Monday, April 27, 2020

What's Keeping Us Sane

Here we are in the last couple of days of April. I do feel like April went faster than March, which is kind of surprising as I was only home from March 13-31, but home the entire month of April. Maybe I am just getting used to live in isolation? I am a hard-core introvert, but this is even too much for someone like me! That said, I know social distancing is very important so we will do our part to slow the spread of the virus!

Here's is a short list of what's keeping us sane lately!

- Walks with Paul are the #1 way I'm staying sane. I try to take him for a 45 minute walk after lunch each day. We are lucky to live in a great neighborhood for walking. We either walk to a creek or the lake. We are always on the look out for ducks and other wildlife! Last week a duck crossed the path right in front of us. Paul was so excited to see a duckie up close and personal!

After trying to get him to wear sunglasses for the last year or so, he finally was on board, but only after wearing mommy's sunglasses first. Hopefully he'll keep wearing them so we don't have to hear complaints about the sun being in his eyes!

On our last several walks to the lake, we have seen a bunch of turtles. This is clearly their hangout for laying in the sun! I think I was more excited about seeing all these turtles than Paul was. He's totally team ducks.

 - We've also spent a lot of time in our backyard. The previous owners put in a big stamped concrete patio so that is where Phil and I spend most of our time. Paul likes to run around the yard with his ball, go down the slide, throw sticks, and just run around. Grandma Joan got him a little 3-wheeler but he doesn't quite understand how to ride it yet but he enjoys putting sticks and leaves in the back storage area.

- I haven't had much luck getting Paul interested in coloring/drawing, but occasionally he takes an interest and will sit for, oh, 5 minutes! I'll take what I can get!

- Lastly, getting take-out once a week has been wonderful. It's a nice way to give myself a break from cooking and to support a local business. So far, pizza has been our most common order since it's something that Paul likes and we get about 3 meals out of the 2 pizzas we order. Paul surprised us by deciding to like olives (both green and black) all of a sudden! It's nice to see his palette can expand as it seems very very very limited right now! This week we are switching things up and ordering from one of my favorite places, Hola Arepa. This a place that I always take out of town visitors to so I'm looking forward to enjoying an arepa (corn-based biscuit type of bread). There isn't much to look forward to these days, so I need little things like Friday night take out! I know we are lucky to get able to splurge on things like this and I do not take it for granted. 

What's keeping you sane these days?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Currently: April 2020

I haven't done a currently post since February so thought I'd switch things up and do a currently post instead of a COVID-19 one... although I am sure COVID-19 will feature prominently in this currently post!

Reading: The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali. It's set in Iran in the 1950s during a time of revolution. Roya and Bahran are supposed to meet one day to secretly get married - but he never shows up and disappears. 60 years later, their paths cross in Boston, MA, and the story unfolds from there. This is the May book for my book club and I'm the host. I am really liking it so hopefully others do as well. I think we'll have lots to discuss during our zoom book club discussion (so glad we are still able to meet!). I was thinking I'd have to buy this with libraries being closed, but then I saw it was available through Kindle Unlimited so I signed up for a free 2-month trial (which I will cancel after I read this book).

Loving: our family walks which Paul calls "Fwalks" - and yes, it sounds like you might imagine that word does... when he first started to walk around yelling "fwalk, fwalk, fwalk" I was like - oh my gosh, what are you saying? Then I figured out that "fwalk" was his shorthand way to say "go for a walk."  Phew.

Feeling: sick of this period of isolation. It's hard when it feels endless... I know it's important and we are committed to doing our part to flatten the curve. But I miss play dates, swimming lessons, social plans, dinners out, etc.

Anticipating: ... nothing? I know that's negative but what is anyone anticipating these days? I guess if I had to pick something, I'd say warmer weather. I'm so ready for warm, sunny summer weather.

Struggling: with the isolation! Like everyone.

