Sunday, May 10, 2020

Thankful for friends!!

Not sure how well this will come through on a blog, but a grainy panoramic of most of the friends who are giving me life during this pandemic (at least 3 people were out of the shot)—our game night group of five other couples that I love so dearly. We had our usual meetup on Friday afternoon, a Zoom game night Friday, and fiiiinally our first everyone-together-thing last night. It seriously felt like college again staying up way late burning everything we could find to stave off the cold a little longer, half of us in old college sweatshirts and everyone bundled up in blankets. I love all these people so so much and I am SO grateful for all of them and especially our nonstop texting that gets me through the long crazy days!

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Things that were beautiful to me today





Scripture study sprawl, Isaac’s hand reaching for a chord, the first garden sprouts, daily bread 




Tuesday, April 28, 2020

weird things that are now normal


  • wearing a mask and gloves any time we go anywhere
  • going on multiple walks/bike rides a day with everyone in the family
  • refusing to take anyone with you when you drive to the grocery store because it's "me time"
  • children being SO excited to drive to the grocery store because it's the first time they've been in a car in four weeks
  • quarantine beards/haircuts
  • the term "social distancing"
  • this exact conversation with everyone we see:
    person 1: "How are you doing?"
    person 2: "Hanging in there."
    person 1: "Yep, that's all we can do right now."
    person 2: "Stay healthy!"
    person 1: "And sane!"
    (both parties laugh at the impossibility of that last one)
  • ending/beginning every email with "hope you and yours are well!"
  • driving to a parking lot, backing up your car, and sitting on the tailgate to yell at your friends who are sitting on their tailgates an appropriately safe distance away (also it's the best part of your week)
  • texting friends/neighbors: "headed to the store need anything?"
  • wiping a can of Clorox wipes off with...more Clorox wipes
  • putting on jeans and someone asks "wow why are you so dressed up?"
  • baking something every single day, probably multiple things
  • time is all relative and one day you might go to bed at 7 pm and the next day 2 am
  • conducting church meetings over Zoom
  • date nights with friends over Zoom
  • meetings with classmates and teachers over Zoom
  • piano lessons via FaceTime
  • every single time I shower I think hopefully about when my shower gel is gone and I have an excuse to go to Trader Joe's
  • no samples at Costco, this is VERY terrible and was the first sign of everything going bonkers
  • watching Tiger King, what even has happened to us
  • booking grocery pickup a week out
  • cancelling all well-child visits for next few months for kids who don't need booster shots (sorry Isaac) when for the last 15 years you've been there bang on their birthday
  • getting really excited bc your pulse oximeter FINALLY shipped after a month of waiting
  • sending emails to your kid's class about planning some sort of appropriately social distanced graduation from elementary school even though you have rolled your eyes at every other 5th-grade graduation but dang, this year these kids need something to recognize the fact that they are leaving elementary school without the chance to say goodbye
  • having a running text thread with your friends about what you're baking that day
  • constant check-ins with friends via text--"how was today? Are you doing okay?" 
  • getting up one day at 6 am full of fire and energy and lying in bed until 11 the next day in a sort of existential coma
  • obsession with Duolingo
  • texting your friends who are in healthcare and being SO relieved when they respond because it means they're still alive 
  • toilet paper is like the gold standard
  • having this conversation with your mom:
       Mom: "Do you think I'll find any Clorox wipes?"
       Me: "Nah, it's 10:30 am. Way too late. You should've gone to the senior hour."
  • last ten things you've ordered from amazon:
    • giant tub for holding sourdough starter
    • another chromebook
    • big pack of earbuds (where do those things go and everyone needs them constantly!)
    • fire pit
    • vitamin C pills & elderberry pills
    • personal portable timer bc so help me if somebody asks Alexa ONE MORE TIME "how many seconds are left on my xyz timer" 
    • "coronavirus journals"
    • belgian pearled sugar
    • a truly excessive number of books
    • hodgepodge of "maybe this will keep Matthew busy" things--kinetic sand (yep it will keep him busy; he'll throw it everywhere and then everyone will slip and fall), construction paper, markers, that water-doodly mat thingie
  • "touchless delivery" as an option on everything
  • everyone is hatching butterflies from caterpillars
  • everyone is planting a garden
  • everyone has a letterboard with the number of days we've been home (fyi today is #45 and my letterboard has gone from "#stayhome house party" "send help"
  • you're getting sick of pajamas
  • spending years trying to keep your kids off screens and now it's the only way to do school
  • the president telling people to drink Lysol
yeah, that happened. 

birthdays in quarantine





































Abigail turned 15, and Nathan turned 7!!

