been accumulating in our storage space - it felt so good to get rid of it. I also went through my closet and set aside some stuff to try to sell at the awesome consignment store that is less than a mile from our house. I sold some items there last summer and had a great experience. I packed up mostly pre-kids clothes to sell that I had been holding onto in the hopes I would fit into them again. Well, it’s been over 2 years since I finished having kids and they don’t fit and the sacrifices I’d have to make to fit into them are not worth it for me. 


- All the whining. I feel like Will is either whining or talking SO LOUDLY these days! Yes I mentioned whining as a low from last week so it’s not improving… It grates on me to hear frequent whining. I am sure the weather is not helping as we are cooped up more than we will be when it warms up. But gah, whining is so triggering for me. 

- I got a steroid injection in my flare last Thursday but the pain lingered through the weekend and I’m still on oral prednisone which is not helping with my tolerance for whining! ;) My RA is just not behaving lately which is frustrating but my doctor said it sadly very common to have to change up your drug regimen. It’s an annoying process as it can take 8-12 weeks to see if a new dose is working. So I am going to stay on a low dose of prednisone to hopefully prevent more flares as we figure out my meds.

What were the highs and lows of your weekend?

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Guest Post: Elisabeth

Hey hey and happy almost-Friday! I have a fun post for you today! Elisabeth and I decided to do a blog swap today, so you can find me over there today and she's taking the helm over here. 

I can't quite remember when I "met" Elisabeth, but we were fast friends. I agree with her characterization of us being "kindred spirits" a la Anne and Diana of Anne of Green Gables. Elisabeth leaves such thoughtful, insightful comments and we've developed a friendship outside of blogging as we often email back and forth to check in on one another and to delve more deeply into the ups and downs of life.

Elisabeth is a working mama of 2 and is often the "home parent" while her husband travels fairly extensively for his European-based role. Since I tend to be the "traveling parent," I can appreciate the hard job she has on the home front; I whole-heartedly believe that the "home parent" has the harder job of the two. Her kids are a bit older than mine so I love the sneak peak of what is to come in my parenting journey. I appreciate how Elisabeth acknowledges the peaks and valleys of parenting; that's something I really strive to do as well. Now if only I could teleport myself to her charming city in Nova Scotia for a cup of tea (for her) and a cup of coffee (for me). But since that's not possible, settle in and get to know Elisabeth through this fun list of questions she almost entirely came up with!

1. What seemingly “little” moment have you observed or been a part of lately that brought a disproportionate amount of joy?

My son loves to sing, and has been singing the chorus to one particular song on repeat for weeks. One evening, he was in the shower singing the same two or three lines over and over again - with gusto! At one point it gets quite high and he would take that as his cue to start singing even more enthusiastically (with a few adorable voice cracks). I was literally clutching my heart while I listened - it was so sweet and genuine and hilarious. (And, while he’s not self-conscious about singing, he was oblivious that anyone could hear him…which made it even sweeter). Pure joy.

2. What aspect of your current life/career would most surprise 20-year-old Elisabeth?

That I don’t have more children (I always assumed I would have 4). I think I’d also be surprised that I didn’t end up having a traditional career. I had my first child three months after finishing my Master’s degree (in Biology) and have worked non-conventionally ever since including co-founding two businesses with my husband. I love structure and oversight, which basically goes out the window when you’re starting an entrepreneurial venture… 

3. Do you have any go-to resets when you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling to stay focused?

Decluttering or tidying - reorganizing a closet, straighening cans in the pantry - and listening to upbeat music. Bonus points if I do both things at once.

4. If you could add (or subtract) one habitual behaviour in your life, what would it be?

Add: A daily stretching/yoga practice. I am horrifically unflexible, but I can’t seem to stick to a regular routine. 

Subtract: Emotional eating or anything that involves “baggage” around the food I make and consume. This is 100x better since I’ve started eating “intutively” but I suspect I’ll always have remnant struggles on the food front.

