Friday, July 12, 2024

TGIF

Hey hey - it’s Friday! This week flew by since I was traveling for part of it. Here is how the week shaped up!

A book I am reading this week is ‘Wavewalker’ by Suzanne Heywood. It’s my book club’s July read. It’s a memoir about a family’s around-the-world sailing adventure in the 1970s. I’m only a couple of chapters in and it’s clear there is some willful neglect of their children, plus the author’s note at the beginning made it clear that this is not a happy story, so it should be an interesting book.

The high of my week was feeling good about how my work trip went. I hadn’t traveled with this sales rep before and he has a reputation for being very good at his job. He was one of my former’s colleague’s favorite people to travel with so I had a feeling he’d be fun to spend time with. He asked me to come back in October so I must have done ok!

The low of my week was: continuing to deal with this stupid RA flare. My doctor reviewed the MRI and said it appears to be a flare. She doesn’t know why it’s not responding to the injections and oral steroids so the next course of action is to see a radiologist who can do an imaging-guided injection so they can more precisely target the impacted area of the joint. But the earliest I could get an appointment is August 1st!! I plan to call every couple of days to see if they have any cancellations. Hopefully they don’t get sick of hearing from me. I am so tired of dealing with this flare. I really hope my infusions prevent flares like this from happening again. Theoretically the infusions should help with this flare but I think the flare is so acute that even the infusions can’t remedy the flare.

A show I am watching is the latest season of The Bear. The ratings of this season aren’t as high as the other seasons but I am really enjoying it! Interestingly, the show is too intense for Phil. I’m usually the one bowing out in a show due to intensity but I guess I am a bit more immune to the intensity after years of waiting tables in college. 

For workouts I ran 3 miles on Monday morning before work and did a strength training workout in my hotel on Wednesday after a full day of 7 (!!!) client meetings. I really did not feel like working out after being ‘on’ from 7:40-5 that day but I told myself that if I packed workout clothes, I was going to use them! I will run again this morning. My plan is to run 7 miles on Saturday or Sunday.

The best money spent was on our 2023 family photo book! This is the latest I have completely a family photo book but at least it got done! Paul and I have been looking through old photo books (I started doing them in 2018 - the year Paul was born) so I am excited for our new one to arrive! 

My plans this weekend include not much! It’s going to be in the 90s here and humid so we will do something by the water each day. I will take the boys to the pool one afternoon and we will probably go to the beach with Phil when he swims on Sunday morning. But other than that, we don’t have any specific plans. 

Bonus photo:

The boys played My First Orchard Game (the best pre-K game ever!) pretty much independently!

How was your week? 

Monday, July 8, 2024

4th of July Recap

We had a nice 4th of July weekend up at my parents. The drive on Thursday was NOT good, though. Taco asked if we were almost there 5 minutes into a 2.75 hour drive… He was entertained by his iPad for about 30 minutes and then alternated between yelling very loudly and asking if we were there yet. Listening to Taylor Swift helped at times but it was not a great drive. We were all happy when we arrived at my parents. Had it not been 11:15 am, I would have otherwise helped myself to a glass of sav blanc but that seemed a bit aggressive. 

Taco was happy to dig into the toys of my childhood

It rained each day but we had dry periods each day. Phil helped Paul, Taco and my cousin’s son fish off the dock on Thursday. 



Friday was a nice for most of the day so the boys played in the sand and water quite a bit and my dad took us out on a pontoon ride. 

Paul and his namesake, Papa Paul 


This bucket is meant for washing off feet but Taco decided to make it his own little bathtub

My parents hosted a very large family party on Saturday with 50+ people. There is a big bean bag tournament which I passed on this year since my hand still hurts quite a bit. It was a gorgeous afternoon until the wind picked up and a big thunderstorm moved in. Everyone moved into the garage so it didn’t hamper things too much. 


Most of the kids at the party were much older than my boys. But Paul was happy to follow his cousin Matt around like a little puppy dog. He is so obsessed with Matt and has been for a very long time. 

How it started..

Matt was 10 and Paul was around 4 months old


How it’s going… 

Now Matt is 16 and has his license but he still has a special connection with Paul! 

We drove home on Sunday morning so we could get groceries, do laundry and prep for the week. 

I fly to Michigan this afternoon for a 2-night trip. July will be a bit of a whirlwind as I travel 3 weeks in a row. So much for a quiet July! Next week’s trip is just one night so at least that is a short one. The results of my MRI came back on Wednesday so I am hoping to hear from my doctor about next steps today. 

How was your weekend? 

Monday, July 1, 2024

What We Read in June

First off, Happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends! 

