Sunday, July 12, 2020

Please Scream Inside Your Hearts

I laughed on the outside, cried on the inside, and felt very seen by this post:


It's the phrase of 2020. And speaking of the internet seeing directly into my heart, this took all the endlessly rotating thoughts inside my head regarding the return to school and put them in a rainbow colored graphic. Like the thoughts in my head, it doesn't go anywhere, but unlike the inside of my head, it's pretty to look at.


Thank you for your thoughts on the last post. As of now, we are getting ourselves mentally, emotionally, and situationally set up for virtual learning in the fall. Even if in-person remains an option when school starts in 5 weeks, I don't know that we'd choose it for this first semester anyway. There are so many students in our school who truly need to be in school and I feel like since we're in a position to stay home, maybe we should- for our teachers, our staff, our school resources, the increased chance the remaining students could be distanced within the classroom... Not to mention the fact that schools have been told to institute 5-day rolling closures anytime someone in the school tests positive, so no mater what we choose we'll be home off and on throughout the semester anyway.

Speaking of being home - and also screaming inside your heart - I cleaned out the girls closet and drawers yesterday. Claire has finally changed sizes and Cora is right on her heels, so we switched around some clothes from Claire's side of the closet to Cora's, re-tried on all the things, and generally got set for the rest of summer and start of fall. It's a hot mess in the middle of the process, but it always feels good to be done.


There are no longer tiny kid-sized hangers in my house. A milestone I never thought about before.

While I organized, James spent the day executing on my vision of a teal accent wall in our bedroom.


The full and final product is still in progress but I LOVE IT. I basically live in that room now, so I've spent a lot of time imagining various changes. I love the rug we got 2 years ago and loved the watercolor photos we framed on the back wall. Our decade-old furniture is fine, I switched out the silver knobs for gold bars 2 years ago and still love that change. The bench I bought at that time is still great and we use it all the time.


I spray painted the black frames a copper rose gold and they really pop on my new accent wall. We (James) will paint the other two walls and ceiling a soft, warm white, add a set of shelves near my dresser for special little things I've never had a spot to display before, add an art print I found on etsy above his dresser, and switch to neutral bedding. There might even be an accent pillow which James hates but I may finally give in to my urge to buy. It's really just phase 3 of the master bedroom decorating that began when we first bought the house, ripped out the built-ins and changed everything in the bathroom. I'm really, really excited about it.


The baskets were an impulse but I love them. Our fluffy blankets and family set of yoga mats have a home! My reward for cleaning every other closet in our house this weekend. As if the beauty now lurking behind each door wasn't enough.


Actually, maybe the baskets were needed. This was my reward/other impulse buy. It also makes me happy.

The other big event of the past week- besides picking a really bold paint color (Benjamin Moore's "Pacific Ocean Blue," which will be relevant to the rest of this post) and hoping it would look as good on the wall as it did on the tiny paint card- updating our plans for our Bora Bora trip. I mentioned a while ago that James and I started planning a trip to French Polynesia for our 15th anniversary two years ago. We made our flight and hotel reservations last fall. My parents had generously offered to watch the kids for the whole trip - this first real vacation all alone just the two of us EVER - and we were so so excited. The countdown on my phone started at like 600 days. And then Covid hit and we assumed our August trip was canceled.