5. What was your favourite purchase (under $200) in 2022?

Eufy, our robovac. It’s a bit ridiculous how much I adore this little machine.

6. If you could eat only one meal on repeat for a week, what would you choose?

Cheating on this slightly…

Breakfast: A toasted English muffin with peanut butter and sliced banana

Lunch: Roasted sweet potato and eggs

Dinner: Sushi

Now I’m hungry for every single one of those food items!

7. If you had $5,000 that had to be spent “frivolously,” how would you spend it?

Travel - more specifically, another trip with my husband. I’d love to do the Amalfi Coast, Venice, Portugal, Iceland…just about anywhere, honestly.

8. If you could snap your fingers and have all the capabilities necessary to excel in any career or hobby (e.g. if your wish was to be a famous rockstar, you’d magically have the necessary vocal/instrumental skills), what would you choose and why?

Broadway singer. I love singing, I love lyrical music, and even though I’m introverted, I actually like being up in front of people. Or a professional organizer. The latter could theoretically happen, I suppose?

9. List five things that would happen as part of your idealized “perfect day.”

  • The weather would be perfect - not too hot, not too cold. I’d be comfortable in short sleeves, but never overheated. (I am very high-maintenance with temperature.)

  • I’d slowly savour a great cup of coffee on our deck.

  • I’d fit in a long walk with my husband or best friend.

  • I’d get a massage.

  • I wouldn’t have to cook - or clean up after any meal - and the food would all be delicious.

(Also - this might sound horrible and I love them very much - I think for this to be a “perfect day” my kids would be happily occupied elsewhere.)

[Editor's note: my kids were absent from my perfect day, too. Like Elisabeth, I adore my children but when they are around, the day is not generally about what I want to do...]

10. Favourite movie, song, or book from 2022?

My favourite movie from 2022 was Top Gun. So entertaining, and the first time I saw it was when I was visiting my sister and her family in South Carolina and we were in a modern theatre with heated recliners. The whole experience was delightful from start to finish. 

11. Do you enjoy playing kids games? Are there any you particularly love or loathe? (I strongly dislike Hi-Ho Cherrio and Chutes and Ladders because those games can be endless). 

I loved games as a kid, but I’m not a huge fan now. That said, we played 100s of games of UNO at the start of the pandemic and I can tolerate a lot of UNO. Sorry, Five Crowns, and Golf are fun. I loathe Clue, Chutes & Ladders, and Charades. Oh, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos. All that clanking drives. me. crazy.

12. What is your ideal weather forecast? 

Fall in Canada. I love the crisp mornings, golden sunlight, and warm afternoons. This perfect weather only lasts for a few weeks, but I crave it all year. 

13. If you had to describe yourself using 5 words, what words would you choose?

Such a good question - and, also, SO HARD! It’s interesting thinking through what words I would use to describe myself versus what words other people would use. Last year a friend had a group of us do an exercise where we wrote one-word descriptors for each other and some of the words people used to describe me were…surprising. Insightful. Confident. Intelligent. Outgoing. Adventurous. Reliable. Brave. ENERGETIC?! What? Who is this wonder woman and when can I meet her?

My words: organized, questioner, emotional, storyteller, frugal

I sound a bit…boring. Maybe we should go with the words other people suggested?

14. What is your favorite place in Canada to visit? Is there anywhere you’d especially love to visit? 

I haven’t visited that many places in Canada - nothing West of Ontario, though I’d love to visit Banff someday -  but of all the places I’ve been (6 provinces), Nova Scotia - where we live - is my favourite. It’s absolutely beautiful. There is a relaxed pace of life, wide open green spaces, orchards and vineyards everywhere, a temperate climate (for Canada), and so much coastline. It has been a wonderful place to raise a family, and it feels like home.

Ok reader, it's your turn! Pick a few questions to answer in your comment!