Now onto the topic at hand - reading! I lucked out and had an incredible month of reading. There was only one sort of disappointing read. Most of what I read I rated 4 or even 5 stars! I read 9 books in June, bringing my 2024 total to 52. I don’t set a goal for number of books read as I don’t want to ever focus on quantity over quality. Last year I read just below 100, the previous years I read over 100. We will see where this year shakes out! I have included children’s books that I read out loud to Paul in the total but I spend hours reading them so figure they should count, too. 

Best of the best:


After Annie is Anna Quindlen’s latest character-driven novel. It’s about a family grieving the sudden loss of their young matriarch. I didn’t love this as much as Every Last One but it was still a very good 4-star book. The Wives was raved about on Sarah’s Bookshelves Live and lived up to the hype (I gave it 5 stars). It’s a memoir written by the wife of a man who enlists in a special ops unit of the army. I gifted this to my sister as part of a gift to acknowledge her family’s cross country move. I can’t wait for her to read it so we can discuss it, hopefully in person! It gave me better insight into what her life has been like (her husband is in the military.) I gave it 5 stars. Real Americans was also raved about by Sarah but her co-hosts did not care for it. This was another 5-star read for me. It’s a multi-generational novel about a family that flees from China. I thought it was so well done. This is another character-driven novel. The last 2 books, Yours Truly and Just For the Summer were my first foray into local author Abby Jimenez’s catalog of work. Both books are set in the Minneapolis area which made them extra delightful for me to read. I really enjoyed both and they filled my need for something lighter with a happy ending. I think I preferred Yours Truly but both were great.

Other mostly great reads:


Colton Gentry’s Third Act is a romance novel about a country music star that speaks out about gun control after losing his best friend to a mass shooting at a musical festival, putting an end to his career as a country musician due to the backlash. I really liked this but not as much as Jimenez’s. The People We Keep was an excellent book about a young teen in a situation of neglect that goes out on her own after a conflict with her father. It’s a found family kind of novel. The Secret Book of Flora Lea is a historical novel about the children that were sent into the countryside of England during WWII. A child goes missing and this book is about the sibling’s search for the missing child as an adult. I liked it but historical fiction hasn’t worked as well for me lately. River East, River West was my least favorite read of the month. It was another rec from Sarah’s Bookshelves Live so not all of her picks work for me. It’s set in Shanghai and is told by dual narrators. It’s sort of a coming-of-age story which are hit or miss for me. I didn’t like the mother or daughter in this story so that made it harder for me to enjoy this book. 

The boys’ reads:

Paul and I have not been reading together as much lately because he would rather read graphic novels on his own. Below he is reading a Geronimo Stilton book at the library. It’s fun to see his love of reading take off but I would like to get back to reading some chapter books together! 


We did finish the 3rd Paddington novel that we were gifted at my baby shower. These were very delightful reads! 


Taco is mostly into picture books but will still pick out board books at bedtime occasionally. Board books are far shorter so it’s not the worst thing when that happens. Ha. So we will keep his board books out for now but I think I will winnow down the collection to our favorites and find a new home for the ones he isn’t drawn to. The picture book we read the most in June was The Gruffalo which is a favorite of mine, too!

Did you read anything great in June? 

Friday, June 28, 2024

5 things Friday + mid-year thoughts

Happy Friday and happy almost end of the first half of the year! I had a really great trip to the DC area for work this week. We did 10 meetings in 2 days which is quite a lot. I haven't mentioned this but my little sister and her family are moving to the DC area (in the coming days!!) and this trip made me extra excited that she is moving here because a) there is so much to do and b) it's only a 2-hour flight from Minneapolis!

Here are 5 things on my mind this week: 

1. Let’s start with that, ‘wow the year is going so fast’ cliche convo that we all tend to have. Phil absolutely loathes those kind of conversations because he is extremely practical and will challenge comments about time going faster because the passage of time does not change. And yet our perception of how fast time goes does seem to change as we get older. Remember how loooonnnnggggg it took for Christmas to arrive when you were a kid, if you celebrated that holiday? Now Christmas comes far too fast and I’d like December to have 6 weeks (but then I want Feb or Mar to have 2 fewer weeks because I hate the final months of winter). 

2. Since it’s mid-year, many of us assess how the first half of the year went which might involve looking back at goals. I had honestly forgotten what I decided to do about goals (I had set 2 quarterly goals for Q1 and then never looked at them again. Whoops.) This is not surprising because I have a tenuous relationship with goals. I feel like I don’t necessarily need them because I achieve a lot without detailed goals and will be hard on myself if I don’t achieve what I set out to do. I look at what I’ve done in the first half of the year and it’s a lot - some of it was planned, much of it wasn’t. 10 business trips, 1 family vacation, 200 client meetings, I made some big decisions about how to better manage my RA, we established a quarterly date night routine, we potty trained our toddler, we ordered a big boy mattress for him so we can start that next big transition, and on and on and on. I do see how goals are so very motivating for others but I might be team ‘no goals’ for life? I am required to set them for work so I comply but otherwise I am tempted to take the counter-cultural approach of avoiding them. SHU, can we still be friends?!? All that said, I really do enjoy reading about the progress others have made towards their goals! 

