Monday, April 29, 2024

Weekend Highlights

It was a soggy, windy weekend but we made the most of it. Here were our highlights. 

- Saturday was the last day of Target’s car seat drop off program (you drop off an old car seat - they recycle it and give you 20% off a new one. We dropped off an infant car seat and bought a harness to booster car seat for Taco. Win win.) The boys were VERY wild at the store so our visit was very brief.

- We decided to check out a new-to-us library that is across the street from Target. Our library is always super busy - this one was SO QUIET! The boys enjoyed playing with new-to-them toys. 

Taco found a Pokémon book for Paul

- Taco napped and I read/dozed a bit during his nap. Phil took Paul to his golf lessons. Is he not the cutest little golfer? Phil is an excellent golfer and has wonderful memories of golfing with his late father so I am hoping my boys take to golf so they can make those memories with their dad. I’d like to learn to golf alongside the boys but we will see if that happens. I’ve found it to be a hard sport to learn.

- After the golf lesson, Phil took both boys to the park and I worked on meal prep. What does meal prep look like this week in our house? I blitzed carrots, onion, garlic, and celery for the hidden veggie marinara I will make on Tuesday, I chopped the cauliflower and chicken (and stored separately if that isn’t obvious!) for the tikka masala recipe I made last night, I husked corn and prepped the asparagus for our Saturday night meal, and I cut up peppers for snacking. I did this while listening to a fascinating Ezra Klein show about the competing interests of work and parenting. The only way to improve that meal prep hour was if I had some wine. But alas, I didn’t because I have returned to a policy of only drinking outside the home or when hosting guests now that the wine from our last gathering is gone.

- I woke up on my own at 5:45 on Sunday and felt rested so I got up and enjoyed my breakfast (oatmeal + banana) and my coffee in a silent home. This NEVER happens so I soaked it up and worked on spelling bee, wordle, and read blogs. The boys didn’t get up until 6:45! 

- I ran 4 miles both mornings - in tights. Ugh. Spring in Minnesota sucks. 

- Paul had a pretty impromptu playdate with a friend from  school and his brother at an indoor playground that he got passes to for his birthday. It was pouring rain so the perfect afternoon activity but of course sooo busy!

Now this week I go to Napa, but don’t be jealous… I will be gone 36 hours and will spend 8 hours on a plane and 4 hours in a car. I will be in Napa itself for less than 24 hours. I get in Wednesday afternoon, moderate a panel (praying to the travel Gods that nothing goes wrong with my flight), mingle with clients, sleep, hopefully workout, mingle some more at breakfast and then drive back to SFO and fly home. It’s Phil’s busiest week of the month at work so I am trying to minimize my time away, otherwise I would have spent 2 nights in Napa and attended more of this event. But so it goes. Then I get a week off from travel before going to Dallas for 3 days. And then I might get a break until July because my June PDX trip was rebooked for November. Woot woot!

How was your weekend? 

Friday, April 26, 2024

5 Things Friday

It’s Friday! But we have a rainy weekend ahead of us which is just the worst because the best weekends are those that can be spent outside. But hopefully we get some breaks from the rain so we can be outside. Here are 5 things going on in my life.

1. I challenge you to find a picture that better represents spring in Minnesota/the Midwest. This is Taco at his soccer class at daycare on Wednesday. He’s wearing a winter hat - but backwards - and has his hands pulled up into his sleeves because it was cold that morning (even if we had sent mittens, he likely would have refused to wear them, because toddlers, but also should we need to send mittens on April 24th???). And he has the most downtrodden look on his face. Welcome to spring in Minnesota, buddy. It’s the worst. 

2. Speaking of activities, I love that we can send him to a soccer class during his school day. I think it’s something like $75 for 2 months of weekly classes. But having it occur during his school day is THE BEST. He also has a tennis class once/week and music every other week which is included in his tuition. I use ‘tennis’ lightly because we haven’t seen any tennis balls in the pics the daycare posts nor do we see rackets but is there anything more terrifying than a toddler with poor impulse control with a racket in his hands? Paul still has swimming which goes until early June, on Saturday he starts a 4-week golf class and in mid-May he starts twice-weekly T-Ball. Phil will take him to the majority of the golf and T-Ball activities because, well, I am not the athletic parent. But I take him to all of his swimming lessons and always have and I will be the primary parent for all things music once he starts piano lessons/band. We are taking the ‘total control’ approach to activities as Phil signed him up for golf and T-Ball, and I signed Paul up for swimming lessons. Obviously we will help the other parent out as needed but it works well (for us) for one parent to take full ownership of an activity. 