Grateful: that we still have our jobs and our health, that we are financially stable, and that we have a strong, happy marriage. I can't imagine how hard social distancing would be if you were in an unhappy marriage/relationship. :(

Working: on a few organizational project, but not as many as you'd think I'd take on during this period of being at home allll the time. I'm just lacking in motivation honestly and am trying not to put pressure on myself to do things after Paul has gone to bed. But I did organize our basement storage area, which felt good. There's honestly not that much to organize in our house as we just moved in last November and did a ton of purging/donating/organizing at that time. 

Listening: to my usual podcasts. We're also listening to music on our echo during Paul's meals. He is trying really hard to get Alexa to understand his requests to play baby shark! Ha. He has mixed success so far. We'll be a bit screwed when she can understand him!

Watching: Brooklyn 9-9 on Hulu. We were struggling to find something we both like and decided to give this show a try. I'm really enjoying it so far. I like that the episodes are short and the content is light. At first I told Phil "this is a little over the top/unrealistic" and then he gently reminded me this is a comedy series... I have a tendency to take things a bit too seriously. ;)

Wishing: a COVID-19 vaccination could be made in record time. Like tomorrow. Ha.

Bonus Paul Pictures:

Mom, I'm eating crackers. I don't have time to smile for a photo.
He's getting the hang of how to use this trike that Joan got for him last summer. I tried to show him how the pedals work but he hasn't quite caught on to that yet.

Your turn - what are you grateful for, watching, and reading?

Friday, April 17, 2020


TGIF, even though the weekends don't feel all that different from any other day of that week. But at least we won't be juggling work and caring for Paul! We decided to keep him home with us until the end of the Stay at Home order on May 4th. So that's 7 weeks of working from home while watching Paul. Good times. 

The book I'm reading is The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis. This is the 4th book I've ready by this author. Her books are set in a prominent building in NYC - the building is almost a character in the novel. This one is about the Chelsea Hotel and is about 2 women who work in the theater industry during the 1950s. This was the McCarthy era so the theater industry is under scrutiny for involvement in communism. It's been a fast, enjoyable read. 

The high of my week was going for stroller walks when the weather warmed up later in the week. I had to really dig for a high honestly... life just feels the same day after day after day!

The low of my week was the weather. We had all that snow on Easter Sunday and then snow flurries, cold temps, and high winds on Monday and Tuesday. It was the pits. I live for time outdoors but it's tough to take Paul on a long walk when it's blustery and cold out there. So we did not leave the house Sunday-Tuesday... We saw this cool bird on our walk yesterday. Having a toddler really makes me focus on my surroundings as Paul is always looking for ducks so I look out for them, too, and ended up seeing this bird instead! My friend Jeanie let me know it's a heron! She sees lots of wildlife on her walks, so I sent her a photo and she let me know what it was. Thanks, Jeanie!

A recipe I made was chicken tacos in the instant pot using this recipe. Tacos show up almost weekly on our meal plan! 

For workouts I went for walks and did a strength training workout on Sunday. My motivation for working out besides long walks has been pretty non-existent. :/ I just feel so tired between working and caring for Paul!

The best money spent was on Paul's favorite brand of granola bars (Annie's). We haven't been able to find them during the COVID-19 crisis but I scored some when putting a Target order in for in-store pick-up. In general, we've had a hard time finding Annie's products - I guess everyone's kids like her mac & cheese and other products! 

My plans this weekend include not much. Because who has plans anymore? One thing I'm excited about is finding a spot in our yard for the slide we ordered for Paul! With playgrounds closed for the forseeable future we decided to order one. My parents had given Paul an amazon gift card for his birthday for summer toys so this seemed like the perfect way to use it. Hopefully Paul loves the slide. He is obsessed with playing outside so I think he is going to love it! Our backyard slopes since we are on a hill, but hopefully we can find a flat enough area for the slide. We could put it in our front yard, but I'd prefer to put it in the backyard which is fenced in. Other than that, I'm excited for the spring weather that is arriving - hopefully for good! We plan to do some grilling!

Bonus Paul Photos

Phil built a little fort for Paul in our living room. He's enjoying having a new place to line up/play with his little people and other animal figures.

How are you holding up? What have you been cooking lately?

