Monday, September 25, 2023

Weather Privilege + Weekend Highlights

We have entered the season of the year where us Midwesterners have a lot of weather privilege! The temps are perfect and the fall colors are gorgeous! Here are some photos from my run on Saturday morning! 

Peaks of fall colors around Lake Harriet

But our period of weather privilege will be pretty short-lived and then I will be envious of those living further south. In the mean time, I am soaking up the fall weather and appreciating the gorgeous fall views! 

We had a nice weekend. It kicked off with a birthday party at a park for one of our best friends. Some of the adults played pickle balls and the kids played at a great park. There were lots of families from our former daycare so Paul in particular had lots of buddies to hang out with. 

Paul living his best life - and look, he’s wearing his glasses!

We hit up another park on Saturday before a rain storm moved in. 

Swimming lessons went well on Sunday. Paul is making progress and doing more and more in class. I feel like we will repeat this level several times but that’s ok. We celebrated a successful lesson with a macaron. You know mom is a Francophile when your 5.5 year old a) knows what a macaron is and b) pronounces it correctly! 

Later that day, Taco and I played My First Orchard Game, which we call ‘the raven game’. We’ve tried before and he wasn’t ready but this time it took and we played 5 games! It makes me wonder if Taco is color blind. We also wonder if Paul is color blind. My dad is color blind so boys have a 50/50 chance of color blindness. They tried testing Paul at his optometrist appointment but the results were inconclusive which is common at his age.

We also got lots of rain this weekend which we desperately needed! 

As the weekend came to an end, Phil started to feel nauseated and not well. Le sigh. I thought we were out of the danger zone of this stomach bug. Fingers crossed I stay healthy. 

How was your weekend? What is the weather like where you live?

Friday, September 22, 2023


Happy Friday! This week flew by since I was in New Jersey for work. I hadn't traveled for work in 2 months so this trip kind of wore me out! Here is how the week shaped up.

The books I am reading this week are Under The Skin by Linda Villarosa and Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan. I usually do not read 2 books at the same time but I can only read one chapter a day of Under the Skin, which is about the difference in healthcare treatment/outcomes of Black Americans. It is so sad and heavy so a chapter/day is all I can handle. This is our September book club book which we'll discuss next week. Late Bloomers is pretty easy/breezy. It's about an Indian couple who have divorced and are both dating for the first time in their lives since they had an arranged marriage. It's a bit over-the-top at times in terms of drama but overall it's a nice break from the heaviness of my non-fiction read.

The high of my week was meeting Daria in person! I mentioned in a comment that I was coming to New Jersey and where I'd be staying and it happened to be pretty close to where she lives so we met up for some wine on Wednesday night. We failed to take a picture as we were too busy getting to know each other. It's always delightful to meet a blogger in person - they are exactly as you'd expect them to be from reading their blog. I had mentioned to the sales person I was traveling with that I was meeting a friend for wine on Wednesday and she of course asked how I knew someone in NJ so I had to explain about how I have a blog, etc etc. (Hi Gia, if you are reading this!). I really love how blogging has allowed me to meet so many cool people!

The low of my week was dealing with kid illnesses. Paul was COMPLETELY healthy on Sunday and then Monday morning, his GI bug resurfaced. Le sigh. The same thing happened to him around when he turned 4. He got 2 rounds of a GI bug with a day of health in between. It's so odd. I emailed his pediatrician just to make sure we shouldn't be concerned and it sounded like this is just what viruses do these days. 

A show we are watching is the latest season of Alone on Netflix. On my own, I am slowly working my way through the 3rd season of Sweet Magnolia on Netflix. When I say slowly working my way through it, I mean I watch for 10 minutes while Phil is doing Paul's bedtime and then promptly shut it off when he comes down because it is so not his thing. 

For workouts I did a Caroline Girvan (CG) strength training workout on Monday when Paul was home sick with me since he was happy to be on his iPad in his bedroom. I did a body weight lower body strength training workout in my hotel room on Wednesday and ran on the treadmill on Thursday (and then forgot to end the workout on my apple watch so my pace looks horrific but oh well). Today I will do another CG workout and then will run on Sat and Sun. I haven't ran outside in 2 weeks!

The best money spent was on registration for a 10k on Thanksgiving Day at the lake by our house. When my family decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at my brother's house in the Minneapolis suburbs, I nearly immediately signed up for this race! So I will get in a 10k race which was one of my goals for 2023. It won't be fast and that's FINE. 

My plans this weekend include not much. We are going to the birthday gathering for a good friend tonight. Saturday we will do the library and gymnastics. We have no plans on Sunday. If Taco continues to be healthy, Phil will take one of the boys out to his mom's for the afternoon one of the days.The weather is looking pretty great for the weekend - temps in the 70s! I'll take it! 

How was your week? 