3. I traveled this week but it was an odd Thursday-Friday trip. Most of my trips are Tues-Thur or Mon-Wed. So an off rhythm trip really threw me off. All my meetings were on Thursday but I had one zoom that I had to do before 2 in-person meetings followed by a client dinner event. Luckily there were several Starbucks close to my first in-person meeting but you never know how quiet a Starbucks might be… so in the back of my mind I was stressing about how bad the background noise might be…  I wanted my new hire to do this meeting but it’s a large opportunity so the sales team wanted me to do it. So they traded a more experienced person in a potentially loud environment for a less experienced person in a quiet environment…. It was ultimately fine but they were playing Taylor Swift and I am sure there was so much background noise but so it goes. 

4. Here’s one thing that has gotten some very unexpected laughs this week: telling people that I frequently get loud environment notifications on my Apple Watch because of my loud toddler. I did not expect the kind of laughs I got when I mentioned this at the client dinner event last night. I guess I have come to think this is normal but wow did that story land. I am not the funny person in my marriage by any stretch of the imagination so getting that kind of reaction is extra satisfying. 

5. All that said I am so relieved today is Friday because this week at work absolutely wore me out between busy days and off-cycle travel days. I am hoping for a good nap from Taco tomorrow because I could really use 1-2 hours to just lay in bed and read or nap. My body is tired and this stupid flare in my hand that I have been dealing with for weeks on end will not quit which is probably akin to the engine light coming on in your car, meaning my body is saying - slow the F down/something isn’t right. I have my 1-night Napa trip next week and then blessedly I get a week off from travel and a shouldless day that week. I am living for that day right now but really I need a shouldless week which is not going to happen. 

How was your week?

Monday, April 22, 2024

A Weekend of Remembering

I’m back from my whirlwind trip back to North Dakota to celebrate the life of my grandma Janet. The last time I had been at the church where her funeral was held was her 100th birthday celebration last May.

My grandma and I at her 100th celebration! She aged so incredibly well.

Coming into the weekend, I had kind of buried my grief under all the other things bouncing around in my head in the past week, like work related talking points for meetings or thoughts about how I needed to remember to defrost the tuna steaks on Thursday night so we would have something g to eat on Friday or how I needed to sign Paul up for before/after care for the following school year on Friday morning. You know - all the many plates we are all trying to keep spinning. I drove up to the funeral by myself on Saturday because Paul was not well enough to join me (I left to him yelling for me to not leave so that was fun…) But even on the car ride up my mind was occupied by thinking about the national sales call I present on this morning or analyzing the song lyrics of the songs from Taylor Swift’s new album (which is so good).

The grief hit me when I got to the visitation that preceded the funeral. She lived a wonderfully full life and was so ready to go at the end, but a goodbye is a goodbye - even when it’s expected and prayed for. But her funeral was a beautiful celebration of her life. There was so much to say about my grandma, from her passion for the Vikings to her Wii bowling prowess in the assisted living center Wii bowling league to the fact that she emailed and used Facebook to her skills as a scrabble player (I only beat her once in my life and I think she may have let me win) to her love of the written word (she’s one of the reasons I am such an avid reader) to memories of how my grandparents would memorize poetry on road trips and recite it for family and friends. My grandparents had what I would call a 1st percentile marriage. I spent A LOT of time around them as we lived just down the road so I would often bike down to visit. In all my life, I never saw them exchange a cross word! Can you even imagine? 

The best part was seeing all my siblings and so much extended family. We got a pic of most of the grandkids and significant others that were at the funeral at the gathering afterwards. 

Wearing my usual black on black

We failed to get a picture of all of my siblings but I got one with my sisters! 

I drove back yesterday morning and was home by lunch. I wanted to linger longer at my parents but after being gone 3 nights last week, I was feeling especially bad being away from the boys, especially since both are fighting colds. Paul was feeling much better when I got back so I took him to swimming lessons and then we all went to the park after Taco’s nap. 

Post-lesson macarons

Sunday afternoon at the park

Now it’s back to another busy week at work which includes a very short visit to Cleveland. I’ll barely be there 24 hours but am fitting in 2 client meetings and a client dinner event. I have one more trip after this week and then I get a week off from travel. Thank. God. 

Friday, April 19, 2024

Checking In

When I last left off, I was heading to New Jersey for a work trip. I was supposed to fly back late Thursday night (6:45EST flight out of Newark) but the sales person I was traveling with told me I absolutely needed to change my flight and fly back mid-day on Thursday since I have things going on back home with my grandma’s passing. I felt some guilt because that meant I missed a lunch on Thursday that I was supposed to help with/speak at, but in the grand scheme of things, getting back at a decent time yesterday (mid-afternoon) was more important than meeting with another batch of financial advisors. 

