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New Norm

Working from home, eating at home, working out at home, and playing at home has become the new norm 24/7. I think my stress levels have gone down these past few weeks (according to my watch) but so has my levels of social interaction, new experiences, adventures, and generally zest for life. That’s not to say we aren’t having a good time. We are trying our best to enjoy this time and appreciate this time as a family. But it’s not always easy. Thankfully I think we have added in some healthy hobbies and self-care activities to keep this time at least semi-interesting.

My self-care routine has helped my mental sanity the past two weeks and given me sometime to put on my “calendar” as well as give me something to look forward to each day. I’ve given myself one pedicure and two face masks, I’ve spent one day baking, I’ve had three wine Friday’s and two family happy hours, and we have listened to two sermons together. I still need my massage and a minute to give myself a manicure, or to be frank, just do my hair. But I feel better thinking that I have paid some attention to myself and had time to do these little things the past two weeks. It certainly helps when generally you don’t give two hoots what you look like because you are never seeing anyone on a daily basis.

To keep from going 100% stiff during our work days, Bryan and I have initiated an activity break for every hour on the hour (EHOH) where we get up from our desks and do:

  • 20 jumping jacks
  • 20 air squats
  • 20 crunches
  • 10 pushups

And Bryan and I have both broke out a few hobbies. Bryan has been working quite hard at his kegerator and is close to finishing the homemade soda water configuration. We should be ready to start sipping this weekend and I am going to work on some tasty syrups to add to it. I finally set out to finish the d*&@ cross stitch project for Reese’s room and bought some stuff to make Reese a book bin that should be shipping out soon but I still need to buy the lumber some time.

We need the weather to warm up just a tad to be able to enjoy the outdoors more. The slide and play house that should arrive today should help keep Reese entertained in the backyard but it would be so nice to enjoy long walks or bike rides after sitting at the desk all day, and right now it is just too cold for that. It will also be nice to enjoy our backyard seating, outdoor movies, and grilling. Come on summer weather! That’s a joke because Seattle will be getting to summer weather right as we are pulling out of all of this…

We’ve enjoyed getting to know better and spend more time with our nanny share family. We have had quite a few dinners together lately just to be able to talk to someone. We made homemade pizzas this week and continue to pick up dinners on Friday. I love to cook and miss cooking for people so this has helped me immensely. We are trying to figure out something fun to do for Easter and are thinking we can still have an Easter egg hunt for the girls next weekend.

Reese has captured our mood in this picture

Inslee, Washington governor, just announced yesterday that our stay at home order is going to remain until May 8th so I have no other choice but work to adjust to it and make the best of it.

Chelsea

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Our 19 Month Old!

We are on the path to TWO. Reese has seemed to mature so much in the past few weeks. I don’t know if it is because we are at home more to observe it or if she really just has jumped in her cognitive and physical abilities.

As I’ve reported, life has looked a little different for us lately but honestly Reese probably doesn’t notice a difference. Our new normal is different, but is working, and Reese helps keep us busy and entertained and makes the world feel a little less abnormal.

Here’s her latest:

  • Her vocabulary is expanding. New words include: Cookie, shower, outside, car (her new favorite word), shake, toast, Oliver (Lottie’s cat), elevator, dip, peanut butter, colors, soap, pretty, cheese, flower.
  • She now reads her own books at night while we sit and watch her act. We no longer get to read her books at night.
  • I’m required to take baths with her at night, this is even in addition to adding color tabs to the bath to make it more entertaining, and she prefers the shower head to pouring water over her head.
  • She is really enjoying pushing around and riding in her car and her “new” (we got off Buy Nothing and disinfected it twice) Uber Zoomer. She likes to push it up the hill and then ride down. This is difficult for Mama who prefers to take it to the alley for gentler riding.
  • She can focus and sit through full length animated movies. This has become our weekend night routine that we watch a movie while eating dinner before bed.
  • La La Land is her current favorite music to dance to and we have a dance party in her room after bath every night.
  • She’s lately been loving playing in the sink in her learning tower. She likes to wash dishes, fill glasses of water, and in general make messes, but she can be distracted there for long periods of time so it’s fine by me.
  • Both Reese and Lottie will say “BOOP” as they touch your nose, pretty cute.
  • She likes to hold hands with other kids. Reese and Lottie will hold hands while they walk side by side and they have been caught dancing together from time to time.
  • She misses people you can tell. Our afternoons and weekends are spent wandering the empty neighborhood streets looking for people and dogs out walking. Unfortunately, people will now veer off the sidewalk onto the street for fear of getting too close so she doesn’t get to say “hi” to too many people or get to pet any pups.
  • She’s starting to get into cars, both real life cars, her sit in cars, and now pushing little toy cars around on the floor on hands and knees.
  • She can pretty much walk down the stairs on her own at this point.
  • She loves laying in the blanket turned hammock while watching TV at night.
  • She generally prefers no pants and no shirt. She wants service though.
  • We are also switching to pull up style diapers, thanks to her being one difficult one to wrestle on the changing table.

