Thursday, November 30, 2023

Three Things Thursday

It's the last day of November. I am not sad. It's been A MONTH. Here are 3 things on my mind, mostly related to illnesses. 

1. We have had A WEEK. The virus that hit on Thanksgiving was the virus that would not quit. I think this is the worst virus we have encountered. I had taken Taco to urgent care on Saturday and strep was ruled out. But the fevers would not quit so I called the nurse's line on Tuesday morning and talked through his symptoms with a very kind nurse. She was quite concerned that he was on day 6 of having a fever so we were able to snag an afternoon appointment with a pediatrician. The pediatrician we saw was so amazing and thorough. She ordered a chest x-ray. Between that and her clinic examination she determined he had the early stages of pneumonia. So we walked out with some antibiotics and instructions to give him Motrin every 6 hours including overnight for the next 36 hours. Oddly specific but I am a rule follower so you can bet I followed it to the T. I don't know how we got up 3-5 times/night when our boys had repeat ear infections. Setting an alarm for 3:30 am to dose him with Motrin was painful and I kept waking up and checking to see how close it was to 3:30 so I slept like crap. But guys, antibiotics are amazing. 

Taco went from looking like this on Tuesday afternoon:

 To looking like this on Wednesday morning:

Wearing the new Mickey sweatshirt I bought him on Tuesday. I usually do not buy things for the boys randomly but I felt SO TERRIBLE for him and I knew a Mickey shirt would cheer him up (he's obsessed with Mickey).

2. Taco is the actually second person in our family to get pneumonia this fall. Phil was diagnosed with it earlier in November and also has a suspected fractured rib from all of his coughing. It has been an epically bad fall. I have oddly been the healthiest adult in our house which is very unusual. Phil likely got pneumonia from influenza A, although he was sick with a cough before he got the flu. 

3. The Grinch has been playing in our house year-round since it's one of Taco's favorite movies. We watch the animated version with Benjamin Cumberbatch voicing the Grinch. There have been a number of times recently (mostly at work) where I want to say "I'm sorry, I don't speak ridiculous" a la The Grinch (see this very brief clip). It's a good thing I like this movie as much as I do because I have seen it no fewer than 30 times in 2023 and that is probably a huge understatement. Sometimes The Grinch is my spirit animal as awful as that might be to admit, well my spirit animal if I was able to say what was on my mind at times. 

What's on your mind today?

Monday, November 27, 2023

Thanksgiving Recap + Another Freaking Virus

I won’t bury the lead here. All of our best laid plans were blown up when Taco got sick on Thanksgiving. Le sigh. Here’s a recap of our derailed weekend. 

I ran a chilly 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I think the ‘feels like’ temp was 20F. I was really glad to be done after 3.1 miles! 

We headed to my brother’s in the metro area. The boys had so much fun with their cousins - and this huge bin of legos. 

Lego jackpot!!!

Then shortly before dinner, Taco got really clingy. And I thought - is he warm? No, he can’t be warm, we’ve had every virus known to man this fall. 

Reader, he indeed had a fever. 

Our sad, sick baby. 

We ate dinner and skedaddled thereafter and apologized for exposing people to some unknown virus. Everyone understood as he was completely healthy when we arrived. 

My parents had planned to stay with us that night so Paul stayed at my brother’s with them so he could get more cousin time in and Phil and I headed home with our sick boy. I feared it was Covid but his test was negative. My parents weren’t concerned about getting his virus so stayed with us as planned. 

Playing ‘our first orchard’ game when Taco was fever free on Friday morning. This is the best game for toddlers and early preschoolers IMO.

We were supposed to go to my MIL’s house on Saturday and I was supposed to host my annual cookie decorating party with college friends on Sunday. Phil and Paul went without us on Saturday and I canceled the cookie decorating party which made me so sad. Rescheduling isn’t possible as there are 5 birthdays in the first half of December in this group of friends/kids plus all the other holiday hustle and bustle. Maybe I will reschedule for January and make it a winter cookie decorating party or something.

Taco observed very early bedtimes - at his request. After he was in bed we kept Paul busy by playing games (we taught ourselves how to play garbage), setting up ‘mountains’ with their beloved nugget which Santa brought them last Christmas, and reading books.