Monday, September 18, 2023

School Sickies Already

9 days into the school year and we got hit with our first bug. Le sigh. Paul woke me from a deep sleep at midnight on Friday night saying he thought he was getting sick. In my disoriented, exhausted state I didn’t ask any details. I assumed he meant he was getting a cold so I just tucked him back into bed and told him his body needed sleep to fight the germs. I regretted not asking what he meant by ‘getting sick’ when he woke at 5 to tell us he had thrown up in his bed. Gah. We got him bathed, changed his bedding and got him back to bed and laid down for a bit. I didn’t really fall back to sleep after that and Taco was up at 6:30. 

The day wasn’t all bad, though.

- Phil still golfed with our friends and their team won the charity tournament so he came home with some bottles of wine that they won. We rescheduled the get together at their house for the end of the month.

- Paul stayed in his room all morning with his iPad so I just had to check in on him while watching Taco. I was able to get a Caroline Girvan workout in while Taco played with toys in the basement. I did the 9th workout in her Epic Heat series. I had done the 8th workout on Friday and both had lots of Bulgarian lunges and squats so I was sore afterwards but a good kind of sore. 

- I also cleaned our kitchen while Taco played with kitchen toys. There’s nothing like a stomach bug to bring out the ‘disinfect everything’ vibe!!! 

- Phil took Taco for a 2 hour walk/adventure in the neighborhood in the afternoon while I kept an eye on Paul and did some decluttering/boxing up of things the boys don’t play with anymore. Taco seems to smile better when Phil takes photos! 

Throwing rocks at Lake Harriet!

- Not so good: That night Phil and I watched an episode of the latest season of Alone and one of the contestant threw up on camera repeatedly and I about lost it. I can handle blood and gore. For example, I find the live photos from my c-sections that the nurse anesthetist took incredibly fascinating and they don’t phase me in the least. Seeing someone puke? HARD PASS. 

Sunday was much better. Paul felt bad to his normal self. Phew.

- I woke up on my own at 6 feeling fully rested! I got the boys breakfast and then we snuggled up on the couch to watch Ratatouille, my favorite Pixar film! 

Of course Taco would not smile. Ha.

- I went to outdoor yoga at a brewery (Utepils) at 10 and then my friend and I stayed for our free drink. She had a beer, I had a hard seltzer. The weather was sunny and gorgeous! I hadn’t done a yoga class since a prenatal class when I was pregnant with Paul so I was very overdue! The class felt so good since I was still very sore from the CG workouts! 

- Paul’s swimming lesson was at 1:15. He’s making progress but it’s painstakingly slow progress. Luckily the other kid in his class is similarly terrified of the water. 

Holding on for dear life with his sweet, patient teacher!

- We ended our full day at the birthday party of the daughter of Phil’s HS friend. The weather was absolutely perfect! 

Taco was very interested in the birthday girl’s gifts

Stomach flu aside, it was a good weekend. How was yours? If you have kids in school, are you all staying healthy?

Friday, September 15, 2023

5 Things Friday (mostly about work)

I made it through our first full week of work in quite some time! Here are 5 things on my mind.

1. Work has been BANANAS. I'm back to a very full calendar. Here's a screen shot of  my calendar this week. Red meetings are client meetings, so I have fewer of those than last spring when I could have 25+ client meetings in a week. But it's still a lot on top of other meetings plus I am trying to train my new hire at the same time. He's quickly seeing how busy I am and how desperate I have been for help! Some days I had to eat lunch at 10:15-10:30 because it was the only time I could squeeze it in before calls. Nearly all meetings are with camera on so I can't eat lunch during the meeting. I did discretely snack on some grapes during an afternoon call with colleagues as I really needed a snack. But eating grapes is a bit different than eating a salad!

2. Speaking of my new hire, he is AWESOME. He's super energetic, engaged and excited. I feel very very good about my hiring decision and hope and pray that he is as happy here as I have been and doesn't go anywhere! He's based in another city but was here Mon-Thur of this week and will be back the last week of the month. And then I will see him in late October and he'll probably come back in November. He's is happy to travel here if need be. Training someone in person versus over zoom is SO MUCH BETTER. 

3. I'm traveling next week for the first time since the 3rd week of July! I'll be in New Jersey Tuesday through Thursday of next week. The sales person I was going to travel with had something come up at the last minute so I'll be traveling with someone different on Tues/Thur and will do the Wednesday meetings on my own, but it should be fine. I don't have a crazy number of meetings and it looks like the meetings are fairly close together geographically. My company is coming down hard on the in-office requirement. The target has been 3 days/week for the past year but I didn't have to "make up” days if I had to stay home for a doctor's appointment. But if I'm in 2 days in a week, I need to come in for 4 to make up for that shorter week. I'll be curious how my travel gets factored in, though; it sounds like the company can use my corporate credit card usage to figure out when I am traveling and bake that into my average. My boss has told me I'm marked as a traveler so my average is kind of irrelevant and supposedly isn't included when the company calculates the overall average for the firm. I just don't want them to change the in-office requirement to 4 or 5 days. I selfishly really need those 2 days at home to get workouts in! And I am probably even more productive at home than in the office so everybody wins! 