Chelsea

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Lemonade!

The situation we are in is unusual, unlikely, and out of our control. However, there are far more people in a tougher position than we are and I continue to feel more and more gratitude about that fact each and every day. It’s also something to see the good that some members in the community are doing and the innovation of many.

While our lives have not continued as normal; events have been canceled, friends go unseen, and everyday life has been turned upside down, we are trying to make the most it…

  • That means that Bryan and I are getting to spend some quality time sitting side by side each other EVERY day. 17″ to be exact.
  • That means that I’ve been able to spend a little more time cooking and playing around in the kitchen (only so much as Reese allows, that is). So far I have made a double batch of chicken enchiladas, white chicken chili, copy cat Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup (twice because Reese liked it so much the first time to my surprise) and some healthyish blondies. Also a birthday cake for my dear friend Polly.
  • That means that we have been able to get carryout from some of our favorite restaurants for cheaper or places we have never gotten to try.
  • That means we have purchased gift cards to favorite restaurants to support them now and enjoy later.
  • That means we have scheduled wine nights for every Friday night with our nanny share family to socialize and kickstart what might not typically feel like the weekend. I guess these are the only people we really feel “safe” around since we see each other everyday and all of us are limiting contact with everyone else.
  • That means we’ve gone on many family walks outside, especially since last week we had such nice weather. We also HAVE to because we literally have ZERO steps by the end of our work day when that work space is feet away from your bedroom, kitchen, etc.
  • That means we have introduced Reese to several animated movies that she now has the attention span and focus to sit through. I’m still amazed by this.
  • That means we are upgrading our background since all parks and playgrounds are now closed. We have a Little Tikes slide on the way and I’m currently shopping for a playhouse for the girls. Cha-Ching.
  • That means I now have time to do some serious spring cleaning and tick off some of the tasks that have been on my To-Do list for who knows how long (not any of which I have done yet, but I will), including:
    • Sell the Jeep
    • Finish Reese’s cross stitch project
    • Read a book
    • Literally walk around the house collecting anything I haven’t used in a year to get rid of…which now means pitch because Goodwills are closed
    • Bryan’s making a dual soda water and beer keg-erator
    • Prep the backyard for the summer
  • That also means that I have a schedule of self care for the week. I have something on the calendar each day to look forward to. These are obviously all done within the comfort (confines) of my own home (that I now wish was five times bigger than it is). This schedule is:
    • Monday: Pedicure
    • Tuesday: Manicure
    • Wednesday: Family Happy Hour
    • Thursday: Face Mask
    • Friday: Wine Night
    • Saturday: Massage (thanks Bryan!)
    • Sunday: Sermon and Cook/Bake for the Week

It’s all still very surreal and a work in progress. I feel like I went from one extreme; that being no time for anything with work, church, FareStart and studying for the exam to one extreme; that being seemingly so much spare time. However, I haven’t felt like that time has been very well spent or productive up until now. I feel like I am starting to get into a groove with this new routine, whether I’m happy to play it out for the next several weeks or not is a different story. I’m trying to live day-by-day because here in the present it’s not so bad, forecasting this whole debacle out though…only time and patience will tell. Trying to turn lemons into lemonade over here!

