Thursday, April 16, 2020

Still Here! Now with more Meltdowns, Easter Bunnies, and Discoveries

Hello again. I was doing so well with the blogging for a while there - I wrote 11 posts in March! That's practically law school levels of blogging! But then our shelter-in-place life got busier and harder (so much harder) and I got sadder and I was reading a lot more (currently flying through Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series) and I just couldn't bear to open my computer at night and write anything.

There is still so much good in our lives - our health, safety, and relative financial stability even in the wake of James's business temporarily closing - these are such good things and I'm so grateful for them. We have each other, our three kids that give each other built in companionship and entertainment, our home, our stocked pantry, and we continue to have and enjoy this extra time together. Not all of it, but a lot! It's time we never would have gotten in the every day and I have pauses every single day that make me smile and feel grateful I got to have/see/observe that moment I would have otherwise missed.

But fuck y'all, this is fucking hard.

I spent Friday-Wednesday in an off-and-on funk I just couldn't climb out of. I'd get close and then feel myself sliding back down. I cried- full on shoulder-shaking sobbed- on Monday because James didn't hug me when he walked by me in our room while I was working. Despite sharing the same space with four other people every day, I feel so so alone and have become needy as hell in an attempt to fill the void. It's a level of needy that turns to bitchy and makes me unpleasant and unhuggable. On the flip side, James is struggling with the NEVER being alone, like he normally is free from 9-2, Monday-Friday while he's working and we're all at school and work. So he's feeling strangled while I desperately need to be smothered. We've been together for nearly NINETEEN years and on Monday I was like, wait... are we incompatible?

So there was that. As usual, just recognizing the problem helps. I've now built two hour-long blocks into my work day calendar where I go work with the kids and James takes a break to do something else- run, work out, sit in another room, just anything, alone. I was always available to help, and popped in often to do so, but he felt like he should do the schooling since I was doing the working so he usually stayed in the room too and just never took a real break and I don't think either of us realized he needed one, until he really really did. As a bonus I've found that these blocks of time in the sun room with the kids help me feel less isolated and alone. The end result of which is that he is more interested in hugging me and I am less likely to climb on top of his head and drown him when he throws out an arm to do so.

So! Things are smooth again. We've identified needs and filled them and can better serve ourselves, each other, and our children for doing so! Our therapists would be so proud.

The kids continue to handle this significantly better than their adults. A little story to turn this into the Easter post I originally intended for this to be: Cora worked very hard on a card for the Easter bunny on Saturday. I'm not sure why exactly, but crafts are life right now and she felt strongly about this one.

The kids had built another huge fort and were all sleeping in it when Landon came out at 10 p.m., unable to sleep, because he wanted us to know that Cora had been talking before bed and was really hoping for a note back from the bunny and could we make her one? He didn't want her to be disappointed. We told him we were on it and he was very relieved and could finally sleep.

And on Sunday morning Cora was DELIGHTED to find her note.

He may be all bony angles and long limbs these days, but he remains truly the best big brother.

Our Easter festivities began on Saturday after I finished teaching my yoga class.

Quick aside, I am still LOVING the Zoom fitness teaching. The connection, the planning, the movement- all essential to me right now and a huge thank you to the blog readers who continue to take my classes, it's been a joy. My theme for class last Saturday was Grace. As I said when I opened class, I tried really hard to do a "rebirth" or "rejuvenated" type theme for Easter and Spring, but I just couldn't do it. I didn't FEEL renewed or refreshed or anything remotely similar to those words, and I just couldn't fake it, even through a Zoom teleconference screen. So I went with grace. Because I FEEL that- the strength and flexibility that come to mind when I think of that word- I need it, I want it, and I'm giving it when I can. I don't know what next week's theme will be, but I know that thinking on it, journaling around it, and talking about it to my students- this has been important for me and thank you again for those who are there with me.

But back to Saturday after class. I made a big breakfast of waffles, eggs, and turkey sausage, and then baked a magnificent carrot cake. It was a ton of work- from candying the pecan pieces to grating the carrots to making the batter and the icing. I think I spent about 7 hours in the kitchen.

The only way to stop eating leftover icing

But (1) what else did I have to do while the kids cleaned the house; and (2) my goodness was it gorgeous and DELICIOUS. Maybe the best thing I've ever baked? Definitely top 5.

We did takeout for dinner that night. It was a planned part of the week's menu, but would have been required regardless because after spending ALL day in the kitchen (brunch, cake, prepping Sunday food), I could not possibly have made food to eat that night. The kids went to bed in their fort, Landon came out to tell us Cora needed a reply from the Easter Bunny, and we filled and hid the kids' Easter baskets. Then everyone slept in until nearly 9.