4. Speaking of workouts, they've been pretty atrocious lately. I've been so busy with work and back-to-school so am just barely getting in 2-3 workouts each week. I'm reminding myself that this is a stage of life and eventually I'll get back to more consistent workouts. 

5. Shifting to something fun, we have a great weekend on deck and I am hopeful the kids are adjusting to their new schools and are a bit less volatile?? Phil is golfing with  my retired colleague and his wife tomorrow morning at a charity event and then the boys and I will meet them at the couple's house for lunch so they can see the boys. On Sunday morning I am going to yoga at a brewery with my friend and her husband where I imagine they will enjoy a post-yoga pint (I won’t because beer has gluten and I found it disgusting even before I found out about my gluten intolerance!!) Sunday afternoon, we are going to a birthday party for the daughter of one of Phil's college friends. The weekend weather forecast look awesome - lows in the 50s overnight, highs in the low 70s during the day. This is my kind of fall weather!!

Bonus Taco update/pics!

Taco is adjusting better to the new daycare. He doesn't cry at drop off anymore which is HUGE! He cried all summer at his old daycare once Paul moved to the public school program. I didn't think too much of it as change is hard but it's a good sign that he shifted to not crying in a matter of weeks at the new place! This daycare just opened in May and enrollment is slowly growing so it’s way quieter than our last place and he has fewer teachers to get to know. So overall it’s been a great change. He's still stoic when getting his picture taken, though.

He's very serious about going to the park.

He figured out the scooter on day 2. He might be our athlete. He pushes the scooter with his left foot - maybe he will be left handed?

How was your week? 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Weekend Highs and Lows

We had a fun, full weekend! Here are some highs and lows. The weekend was a bit of a mixed bag. Saturday was great, Sunday was not. 


- On Friday night, we got together with some of Phil’s college friends to celebrate a birthday. It was a beautiful fall night - in the low 70s so about 30 degrees cooler than the previous weekend!

- I ran 4 miles in nice, cool fall temps on sat and sun mornings!

- I was exhausted from a busy and intense week at work plus the rough night of sleep on Friday night so I napped for over an hour on Saturday. It was delightful. 

- We had our annual block party on Saturday afternoon/evening. It’s a great way to see a bunch of our neighbors and reconnect. Taco is continuing to get more comfortable around dogs (NGS, I thought of you as I know you’ve been happy that he’s overcoming his fear of dogs)! He got to give the dog some treats.


- Friday night was not a great night of sleep. Taco must have had a bad dream so required some comforting around 12:30 and then Paul was up for the day at 5:45. Isn’t he supposed to be super tired after his first few days of Kindergarten!? ;)

- I had to write the content for my firm’s fixed income weekly. I usually just pull the data but had to do the writing since our strategist is on vacation. It took me so long as I obsess over what to write, do a lot of research before I can start writing, and I don’t have any expertise in one of the sectors (emerging market debt). I’ll have to write it again in late October. Years ago, I used to write the commentary every Monday but got rid of that task when we merged with a subsidiary - and right around when we shifted to writing it over the weekend so it can go out early on Monday morning. I’m glad I don’t have to write it often! If you want to read it to get a sense of what I do, send me an email or include your email address in the comments (if one isn’t associated with your profile).

- The wheels really fell off on Sunday when we had one of our worst days of parenting in a long time. I am sure it’s the result of all the change in routine for the boys but oof that does not make it any easier. We couldn’t go to the farmer’s market/park since both boys were acting out and then taco refused to nap and was in a horrible, combative mood for the rest of the day. Funnily, on Sunday morning before both kids were up (Paul slept until 6:45, Taco until 7), I was thinking - maybe weekends are returning to being restorative. NOPE. 


- Paul had his first swimming lesson of the fall quarter. Long time readers may recall that he refused to get in the pool for lessons in the summer of 2021 after a prolonged break from lessons during Covid. So we took a long break and waited for him to show more interest in swimming before re-enrolling. The lesson went so so. He got in the pool but wouldn’t do a couple of things. Could have been worse, could have been better. His teacher said he did great considering his intense fear of the water when he’s not wearing a life jacket. I had talked to a manager when we did a trial lesson in August and she said we are at the point where we have to put up with some resistance (read: screaming and crying). He absolutely has to learn to swim so we will just have to power through the resistance. We got macarons at a bakery afterwards to celebrate the start of swimming lessons. 

Not really a thumbs up and a pretty stoic expression. That about sums up the first swimming lesson. 

What were the highs and lows of your weekend?