Taco and I played memory when he was fever-free. He is quite good at it. We only play with 6 matches. 

But mostly it was a lot of these kind of moments. Messy mom hair and a sad, sick baby. We were at urgent care when I took this pic as I wanted to rule out strep. That test was negative so it's some other virus - my guess is RSV.

I don’t know how we are getting all of these viruses. I actually don’t think it’s daycare necessarily as there haven’t been illness postings. I guess it’s from things like going to birthday parties (we went to one the previous weekend) and the library and just being out and about in general? But I can’t keep us cooped up inside to avoid viruses. So I guess this is the awful price we pay for being out and about. 

How was your weekend? Surely it had to be better than mine! 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Anatomy of a Shouldless Day

On Friday I used PTO to have what I call a ‘shouldless day.’ I learned about this concept on the podcast Death, Sex and Money. It’s a day where you only do things you want to do and nothing you should do. So much of our lives are ruled by things we should do. So specifying that I won’t do any shoulds allows me to use the day as I would like with no guilt. So here’s how I spent it!

- I got the kids up and helped get Taco out the door with dad for daycare and Paul on the bus. 

- I messaged my colleagues to tell them I am actually going to try to take the day off and not read/respond to emails. I haven’t had a real day off like this in a very very long time. Even in Canada I checked email at the end of the day. I needed a FULL break from work on this day off. 

- I did a full body Caroline Girvan Epic Heat workout. I haven’t done one of her workouts in over a month thanks to the awful cough/viral illness I was fighting for most of October. It feels so good to be back to working out! 

- I also set up our fake tree. It’s tree decorating day and I promised Paul I would wait until he is home from school to put the ornaments on. Yes it is early to put our tree up but we started doing it in 2020 when we needed some extra light in our lives. I host my college girlfriends and their kids for a cookie decorating party the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend each year so it’s nice to have the tree up well ahead of that. 

- I got a deep tissue massage and think of Jenny since she is a massage therapist. As the masseuse works out the ridiculous number of knots in my upper back, I think of how stressful this year has been at work. I carry my stress in my upper back/shoulder so it’s not wonder she’s working out lots of knots. 

- After the massage, I treated myself to lunch at a Mexican place next to the spa. Tacos, chips, salsa and a sav blanc! And I sit in silence and eat which is golden after a week of So. Much. Talking.

- I relax for a bit before Paul gets off the bus around 2:45. He put all the kid-friendly ornaments on the tree. 

And that brought my shouldless day to a close. It turns out Fridays aren’t the best day for this kind of thing since Paul doesn’t have after care on Friday. But I still had about 6.5 hours to do as I pleased. It just went way too fast! But I planned 2 days off in mid-December so have more me time to look forward to. Those days will also be used for final holiday prep but at least I have a couple of days where I won’t be juggling work and holiday prep.

Have you taken days off that are to be spent as you please? 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

How I Pack for a Work Trip

I'm back from what was a very busy work trip to New York City. The days were long as I had happy hours and dinners each night so there wasn't any sight seeing, but that's typical for a work trip, especially when I'm in the city where we have a large office, as we do in NYC. There are so many people to see so I end up having 12+ hour days. I did a lot of client meetings including on really really big one on Monday afternoon and got to see a lot of colleagues so it was a successful trip. 

But as promised, here is a breakdown of how I pack for work trips. I have it down to quite a science since I travel fairly often (I will do 14 business trips this year). 

Tip #1: Apple Notes (or something similar) is your friend.

I am a heavy user of the apple notes app on the iPhone. I have packing lists for work trips and trips with the kids. Basically I do not trust my brain to remember much so I make a checklist so I don't forget something. My packing list for work trips never changes. If I don't need something, like a work badge (which I only need if I will be in one of my company's offices during the trip), I just keep it on the list but keep it checked rather than deleting it. 

Tip #2: Do not pack much.

Novel tip, right? This is not going to work for some people but I pack as little as possible. I do not need clothes for after work. I do not need several clothing options for each day. I have a "uniform" when I travel which is typically a black dress, black tights, my Rothy's flats (I only wear flats because then I know I can walk 10k+ steps and not be in pain), and a necklace. I love my work dresses and find them incredibly comfortable so I do not need an outfit to change into after work. So for this trip, I was there for 3 days so I brought 3 black dresses. If I wasn't seeing the same people day after day, I could get away with wearing 2 dresses. 