My trip was overall good/fine. I felt so discombobulated since I was on vacation last week and then jumped right back into travel while working through feeling of grief over my grandma’s passing. Note to self: do not travel the week after being on vacation. I had a very tenuous grasp on what meetings we were doing while I was in NJ. I'm kind of along for the ride on these trips as the sales people are planning everything but I usually have a better idea of who we are meeting with/what the cadence of meetings will be, etc. I came into the trip really exhausted because I saw the text about my grandma passing away at 12:30 am on Sunday night and then laid awake for over 2 hours, so that did not help matters.

But the meetings went well and people were generally really engaged and asked a lot of great questions, which is what I prefer. Plus a couple of the events were "women in finance" events and it's kind of nice to be in a room with women only since that's a rarity in the finance industry. The low of the week was when I had a call with an advisor who wanted to sell one of our funds and he told me and the other female sales person: "equities are like men - they are straight forward and easy to understand. Bonds are like women - they are so confusing and have 17 different emotions and just don't make sense." It was a good thing we were on the phone and not on zoom - otherwise he may have seen smoke coming out of my ears. 

When I got back on Thursday, both boys were coming down with colds - so much for the healthy stretch we had enjoyed. My grandma's funeral is tomorrow afternoon so Paul and I will drive up tomorrow morning if he’s feeling well enough. We decided to have Taco stay behind with Phil, even before he started to come down with a cold. He gets tired so easily and getting off his schedule is tough. And I know I won't be able to be "present" at the funeral if he's there because, well, toddlers... A couple of my older nieces are wonderful with Paul and Paul is just so easy to have around. He's so excited to see his cousins, too, so hopefully his cold symptoms improve. All of us siblings will be together for the first time since January 2020 so there is a silver lining to celebrating the passing of a loved one. 

Today I have about 6 hours of meetings so it will be far from a ‘light’ Friday. But in a couple of weeks, I have a lovely shouldless day to look forward to, and it’s coming on the tails of 3 weeks straight of work travel so is so very necessary! Hat tip to myself for scheduling that. I am trying to schedule them quarterly. 

How was your week?

Monday, April 15, 2024

Weekend at home + heavy heart

Our re-entry has been great. When we pulled up to our house on Thursday night, Paul spoke for us all when he said: ‘home, sweet, home’. Traveling is wonderful but it’s a good feeling when you return and feel happy to be back. Here were some happenings from the weekend.  

- On Friday I got a steroid injections from a PA at my rheumatology clinic. I have been on 20mg of prednisone for well over a week and my flare wasn’t improving. Injections aren’t pleasant but they do the trick. It was difficult to eat or cut things up for the boys so an injection was necessary. I changed my weekly injectable meds a couple of months ago. Fingers crossed this new cocktail of drugs does the trick. But now I have a new flare in a different joint of the same finger - hopefully the oral steroids I will stay on for the next week or so will help with it… otherwise I will be back for another steroid injection.

- I went for a beautiful 4 mile run on Saturday. Spring is springing so I made sure to pay attention to the budding trees and things that are starting to bloom. I also did a CG workout on Sunday. I am almost done with her iron series which I have really enjoyed.

- Taco has been using the potty sporadically recently so we decided to focus on potty training again and he did AMAZING! He’s been pooping in the potty for the last couple of months (sorry if that’s TMI) and was finally figuring out the peeing aspect. I am so glad that we are done with pull ups during the day!! He only had one accident the whole weekend - it happened on Saturday while we were outside for a long stretch. It would have been ideal to stay close to home while training but it was too beautiful outside to stay in! 

- Phil helped a friend put their docks in and took Paul with so I was on my own with Taco on Saturday. The weather was gorgeous so we spent a ton of time outside. Who would have thought the warmest weather (mid-80s!!) of the week would be in Minnnesota! We played outside, said hi to the geese and went to the creek and park. 

The geese! No toys out yet which Taco was bummed about.

He was really representing Minnesota sports teams that day! 

- the boys and I walked/scooted up to Starbucks on Sunday am for a latte for me and cake pops for them. The weather was gorgeous again. 

- we visited another park after swimming lessons/nap time. The park was PACKED and people were not monitoring their kids so it was kind of chaotic. Real talk: it ended on a sour notes with me carrying Taco out after he threw wood chips at me… That’s toddler life for you. Impulse control is non-existent. 

Taco oddly loves to push a merry-go-round full of kids!