A month ago our travel agent reached out to say the islands were going to reopen July 15th but we'd need to change our hotel reservation because the one we were at closed permanently during the shutdown. Still not really believing we'd be able to go, we made the switch and were reconfirmed. Then last Monday I discovered our flight home had been canceled because they've reduced the number of days the flights go out. So that was a mess and required changing all four flights, jumping back a few days in timing, and rebooking the hotels, inter-island transfers, excursions, etc. But everything is back on board. It seems insane to think we'd go. There's a pandemic! We don't let the kids go anywhere, I teach all my classes by Zoom, and we're probably not going to school! But the island needs tourists and has instituted strict testing, masking, and social distancing procedures and the whole point is to basically hang out alone in our bungalow all day. We have to take a Covid PCR test within 72 hours of departure and show proof of the negative results before boarding the plane. We plan to re-quarantine 2 weeks before departure to make sure our tests will be negative and that we aren't bringing anything with us to this island that currently has zero cases. You get another Covid test upon landing to take on Day 4 of your trip to ensure you don't need to be quarantined there. So I don't know... maybe we can do this without causing harm, but it all seems very tenuous and selfish and surreal. But man, if we can go- if we can do it safely for them and for us, I truly can't IMAGINE a time we'd ever need that getaway more. It would literally be worth having never been able to take a trip alone for the first 13 years of parenting to get this trip now. But like literally everything right now except the future decor of my master bedroom, I don't know. I'm both quietly planning what we'll need while also trying not to count on it too much. Flights resume in 3 days so I guess we'll watch and see how it goes...

Back in reality, here's our food for the week:
Sun: Creamy Vegetable Soup, bread. (Delicious new recipe, I used skim milk and skipped the heavy cream entirely.)
Mon: Greek night with TJ's gyro meat, tzatziki, cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, feta, Kalamata olives, and naan. Everyone's fave and super easy.
Tues: Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with the homemade sauce, Mexican rice from a box.
Wed: Landon's Birthday Dinner!. The soon-to-be 13-year-old has chosen blue box homestyle mac & cheese, smoked turkey sausage, orange bell pepper (raw), watermelon, and ice cream for dessert.
Thurs: Breakfast Tacos with bacon, egg, potato, cheese, and refried beans. So maybe more like breakfast burritos? Fruit on the side.
Fri: Out! Or rather, eating at home, but not ours. We're headed to my parents' house- we'll finally get to see my mom post-surgery and redo our aborted 4th of July weekend. We can't wait.

16 comments:

  1. My husband and I traveled to French Polynesia almost 5 years ago for our 10th wedding anniversary. Other than the flights, I can think of no better place to practice social distancing. You really are quite isolated (in a good way) and can spend all your time away from others. Even our excursions were very small groups of people and hotel meals were not crowded. We didn't spend anytime on the main island of Tahiti, just Moorea and Bora Bora. There's really nothing to do but hang out at your bungalow or the resort pools! It's perfect if you truly want to decompress and relax!

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    1. That's great to hear Therese! We're an even mix between hopeful, skeptical, and cautiously excited. We are also skipping Tahiti entirely and just have nights in overwater bungalows on Moorea and Bora Bora. We'll see, if not August, someday!

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  2. I feel you so much on this - we had a 10th anniversary trip planned to Italy, switched to west coast wine country in April... and it’s next week and I’m pretty sure we’re going. I feel selfish but I also have a small window of grandparent childcare and we NEED to get away to survive emotionally. I feel like there’s a lot of shaming of any fun in my circles on social media - like going to the grocery store is ok, but going masked to look at clothes is “not worth the risk, STAY HOME!!!”. I’m just not sure we can live entirely within the walls of our homes with no fun for a year+ given the utter failure of leadership to contain this. I’ve decided I’m going to live my life and do so masked and, given the data, feel pretty ok about it. I’m also pretty sure that our trip to a state with universal masking will be safer than staying in trump land where half the grocery store is unmasked (as long as the airlines still enforce masks). I say go and have fun! - (signed, first time commenter. I’ve loved your blog ever since I heard you on Best of Both Worlds! And my husband loves the recipes I’ve gotten from you :-))

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    1. Hi Abby! I totally understand. Our failure leadership on a national (and here, state) level makes everything so hard and feel so hopeless. I do think masks do a lot of good and now that we have a mask order in Texas, there is such comfort in seeing every face covered when we go to the grocery store, etc. We still don't go out of the house often (and the kids nearly never), but it does seem that with mask-wearing and hand-washing and social distancing, that does a lot to slow the spread. I hope as more time passes we'll get more data on the ways to exist in the world safely to better assess risk/reward for businesses reopening and more.