I like to workout while traveling but I usually give myself one rest day since my days can be very long. So on this trip, I planned to work out on Monday and Wednesday mornings. For my workout top, I bring a tank top with a built in sports bra (which I can get away with because I am, um, small chested - I realize this is not an option for everyone). That means I have 2 less things to pack. 

All the clothes I wore on this trip. 3 dresses, 2 pairs of pajamas (I rewore one pair), and 2 sets of workout clothes.
Tip # 3: Do. Not. Check. A. Bag. 

Again, this is not going to work for some/many. I am NOT high maintenance. At all. So it's very possible for me to pack all of my things into a teeny tiny carry on bag. I actually got this suitcase as part of my high school graduation gift in 1999. It is cute? No. Do I care? No. What I love about it is that it fits on every single plane, even the tiny regional jets I sometimes take between Minneapolis and Chicago. I do not even like gate checking my bag because you still have to wait around for said bag in the jetway and I do not like waiting around. I value efficiency above all else when it comes to packing/traveling! But I think if you travel as much as I do, you want as little friction in your schedule as possible!

So there you have it! How a very low maintenance person packs! 

I've got a really fun day ahead of me. I work this morning and then I pick Paul up at 2pm and we are going to Wild Kratts Live this afternoon. Sine the show is downtown, we are going to swing by my workplace so he can see where mommy works and meeti my fun coworkers who are nearly all older than me and completely enamored with young kids. And then tomorrow I have a day off which I am treating as a "shouldless day" meaning I am only doing things I WANT to do and nothing I feel I SHOULD do. I badly need a day like this after the string of busy weeks I've had at work!

What is your packing style? Are you super minimalistic like me or do you like to have allll the options? 

Monday, November 13, 2023

Good Things and Annoying Things

I flew out yesterday afternoon for NYC so we had a short weekend. But we still packed a lot in. Here were some good things and some annoying things. The good things list is longer but the annoying things were more impactful so it felt more balanced than the list would suggest. 

Good things:

- The boys and I went to the movie night at Paul’s school and had a great time! The boys both sat quietly for the entire show. That’s pretty impressive for Taco at just shy of 3. 

- I managed to go for a 2 3-mile runs and barely cough. Woo hoo! There is no way I can run 6 miles in 2 weeks for the Thanksgiving drumstick dash, though. It’s not worth it to try. I know some would push through but the risk of injury or feeling awful on one of my favorite holidays of the year isn’t worth it! I will drop down to the 5k and call it good enough.  

- The library was closed for Veteran’s Day on Saturday so the boys got donuts and I enjoyed a drink from Starbucks. 

- After quiet time we raked up the rest of our leaves and the boys jumped in the piles before we put them in yard bags.

This picture gives you an idea of how big of a hill we live on.

- On Sunday morning the boys and I went to Target so Paul could pick out a present for a birthday party we will attend next week. We wandered the toy aisles and I took pictures of things they wanted for Christmas. We talked A LOT before this trip about how we were only buying a present for a friend and they would not be buying anything and it actually went well. I texted the grandparents all of the pictures of things they wanted. 

Example 1 of something Taco wanted. I would like this in my size, too. 
Example 2 of something Taco wanted. Which truck? Any and all of them. He loves anything with wheels.

Example 1 of something Paul wanted (plus allll the Lego sets)

Example 2 of something Paul wanted.

Annoying things:

- Shortly before we left for the movie on Friday night, I realized I did not have my work cell phone in my purse. Uggggh. Managing 2 phones is the bain of my existence (I’m required to have a work cell due to a SEC message retention policy). I knew I had it out at my desk at work in the afternoon so after dropping the boys at home after the movie, I had to drive back downtown and get my phone which was in my cube at work. Phew. I can’t do anything without my work cell as I need it to log into the VPN and I knew I would sleep well that night if I didn’t go and get it.

- The boys both had their moments. Phil was making scrambled eggs on Saturday and Taco somehow pulled down the bowl of just-cracked eggs - food waste and an awful mess to clean up. Paul can go from being so pleasant to being just awful at bedtime. It’s a terrible time to push my buttons because I am so worn out by the end of the day. I guess they sense our weakness and pounce. I say this to show that it’s really not all sunshine and roses around here, even during a fun weekend. There are lots of mountains and valleys during a weekend of parenting young kids. 