On Abigail's birthday we biked over to her favorite restaurant to pick up takeout, then went over and ate it by the high school in the little front garden outside the freshman cafeteria. The last time Abigail was there, she was hanging out and eating with her friends, so it was pretty bittersweet (especially the part where she cupped her hands around her face and looked through the glass to see that the monitor displaying the day's menu was still on...).




I have a lot of feelings about these two birthdays, mostly because both kids have been talking for months about their birthday plans. Big parties, Kings Island with friends/family (even though yikes Neil and I were planning to be at DisneyLand by ourselves on Abigail's birthday...). But they were both great sports about it and we managed to make things pretty celebratory, I think. And Abigail's started (online) driver's ed!

Other random things...Neil and I are really into long Saturday morning bike rides right now instead of long runs. For some reason it's really nice to bike because we can go so much further and gosh I am SO darn sick of the roads/trails around our house right now--definitely seeing waaaaay too much of them!! Last week we biked up to a reservoir about 11 miles away from our house and went down to the sand and just sat there for awhile listening to the water slap against the shore. It was perfect.




Then we came home and tore apart our deck (which is nice because if I had run 21 miles I would be lying on the floor all day feeling sorry for myself, but with biking I was just kind of tired but could still do stuff).










And like everyone else in the world...lots of baking happening here. This is my new favorite book. So fascinating and that reminds me...I need to go tend to my dough! Here's yesterday's bread, topped with lots of Boursin cheese and smoked salmon. The very very best.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Another week



Welp, here we are--another week down. And as my watch just started beeping at me to remind me, I should be on a plane to San Jose right now, in that alternate COVID-free universe. At least we only have five weeks left of e-Learning!

Things that I am doing to keep myself busy this week (other than the obvious): refinishing our interior (very beautiful solid cherry) doors & keeping up my Duolingo streak. Totally embracing that quarantine cliche of "learn another language!" Except this is really just refreshing a language I already know (French) and a little bit of dabbling in a new-to-me language (Italian), except then I realized you could actually compete and so I started focusing more on French so that I was competitive. A couple weeks ago I took 1st in my league and gosh, it felt like ALL I DID that week was Duolingo. Like we were on a walk and I had an AirPod in and the kids were like "Are you still beating Roderigo?" because apparently I was talking out loud about crushing the guy who kept trying to challenge me for the #1 spot. I spent a couple of evenings in a row just doing Duolingo while watching a movie with the kids/Netflixing with Neil and I won resoundingly, but since then I'm just doing enough to stay in the top 5. ;-) Saving up my energy for taking #1 in the Diamond league, peeps. 

Easter dinner table...this was fun to put together. For journaling purposes, those are my grandmother's silver 50th-anniversary candlesticks (given to her by my mom); the crystal bowl is a wedding gift, I inherited the silver from my dear Aunt Pam after her death, and the platinum-edged china was the thrift store score of a lifetime (last year--found a full 12-setting set with serving platters and bowls and walked out with the whole thing for $60). The china is 80 years old and the silver well over 100. 



Neil is getting a loooot of use out of our guest room/office. I snapped a pic of him lying down to take a conference call (he usually works at his desk with a couple monitors and multiple laptops out, but Abigail was using one of his laptops to do a CAD drawing in Inventor with Luke sitting next to her, completely fascinated. That girl is SO good with CAD already--this is for her engineering class that is concurrent enrollment with one of the local colleges. She turns 15 on Monday). 



(ps I love love his long legs)

And here is the trifle that I made for Easter dinner--yum! Fresh pound cake, pudding, tons of fruit and cream--you really can't go wrong!