Monday, April 17, 2023

Fake Summer and weekend happenings

Last week while we were in Arizona, Minnesota had what I would call ‘fake summer.’ It was abnormally hot - in the upper 80s. So we went from having a good 6-12” of snow on the ground to needing to run our A/C on Thursday night; our bedrooms are upstairs so A/C was necessary so we could all sleep. But as a seasoned midwesterner, I knew this was a fluke. And indeed, the temps rapidly dropped on Friday evening and it was snowing by Saturday evening. We woke to a covering of snow on Sunday morning and the forecast calls for 1-5” by this morning. Le sigh. I guess the snowfall record is still within reach for us (I think we are less than 8” away). 

Now for some weekend highs and lows! 


- We were able to resume our library + gymnastics routine. We hadn’t been to gymnastics in about a month due to a string of illnesses and their spring break closure. It was great to get back to our routine! 

Paul’s teacher assisting with a backwards summersault

Playing with scarves 

- We had 2 play dates! On Saturday, our good friends came over for a couple of hours. Then on Sunday, we went over to our neighbors for about an hour in the morning. Will and I had to abruptly leave because Will was terrified of their sweet Great Dane. I mean, she is massive but she is such a sweet dog. But there was no convincing Will not to be scared of her. Paul did so well with her, though! He’s pretty terrified of dogs but handled being around her. 

- I got workouts in on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday I did a lower body beachbody HIIT workout which included my least favorite move - triple bears - which involve jumping or stepping side-to-side in bear stance with your knees 2” off the ground. I loved all the other moves, though. On Sunday I went on what was a pretty unpleasant run since I was pelted by a rain/snow mix. But it was still good to get out there and move my body.


- The gross weather meant we were cooped up inside a lot. The more time we are inside, the less happy everyone is. The playdates helped but the weekend was still a bit of a slog. 

- My patience was pretty depleted at times and I felt irritable from alllll the whining. I’m on a decent amount of prednisone to manage a flare I’m having in my right hand that just won’t quit. A side effect of prednisone is irritability. I see my doctor on Thursday and plan to get a steroid injection in the joint so at least I’ll be off oral steroids soonish. 

How was your weekend? 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Our Trip to AZ

Paul and I had a really nice trip to Tucson, AZ to visit my younger sister and niece. I brought my work laptop with me but didn't end up having to work much. I had planned to work on the plane ride back but it turns out that the free Wifi on Delta is kind of crap as I can't open files from or save files to my work drive. Which means I basically can't do much of anything. So instead of working, I'm getting started on this blog post! 

On Monday morning we found out our flight would be delayed by 3 hours. At least we found out before we got to the airport, though! When we got to the airport, we were further delayed by a maintenance issue but we still got in about when expected (around 4PST). 

Sooo excited about our trip!

Delays are no problemo when you have an iPad

Shortly after we arrived, we headed out for a delicious Mexican meal. My BIL was supposed to fly out that day, but his flights got canceled so we got to see him that night! 

We spent 3 nights/2.5 days in Arizona which was the right amount of time for Paul's age. He struggled with the time change (we gained 2 hours) so we had some very early mornings. He was up around 4-5am each morning but was happy to lay in bed and play on his iPad while I snoozed on and off. 

We spent a lot of time outdoors on this trip! This swing in my sister's back yard was a HUGE hit!

It was quite hot while we were there so we tried to do things in the morning and had more low key afternoons. The first morning we went to the zoo. They have a great zoo that isn't too big/?overwhelming for little ones. The highlight of our visit was seeing 2 elephants playing in the water!

We also went to a splash pad that afternoon after quiet time. 

Lots of time was spent in their backyard. Paul was entertained by new-to-him toys and was great with his little cousin - albeit a bit bossy at times!

On Wednesday morning, we went on a hike at Sabino Canyon. We did a pretty short hike since we had little hikers with us. I'd love to do more hiking next time I come back to Tucson!

Selfies during a hiking break
We went back to the same splash pad after the hike to cool off.