Monday, April 13, 2020

Easter in Isolation

Easter looked quite different from usual, but we made the most of it. Here is how we celebrated the holiday.

- It was beautiful on Saturday so we did our Easter egg hunt after Paul's nap on Saturday. He was not very into it. I had been asking if the Easter Bunny was coming to our house for days and he would say 'NO!' We had read an Easter book about a bunny hiding eggs but he was still very suspicious of the whole thing. Paul would help look for eggs but once he found one, he wouldn't touch them and made me put the eggs in the bag. Maybe he'll get it more next year. He did love what was in his eggs, though. Nana Joan put some little animal figurines in 4 of the eggs and the other eggs had small bags of teddy grahams. Paul quickly started to line up his new animals, which is his favorite thing to do!

- We spent a lot of time outdoors on Saturday. We went for a long walk to the creek and played in our backyard. We knew cold weather/snow were in the forecast for Sunday so figured we better make the most of it. Paul is obsessed with playing outside and will ask to play outside over and over and over again.

- On Sunday morning, Paul slept in until almost 8am!! That was the best Easter gift I could receive. In general, he's been sleeping later since he's been home with us. We used to have to wake him at 6:30 at the latest when he was going to daycare. A lot of days he would be up already but now his body seems to have adjusted to sleeping later which has been wonderful, especially on the weekends!

- We came downstairs and I pointed out the Easter basket. He was pretty scared of it, hence him standing across the room! But once I started to pull out books, he became excited/interested. He got some books, a toddler scissors for art projects, a sticker book and soap with a rubber duck in it. He also got crayons, construction paper, and a coloring book but I pulled that out on Friday when I needed an activity to entertain him. He was most excited about the duck soap as he's obsessed with ducks, so that was a good find by Nana Joan!

Reading his new Llama Llama book with daddy
- We had our Easter meal about 11:45 so we could eat before Paul's nap. So I got started on everything that morning. I watched Easter Mass on my phone while working away in the kitchen. We kept things pretty simple. We baked a ham and I made mashed potatoes, ham gravy, and asparagus. Here is Paul's plate. He's been eating better lately but was not a fan of this meal. The only thing he ate was the apple sauce. Oh well. He's never liked mashed potatoes but I thought the gravy might entice him. Nope! I didn't even try to give him asparagus because I knew he would not eat it. His loss, I guess!

- After Paul's nap, we took out some of the art supplies and worked on cards to mail to his grandparents and my grandma. We got 2 made before he lost interest. He has about a 7 minute attention span for art - neither Phil or I are artistic so I imagine he'll take after us!

- This is a pretty terrible picture, but it gives you an idea of our weather that day. We ended up with about 6" of snow, which is super depressing for April. But it should melt fast - hopefully by the end of the week. I'm so over winter!

- We also Facetimed with both sets of grandparents and had a zoom chat with 2 of my siblings and my parents. So we still managed to 'see' family despite not leaving out house!

If you celebrate Easter, what did you do? Did you make a special meal?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

COVID-19 Update #4

Hiya and Happy Thursday. Today is my Friday since we get Good Friday off tomorrow. Here's my usual weekly COVID-19 update!

- This will be a bit of a sad Easter since we won't see any family. I'm sure we'll facetime with both sets of grandparents, though. The church we got married in is live streaming Mass so I will watch that. Phil's mom sent an Easter basket and some eggs to hide for Paul with Phil when he went out to her house to bring her groceries last weekend. I think Paul will enjoy the Easter egg hunt this year as he 'gets things' a bit more at 2. I got more than I usually would for his Easter basket but I used this as an excuse to stock up on crafts. So he's getting construction paper, crayons, a toddler coloring book, toddler scissors and some books. Yes, that means we did not own any crayons before! Paul has never been into art so I held off on buying any. But now we are in dire need of some toddler activities so it's time to work on some art projects!