Chelsea

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HomeWork

We have entered a new stage of crazy…I’m working at home next to my husband. Bizarre, yes! Nice, yes! It’s a lot different than those two weeks I worked from home while waiting for Reese to enter this world. This time I have company. This time I get a sneak peak into what Bryan’s day is like. This time we have each other.

Today’s latest is that all work is required to be done from home, all activities are cancelled except walks and park time, and all restaurants are required to offer take out or delivery only. I would have never thought I would live to see a day like we are in presently, but it’s the new norm and I’m starting to accept it, not for the challenges that it brings, but actually for the simplicity of life and positives it may bring. Today is day 3 of work from home and it be like:

6 am: Bryan rolls out of bed and logs onto computer. Bryan starts us a pot of coffee.

7 am: Reese wakes me up. We do our usual morning routine; brush teeth, change diaper, change clothes (this task is getting longer and longer), I get dressed but now in casual clothes.

8 am: The first two days I walked Reese up to Lottie’s place for our morning walk. Potentially, there is the option for stopping at the delicious bakery for a treat on my way home, if I feel inclined. Today the girls were at our house so it was only a matter of handing Reese off to the nanny, waving my goodbye, and walking upstairs.

9 am: Return home from morning walk and set to work (today I was able to log on earlier at 8:30 am). I work from 9-4 approximately and Bryan can clock off around 3 if he wants.

12 pm: We get some lunch together and continue working. Today we left around 11 am to go on a scooter ride in the sunshine to one of our favorite delis in the market to pick up lunch. Glorious!

3 pm: We have the option to workout for an hour if we want and make up the time after Reese goes to bed. This is what I did yesterday when the girls were at Sarah’s.

4 pm: Bryan goes on an afternoon walk to pick up Reese. Detour at the park if we feel inclined. Fortunately weather has been great this week. Today I plan to take Reese on a run instead.

6/6:30 pm: Dinner at home.

7 pm: We watch a show as a family. This is usually Dr. Pol or Sesame Street currently but we watched a few animated movies this past weekend.

7:30 pm: Reese goes to bed. Bath is currently a chore and I am required to take the bath with her. Then she doesn’t want either one of us to get out of bath.

8 pm: We have personal time. I want to start a new book but there is usually about 30 minutes of reading up on the latest news that is required first.

9 pm: We turn on the TV for the rest of the night and try to get to bed by 10 pm.

I can get behind this way of life for a while, not forever, but for a while.

Chelsea

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Home Bound for Now

2020…what did we talk about? You have obviously forgotten because yet again you have presented an obscure, unexpected, and unkind turn of events. Did I ever imagine to be facing a city in near lockdown and essential shutdown due to a virus? No. Did I ever imagine actually feeling guilty going to work instead of staying home? No. Did I ever expect to see events across the country postpone or cancel for anticipation of the worst? No. But then again, I didn’t expect any of what has already played out in this unusual year of 2020.

I didn’t think we would get much more thrown at us already in this first quarter of the year, but we have, and like every other hurtle we are trying to roll with the punches. On our return from New York, Seattle was in the early stages of freaking out. The day we came back was the day that Amazon, Microsoft, and other companies declared that they would be telecommuting for the rest of the month. This was on March 5th…that is the majority of the month. Even Boeing was asking their employees to work from home if they can and that is unheard of. We read post after post in the news and social media about the chaos in grocery stores (particularly Costco…but when are Costco shoppers truly normal anyways), reading about scarcity of toilet paper and hand sanitizer going on the black market. I don’t think we really knew what chaos was ahead of us as we spent the next few days essentially living the norm; going to work physically, attending Guest Chef Night at FareStart, going for a run and to the park, picking up Thai food, etc.

Baby girl making sure we have provisions.

However, day after day has led to rising cases, both here in Seattle and elsewhere in the U.S. It was a joke to think that the largest and most popular city in the United States for international travelers didn’t have a single case as of a week ago (NYC I’m talking about you) so there is certainly worry about the true numbers in the U.S. already. But Seattle is making news for the high number of fatalities, although nearly all of them were linked to residents in one nursing home. Doesn’t matter. Seattle is taking drastic measures, not saying I don’t agree with them, but it is still quite something to see a city essentially shut down, or so it thinks.