Friday, September 8, 2023

Virtual Coffee Date

It's been awhile since I've done a coffee date kind of post. So settle in, grab your favorite warm beverage, and let's catch up. 

If we were having coffee today...

- I'd of course have to start off by talking about Paul starting kindergarten this week! Yesterday was his first day and he was SO excited. I would also probably talk about the complicated feelings I have around him starting kindergarten which is mostly related to how others think I might feel. I can't tell you how many people have asked, with concerned looks/tones, how I feel about Paul starting kindergarten. I know they are well-meaning questions and I understand that kindergarten is a big milestone but we are so excited about it. I loved school, I know he will love school, and he is very ready for this next step. Admittedly, I am not a very emotional person... That might sound like a bad thing but it's just how I am built and probably why I fit in so well in the male-dominated industry of asset management. But I almost feel bad that I don't feel more sad. Am I missing some crucial gene that all moms should have? This is not to say that I will never feel sad or mourn the end of a stage of parenting, but I am not very sad to be one step closer to leaving the baby/toddler/young kid stage behind. Those stages have their perks, but overall they were very challenging stages for me. So give me the elementary school years! Interestingly, barely anyone has asked Phil how he feels about Paul starting kindergarten so there is certainly a gendered expectation that mom will feel sad/cry and dad will be fine. And I not casting shade at moms who ARE sad and emotional and cried when their child started K. Everyone has a right to feel the way they feel, but I wish I wasn't feeling such pressure to feel sad, if that makes sense. Parenting is complicated. 

I was surprised he said he wants to be an engineer!

- I'd tell you I have fall on the brain even though fall doesn't technically start for several weeks. I bought the boys' Halloween costumes a couple of weeks ago at Once Upon a Child. Paul was with me so he picked out a Spiderman costume for himself and Marshall the fire pup from Paw Patrol for Will. Will's costume is borderline too small but oh well! He's very excited about it. Besides buying their Halloween costumes, I also bought tickets for Paul and me for our zoo's "jack-o-lantern spectacular" event. We went last year and it was amazing so we decided to go again. Fall is such a fun season so I am VERY excited about it! And I'm also very ready for cool, crisp temps after a very hot summer! 

- I'd tell you Paul was with me that day because we decided to go to an optical store and order different glasses for him. We could not get him to wear the cheaper Zenni ones we had bought earlier in the summer. I told him he ABSOLUTELY has to wear these every day when school starts and I've told his teacher that he needs to wear his glasses. He didn't pick out the pair I wanted him to pick out but these do seem to fit him better. There is no way he will be able to see the white board in the classroom without glasses so hopefully that motivates him to keep them on. 

- I'd tell you that Taco seems to be adjusting pretty well to his new daycare. Drop off is rough but it was rough once Paul stopped going to daycare with him. Our new daycare has an ap where they post pictures throughout the day so it's nice to see that he's happy/thriving. He is always happy and having fun when pick him up so hopefully the crying/screaming drop offs will come to an end soon...

- I couldn't end the conversation without talking about what we are both reading! I'd tell you that I finished "All That is Mine I Carry With Me" last night, which is by the author of "Defending Jacob." I really enjoyed the book but wow, the title is way too long. The author is an attorney-turned-writer. The book is such a page turner! I've been staying up past my bedtime because I can't put it down and then I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I tried to fall asleep! When the book opens, a mother goes missing and her husband, a defense attorney, is the suspected killer. It's told from 4 different view points. 

If we were having coffee or tea today, what would you tell me? 

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Long weekend recap

We had a really nice long weekend up at my parents! It was a HOT weekend so the lake was the place to be! Taco and I hit the road around 7 on Friday and were at my parents by 9:45. It was probably the best drive I’ve had with Taco because he was entertained by watching little baby bum on my work phone for 70 minutes! Everyone is very enamored by my 3-month old niece, baby Amelia, who goes by Millie! She’s getting lots of attention from all of us. 

The excitement of the day was when my nephew and his friend caught a 42” Muskie! There is a Muskie that has hung out under my parents dock for years and they finally hooked him (and released him after taking some photos). 

That night we went to a pizza place that has lots of toys for kids in their gravel/sand pit. My kids came home filthy and covered with gravel dust but they were so entertained so it was worth it!

The boys slept until 7 the next day!! I ran 3 sweaty, humid miles and then we hit the beach/water. 

The main event on Saturday was Millie’s baptism. 

Taco was not into the cousin picture, surprise surprise.

He was happier later while eating a popsicle. This was a rare smile caught on camera! 

I enjoyed some baby cuddles that day, too. I’m happy to cuddle a baby - and then hand the baby back! 

That night, I took out a photo album to show Paul some pics of me when I was a little girl. It made me realize that Taco resembles me. 

I appeared to be team no smile for posed photography

What do you think? 