3. I wish I had good news about my flare subsiding but I don’t. It is just as bad as it was before and is especially painful in the am when I have gone almost 24 hours without prednisone. So I will not be tapering off that bastard of a drug anytime soon. Sigh. This time I contacted my doctor through my chart right away when 5 days had passed with no improvement. She was quick to respond and said it’s time for an MRI because the flare should respond to everything we have thrown at it. Luckily I was able to get my MRI scheduled for this coming Tuesday. I really hope there is a clear path forward but I might need to see an ortho and she mentioned a possible biopsy and GAH! Why is this all so hard? 6 months ago, you might not have even known I had RA and now a week can’t seem to pass without some sort of reference to this stupid disease. And to be honest, one of the worst parts of being on prednisone (besides the sleep issues and irritability) is that I have put on weight and I feel like I look a little bit puffy. I know body image is a challenging topic to address but I can’t pretend this hasn’t made this whole situation worse. 

4. I also get my 2nd infusion this coming Monday. I think this is the last 2-hour infusion and then they will speed it up to an hour if I continue to tolerate it well. I must say the set up in the infusion center is quite nice. I sit in a comfy recliner and there is a lap shelf thing they can lower so I can work on my laptop. The chair also has a massage feature so it’s not the worst 2 hours. Last time I worked with my feet up at a very minor recline while getting a chair massage. The kind nurses also brought me a warm blanket since I am always cold, especially in air conditioned buildings. If I ever had a desire for a side hustle I might create something similar for tired moms - come sit in our comfy, massaging chairs, take a load off for a bit, and feel free to doze off. We can even pretend it’s a medically-necessary appointment to assuage any guilt about taking time for yourself. 

5. Next week is the 4th of July which my brain thinks of as the mid-point of summer since I was on a mid-August to Friday-before Memorial Day schedule when I was in school. But it is decidedly NOT the mid-point of summer as an adult with a child who has only been out of school for 2 weeks. It’s the beginning. Which is good because it feels like summer weather has finally arrived what with all the rain we have had. Our family will be going to my parents for the 4th of July weekend which I am so looking forward to. Only one other sibling will be there but I will see a bunch of extended family and Phil can actually come with us for a change. He is busiest in the first 4 biz days of the month but will cram 4 days of work into 3 days so he can come to the lake with us. We haven’t been up there since February so are very overdue. The boys love sand and water so it’s the best place to be with them on a hot summer day. A change of scenery is a thing of wonder when you have small children and it’s extra wonderful when that change of scenery is the house of grandparents on a lake who are happy to help out as much as they can. 

How was your week? Did you set any goals for 2024?

Monday, June 24, 2024

It finally stopped raining

Friday and Saturday were rainy days but things finally improved on Sunday thank goodness. This is how the weekend shaped up. The subtitle to this post could be: we did all the things.

Friday afternoon/evening: I got an injection into my tendon which made my pointer finger/palm numb for the next several hours. It hurt like heck getting this tendon injected - way worse than a joint injection so it better work. It could take 3-5 days to notice a difference so now I wait. If it improves, I can reduce my prednisone by 2.5 mg every 10 days. It’s a gradual taper since I’ve been on a higher dose for nearly 3 months. But that means it will take almost 2 months to get fully off it. Hopefully once I am below 10mg I will feel less jittery and will sleep better. 

Post-injection comparison. The right pointer finger/joint area was extra swollen and red.

Saturday am: I was up at 5:30, but not by choice - steroids continue to mess with my sleep. Paul was up shortly after me and Taco was up just after 6 so the day started early for most of us. We had a break in the rain so I ran 6.25 miles and then we hit up the library where we were surprised to find llamas! Llamas visit the different library branches and this was our library’s weekend. That meant the library was extra busy. Paul enjoyed meeting the llamas; Taco was terrified. We ran into lots of different friends from our neighborhood and former daycare which gave the event a ‘small town’ feel which was nice for a change. It made me think of NGS’s recent Mooseum event! The llama we met had as much interest in getting his photo taken as Phil does. Lol. The real high was seeing Paul curled up with a book (a Geronimo Stilton book). 