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    2. Does “west coast wine trip” mean Napa / Sonoma? California is going through our own outbreaks right now and Texas is the example we’re terrified of becoming. I understand what you mean feeling like you need to get away. But the way you describe deciding to fly from a covid hotspot - well, that sounds flippantly selfish.

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    3. Does “west coast wine trip” mean Napa / Sonoma? California is going through our own outbreaks right now and Texas is the example we’re terrified of becoming. I understand what you mean feeling like you need to get away. But the way you describe deciding to fly from a covid hotspot - well, that sounds flippantly selfish.

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  3. I appreciate you sharing your thinking on some of your activities given COVID. Truly. But I am uncomfortable with someone flying from a hotspot to a country with no cases. I’m not much for spreading discord on someone else’s blog but this and your comment about swimming being essential feel off right now, (that’s separate from your comments on James having to make a living, which felt appropriate.)

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    1. Just a note on swimming being essential - I don't think swimming as an activity is at all essential, but I do think learning to swim is a life-saving essential skill and that is a legitimate part of the balance of factors on reopening the swim school (and it's totally possible I wasn't clear and/or you still disagree, just clarifying what I meant from my end).

      Our county has the highest death by drowning rate in Texas, which is awful, and with most life-guarded pools being closed this summer, there is a real fear that drownings will rise as people turn to rivers, lakes/lake houses, apartment pools, rental home pools, and other water spaces that aren't life-guarded or monitored. The vast majority of James's students are between ages 2-4 and are learning to swim and be water safe. Per the CDC, "drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects). Among those 1-14, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death behind motor vehicle crashes." So, purely to clarify on my end, that's what I was referring to when I said something about his business as offering an essential (or life-saving? whatever I wrote) skill, but obviously everyone weighs their own needs/risks differently.

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    2. It bothers me that everyone thinks "hotspot" people are necessarily infected and therefore imprisoned in their homes for all time. The Fikes are extremely cautious. Their chances of infection are extremely slim, given their precautions. And they only pose a risk if they are (1) infected, (2) willy nilly wander around their destination upon arrival. Prevention of the spread of COVID-19 is important, but it is not the only important thing. I speak as someone who lives in a former hotspot (New Orleans - now largely recovered) and had numerous panic attacks when they were closing highways to us. We have traveled out of state twice - we were tested for COVID before going (negative), socially distanced and masked while there, and quarantined upon our return. The chance of COVID transmission under these circumstances is negligible. I am only weighing in here because I see a lot of people out in social media and the world presuming that anytime we leave our four walls, we are being irresponsible, and that's an overly simplified risk calculation that ignores all the other risks we are prone to (depression, anxiety, loneliness, stress) that can safely be mitigated through calculated, careful decision making.

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    3. I really struggle to understand the need to take a vacation right now. I know things have been stressful, lonely and uncertain. And the desire to escape all that is real. But people are dying, and we need to act as a community for the good of the community, whether you define that as your town, city, state, or globally. When my child was desperately ill I would have given ANYTHING to take away her pain. If cancelling a vacation can spare even one person that kind of agony, I'd do it.

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  4. Bora bora is my favorite place on earth and we want to go back so badly. Out of curiosity, what place closed permanently? We were looking there recently and trying to figure out what survived.

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    1. The Intercontinental Moorea is closed during the island’s Covid shut down and has announced it will not be reopening. We’re now booked for the Sofitel Moorea La Ora.

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  5. Perhaps we could acknowledge there is a whole lot of daylight between “imprisoned in their homes” (a red herring at this point) and taking an international trip to a country with no COVID cases?

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  6. We are on a socially distanced driving vacation to Montana right now and it is so needed. As a doctor, I started treatment for PTSD a few weeks ago and this is the safest way we could get out of town.

    I like the idea of your testing before you go. Be aware tests are taking a long time to come back again. Getting one 72 hours before you go may be impossible in some places.

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  7. KEEP THE KID SIZED HANGARS!!! They are PERFECT for hanging dress pants and trousers - exactly the width of a standard pant leg so they don't slide to one end or the other while hanging on the rod in the closet. LOL...I have my kids' baby hangars in my closet still, and our youngest is 23.

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