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday - the boys slept until 7 again and I fit in a hot, sweaty run. Then it was more family and beach time. I was able to lay down and read/snooze for a bit during Taco’s nap which was lovely. 

We hit the road just before 9 on Monday morning after saying goodbye to everyone! 

Hugging cousin Maddy.

Traffic was light which was a wonderful surprise! 

This is a big week as Paul starts Kindergarten on Thursday. Phil and I have busy days at work so my MIL is watching Paul for the next 2 days. My new hire starts today so it’s a big week, but a routine is in sight for us!

How was your weekend?

Thursday, August 31, 2023

What We Read in August

August was a pretty good reading month. I read 8 books, 3 of which were very very good! 

Favorite Reads:

Tom Lake is Ann Patchett’s latest novel. It’s a quiet novel that is very much character driven. It is set during the pandemic but it’s not a prominent part of the storyline - it’s the reason the couple’s adult children are all home. The story is told in 2 time lines - 2020 and the summer the mom was an actor at a summer theater production of Our Town. The book made me want to read Our Town which is really saying something because I am NOT drawn to read plays. French Braid by Anne Tyler is also a quiet, character driven novel. It’s about the interconnected lives of siblings who live very different lives. I’ll save the best for last: Finding Me is an incredible memoir about everything Viola endured. It’s a brutal story of abuse and poverty so trigger warnings abound.

Good to pretty good:

The other 5 books were good to pretty good. Decent People is a mystery set in the 1960s in the south. 3 siblings have been killed. Racism and homophobia feature prominently in the story line. The ending of this book felt very sudden and abrupt. Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a coming of age story set in the Bay Area during the ‘red scare.’ I haven't read much about that time period so it was interesting. Central Places is also a coming of age story although the protagonist is in her late 20s. She has a messy relationship with her mom in particular and had a pretty rough high school experience. I could relate to her intense dislike of her home town/high school experience. Stiff is a non-fiction book I’ve been meaning to read for 10+ years. It examines how we use cadavers, from their use in med school to crash test dummies to ‘beating heart cadaver’ during the organ harvest progress. I have a pretty strong stomach and a pretty high threshold for being grossed out, but this book was tough to read at times. Let’s just say it’s not a book to read while eating lunch as I tried to do on a plane ride - especially the body decomposition chapter! Lastly, The Long Game was the book club book for the best of both worlds Patreon community. There were some good takeaways but I felt like it was more directed at entrepreneurs. 

Paul’s reads:

We had some great luck in August! Frog and Toad Together is such a childhood classic that can’t be missed. ‘The List’ is my favorite story in the collection. Toad losing his list, but he can't go look for his list because that wasn't on his list of things to do. How to Get Your Octopus to School was a cute ‘back to school’ kind of book that was silly and fun. The Rooster of Notre Dame is about the terrible Notre Dame fire and the rooster that was on top of the spire. The Cat Man of Aleppo is a heavier read that is based on a true story. It’s about a man who stays behind and takes care of abandoned cats during the Syrian Civil War. 

Did you read anything great in August?

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


This month, I recognized 10 years since my Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) diagnosis. It's obviously not a cause for celebration and is more of a marking of what all my body had been through and all I've learned over the last 10 years. For those newer to my blog, I found out I had RA in August 2013 when I was living in Charlotte (I was relocated for my job). I had been diagnosed with stress fractures that spring shortly after I relocated to Charlotte and then the pain kept extending to different areas of my body and it became more intense. I was in a walking boot for a stress fracture on one leg and then 3 months later, had pain in the other leg and the podiatrist thought I had a stress fracture in the other leg. I knew something wasn't right and had been to the doctor multiple times that summer. I sort of wrote the pain off as "getting older." But my parents were kind of alarmed when I stayed at their lake home in early August and needed my dad to carry my (small) carry-on suitcase upstairs. I wasn't physically able to do that which is odd for a healthy 32 year old woman. 

A blood panel and physical examination showed that I had RA. I happened to be in NYC visiting a friend when my primary care doctor called to tell me that my blood work showed that I likely had rheumatoid arthritis. I can still envision myself walking around Washington Square Park, crying, and trying to make sense of it all. It was probably best that I was visiting a friend that weekend because she was so kind and supportive. Otherwise I would have been alone in my apartment in Charlotte which was so not my happy place (long time readers will recall that my time in Charlotte was a very challenging time in my life). 

The last 10 years have been quite the journey. There have been times when my disease was well managed. In fact, when I moved to Minneapolis and established care with a new Rheumatologist, he commented that he wasn't sure that I actually had RA! Eventually I got a flare so it was evident I had it but I wanted to say - have you not looked at my medical records that were sent from Charlotte? I eventually changed doctors and found an amazing female rheumatologist. This spring I told her about my doubtful previous doctor and his doubt about my diagnosis and she was FLOORED by that encounter. 