I was doing some grading tonight and it was interesting to read my students' weekly project updates. Usually people are complaining about how they hate doing group work online/remotely, and every semester I'm like "guys I promise this is a valuable skill! Just learn it!" and guess what, this semester everyone is like...wow, the skills that we have been learning this semester about online collaboration are SURE HANDY NOW THAT THE WORLD IS ALL REMOTE. So I was thinking about that a bit just before writing this post, and thinking about how much I absolutely hate technology sometimes (I wish my children had never heard of smartphones, or tablets, or Nintendo, or TV, etc. etc.) but on the other hand--I can't even imagine how hard this pandemic would be without it. And I know that people have obviously experienced these types of situations without technology, but gosh, I am just so grateful that I can work remotely, and Neil can work remotely, and our kids can do eLearning (as much as it also drives me crazy I would be way more upset about NOT having it), and that I can stay connected to my friends through FaceTime, and Zoom, and texting, and that I can listen to podcasts and watch Netflix and read the news so easily! In particular, some connections I am really thankful for this week (in no order): 
  • the "cool cats and kittens" text thread that is constantly running with five of my good friends here. This is our group of couples that we get together with for game nights, but boy our text thread with just the wives has basically lit up over the last 6 weeks and kinda become a lifeline for me! So darn grateful for those women and the fact that we can vent/commiserate/rejoice together about this craaaazy time. We have a Zoom game night tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to it (we spent almost 5 hours just talking on the last one!)
  • doing virtual workouts with my dear friend Kelsey who moved to Sacramento about 10 days before the world locked down. On our last run together at the end of February, coronavirus was not even on the radar. This week we started a new 8-week workout challenge together and I love checking in with her every day, even if we can't log hours of talking time on the run!
  • similarly--doing virtual baking with Kelsey and Stephanie. Before Kelsey moved, the 3 of us got together to do baking nights (croissants, croquembouche, macaroons, eclairs) and this week we are doing a "challah challenge" all week with a Zoom at the end of it. 
  • weekly writers' Zoom group faciliated by my brilliant friend who is a professor of creative writing. Truly therapeutic and I'm so grateful for all the effort she is putting into it!!!
and an in-person connection...Abigail and I had SUCH a good time going to pick up groceries this morning, haha! We were so excited to go somewhere that we took the "scenic route" there and another "scenic route" back, and totally enjoyed the half-hour chilling in the Kroger parking lot while we waited for our order.

(ps please do not worry--I am also having my fair share of COVID breakdowns, hence the lack of blogging for a couple days there) 




Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Friday, April 10, 2020

Our new normal



Today we went to the state park that's just a few miles from us so that we could get in some really good woods time. I'm assuming that the state parks will close at some point and wanted to get in a morning of hiking while we can; since Neil had Friday & Monday off for Easter weekend it seemed like the perfect time.

When I thought about today, I was thinking that I could share some of the cute little anecdotes from our day, or the fun little memories (Neil made toffee! Everyone played card games while I sat at the piano and played John Denver songs blissfully by myself! I made really good challah and really good frittata for dinner!!) or the scary bits (Abigail narrowly missed being hurt by a falling tree, presumably thanks to the storm we had a few days ago). But what I decided to write about were the things that are normal for us now because of COVID-19 and hopefully will be very very foreign someday in the future when we reread this.

First of all: this is the first time that we have all gone somewhere since March 8--that's 33 days. Since March 13 (today is April 10), the children have only left the house to ride their bikes or to go on a walk. Neil and I have left a handful of times to get groceries. Before we left this morning I spent an extra ten minutes going through my asthma/allergies routine--in the past I would just do a quick couple puffs of albuterol if I was about to go do prolonged exercise (like a marathon). Now it's a somewhat exhausting process involving 3 inhalers, sinus rinses, a rebreathing chamber, and another 2 allergy meds, multiple times a day.

We returned our 8-seater Pacifica on Monday (wrote about that a few posts ago), so today two of the kids shared a seatbelt. I would never do this in normal life, but the roads were almost completely empty and we went well under the speed limit. But this did mean that we opted to go to a closer state park only a few minutes away rather than one of our favorites that's about 80 minutes away.