- We had a beautiful day on Monday with temps around 70F. That made a huge difference in my mood. If only our weather was like that every day right now! Unfortunately we are having another cold patch with highs in the low 40s. But spring will arrive some day! We had fun that day going for walks and playing outside. Our backyard is on a hill so Paul had fun throwing his ball to the bottom of the hill, running to retrieve it, and running to the top of the hill. Over and over and over again!

- Walks continue to save me as well. We usually walk to the local lake now (~ 3/4 of a mile away) instead of the creek as we have a better chance of seeing ducks there. Paul is so obsessed with ducks so is very disappointed if we don't see any! If we don't see ducks he will yell, "where are you duckies" over and over on the way back home. This group below was diving under for food so we had fun watching them pop back up!

- Last weekend we decided to go to a state park as I needed to get out of the house and have a change of scenery. I thought Paul would be willing to ride in our ergo-style of carrier. NOPE. He wanted to walk on his own and SCREAMED AND CRIED. So we could only do one trail that was flat and safe for a toddler. So we drove an hour each way to spend about 20 minutes walking around. That's toddler life for you.

So upset and uncooperative. This is real life with a toddler.
I bought an annual park pass thinking we could explore a different park every weekend. But given how bad last Sunday went, I don't think we will venture to another park anytime soon. We'll have to see if we can find some parks with flat, toddler-friendly paths for this summer.

No, I will not smile for this photo
The views were really pretty
 - Paul continues to be entertained by reading books, watching Little Baby Bum, and lining up all the toys.

Living his best life! Snacks, agua, and LBB on tv. Ahhh!

Stacking and lining up toys. This is Paul's favorite thing to do by far. 
- Our stay at home order got extended through month end. Our social distancing has really worked here as our curve is flatter than any other state with a significant amount of cases. Paul's daycare remains open so now we need to decide when the right is to send him back. I wish this was an easier decision to make. I know it would be much better for him to be in school (and not at home watching 3+ hours of tv/day) but I have to find a balance between what's best for him and what will protect me from getting COVID-19. This decision would be so much easier if I wasn't in the high risk group thanks to my RA/immune suppressant drugs. Arggghh. I just wish someone would make this decision for me.

That's all for my corner of the world! I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and sane!! :) If you celebrate Easter, I hope you have a wonderful celebration, even though it will be very different from how we usually celebrate Easter.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Check-in #3

I'm back for another check-in. I'm closing in on my 3rd full week of working at home. I'm fortunate that my job CAN be done from home but gosh I miss going into the office and seeing co-workers. One upside is that I get an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep and have only worn make-up once in 3 weeks when I had to present training on a video conference call. I am not a fan of wearing make-up so it's been nice to give my face a break. 

The things I'm struggling with the most are the inability to plan and, as a result, not having anything to look forward to. March felt like it had 1,000 days in it and this has felt like the LONGEST Lent ever. I think it's been good to be off social media during this time but I'm looking forward to going back on and seeing pictures of friends and their kids/fur-babies. This is the first time in a very long time that I have nothing planned/on the horizon to look forward to. I'm wondering when we can go to the lake next? I also struggle with every day looking much the same as the day before, and weekends not feeling all that different from week days. 

But in the grand scheme of things, we are lucky. We still have our jobs. We are in a good position financially. We are healthy. It could be much worse. 

This post has been heavy so far, so here are some positive things that are happening as a result of us all being cooped up together!

- We go for LOTS of walks - usually two/day! Spring is starting to arrive here so we've seen some flowers starting to bloom. We've also seen some cool ducks on the lake we live near. They all dive under water at the same time (I assume to look for something to eat) and then pop back up one by one. Paul really enjoys watching this and I do, too! When they pop back up, we count them so it's a good educational opportunity, too. Here are some pictures of Paul watching the ducks. We were so entertained!

- When we are out on our walks, people seem to be extra friendly and more apt to say hi. I think since we are so isolated, we are starved for human interaction so are more likely to say hi, which is nice. 

- We saw a beautiful red cardinal in our backyard yesterday. I've never seen a cardinal in our area of Minneapolis - hopefully he sticks around as he's so pretty!

Ok your turn - what are some positive things you've been experiencing lately?