Sunday afternoon: I was wiped by the time we got home from the library to have lunch so I tapped Phil in and laid in bed with ear plugs for 75 minutes while Phil managed the boys. I planned to take them to a splash pad/wading pool/park so had them change into their suits and then Phil checked the weather and said - um another thunderstorm is moving in. WOMP WOMP. So we pivoted and I took them to an indoor playground. We are dropping Taco’s nap this weekend so we needed to get out of the house for everyone’s sanity. 

This building area was a hit

They also loved this trampoline type of thing. Taco stuck to the edges bit Paul is really getting some air in the background.

Sunday am: I woke at 5 and could not fall back asleep for read for a bit before starting the day. Paul was up at 5:30 and Taco was up just before 6. The boys are such early risers! Phil does a swim club course at a local lake on Sunday mornings so the boys and I joined him since it was finally not raining!! It was a beautiful morning.




Sunday afternoon: I once again tapped out to lay in bed for an hour to recharge my batteries. The boys and I headed to a local splash pad/wading pool park at 1:30. It’s kind of a haul to get to this place (20-25 min) but it’s a zero entry set-up which is what Taco prefers. Plus it has a really nice park adjacent to it. We were there for about 2 hours and then got ice cream on the way home since it was the first weekend of summer. 





So that was the kid-centric part of our weekend. We divided and conquered a lot but Phil did stuff around the house like mowing, laundry, and getting groceries. Plus I wanted to give him some alone time since he solo parents again this week while I am in DC for 2 nights/3 days. 

Llamas, indoor playground, beach, splash pad, and ice cream. These kids sure have it good. Although the only things we paid for were the indoor playground ($12/each and worth every dollar to entertain the boys during a rain storm) and ice cream so it wasn’t a big financial outlay. I do hope someday they look back on their childhoods and think - wow, mom and dad did a lot for us/took us cool places. I had a great childhood but the boys do more things in a weekend than I did all summer. But that’s the difference between being 1 or 5 kids and living in a rural area (population 500) that didn’t even have a library!!

How was your weekend?

Friday, June 21, 2024

TGIF

Hello from rainy Minnesota where we have considered building an ark. We have had well over 4” of rain this week and more is on the way. It’s feast or famine around these parts, it seems. It’s been such a rainy spring but I am hoping it tapers off because we really don’t need more rain! Here is how the week shaped up. 

A book I am reading this week is ‘After Annie’ by Anna Quindlen. The first sentence is ‘Annie died right before dinner.’ That reminds me of the opening lines of Everything I Never Told You (Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.) In this case, Annie dies from an aneurysm, leaving behind a husband and 4 kids, the oldest of which is 13. This is very much a character driven novel so do not read this if you need plot! But I am enjoying it (although enjoying seems like the wrong verb to use given the subject matter).

The high of my week was a fun day at the zoo on Wednesday with Paul! I had the day off for the Juneteenth holiday and it was finally not raining! It was the busiest I had ever seen the zoo so I guess everyone else that was off for the holiday had the same idea. We were there for over 5 hours so we saw a lot including 2 amazing bird shows, one of which featured other animals. I really enjoyed some 1:1 time with Paul. It’s a way more low key experience to take him versus taking both boys.

The wing span of this vulture was incredible!


Enjoying the splash pad! It was only 67F but Paul was still all about the splash pad.


Getting up close and personal with a tarantula.

The lows of my week was: dealing with another ridiculous bill from CVS - $1,900+ this time. That’s an improvement from the $4k bill I got about a month ago but come on! Why is this so difficult? I have insurance! I was told I met my deductible in March when I paid around $1k. This is what it took to take of this: 

1st call: CVS Pharmacy where they tell me the co-pay insurance company denied the claim because I allegedly did not meet my deductible. They can't help me and say I need to call the co-pay company. CVS IS THE WORST but I can only use CVS or it will be out-of-network so my hands are tied here.

2nd call: Co-pay company tells me that all they can determine is that I haven't met my deductible but they have no other info besides that so they said to call my insurance company.

3rd call: The insurance company tells me I have met my deductible but it happened on the same date that this stupid $1,900 bill is associated with so I am incredibly confused because I had paid over $1k in early March to allegedly meet my deductible to pay for this stupid medication. But the guy I talk to said I actually need to talk to the pharmacy - which is the first phone call I placed at the start of this whole maddening process. 

4th call: Back to CVS Pharmacy where they tell me that I still owe $1,900 toward my $3,200 deductible despite the fact that they said my previous $1k+ payment would meet my deductible. I give up and fork over my HSA card. 

All that said - I know the infusions are even more expensive than my injectable drugs were but they are handled by a clinic so I am hoping that the process is more straightforward since the devil that is CVS is not involved. 