What good moments and annoying moments did you have this weekend?

Friday, November 10, 2023

5 things Friday

Happy Friday! We made it through another week! And yes, that’s an accomplishment in our house given all the germs and such we are cycling through. Here are 5 things on my mind today:

1. My cough seems to be finally getting better. It plagued me for a good 3+ weeks. This is not terribly surprising. I’m on some serious immune suppressant drugs to manage my RA (my immune system has to be suppressed, otherwise it goes into overdrive and attacks itself, resulting in painful flares). I am going to attempt to run tomorrow. Hopefully it goes better than last weekend. 

2. Work continues to be so so busy. I’ve done 340 client meetings (mostly via zoom, some in person) this year. Last year I did 90 and I had the 2nd highest meeting count on my team last year. I’m probably in first place by like 100s this year. This pace of work is not really sustainable. But my new hire has taken over more than I dreamed he could at this point. He was here again this week so we got to work in adjacent cubes which was so nice. But it’s very workable to have him in Chicago. 

3. I have my 2nd to last business trip of the year next week. I fly to NYC on Sunday evening so I can be in the office Monday morning. It’s a longer trip (for me) as I get back late on Wednesday night. I don’t like traveling on a weekend day but it had to happen for this trip. I am excited to be in NYC, though. I absolutely adore the city and some of my favorite colleagues are based there. But I am glad the end of business trips for the year is in sight. I will do 14 business trips this year which is A LOT for me (and most people?). My goal was 9. And I even said no to a couple of trips, like a recent request the week of Thanksgiving. 

4. Taco has recently become interested in puzzles. I love puzzles so hope both boys are drawn to them. What was especially cute was that Paul was happy to help Taco with his puzzles! I whispered to Phil and said ‘oh my God, they are playing together. Quietly.’ 

Paul is wearing headphones but isn’t listening to anything. Taco is working on a seasons of the year puzzle.  He loves the winter puzzle which is puzzling for me as that is my least favorite season.

5. Tonight there is a movie night at Paul’s school and siblings are welcome. So I am going to take the boys and give Phil a night off from parenting since he’s got some solo parenting ahead of him next week. I’m so glad we’ve reached the stage where both boys are entertained by movies!! They are showing Lilo and Stitch which I have never seen. Popcorn is involved! 

How was your week? Do you like doing puzzles? I adore them! 

Monday, November 6, 2023

Halloween + Day with Paul + Weekend Stuff

I’m finally getting around to recapping Halloween. Here is how the day started…

While it’s not out of character for Halloween to be chilly, snow is NOT typical. The boys were thrilled, the adults were not. It had mostly melted by that evening but was still chilly. 

Waiting in the neighbors spookily decorated yard for the block photo! Hard to see their costumes (Spider-Man and Marshall from Paw Patrol) under their winter jackets and such.

Our pumpkin! We always carve a cat. We only have a very part time cat but we are definitely a cat-loving house. 

Paul’s haul. Maybe it will be gone by Christmas?? The boys only get 2 pieces/day. We are super fun parents.

Paul didn’t have school on Friday so I took the day off so I could spend time with him versus trying to work and letting him be on his iPad for hours on end. We started the day by going to the clinic to get both boys’ Covid and flu vaccines. Again, super fun mom. The boys need their vaccines in their thighs since they are so small/petite so I try to plan their appointments when I have a day off. I look forward to a time when we can just go to CVS or Walgreens! 

Post vaccines treats. Donut for Paul, coffee for mom. Will got dropped at school so missed out on the treats. And I was thrilled that our Starbucks has holiday cups this year! Last year they said they didn’t have them because they aren’t recyclable but this year the person said they didn’t buy them last year because they aren’t compostable but their compostable cups were leaking so they just ordered them anyways this year. So who knows the reason. I don’t want to hurt planet earth with my weekly coffee treat but it is very festive to drink out of these cups!