We chose to hike on a trail that is normally only for mountain bikers (currently closed to bikers) in hopes that it would be mostly deserted. In the two hours that we were hiking, we passed three other people. Each time, both parties veered far off the trail to ensure the maintenance of the 6-foot social distancing space.

We did not bring all kinds of fun snacks and goodies, which is de rigeur for us when we hike (Neil almost always has a pocketful of hard candies, which he calls "power candy" and uses to entice kids whose legs are lagging). Half of us were participating in the Good Friday worldwide day of fasting for relief from the pandemic, and the rest of the kids knew that when it's Fast Sunday, we don't do treats until the end of the fast.

We did not go to the playground and visit the "hill slide," which we always do. Nobody asked if we could go. We did not use the bathrooms, we did not use the drinking fountains. The children asked if we could hike to the top of the sledding hill and roll down, so on our way out after the hike we drove over to the hill. It's absolutely enormous. There were four people scattered across it; I told the children that we couldn't stop. Nobody argued.

As we drove home, we passed Costco. We have never passed Costco on the way home from a hike without stopping to pick up a few goodies and grab everyone a snack. We drove past without a peep from any of the kids.



We had an absolutely lovely morning in the woods. It was a true delight to be out together, hiking and talking and wandering. And this is our new normal. I'm surprised in many ways by how quickly we've adapted and the things that I miss and the things that I don't miss at all. I love the newfound freedom in our schedules--we have so much more TIME because we're not spending it traveling to other places! And it's wonderful to see the kids creating deepened relationships with each other. But gosh, I miss things as simple as making a quick run to the grocery store without having to don a mask and gloves, without calculating whether it's an item that likely sold out within the first hour of opening, without trying to remember what are the current hours to accomodate the immunocompromised and the elderly or the early closing times to conduct full santization of the stores. (And Target. I really miss Target.) I am SO grateful for FaceTime and Zoom and texting, because I don't know what I would do without those constant connections to friends and family. 

Things to remember



Yesterday we basically had the storm of the spring apocalypse, I finally managed to snag a grocery pickup slot (and scheduled one today for next week...we have to book a week out right now!!), and we had the much-awaited “yes day” for the kids where they got to do all the things they never get to do (which given the current limits/social distancing basically meant unlimited ice cream and Nintendo). 



Wednesday, April 08, 2020



Yesterday we had beautiful weather, so we spent most of the day outside--painting, planting, and building. We got so much done but we were EXHAUSTED at the end of the day (we also did a 4-mile walk with the kids to start the day--so many flowers to check out!!). Abigail made tacos for dinner and then we all piled on the couch to watch The Mask of Zorro (Matthew fell asleep 10 minutes in and then immediately woke up when we tried to slide him into bed). I use Neil's Sawzall to attack all of the volunteer trees/branches to be pruned and it was intensely satisfying.

A few pics from the day...


Working on chicken stuff...Neil spends a lot of time out here with his AirPods on conference calls. I'm in the process of painting everything dark blue and white to match our house, but I ran out of paint so I'm on hold until it's safe to go to the hardware store again...

Another ran-out-of-paint shot but it's soooooo nice to have the sunroom open again!


Abigail sent me this cute pic of the boys today on their morning exploration of the tunnels under the roundabouts




And try as we might, there was no keeping clothes on this dude yesterday--he had WAY too much fun with the hose and I think I picked up three separate little soaked outfits from the back yard yesterday! 





Plans for the rest of today:
  • do a weights workout (Neil and I went on a bike ride this morning but I still need to get in some ST; after running a half on Saturday my feet are still absolutely trashed and I don't feel like running right now)
  • pick up groceries (hip hip hurray, this is like the highlight of the week bc it's SO hard to nab a grocery pickup slot!)
  • probably will just eat Tillamook ice cream & Red Baron pizzas for dinner because GROCERIES I went a little crazy ordering things (since I had to book it so far out I kept adding things every day!) and Neil informed me that we do NOT have enough freezer space for all the ice cream and popsicles I ordered 
  • maybe watch a movie outside tonight on the projector screen?
  • Zoom meeting with writing group friends
  • read in the sunroom--I'm rereading so many favorite books these days and it is the best




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