A show we are watching is ‘Welcome to Wrexham’ on Hulu. It’s a series about the purchase of a sort of failing football club in Wales by none other than Ryan Reynolds and some Rob guy who wrote for ‘Its always sunny in Philadelphia’ which is a show Phil loved but has assured me is ‘not safe for Lisa’. I’m in it for Ryan Reynolds and the underdog story. 

For workouts I did the first workout of Caroline Girvan’s Fuel series which was very high impact/HIIT-like. That’s not really what I need out of ST workouts right now so I either need to redo the Iron program or find something else. I ran 4 miles on Wednesday morning, will take today off since my first meeting of the day is at 8:30 and I can't run and be presentable that quickly for a zoom. I'm going to see how I feel on Saturday morning and maybe do a strength training workout of some sort if my hand feels ok (I get an injection in the tendon this afternoon), and then will run 6 miles on Sunday.

The best money spent was on happy hour with a good friend that I used to work with, which was another high of my week! I hadn't seen her for over a year which is ridiculous considering we work 1 block apart but work has been busy for both of us and it's hard for me to plan social events when I am gone so much for work travel.

My plans this weekend include not much again. If it isn't raining, one of us will take Paul to an event at the local rec center tonight. It's supposed to be rainy tomorrow morning so I'm hoping to convince the boys to go to the library. We are going to try dropping Taco's nap this weekend to see if that results in better bedtimes/later starts to the day. So if the rain clears out, I will take the boys to a local wading pool/splashpad/park and give Phil some time off to do whatever he pleases since I'm traveling next week. Sunday we are planning to go to the lake where Phil is a member of a swim club after my 6 mile run. They have a swim course set up several times/week, including Sunday mornings. Last year Taco had no interest in the water so we didn't join him but he seems more interested this year so I am hoping this can be a standard Sunday morning activity. Sunday is the nicest day of the weekend so hopefully we will be outside quite a bit!

Bonus photo:

I caught this action shot of Paul rolling a yahtzee on Tuesday afternoon! He was so proud of himself. He has rolled yahtzees the 2 times we've played so he is going to have really unrealistic expectations about how often that happens! Yahtzee is a really great game for his age as it gives him the chance to work on his math skills, which is his favorite subject!



How was your week?

Monday, June 17, 2024

Weekend recap

Happy Monday! We had a very ‘ok’ kind of weekend. Friday was wonderful, Saturday was rainy, Sunday was hot and started with someone getting a goose egg but ended on a good note.

Friday was Paul’s last day of kindergarten! Here is a side-by-side comparison of the first and last day. I can’t believe how much he has grown and changed!


That night we got together with my college friends. It was a gorgeous summer night and they have a great deck/backyard with a beautiful flowering tree. It was so fun to catch up with everyone. I hadn’t seen most of the girls since February and hadn’t seen the husbands since last August. These friends are all a year older than me but in such a different stage of parenting as their kids range in age from 11 to 17! One heartily offered to babysit because she misses toddlers (how???) and I think we will take her up on it as we can walk to restaurants from her house.

The boys slept in until 6:45 on Saturday since we had been out later than usual on Friday (later than usual = home at 8:40. We are party animals clearly.) Saturday was a LONG day because it rained all damn day. I fit my 6 mile run in before the rain started but then we were kind of house bound because I could not talk the boys into going to the library despite my best efforts. They had fun with playdoh for awhile but then it was a lot of screens and fighting. Le sigh. I napped for over an hour during Taco’s nap though. I felt so dang tired. Am I tired from the infusion? Because I have young kids? Because of the rainy weather? Because of sleep interruptions from being on prednisone? All of the above?

So many playdoh toys!!

His little bird creation was quite cute.

Taco was up at 5:30 on Sunday. I think he is ready to drop his nap. Sob. In some ways it makes weekends easier as we can go to the pool and stay long enough to make it worth the cost of admission and can spend more time at the zoo. But I often rest during his naps so I am sad to miss that rest period. We will adjust but gah I am sad to lose that time to rest. 

We went to a baseball diamond that morning for an annual Father’s Day sort of batting derby (the guys all take turns hitting balls and those not hitting field balls). It’s next to a park which is next to a farmer’s market. Within 5 minutes of arriving, Taco fell while running and head planted into the sidewalk and got a big goose egg. This kid is so prone to falling for some reasons. He felt better after having a donut but looks rough.

Ugh that goose egg! 

We ran into a couple of families we knew and then had to abruptly leave when the kids were not listening/cooperating. 

I napped again during Taco’s nap and then my MIL came over in the afternoon. We got takeout from Phil’s favorite place (pork rice bowls from a BBQ place called Brasa) to celebrate Father’s Day. My gift to him is the gift of time to play golf. We played a game of Yahtzee (my MIL’s fave game) after dinner and Paul rolled for my MIL. He was thrilled to roll a Yahtzee!