All FareStart Guest Chef Nights are closed for the rest of the month. Most of my friends are working from home for the rest of the month. Many private schools and all library programs are cancelled. The governor is banning all events of 250 people. I haven’t seen the grocery aisles empty but there are somewhat less people out grocery shopping. The downtown is about 50% full of normal weekday traffic. Most restaurants are now offering take out where they normally don’t offer it. I’d be surprised if many restaurants make it through this to be perfectly honest. There are going to be several small businesses that will be taking a big hit, not that the big businesses like airlines and hotel chains aren’t, but the small guys won’t be able to persist.

We need to get access to more testing NOW. It’s not right to not be able to find and contain all infected and it is also not right to quarantine those that may not be infected. We are certainly in a state of limbo here. I’ll be very curious if the end of the month is really the end for this epidemic or what measures will be taken if this is to persist.

Chelsea

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Cousins are the Coolest

…so said Reese after this past week’s visit in New York with the Konecni family. Reese was shy for all of 20 minutes and then spent the rest of the visit in all her glory; chasing around the ruff ruff and doing everything the big kids did. I feel like she learned a lot and grew a lot on this visit. And I have to say, she was EXCEPTIONAL from start to finish. I couldn’t have asked for a better behaved toddler on the airplane or a better house guest visiting family.

We flew out from Seattle direct to Newark on Saturday morning, a little later than what we normally have to do. Our flight went without a hitch and we landed on time with bags and Josh was there to drive us to their house. We were greeted by all of the kids and the dog around 7 pm EST and Lori was already making homemade pizzas for everyone. The pizzas were delicious and it Reese’s first chance to sit and eat at the table with the big kids. She took a little time to warm up to Abby, the Konecni’s sweet and gentle dog, but once she did she was a fan. We read some books, watched some wrestling and got ourselves ready for a much needed sleep.

Gianna reading Reese’s book to her

Sunday we had the full day with all eight of us, plus dog, at home. We started off with pancakes and bacon and then let the Konecni family go to Mass. Considering that Reese was going to need to nap before we were out and about later in the day, we stayed home with her to let her do so. Bryan and I took turns going on a 4 mile run around the nearby Kennedy Dells Park that had a great running trail around it.

Pancake breakfast with the big kids

Once home and showered, Reese was awake and we all set out to the kid’s school in Pearl River for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Irish Fest. It was a full room of tons of kids and families, lots of Irish food to purchase, live music and Irish step dancing, and best of all super strong $3 Irish coffees. I’ll take two please! Reese had a great time, again dancing and playing with the big kids and getting right up close and personal with the Irish band. She consumed a fair amount of Irish soda bread and tried to nab a green balloon. We spent the rest of the night relaxing at home by way of playing Red Light, Green Light.

Monday was technically a school day but all three kids played hooky to hang with us. Josh had to work but the rest of the crew was ready for exploring. Our first stop was High Exposure, the Ninja Warrior-like climbing gym that the kids like that was our Christmas Present to the kids this year. It was fun to see them in action and Reese roamed all over, trying to run up the ramps, climbing on the pads, and really just running around. After the workout the kids were pooped and most fell asleep in the car as we drove over to Piermont to walk the pier and then get lunch at a taproom along the Hudson River next to where Lori and Josh’s reception was held. After lunch we returned home and I had to pack my bag to head out for my work portion of the trip. I said my goodbyes and my coworker was there to pick me up a little after 6 pm.

My coworker and I had 45 minutes of a drive to a hotel in Newburgh for the night. We checked into the hotel and I immediately walked next door to the Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee and Munchkins to fuel me for a few hours of much needing study time in the quiet hotel room. I was wired and going strong until about midnight and still wired trying to go to sleep. Whoops! I’m at least proud of myself for being disciplined about getting some studying in.

