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. 

Friday, March 29, 2024


Today is an especially happy Friday because we are not working but the boys both have childcare! Woot woot! I am looking forward to a quiet day at home with Phil. Then later today I will read a book to Taco’s classroom which I am excited about - I’m going to read ‘The Circus Ship’ which is one of my favorite picture books! Here is how my week shaped up. 

The book I am reading this week is Family Family by Laurie Frankel. This is the 3rd book I have read by this author and I think it will be my 2nd favorite of the ones I’ve read. It had mixed reviews but I am enjoying it. The theme of the book is adoption. Here is a passage I highlighted (which is similar to the kind of passages I loved in ‘This Is How It Always Is.’

“This is what parenting is, India. Solving impossible-to-solve problems while also experiencing deep crises of faith while also being kind of annoyed while also never getting enough rest. These problems only ever go away by changing into different equally impossible problems. This is how it always is for all parents, no matter how you came by your children.”

The high of my week was book club on Wednesday. 9 of us were able to make it and we discussed ‘I Have Some Questions For You.’ The reviews were mixed but we had a great conversation about the book. I had a cauliflower crust GF pizza that was so good, I had to ask if the waitress was sure it was GF! 

The low of my week was really nothing in particular. I want to say the snow and cold was the low but the boys have been giddy with excitement over the snow so it’s hard to truly hate it when they love it so much!!

Taco is a huge fan of shoveling! I mean he’s not effective but it entertained him while I shoveled!

A show we finished watching is the second season of Full Swing on Netflix. I didn’t like it as much as the first season as it was so focused on the Ryder Cup which is something I don’t care about at all. 

For workouts I considered the shoveling I did on Monday and Tuesday ‘strength training’ since I was lifting deep, heavy snow! Yesterday I left work around 3 to fit in a treadmill workout. I did a combo of running with intervals of walking at 3mph at a 12 incline - so kind of a play on the popular 3/12/30 that many bloggers do. I get too bored with a full 30 minutes of walking at a steep incline so I like to mix in running (at no incline). Today I will do a CG workout and will probably do 2 more on Saturday and Sunday!

The best money spent was on things for the boys’ Easter baskets. They are getting stainless steel water bottles, water shoes for our FL trip, and some peanut butter eggs. I also ordered a game for Paul and Taco will get headphones for the flights to/from FL. 

My plans this weekend include enjoying a quiet day today! Phil and I will probably go out for lunch somewhere. On Saturday we will hit up the library in the morning and then we will go to my MIL’s after naptime to celebrate Easter. She has 30 eggs to hide for each boy! It’s nice to go out there on Saturday - then we don’t have to rush home to get back before Taco’s bedtime. Sunday will be a quieter day. Paul and I are going to church with another family on our block and then it will otherwise be a pretty quiet, low key day. 

How was your week? What are you reading and watching these days?

Monday, March 25, 2024

5 things Monday + Snow

I did not get a chance to write a 5 things Friday post last week since I was bogged down with work travel. So here is a 5 things Monday post instead! 

1. First things first - After unseasonably warm weather recently, winter reared its head again. We got around 6” of wet, sloppy snow on Friday morning - most of which melted by the end of the day on Friday. Then another system moved in on Sunday. It won’t be around for long as it’ll be in the 40s by Easter. But we’ve had about as much snow in the last 3 days as we did all winter. Welcome to ‘spring’ in Minnesota. The kids were THRILLED. Paul went sledding with a friend and Taco summoned his inner dog and rolled around in/ate the snow. I went down the sledding hill a few times, too, which was super fun.

2. We knew the weather would turn on Sunday, so we made the most of Saturday and were out and about a lot. First, coffee and cake pops at Starbucks, then a stop at the library where we ran into friends and I ran into a client that we just won a huge mutual fund allocation from. After lunch, Paul had a birthday party gathering at a movie theater (Kung Fu Panda 4) - his first movie theater movie ever and my first since 2019! Phil had plans with his high school friends so he took Taco to his friend’s house (Paul and I would have gone if Paul wasn’t invited to a birthday party). After the movie we met up with friends at an indoor golf simulator place that a friend owns and then went to a brewery for dinner afterwards. So basically we did ALL THE THINGS!! 

Cake pops and a latte for mom to start the day!

3. My work trip last week was for an offsite. It was nice to meet so many people in person for the first time. But wow the days were long - I was out past 10 both nights so when you factor in my bedtime wind-down process, I was up until 11 which is so late for me. I envy people who can just come home, put on pjs and drop off to sleep. Even when I am exhausted I need a transitional period of reading to fall asleep. 

4. I usually take Paul to swimming lessons on Sunday afternoon but I felt so tired so asked Phil if he could go so I could lay down when Taco napped. He happily obliged. I napped and it felt so good but I feel like I am digging myself out of a massive pit of exhaustion, probably due to back-to-back weeks of travel and too many long days/late nights last week plus a really full day on Saturday.

5. This is a short week for us since Phil and I both have Friday off for Easter - but the boys have school! This rarely happens so we will enjoy the heck out of it and hopefully go somewhere fun for lunch. I’ll end the day by reading a book to Taco’s classroom which will be really fun. 

How was your weekend? Is it springlike where you live?