Paul is home with us for the next couple of days as his summer program starts on Thursday. Phil will WFH today and I will WFH tomorrow and then we both have Juneteenth off so I will do something fun with him that day - maybe the pool if it’s not raining. We have a very rainy week ahead of us! 

How was your weekend? Did you do anything for Father’s Day?

Friday, June 14, 2024

5 Things Friday + First Infusion

Happy Friday! Here are 5 things on my mind today, including a check-in on how my first infusion went.

1. First off, thank you for all the thoughtful comments on my post about feeling joy! You all left so many insightful comments that really made me think.

2. I had my first IV infusion yesterday and all-in-all it went quite well. I'm used to getting IVs when I've been fasting for a surgery but getting an IV when you are hydrated is so much better (it's taken up to 3 attempts to place an IV before surgeries but this was easy peasy). I felt sleepy during the infusion which is apparently a common side effect but felt good otherwise. So overall I would say it was pretty easy aside from the hassle of being at the clinic for 2+ hours. I get my next one in early July.

3. Today is Paul's last day of school. He had a really wonderful first year of school and is sad that the school year is coming to an end. He has grown and changed so much in this first year. He started the year being able to read on his own on a very basic level and now I would say he's pretty much completely literate. He will struggle with bigger words but he can read books on his own now which is cute to see. Bedtime has become a bit of a struggle lately because he wants to keep reading his Dog Man books. It's kind of a good problem to have because it's great to see his love for reading flourish but he also needs to go to bed at a certain time so that mornings aren't too much of a slog... 

4. I had a really great trip to NYC. I landed Monday afternoon, worked in the office for a few hours and then was able to go for a run in Central Park! It's rare for me to get a run in while traveling as it can be tough to fit in before work so I was glad I had Monday night free. 




5. We have a gathering with my college friends tonight that I'm really looking forward to. Our husbands/kids are joining us so I am hoping Taco/Paul are entertained by the older kids so we can catch up with the adults but we'll see... It looks like it will be a beautiful summer-like evening so I am really looking forward to it. Besides that we don’t have much planned for the weekend but I am sure we will be outside quite a bit as the weather forecast looks pretty good! It’s Father’s Day on Sunday obviously but we are pretty low key - my gift is encouraging Phil to take golf or find another way to make time for himself.

How was your week?

Monday, June 10, 2024

On Feeling Joy

Happy Monday! I fly to NYC this morning and come back Wednesday night. I haven’t traveled since mid-May. I really needed this break after my cluster of travel in April/May. I will never cluster travel together like that (I traveled 3 of 4 weeks for work but if you include our Destin trip I traveled 4 of 5 weeks) again if I can avoid it because it was not good for anyone. But onwards and upwards. I have 2 trips in June and 2 in July and then hope to take August off.

I’ve got a bit of a weightier post today about joy. It’s something I thought about during my long run (6 miles) along the paths of Lake Harriet and Bada Maka Ska on Saturday morning.


The idea of joy was on my mind because I had read Melissa of Brighton Jotter’s Good Things Friday post before my run and she commented on the feeling of joy she felt while watching her adult children work on a puzzle with her husband/their dad which sounds like such a lovely scene, especially since I love puzzles! I can completely picture that ‘my cup runneth over’ joyful kind of feeling.

On my run I got to thinking about the last time I felt an emotion I would describe as joy. One thing you should know about me is that I am not very emotional. As Phil says, we ‘stay in the meaty part of the bell curve of emotions,’ meaning we are kind of ‘steady Eddie’ kinds of people. We don’t experience super high highs but also don’t tend to experience super low lows. So I am kind of not really prone to feel joy. It’s kind of a nice way to live because the mountains and valleys sound quite volatile. But I was wracking my brain a bit to identify joyful times. 

I did have a joy-like fist-bumping feeling after a couple of really good client meetings in Dallas last month. The advisor we met with was very smart and asked great questions that really made me think. When we left the meeting I said, ‘gosh I love my job’ to the sales rep I was traveling with. It was a fulfilling moment and joy-like.

Beyond that, I felt joy watching Paul’s kindergarten music program last month…

Paul is front and center in his cute pink polo. Their concert was so dang cute. I grinned ear-to-ear the whole time.

And I’ve felt joy watching Taco do imaginative pretend play at the goose house in our neighborhood. 


And I felt pretty joyful leaving the kids with the sitter for our anniversary date night last month. 

But the time I felt pure and utter days-on-end joy was on my Banff trip last August with my good friend Amber. We had the best time hiking and saw some awe-inspiring views. And I only had myself to care for which was such a good feeling for a change.