We had a really quiet day together. He watched some shows while I worked on my Christmas card address list and several months of our 2023 Shutterfly photo book. Then admittedly, after lunch I let him have iPad time while I took a much-needed nap. It’s been hard for Phil and I to fight the viruses we’ve had because rest is so hard to come by when you are crazy busy at work and have young kids. I know that sounds like I am throwing a pity party but it’s the reality of life right now. Even on my day off, I was fielding questions and trouble shooting issues that were happening at work. My new hire is helping but I’m still drowning in work and I don’t see it improving anytime soon.

We ended our day with a trip to Paul’s favorite park before picking up Taco. 

The zip line is Paul’s favorite!

When we got home, I raked up a pile of leaves for them so they could jump and play.

So the day wasn’t a complete screenfest… more screens than is ideal but such is life when I’m not feeling super!

Other weekend stuff:

- I was feeling better on Saturday morning so I tried to go for a run. About a mile in, I started coughing so much, I feared I would throw up. The running path is pretty busy so that would have been humiliating. So I walked back home with my tail between my legs. I guess I need to stick with walks. I will probably have to run a 5k on thanksgiving instead of the 10k unless my cough drastically improves soon. 

- I usually pack salads for lunches. I’ve done this for years but this week I hit my breaking point and couldn’t bring myself to eat salads for lunch, maybe because I’m craving comfort when I don’t feel great and salads aren’t a comfort food for me. So this weekend I made a huge amount of a sheet pan meal to have for lunches and to fill the gaps on week nights when we don’t have meal plans. This is way more work than my salad prep but wanting to eat what I planned for lunch is really important. 

Sheet pan meal of the week - chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and peppers.

- It was the end of daylight savings here which I loathe. Why do we manipulate time like this? We let the boys stay up late to watch movies on Friday and Saturday nights and wonder of wonders, they slept until 6:15 on Sunday morning! We did deal with some very crabby boys when we let them stay up until 8:30, but it was worth it to not start my day at a time that starts with the number 5.

Does your area of the world recognize daylight savings time? If so, how did the transition go? Do you hate it as much as I do (I did love falling back pre-kids)? Do you have a favorite sheet pan meal that does not include fish or shrimp (I will NEVER reheat a fish- or shrimp-based meal in a communal kitchen at work because I am a decent human being).

Thursday, November 2, 2023

What We Read in October

Oof October was not my favorite. We had so much illness in our house and the adults are still kind of limping through life. My reading suffered as a result of the rough month we had which included 2 work trips on top of all the illnesses. Here is how my reading shaped up! 

Best books:

Talking at Night was an excellent character driven novel about the friendship between 2 friends. There is plenty of angst and bad decisions in this book but it’s forgiveable (for me) because of the characters’ pasts. There is no plot to this book so avoid it if you need a plot. In Memorium is historical fiction set during WWI. It’s focused on the forbidden feelings between 2 soldiers and also demonstrates the horrors of war which is prescient given what is happening in our world today. No one truly wins in war. 

Good to pretty good:

I had to think hard to remember what Paper Names was about which means it was pretty forgettable. It tells the story of a first generation immigrant. What drove me to read this was finding that the author, who is an investment banker (which is an industry with insane hours - like 60-70+/week), wrote this at night. How! Here For It was an excellent collection of essays about faith, sexuality, and all kinds of other topics. I Could Live Here Forever had promise. It is about a woman in an MFA program at UW Madison. She falls in love with a man who is early in his recovery from a heroin addiction. I could NOT separate the (terrible) decisions of the protagonist from how I felt about this book so that knocked it down from great to good. 

Did not work:

The Puzzle Master appealed to me because I love puzzles. However I somehow missed that this book involved things like the occult and other plot points that required me to suspend my disbelief and it just did not work for me. Bleak House was my 2023 conquer a classic read with a Patreon group and wow it was awful. I’m never surprised when a classic doesn’t appeal to me. But it felt evident that Dickens was paid per word. So. Many. Characters. So many wondering plot points. So. Many. Words. 

Boys’ reads:

Paul and I randomly plucked this book off the shelf at the library. It is a cute book about a girl whose mom calls her mouse as an affectionate nickname and she DOES NOT LIKE IT. 

Taco loved this book! He also loved the other book by this author that we checked out based on the recommendation of an anonymous commenter. Thank you to that person!!

Did you read anything great in October?