I soaked up lots of time with my little niece and was thrilled when she let me read to her! She's about 3 months younger than Will and they are so different! Will is a bit, um, moodier than she is. But I think they'll have a blast together when they see each other next in August!

I'm glad Paul got this special one-on-one time with his cousin! Both my sister and I get comments about how our kids do not look like us (why do people feel the need to comment on things like that? Abby's gotten some pretty hurtful comments) but these 2 blondies definitely have a resemblence! 

Besides watching Paul and Maddy get to know each other better/play together, I loved catching up with my sister. We talked a lot about the challenges of parenting. Her husband travels quite a bit for his job so I think/hope it was helpful for me to emphasize how hard her job is - especially since she is 32 weeks pregnant so extra tired! 

Abby and I are 7 years apart so we didn't have much time to bond when we lived under the same roof since we were in completely different stages of life when I left for college. I never lived with my parents again after graduating from college as I did summer school/work in my college town the first summer and then worked elsewhere the other summers (job opportunities were not plentiful in my hometown of 500). So I have really enjoyed getting to know my sister as an adult and I love that we are in similar stages of parenting. I can't imagine not having her to vent to when we were sleep training or dealing with endless strings of viruses. I wish we lived closer but because we are far apart, we tend to get lots of time together when we do see each other since we are usually together for a string of days. 

Do you have siblings? Are you close in age or spread out? I’m 1 of 5. Mg oldest sibling is 10 years older than me, I’m the 4th child and then Abby is 7 years younger. So we have a 17 year span!!

Monday, April 10, 2023

Easter Weekend Recap

I got back from LA on Thursday in time for dinner and bedtime. Overall the trip went really well. I was busy with meetings early in the morning followed by in-person meetings. But the meetings were more enjoyable than ones I’ve had recently since most were looking to take advantage of dislocations in the market. I get a break from work travel until mid-May now. Woo hoo! 

The boys’ school was closed on Friday so we had a 3-day family weekend. I was able to get out for a run with my neighbor on Friday morning. The ice has finally mostly melted off the sidewalks. Highlights from Friday were opening Easter gifts from my parents, dying eggs and going to the library. Our library had a new search and find and swapped out the seasonal toys. The boys enjoyed playing with the science-themed toys!

Very excited about a new Lego set!

Will got new Bombas socks. He will pretty much only wear Bombas. They are the best grippy socks so I get it. 

We went to my MIL’s on Saturday to celebrate Easter. I was very happy to just show up! 

Nana has so many fun activity books!

The boys’ enjoyed their egg hunts. 

When we got home, it was beautiful outside so we played out front with some bubbles! I (finally) took our Christmas planters apart. In my defense, it still looks like Christmas outside. But this snow should be gone soon!

Sunday was another nice, spring day. I went for my first t-shirt run in the morning as temps were around 45-50! After quiet time we went to the park so fit in lots of outdoor time! 

All in all, it was a really nice weekend. Being able to be outside so much made a big difference! 

Paul and I fly to Tucson this morning to visit my younger sister and her daughter. Temps will be in the 90s and we are HERE FOR IT! My sister is about 32 weeks pregnant with another baby girl. I can’t wait to get lots of time with her and my niece. We’ll miss my BIL as he’s traveling for work but I am glad our visit is coinciding with a week of solo parenting as I know my sister will especially appreciate having company and an extra hand to help with her 2yo. Daddy and Will are staying back. Next spring we will resume family spring break trips but decided not to this year as we feared Will wouldn’t do well on the plane. 

How was your weekend? If you celebrate Easter, I hope you had a wonderful holiday! 