I feel a bit of shame that the most joy-filled time I can think of was away from my family. Part of the joy was from being in such a gorgeous area and part of it was not having anyone depending on me (neither work nor young children). But we couldn’t really do that kind of trip with my kids at their ages - I know other families go on big adventures but we’ve decided it’s not worth spending money on big adventures until the boys are older and heartier and can handle some hiking, for example. Nor is it easy to do these kind of trips with just Phil as it’s a lot to ask my parents to care for our young kids. 

That said it’s not as if I am not happy. I am most days, although I have really struggled with irritability now that I am on a bit of a higher dose of steroids again. Prednisone makes me feel awful but I need it to manage the pain of the flare. So I am kind of stuck in this place of heightened annoyance and limited bandwidth while being frustrated that my RA won’t behave itself despite being on several drugs. I start infusions this week and they should make a huge difference but I’m not expecting immediate results and will probably have to be patient.

Right now, joyful feelings kind of feel like a bridge too far until my disease is better managed and I am off or at least on a much lower dose of steroids. I guess a subtitle of this post could be ‘steroids are awful’ or ‘steroids are not compatible with joy.’ I fear I will be on steroids for several more months so for the time being I want to try to find little bits of joy where I can, kind of like Elisabeth’s joy-finding posts. I’ll probably have to really look for joy because my general state of mind is, well, kind of melancholy with a side of irritability (I sound really fun to be around, don’t I?).

But after my run I did text Amber and our other friend Kelly to say - we need to do a Banff type of meet up next summer because I need a joyful series of days. And I am encouraging Phil to do a guys’ golf weekend this summer so he can ‘fill his cup’ or ‘put on his own oxygen mask.’ But those cup-filling experiences will happen while the other parent solo parents. 

And I am reminding myself that it won’t always be this way. I won’t always be on prednisone, my disease will be better managed, and we will reach a less physically demanding and boundary pushing stage of parenting.

Are you prone to feelings of joy or more ‘steady Eddie’ like me? What is the last experience that brought you joy?

Friday, June 7, 2024

TGIF

This week was a bit of a mixed bag with high highs and low lows. Here's how it shaped up.

A book I am reading this week is The Secret Book of Flora Lee.’ It’s sort of set during WWII which is usually a genre I avoid because I got so burned out on it. But Kyria gave it 5 stars and she doesn’t give books 5 stars all that often so I felt compelled to read it, especially since we often like the same books! Plus most of the book seems to take place in 1960s so the WWII theme is very much in the background. 

The high of my week was meeting up with Birchie! She’s on a long road trip and made a stop in Minneapolis! We went for a walk around one of the lakes in our city (Bde Maka Ska which was formally called Lake Calhoun) and then we got dinner. It was so wonderful to meet in person! Aren’t we cute (she gave me permission to post this photo!)!


The lows of my week were 

1. Getting the dreaded call from daycare that Taco had thrown up on Wednesday afternoon. Ugh! I had 4 client meetings on Thursday and it’s a very busy time at work for Phil so I scrambled to reschedule 1 of the calls and asked a colleague to take one of the other calls. I kept the other 2 as Phil agreed to stay home in the morning for my VERY BIG DEAL client call (meaning an 8 figure opportunity) and then the other one was during his nap. So it all worked out but I was scurrying to do all of this rescheduling while in the car to pick up Taco as I didn’t want to shift things the day of (in case it isn't obvious, my trusty uber driver Phil was driving - I never text/email while driving). 

2. My pesky flare in the first finger of my right hand is getting worse now that I've tapered down to a lower dose of steroids. I'm glad to not feel super jittery but the pain/swelling in that joint sucks. My infusion on the 13th can't come fast enough. I'm hoping and praying it makes a big difference right away. In the mean time I'm bumping my steroids up by 5mg and hoping it doesn't impact my sleep/make me feel shaky/jittery again. If that doesn't work my doctor will make an exception and allow me to get an injection in the tendon sooner than ideal. 

A show we are watching is the documentary about the Ashley Madison data breach on Netflix. Yes it’s a weird show to watch but documentaries are our thing and it’s prompted some good discussions about how one defines infidelity, what is forgivable, and what challenges a marriage can come back from. 

For workouts I ran on Tuesday and that is it. I had planned to run on Thursday but that did not happen since I was on Taco duty. Today I hope to squeeze a Caroline Girvan workout in, tomorrow I will do my ‘long run’ which is about 5.75 miles, and on Sunday I will do another Caroline Girvan workout. I’m almost done with her Iron program (which I have loved!) so need to figure out what to do next!

The best money spent was on dinner with Birchie! We shared some small plates and an entree and it was so good!