- Throughout the weekend I received regular updates on my grandma. She was alert and had a lot of visitors in the early part of the weekend but became unresponsive late Saturday night. She peacefully passed away last night. I take comfort in my belief that she is free from pain and reunited with the loved ones in the great beyond. 

Now today I fly to New Jersey for work and return late Thursday night although I imagine I will be flying back earlier than planned depending on the timing of her funeral. 

So I enter this week with a heavy heart because goodbyes are hard even when they are expected and you are prepared. But I am also so grateful that my grandma got to witness so much of my life - she met my husband and children and we had such a close relationship up to her death with no words unsaid. And what a gift that is. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

5 on Friday: vacation edition

We got back from Florida late last night. Here is a 5 things Friday style recap of our trip, written from the airport while we waited for our flight back last night!

1. The weather was unfortunately a bust. We knew it was a little risky to come to the panhandle area in early April but hoped it would be fine. It was cloudy, extremely windy, and on Wednesday there were tornado warnings. But we made the most of it. Of course the weather will be gorgeous after we leave, go figure!

Another ‘challenge’ of the trip was that Taco slept in a big boy bed for the first time and wow, we are NOT in a rush to move him out of his crib. We moved Paul into a big boy bed after he dropped his nap and we will do the same with Taco. It could have been worse but he was up during the night most nights and was up early a couple of days.

2. We stayed in a 3 bed/3 bath condo in Fort Walton Beach that had a pool so we alternated between the beach and the pool. The pool area was protected from the wind most days so that was nice. But the beach was the main draw for us Minnesotans so we spent a lot of time there. The beaches were pristine with sugar sand. We would love to see this coastline when there aren’t 15-30+ mph winds!!

The first morning was calm! We enjoyed breakfast on our balcony.

I went for a walk each morning. 

I love this pic of the boys walking on the path to the beach. After the first morning we learned that they need to wear swimsuits when on the beach. They both got soaked the first morning!

Checking out a pretty blue jellyfish

3. The weather was the worst on Wednesday so we went to a local science center that totally exceeded our expectations (Emerald Coast Science Center). They had so much hands on stuff to do so everyone from age 3 to 76 had a great time! Other outings included checking out a walking trail to a little bay where we saw a great blue heron and lots of turtles and walking the pier where we really got up close and personal with a heron. 

The boys enjoyed playing at the robotics stations

Paul was very excited to get close to this heron

Another heron in its natural habitat

4. We ate breakfasts and lunches in our condo and ate out most nights, except our first and last night when we got take out for dinner. The adults enjoyed lots of fish and shrimp.

5. It was a good getaway but we are definitely not in the prime stage for travel yet. The wheels really fell off on Thursday when Taco was up during the night and then woke for the day at 5:30 am. And then our 6:45 flight (which was pushed back twice in the last couple of months) got delayed until 8:30pm. Taco was in full meltdown mode and needed a rescue nap in the car, woke up and fell back asleep on me in the car while Paul played at a park.

Phil and I talked about how each year will get easier as Taco gets older. Paul was a total delight on this trip at age 6 and has been a great traveler since age 4. So a year from now, things should feel easier. But even though this isn’t an easy stage for travel, I still feel it’s worth it to go places and do things. The change of scenery is good for everyone and we enjoyed the time with my parents. 

Totally amazed by all the buttons! The pilots were so friendly.

. . . . 

Unfortunately while we were away my grandmother fell and fractured several bones including her sacrum. This fall resulted in her taking a turn for the worse and she will be entering hospice care today. It was a hard time for my parents to be away. They were on the phone quite often checking in on her, talking to doctors and nurses, and making decisions with family about next steps. Given her level of pain, we are hoping that the end comes soon for her. She has a very strong sense of faith and has been ready to meet her maker and to be reunited with my grandpa, her daughter, and other loved ones she has lost for years now. She has had a full, wonderful life and would have celebrated her 101st birthday next month.

I am extremely close with my grandma as her and my grandpa lived just down the road when I was growing up. I saw her in February when she was having a good day. Every time I saw her in the last several years, I knew it could be the last so I made sure to leave no words unsaid. She knows how much I adore her and how much I treasure all the memories I made with her and my grandpa. So I feel at peace with her passing and hope she doesn’t linger for long. 

That’s a heavy way to end a vacation post so I will close with two more pictures of the beautiful beach!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

What We Read in March

My reading was all over the place in March but ended on a good note. Overall I would say my reading year has been kind of ‘meh’? I’ve read some good books but not many are knocking my socks off. But hopefully things improve from here.