Thursday, April 6, 2023

What We Read in March

I'm interrupting a string of posts about how stressful work/life has been lately to talk about something fun - reading!! March was a blur but I still managed to get some reading done - I finished 6 books. 3 were excellent, the other 3 were pretty good to just ok. But first, the highlights:

In Love by Amy Bloom was our March book club book. It's a memoir about the author's husband's decision to seek out assisted suicide in Switzerland after getting diagnosed with Alzheimer's. This was  a sad, but powerful read. My FIL died from Alzheimer's and everyone in my book club was personally impacted by someone who is currently struggling with or had died from Alzheimer's which added to the discussion. Signal Fires by Dani Shapiro is the first novel I've read by this author (I've read and loved her non-fictio). I loved it. The book opens with a car accident involving teens and then over the course of the novel, we see how that accident impacts the survivors' lives. It was so good and so beautifully written. Lastly, I read the latest installment of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series. I don't know how she keeps cranking out excellent installments of this series. I loved this book so much!

The next 3 books were good to just ok. I liked the Genova book but read it on the tails of "In Love" so was probably burned out on reading about Alzheimer's. It had some good nuggets in it about memory but overall wasn't my favorite book by her. I'm at the whim of when books become available at the library - in hindsight, I should have deferred Remember. I think it's still worth reading - just not on the tails of a book about a similar subject. 

The biggest development on the boys' front is that Will is suddenly VERY INTO BOOKS. This is a very exciting development as he was slower to warm to books and I feared that I had messed up and not read to him enough in the early months of his life. To be clear, we always read at bedtime/naptime and he got a lot of "second hand reading" when I was reading to Paul, but he just did not love books like Paul did. Others had assured me it would all work out - and it did. His favorite book is one that Kae gave to Paul when Will was born - it's called "A Long Winter Nap." It's about a tortoise that does not like winter and keeps trying to find places to hibernate but gets interrupted by others who are enjoying winter. At the end, he finds a flat resting place - which is a sled. And then whoosh! He's off on the sledding adventure of his life and realizes he actually DOES like winter. There are days I have read this book 5 times. He is obsessed and thinks it is SO FUNNY when the tortoise lays down on a sled to sleep. It's very cute to see him get so excited about a book. 

What did you read in March?

Monday, April 3, 2023

Weekend Happenings + LA bound

Happy Monday! I’m LA-bound today. I didn’t space my travel out very well so it probably seems like I’m traveling a lot but I’m still sticking to traveling once/month. I’m coming into this trip feeling pretty fatigued but hopefully some California sunshine will be invigorating. 

Our weekend was, in a word, fine. We got about 10” of wet, heavy snow. I helped with some of the shoveling but Phil did most of it + snowblowing as my right shoulder/upper arm has been bothering me for weeks. I don’t know if it’s RA related or something else? I see my rheumatologist next month but am hoping the pain has improved by then. I ended up having to bump up my next RA med as I’m fighting a few other flares. I am sure the stress I’ve been under recently is not helping.

Work continues to be crazy. Things have calmed down in the market but I am doing so many meetings. I sent this picture of my calendar to a couple of friends to show them how nuts work has been. 

The red meetings are client meetings. I ended up adding 4 client calls to Friday after I took this photo. 

I figure eventually things will have to calm down. This has been the hardest couple of weeks in my career since I’ve worked in this industry. I was in corporate finance during the great financial crisis in 2007-2009 so was pretty removed from the stress of that time. 

This week, I have in person client meetings from Monday when I land through Wednesday and then fly back on Thursday. I am doing some super early morning client calls between 5:30-8 PST with clients on the east coast a couple of mornings. It’s not ideal but it’s necessary given the high demand for client calls. I’m planning to try to stay on CST. But one thing I’m excited about is meeting to colleagues in person for the first time after working with them since 2020!

Phil and I have Friday off since markets are closed for Good Friday. We’ll celebrate Easter at my MIl’s on Saturday. She’s very excited to host us and I am happy to hand the meal planning/prep over to someone else! It’s kind of hard to believe Easter is next weekend. We have so much snow and will likely get more this week so there will not be an outdoor egg hunt!!

How was your weekend? Is it springy where you are?