My plans this weekend include not much! Phil will go out to his mom’s with Paul one of the days of the weekend to help her around her home (if both are still healthy of course - fingers crossed the stomach bug doesn't move through our house). The weather forecast looks good so I will probably take the boys to the beach by our house one afternoon. When I went for a walk with Taco and a friend last weekend, he sat down in the water fully clothed when we stopped at a beach on our walk so I guess he’s more interested in water. Last summer he wasn’t. 

I love living walking distance from this lake! This photo shows how clean our lakes are! 

How was your week?

Monday, June 3, 2024

What We Read in May

First things first, I guest posted over on NGS’s blog as part of her 20th Anniversary guest blogger series and shared the 20 ways blogging has made my life better - and my intro includes an explanation for my (very odd) blog title!

May was another solid reading month for me. I finished 9 books! I had a work trip to Napa at the start of the month which meant lots of plane reading time. I’ve kind of given up on working on planes because I can’t get my VPN to work which means I can’t open any files so I just keep up with emails on my phone and let myself read for pleasure.

Best of the month: 


The Seven Year Slip was an easy breezy book with a bit of magical realism. The protagonist inherits her aunt’s NYC apartment and discovers that sometimes when she enters the apartment, the clock turns back 7 years. I don’t always like time travel but it worked for me in this book. The Other Side of Disappearing was a 3.5 star book that I rounded up to 4. The protagonist was forced to grow up early when her mother abandoned her family, forcing the 20-something protagonist to take over the care of her half-sister. Their mom left because she fell for a scam artist/hustler. In this book, the sisters team up with a podcast duo to find out what happened to their mom. Fat Talk was my book club’s May selection. We had a really good discussion about the book. There are some controversial topics in the book but that’s what makes for a great discussion. James is a retelling of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from Jim’s perspective. I loved this book and gave it 5 stars but I don’t understand why it’s described as ‘uproariously funny’ in the publishers blurb - do not read this for humor. I found the content very heavy. Last but not least, Congratulations, the Best is Over was another 5-star read! It’s a collection of essays that made me laugh out loud which is really saying something because books rarely make me LOL. He covers both light and heavy topics with a healthy dose of humor. This is his 2nd collection of essays and I preferred it to his first (but also liked his debut). 

Just ok to meh:


Competing Devotions is a book I read after it was recommended during an Ezra Klein podcast about balancing work and caring for a family. It was a little too academic and I don’t know what I was supposed to take away. Trust was ultimately too cerebral for me. It’s about a man who worked in the finance industry and was criticized for how well he did during the stock market crash of 1929. I liked but didn’t love The Lonely Hearts Book Club. It was good but I would have to look up the plot line. The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control was just ok. I liked the premise of the book but it felt overly long and then the last 2 chapters were something like 9 principles to remember and 11 suggestions or something to that effect. It reminded me of this bank conference I helped organize 10+ years ago when I worked at a different company. At the closing lunch, the head of my division (which was a person my retired friend and I did not care for to put it lightly) closed out the conference with a text-heavy series of slides with something like ‘the 14 things to takeaway from this conference.’ Who can remember 14 things? Most humans can’t. Unless you are constantly referencing something, at most you can maybe remember 3-5 things. So this book end on a meh note and I couldn’t tell you any of the things I was supposed to take away and apply to my life. I did take away the general theme that it’s ok to be a perfectionist and she points out how you don’t encounter men who refer to themselves a ‘recovering perfectionist’ or something to that effect and yet women do this All. The. Time. (I have been guilty of saying this as well but will not say that going forward.) 

DNF:

I abandoned the buzzy book, Everybody in My Family has Killed Someone at about the 10% mark. I didn’t like the narration style which included breaking the 4th wall. Sometimes I like that style; this time I did not. The book opens with the protagonist’s sibling showing up at his house with a body that needs to be buried (it happens right away so is not a spoiler). I could not even wrap my mind around this as an enneagram 1. Do NOT come to me to help bury a body is what I am saying. I am not that kind of ride or die friend because that kind of task would haunt me and I do not want to go to jail for assisting in a crime. 

The boys’ reading:

Taco has gotten over his obsession with ‘The Circus Ship.’ I love that book but reading it daily can kind of ruin it for a while. Paul has kind of fallen off the wagon of reading together and instead wants to read Dog Man and Wimpy Kid books on his own. It’s great that he can read on his own but I really love cuddling up with him with chapter books! Late in the month I did talk him into reading book 7 of the Dragon Masters series which he really enjoys. We can read them in 2 sittings so we fly through those books. We had read one chapter of Harry Potter but decided to pause that book until he’s a bit older and heartier in terms of intense content. 

Did you read anything great in May?