I had an early wake up call of 7 am which wouldn’t be early if I wasn’t on Pacific Time. I got a surprisingly delicious breakfast in the hotel before setting out for the site. We met one of our coworkers from the Jersey office and a contact from DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) for New York at the site and then rode in their 4-wheeler the 1.5 mile to the location of the project. We spent the next 4+ hours observing the site, walking around, taking notes and watching my coworker repel on ropes. Thankfully it was a beautiful morning and we left the site only about 30 minutes before it started to rain, and rain good it did. We stopped in town, New Paltz, NY, to pick up lunch at a cute deli and then hit the road to first pick up Bryan and Reese and then make it to our next hotel at the Newark Airport.

While I was gallivanting in the woods Bryan and Reese had a difficult night of sleep at the Konecni household and then a nice and quiet morning with the kids in school. They went for a walk around Congers Lake with Lori and Josh and awaited the kids to get home from school which was just shortly before I arrived to pick them up. Our drive to Newark was long thanks to rush hour but we made it and checked into our hotel. Reese especially enjoyed the elevators at the hotel and was especially active on this night. We took her for a swim in the hotel pool while we waited for our delivery of Dinosaur BBQ (remember that one parents?). Our food arrived just as we were finishing post-pool bath time and we enjoyed our brisket sandwich and ribs. I studied for a bit before we were all asleep for our last night in New York.

We awoke again early, for our Pacific folks at least, to get on the 7 am shuttle to the airport. Security was a breeze and Newark had literally zero food options in the airport. We boarded our 9 am flight back to Seattle ready for a long 6 hour flight. And Reese was a fantastic passenger. We landed on time and picked up our bags and car without a hitch. It was a gorgeous and warm day in Seattle so we took the opportunity to pick up Thai food before walking Reese to the park to reunite and play with Lottie and then took Reese on a 5 mile run.

We had a good trip to New York and it was well worth getting to see Reese bond with her cousins. My site visit went as planned and the flight was easier than expected thanks to a great baby girl. It was nice to arrive home in the sunlight and get in some exercise and sunshine after a long flight.

FareStart was worth coming in for this week

Although we arrived home to the chaos of the Coronavirus epidemic here in Seattle. It has definitely effected life here and a hot topic of conversation. We have continued to go to work and go to FareStart like normal but Bryan did stay home today with a cold. He’s thinking he will be feeling back to normal this weekend (all kids had a cold in New York) but no one can show up to work being sick right now without getting extreme backlash. Fingers crossed for sure!

Chelsea

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Our 18 Month Old!

We’ve hit that landmark (in my opinion) 1.5 year-old mark. Time is flying and at the same time Reese just seems to continue developing and maturing so quickly it seems like she is getting older quicker than the time that is passing. That, and her hair is growing at lightening speed. She pretty much needs it up in some way to not look like a living Einstein but I do love it when it curls.

Her opinions abated for some time and now are back in full force with drama and shazaam (as in kicking the ground, telling us no, or just plain sobbing). Otherwise:

  • Her vocabulary continues to grow. New words include: Wubba, nana, swing, slide, ‘Lottie’ (loosely but also confused when we saw ‘naughty’), pee pee, chocolate, hair, boots, socks, bird, please, Papa, doggie, balloon, stop (her command for Google) .
  • Dipping is a thing, and it works, I’m an advocate for dips right now.
  • Not only does she love riding the bus she now waves to each and every bus that she sees. She also hears the bus from our house.
  • She’s getting good at putting things back when you ask her to. We went shopping where they have baby shopping carts and she put a lot of random things in her cart but then put them back (maybe not in the correct place) when I asked her to.
  • She’s showing more interest in the potty seat and sometimes asks to sit on it so there is no longer fear there.
  • She’s trying to put her own shoes on now.
  • She’s learned to blow bubbles (on peoples backs and ligaments).
  • She watched Frozen for the first time, and was enthralled by it.
  • She will throw things away. I once changed her diaper in the living room and she picked it up and took it to the trash. I was impressed that she knew what to do with it.
  • She has made homemade play doh with our nanny and loves playing with it, at least four times a day. She likes to smack it and press on it and uses the little cookie cutters to make shapes. It’s really cute how she gets up on her learning tower to play with it multiple times a day.
  • She is stubborn right now, especially with putting on clothes and going for walks. This stubbornness really only picked up in the past week and can be exhausting!
  • She is still super sweet and has been giving the best hugs and kisses lately!

Chelsea