Monday, March 18, 2024

Weekend recap

Fake spring is moving on and we are back to more seasonal temperatures, which still aren’t bad (in the 30s). But us seasoned midwesterners knew better than to count on that weather sticking around for good.

First up: a dentist update. We made it through the cavity drilling process but it wasn’t pleasant. Paul wouldn’t take the laughing gas despite my strong recommendation that it would be helpful. But oh well. It was just on the outer surface of 2 of his molars so he didn’t need novocaine. Here’s hoping we don’t have to go through this again for a long time!

We enjoyed the mild weather on Friday as we knew colder weather was morning in and spent a good chunk of time outside after dinner. The boys scooted and played with stomp rockets and chalk. 

Paul and his cat drawing which I think is so cute! It has shrug emoji vibes which is one of my most used emojis.

On Saturday we hit up the library in the morning and then Paul’s school friend party was in the afternoon from 3-5. He had 3 boys and 2 girls over. I was so grateful that it wasn’t all boys - the girls offset some of the boy energy. It was LOUD at times but he had fun and everyone enjoyed putting their LEGO set together. But wow kids are honest. One little boy told me the juice boxes tasted disgusting and another little girl said ‘is this all there is for snacks?’ (I had cheesy popcorn, string cheese, and club crackers plus cupcakes for dessert.)

Store bought cupcakes for the win!

Phil took Taco to his mom’s because we knew he’d want to hang with the older kids and would get in the way. He got lots of 1:1 attention from nana so everyone wins. 

Sunday was a windy, blustery day. We did nothing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. They talked about it at school so Paul asked about setting a leprechaun trap and I feigned ignorance because I had zero interest in doing anything. I am just not that fun mom that gets into minor holidays. My parents didn’t either and I don’t feel like I missed out? It’s one of those ‘you do you’ kind of things. In the morning, I took the boys to an indoor playground after my CG workout since it wasn’t nice outside so Phil could have some quiet time in the house to himself. He’s got more solo parenting ahead this week so I wanted to give him a solid break. The boys had a blast!

Post nap and swimming lesson, we loaded our RAV4 with a load for goodwill. It felt SO GOOD to get this pile of accumulating goods out of our house. It was mostly clothes and surplus gifts from Christmas that we just don’t need/weren’t playing with. 

Then I did a bunch of meal prep while sipping a glass of white wine. Meal prep is one of my favorite chores. I love chopping veggies. I listened to a podcast while doing it. Part of what I prepped was pasta sauce with blitzed veggies hidden in the sauce which is a household favorite and a rare meal that everyone enjoys. The boys had theirs on pasta, I had mine on spaghetti squash. 

This week will be a repeat of last week with me traveling Tues-Thur but then I get a break from work travel until after our spring break trip. 

How was your weekend?

Friday, March 15, 2024

5 things Friday

I’m drafting this post from the airport on Thursday night as I wait at the gate for my now twice-delayed flight home. So instead of landing at 6:30 and making it home for bedtime, I landed at 8 and missed it all. Le sigh. Here’s how the week shaped up.

1. We enjoyed some really unseasonably gorgeous weather earlier in the week. One benefit of springing ahead is having more sunlight in the evening. The boys went scooting after dinner 3 nights this week. Everyone is happier when we can get outside! Yes their helmets match their scooters but no, this was not planned! Taco just moved into Paul’s helmet and Paul got a new one that coincidentally matches his scooter. And of course Taco is wearing a Mickey shirt! We have no short sleeved Mickey shirts so I probably need to get some for spring/summer.

2. I had a very busy but productive trip to Chicago. I did some lunch and learn sessions with our sales people, went to a celebratory HH for people who were promoted/passed their licensing exams, and had a lot of meetings with people I work with. I also met up for dinner with the daughters of Phil’s cousin. They are in their 20s but were up for hanging out with me! We talked for 2+ hours straight. These girls are part of the family that we spend Christmas Eve with every year. Their parents are Taco’s Godparents so even though they are technically extended family, I kind of think of them as close family. One of the girls teaches yoga sculpt at core power yoga so I am hoping to take a class next time I am in Chicago! That was one of my favorite classes when I had a CPY membership. 

3. Today starts with 7:30 dentist appointment for Paul. We found out he had 2 cavities when we saw the dentist in February. Le sigh. I guess he has my bad dental genes (we still brush his teeth so I don’t feel like we did anything wrong, just bad luck/genes I guess). We go to a pediatric dentist so am going to trust that they will figure out how to get my sensitive boy to sit for the drilling process… I will report back.

4. Paul’s little birthday party with 5 school friends is tomorrow afternoon. Since I’ve been gone much of this week, I feel pretty ill-prepared to host anything. But I am telling myself that 5-6 year olds don’t expect much. I’ll have snacks, we’ll put a cute Lego set together and we’ll have cupcakes for the birthday treat, per Paul’s request. Hopefully it all goes off without a hitch! 

5. We don’t have any other plans this weekend, thank goodness. I’m definitely feeling worn out from my busy week of travel. And I do it all over again next week with a 2 night trip to Charlotte. Here’s hoping I get some good nights of sleep and come out of the weekend feeling rested.

How was your week? Was the weather beautiful?