There have been times when my disease was not well-managed. Like during my pregnancies. I got so many steroid injections during my pregnancy with Paul that the PA drew a picture of my hands and would mark off where we had done an injection so I could keep track of when I might be able to get another injection (you need to wait at least 6 weeks before injecting a joint again). My pregnancy with Taco was so different as it all occurred during the pandemic when only essential staff was in clinic. So I was only able to get 2 steroid injections and had to get by with high doses of oral steroids otherwise. I had flares so many places - my hands, elbows, hips, knees, and even my jaw! 

My disease went back to not so well managed last fall but I think/hope we are getting back to a well managed point. It's required maxing out my dose to methotrexate (MTX), which is a chemotherapy drug, but I've tolerated it well overall. I switched over to an injectable form of the drug this week which means I have an injection weekly and every other week I have 2 injections - MTX and my super expensive Humira. I'm hopeful we can drop some of the other medications I'm on right now once we're sure the MTX is working so we can decrease my pill burden. I currently take 9 pills/day, split between morning and night, for my RA. It's a lot and every time I fill my days-of-the-week pillbox (with am and pm slots) I feel like such a senior citizen! No shade on senior citizens - it's just that it's not ideal to have so dang many pills to manage. 

When I was at my parents' lake home at the end of July, I had coffee with my cousin who is like a sister. She asked about my RA and shared a story about a time I shared a hotel room with her when I was home in the summer of 2013. It must have been the same trip that I stayed with my parents at their lake home. She said she vividly remembered that I could not open the door of the hotel room - the reason I couldn't open it is because I could not grasp anything since I had flares in my fingers and I didn't have the strength to pull the door open because of flares in my elbows. She said she was so terrified that something terrible was wrong with me. So I guess I am glad that my health issue was figureoutable and treatable and hasn't had long lasting effects. The amazing array of drug options have prevented permanent joint disfigurement.  

So I recognize this diagnosis anniversary with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am lucky to be as healthy and active as I am. But on the other hand, I'll always have to take my RA into consideration. That means prioritizing sleep and listening to my body when I am tired. That is something we all should do but if I don't, I will pay for it. I'm not operating on a level playing field for my peer group and I have to frequently remind myself of that when I'm overtired or getting a flare. I just hope and pray neither of my kids end up with this, or a different autoimmune disease, but time will tell. 

Monday, August 28, 2023

Weekend recap + ready for a routine

Another weekend is in the books. We are in the ‘in between’ time now. Paul’s summer public school program ended last Wednesday and he starts Kindergarten on Thursday, Sept 7th (K starts 2 days after everyone else to give them a shorter week). We are all ready for this period to be over and to get back into a routine!! We are piecing together care for the 2 week gap between the summer program ending and school starting. Like me, Paul thrives on a routine, so it’s been a bit of a tough stretch already. Luckily my parents are watching him this week which is a HUGE help. 

Paul was home with me on Thursday and Friday. Friday was a quieter day at work and Phil was home, too, so it was more manageable. I knew it would likely be a quiet day so I got us tickets to the dolphin show at the zoo. Our zoo is taking care of dolphins from a zoo in IL during a renovation of their home habitat so they won’t be here much longer. The show wasn’t as quite as good as when we went with Kyria in February but it was still fun! Dolphins are sooo cute! I was planning to head out and get back to work after the show but it was quiet at work and Paul really wanted to see some animals so we did a loop of the zoo + a carousel ride. It was not a pleasant experience leaving the zoo as Paul got pretty overheated yet didn’t want to go home… 

Saying hi to our penguin friends!

The hot, humid temps broke on Friday night so I enjoyed a comfortable run on Saturday morning! Then the boys and I hit up a park before gymnastics. Paul and I were driving to my parents that afternoon so I wanted to burn off some of his energy. We hit the road after lunch and were at my parents by 3. Road trips with a 5yo are pretty easy! We stopped once and he was so entertained by his PBS kids games and the PBS shows I had downloaded that I was able to listen to an audiobook, ‘Finding Me’ by Viola Davis. I have been waiting for this road trip to borrow the audiobook as I had been told to listen to it. It is SOOOO good. But it is a very brutal story of abuse with strong language so do not listen to this around little ears (Paul couldn’t hear a thing since he was using headphones with his iPad, otherwise I would not have listened to it around him). 

We had such a nice afternoon/evening with my parents! We sat on the patio, went for a pontoon ride, Paul got lots of swing rides and had a nice grilled dinner. Paul enjoyed having the swing to himself; both boys love this swing! It’s been a favorite of all my nephews and nieces and has gotten a lot of use over the years!! 

My parents have SO much beach due to back-to-back droughts. They usually have 1/3 this much beach.

I ran again on Sunday morning and then we went to church and out for lunch. Then it was lake and beach time. My parents pulled out an inner tube with a battery powered propeller that my oldest nephews used to use! And then there were sand cakes to enjoy. 