Best books:

Why yes, my best books of the month does include a book set during the winter holidays - Three Holidays and a Wedding. I had hoped to read it in December but it didn’t become available in time from the library. It’s a romance set in a year (2000) when Christmas, Hanukkah, and Ramadan all coincided with each other. It was a cute/fun read. The Road to Dalton was a quiet novel about the intersecting lives of the residents of a small town in Maine. It definitely falls firmly under character-driven but that is my jam. Family Family was a great novel about adoption. I would actually recommend reading the author’s note before reading the book (the author and her husband adopted their daughter). I especially loved the quirky main character, India. The Collected Regrets of Clover is about a death doula who is focuses on helping her patients leave this world in peace but uses her job to avoid dealing with her own issues. It’s kind of a coming of age story.

Not so successful:

I didn’t exactly dislike either of these books, they just didn’t meet my expectations. Banyon Moon is a debut novel that had great promise as it was a multi-generational story about a family from Vietnam. But ultimately it took on a bit too much IMO. Dixon, Decending is a fictional telling of 2 black brothers climbing Mount Everest. Much of the book takes place off the mountain as the elder brother struggles to process and accept happened on the mountain. It was good but not as good as I was hoping. 

Paul’s reads:

We finished the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series which Paul enjoyed. He received books 2-4 from a friend for his birthday but we took a pause on that series in favor of a Roald Dahl book. We are about half through James and the Giant Peach, which is a weird little book. I read it as a child but have no memory of it. I’m always shocked by how children’s books start - like in this one, on the first page, James’ parents get eaten by a rhino that has escaped from the zoo… Um what?? I guess Paul’s already a bit conditioned for that kind of start since Disney also loves to kill off a parent in the opening scene. 

Have you read anything great lately?

Monday, April 1, 2024

Easter weekend

Our long weekend was really nice all in all. I had been fighting a cold all week so the quiet day at home was just what I needed on Friday. Phil and I got take out poke bowls for lunch rather than eating out. I took a long nap and finished ‘Lessons in Chemistry’ on Apple. I really liked it even though they took some liberties with the adaptation. 

I slept almost 10 hours on Friday night as Taco magically did not yell for me from his crib before I woke on my own around 7:20. I slept so hard that night - and had the craziest dreams so Phil had to put up with lots of sleep talk and such. I shouldn’t have needed 10 hours of sleep considering I napped the day before but I did. 

I am not sure why I am so very tired lately - maybe my iron levels are low (I have a history of anemia), maybe it’s my RA (I have a flare right now in my right hand so I know my RA isn’t under super great control), or maybe it’s the pace of life with hectic work days and regular work travel? Or having young kids when I am not in fact ‘a young parent’? It’s probably a combination of the above but wow I am wishing I was one of those people that had lower sleep needs. 

Saturday morning featured a library visit. Paul quietly read a book, Taco, um, was a bit more boisterous.

After a failed attempt at a nap for Taco, we went to my MIL’s for an early Easter celebration. Long term readers might recall that Oscar the cat now lives there pretty much full time as she’s not big on kids… She would never do anything to them but she is happiest in a quiet, peaceful environment. It was good to see her. 

The boys both got to do their own egg hunt in Nana’s basement. 

Taco of course got some Mickey toys!

There were some moments of quiet and peace…

But mostly it’s was very wild and loud so we left shortly after dinner. 

Sunday was a quieter day. The boys were happy with their Easter baskets but I failed to get any pictures of them digging through the goodies. Paul and I met another family on our block at church. There was an Easter egg hunt after church which Paul loved! Phil and Taco went on a long stroller walk while we were at church.

Taco took an extra long nap that afternoon (which I napped during), we FaceTimed with my parents and just kind of puttered around the house. It was very loud at times but such is life with a 3 and 6yo! I made ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and asparagus for dinner - the boys would only eat the ham but at least they ate something!

We ended the night by playing with the new game Paul got from the Easter Bunny - Gobblet Gobblers.

Paul has the best body language/expressions when playing a game!

Phil and I both have a busy week of work - and then we head to Destin, FL with my parents next Sunday! We are very excited for the getaway. I just need to get through this busy week… although I might have to take my laptop on the trip because the coworker I thought would be around to help my new hire in my absence is also going to be gone all week. She said she can log in to help him as needed. But I feel bad stranding the new guy as a lot of quart-end stuff needs to get done while I am gone. It’s not an ideal week for me to be gone but it seems like there are no ideal weeks so I will just hope all goes ok, and probably have my laptop along as an insurance plan.

How was your weekend? When you take a vacation, can you fully disconnect from work? I try to but it’s hard to disconnect when gone for a longer trip like this.