Then it was back to reality and my boys back home. I finished ‘Finding Me’ in the drive home and give it an enthusiastic 5 stars! 

Taco starts at his new daycare today. I anticipate a rough week but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised. But he will have the full and undivided attention of both parents - although I imagine he will miss Paul and ask where he is one thousand times!! Then Taco and I head back to the lake on Thursday night or Friday morning. Phil has a long day of work on Friday since it’s the first business day so he won’t be joining us. My AZ sister comes to my parents this week and we’ll attend my new nieces baptism on Saturday and soak up lots of cousin/family time! I will see 3 of my siblings and lots of nieces and nephews. But first, I need to tacks 4 pretty busy days at work before the fun can begin!

Are you doing anything for Labor Day weekend? We usually don’t come up to the lake since the holiday often falls during Phil’s busy time at work and traffic to/from Minneapolis is TERRIBLE. But we will suffer through traffic to see lots of family and meet my new niece! Fingers crossed Taco does well on the drives! He’s the wild card.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Kid Activities + Complicated Feelings About Sports

School is starting soon so the topic of "kid activities" is on the brain for me. Currently the boys just have gymnastics on Saturday mornings which is focused on gross motor development. It's been good for both of them as gross motor skills don't seem to come super naturally to either of them - probably because of me. 

You see, I am incredibly unathletic, at least in terms of how "athletic" was defined when I was a child. I run and strength train, but I am terrible at sports. I didn't find the sport of running until after I graduated from college. Because I grew up in a very rural area (population of 500, graduating class of 28), my sport options were softball in the summer, basketball in the fall, volleyball in the winter, and track and field in the spring. I was required to try all of these sports when I was young so I did t-ball/softball when I was in early elementary, basketball in 5th and 6th grade, volleyball in 7th and 8th grade, and track and field from grades 7-9. I also took swimming lessons and loved them but those lessons were about acquiring a life skill.

I know my parents wanted me to be healthy and active and to try new things. But to be honest, my involvement in sports was actually worse for my self esteem. I was terrible at all sports involving balls, and was just not great at the distances available to me in track and field (I think I would have loved cross country but that wasn't an option at my small school). And it is so very, very apparent when you are worse than your peers at sports. The only basket I made in basketball was FOR THE OTHER TEAM when I was in 5th grade. It was a completely different story for my husband who is very naturally athletic. He excelled at baseball and was a pitcher, is an excellent golfer, and I think he was probably always kind of "front of the pack" in terms of other sports he tried. I was so glad when I was able to put sports involvement behind me and could focus on things I had an affinity for, like speech, drama, band, choir, piano, math competitions, etc. I was a very busy, involved kid - but not on the sports front. Although I was the student manager for the girls basketball team and was a statistician for boys basketball and football. So I was "involved" but in a way that suited my talents. I don't fault my parents for encouraging me to participate in sports. It's good to try new things and they definitely were supportive of me focusing on activities that were a better fit.

As my kids start to try activities, I am watching closely to make sure they are having a positive experience in the activity. Paul tried soccer this summer and I kept asking - "are you having fun?" I don't know that he touched the ball in any of the 3-on-3 games they played but he was engaged and seemed to be having fun, so we'll do this soccer program again next year. But I'm going to keep asking if he is having fun. Of course there is a fine line to walk between making sure your kid perseveres/not letting them quit too soon and accepting that the activity is not the right one for them... I just don't want them to experience the hit to self esteem that I did when participating in sports. 

What I've thought about when reflecting on my childhood is - what if being talented in math was held to the same standard as talent in sports/athletics ? Imagine a kid who struggles with math but keeps having to do things like public math problems and fails over and over and over? And yet, doing this public math was really important and valued so even though you are terrible at it and you kept publicly failing, the idea is that you keep doing it. I was good at math so having math held to the same standard/level of importance as sports would have been amazing for me. And yes, I recognize that math is a major area of focus in schools but it seems like we kind of accept that some kids struggle with math whereas everyone is supposed to like participating in sports. Bottom line, I don't want my kids' self-esteem to take a regular and consistent hit just for the sake of having them in activities that many kids enjoy. Luckily my boys will have access to WAY more options since we live in a major metropolitan area. And Phil and I are both active people (I run and strength train, Phil swims, runs, golfs and strength trains) so we'll always model having an active lifestyle. 

As we figure out the right mix of activities, I'm aiming to expose my boys to lots of different things to make sure they find something they love like I love running. Paul is going to check out Karate this fall as we feel like it will help with building confidence and discipline and - most importantly - he's interested in giving it a try. I'm also hoping to get him in swimming lessons... in the summer of 2021 he refused to get in the pool (it was the first time he was old enough for classes without a parent and we'd had a long gap from mom/baby classes during the pandemic) so we've been hesitant to re-enroll him but we are doing a trial lesson tomorrow. He'll continue to go to gymnastics on Saturdays and he is enrolled in a Spanish language program 2 days a week that is part of his after school program. So it should shake out to Karate on Mondays (we're starting him later this fall after he's adjusted to school starting), Spanish on Tues/Thur (at his school so this doesn't add any drop-offs/parent involvement - he would be there anyways so I don't know that this really counts as an activity from a bandwidth/scheduling perspective), gymnastics on Saturday morning and then maybe swimming lessons on Sunday.

Maybe one of my boys will get more of Phil's genetics and be the sportiest person ever - there's probably a 50/50 chance! I'm just keeping an open mind about what their activity participation will look like as they get older. 

Were you an athletic kid? Does any one else have complicated feelings about the emphasis that is put on sports?

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Weekend recap

We had a pretty good weekend all in all! Dare I say solo parenting is getting a bit easier/more manageable?

- Friday started bright and early with Paul’s tube removal. Both boys had ear tubes put in due to chronic ear infections - Paul at 9 months and Taco at 13 months.With Paul, he was too young for us to have the option to go back to the OR for the putting under part; I could have gone back with Taco but my nurse anesthetist cousin advised me to not go back because it can be upsetting to feel your kid go limp in your arms. Those procedures were leaps and bounds EASIER than Friday’s procedure (which was necessary since the tubes were stuck in the wax in his ears - eventually the foreign object will cause infections). The children’s hospital was amazing, of course. They had a person come in to talk about the process of putting him to sleep - they showed him the mask and some pictures. The woman did her best but Paul was incredibly terrified of getting put to sleep. There was no way he was going back there without me. So I carried him back to the OR as he was loudly protesting having to go through this and then I held him while he was put under. I knew what to expect so it wasn’t upsetting for me - it was just a stressful experience. This is where having been raised by a mom who was a nurse helps, I think. I do not get scared by medical procedures and am just generally a very pragmatic person (very much a T in the Myers Briggs paradigm). He was back in the room 15 minutes later and we were home by 9:15 and he was completely back to normal!

Ear procedure side-by-side: Paul at 9 months v Paul at 5.5 years! 

- We went to orientation at Taco’s new daycare. We got to see Taco’s room and met one of his teachers. He starts there a week from today. We feel good about this decision.

- Afterwards we had an impromptu park playdate that turned into getting takeout at our friend’s house. Hanging out with friends makes solo parenting far easier! 

- You’d think with the long day we had on Friday that Paul would sleep in? But no. He was up at 5:40 on Saturday morning. Yawn. Saturday was full of our usual library and gymnastics combo. They played around the house and did a ‘Dino dig’ with eggs they had gotten for Easter from my MIL. It was MESSY but entertained them. 

You soak the eggs in water and then chip away the material to find the dinosaur.

- Also messy is the way Taco plays with his construction equipment/cars. He has started to fill them with cherrios from his snack cup. I am trying to put an end to this as I hate food waste and messes! 

He looks a bit guilty after emptying one truck into another. 

- After nap/quiet time, I made the most putsy banana bread recipe ever from the ATK GF cookbook. It involves microwaving very brown bananas to get the juice out of them which you then boil down into a syrup. It’s worth all the effort as it tastes SO GOOD. I realized I was a little short on my GF flour mix (which I make myself using a recipe from that cookbook), but I thought of Nicole (HI NICOLE) and subbed in some almond flour. Usually running out of something would have paralyzed me and I would have not made the bread. What can I say - flexible is not a word used to describe me! Phil loves banana bread so this is kind of a birthday acts of service. 

- Then it was time for haircuts! We have started to cut their hair super short to cut down on the frequency of appointments. Now we go every 3 months instead of every 2. 

- Paul was up at 5:40 on Sunday again! Groan. We hit up the farmer’s market and park. The boys got cookies since the donut stand wasn’t there. And then I observed my biggest park pet peeve - big kids that seem completely unsupervised playing on little kid park equipment. I’m talking about things like climbing up slides while little 2-3 year old kids are trying to go down. I get that kids need less supervision as they get older but I think parents should be observant enough to notice when their kids are being pests. Instead I had to intervene and tell the kids to knock it off. Phil was home by the time we got back and we greeted him with open arms!!

- To cap off the weekend, we went to a pool party at Phil’s college friend’s house. Our contribution was a DQ birthday cake. Check out how they spelled Phil’s name! Last year my parents got him a DQ cake and they spelled his name ‘Phill’ so when I called in my order I spelled it out to avoid the double L situation. At least the cat is cute?

The birthday boy who turned 42, not 3!

And then we all collapsed into bed after baths. What a full weekend! 

How was your weekend? Is your name often misspelled? My name isn’t misspelled but oddly I’ve been mistakenly called Liz? Like a person will respond to an email with Lisa in my signature line and say, ‘Hi Liz’.