The kids hunted their baskets. We used Landon's inability to find anything that might be behind or beneath another object against him and he took the longest to find his basket. (It was in the toy bin, UNDER another toy.) Normally we follow my mom's tradition of using the Easter baskets to get everyone stocked on swim suits and fun summer gear, but we did a lot of that before our trip, so this was simple- a few books, still a swimsuit or two, and something to play with outside- a basketball, four square ball, and chalk.

There was an egg hunt while my breakfast casserole baked. Again, Landon may have taken the longest to find his third, but they all really enjoyed it.

Brunch was amazing. I threw together a bacon, potato, egg, and cheese casserole and James made fluffy French toast out of the only loaf of bread left in the store on Friday. We topped the French toast slices with fresh strawberries and leftover candied pecans from my cake baking. It was so, so good. I had half a mimosa and then remembered I was teaching barre at 1:30, so I stuck it in the fridge to finish it after.

And finish it immediately after I did!

We went on a long family walk so Maggie could show off her Easter dress and then ate a delicious dinner and more cake.

It was a solidly good, if strange holiday. Happy Easter, from the Lag Liv junior crew:

My grandparents celebrated Easter in their retirement community with a streamed church service and the traditional hiding of my grandpa's Easter basket.

He found it. Also, my grandma turned 90 last week! We were supposed to be in San Antonio for her party and we all greatly look forward to the day when we can reschedule.

For my own metaphorical Easter basket I purchased this $25 hot beverage carafe from Target and it makes my work days so much better and more caffeinated. Each morning I heat up 1.25 Liters of water in my electric kettle, put 3 tea bags in the carafe, and then pour the boiling water into the carafe to let the tea steep while I feed Maggie and escort her outside. When I'm done, I pull out the bags, add my sugar, and then I have about 10 cups of hot tea to pour into my cute little mugs in my bedroom throughout the morning while I work.

As a non-coffee drinker I have always envied the mass produced coffee options that allow you to just refill a mug whereas tea required multiple steps each time. This has made me so happy. And so warm. I can't imagine why I never purchased one earlier.

Maggie wonders why her chariot was not purchased earlier too

In a final bit of news, Landon discovered my blog. I learned this when I got a rash of New Comment approval requests Monday night while sitting on the couch next to a tween giggling like a maniac over his school Chromebook.

You guys, I died. I was laughing so hard and have giggled at them throughout the week. "i am not Landon" is perhaps my greatest blog comment of all time.

After his flurry of comments he added, "but why does anyone read this mom? It's just you writing stuff."

Followed by, "Isn't this last post old? Why haven't you written a new one? You're behind mom."

Everyone's a critic. Except Maggie, because Maggie loves you.

And finally, Food!

Sunday: Maple-Ginger Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes (from a bag of dried flakes, purchased in desperation when potatoes were not to be found and darn it if they weren't delicious; I'm proud of those little flakes, they did stand-up work. We added fresh chopped chives on top though, because we're fancy), Roasted Carrots. THE Carrot Cake for dessert.

Monday: Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo. Amazing. Restaurant quality. Followed the recipe almost exactly, but added a few extra carrots, and extra 1/2 cup of orzo, and used 8 cups of broth.

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Traditional ground beef, crunchy tacos, all the toppings. Black beans, Mexican rice on the side.

Wednesday: OUT! As a special treat this week we gifted ourselves an additional curbside takeout night. We picked pizza- fancy pizza with fancy salads from our favorite date night place and it was so great.

Thursday: Bison Meatballs with Whole Wheat Penne. Salad.

Friday: Homemade pizza and a salad. I think I'm going to attempt this new recipe: Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza. I LOVE Chicago-style pizza and I'm equally scared that I'll mess up and it won't turn out AND that I'll do the recipe right and it will be delicious and then I can eat Chicago-style pizza whenever I want which I do not need the ability to do. On the salad front, I'll make James and my current fave which is mixed greens + diced steamed chilled beets + candied pecans + diced apple + goat cheese + balsamic vinegar and olive oil + fresh cracked pepper. Delish and super easy.

Saturday: Traditional Takeout Night. Always much anticipated and sorely needed. We've done fajitas a few times but maybe this week it will be hamburgers? Who knows, the culinary takeout world will be our oyster.

Sunday: Minestrone Soup. I've made this recipe before and it's GREAT. I do the stove top version, double the beans, and use farro instead of bulgur. The pesto addition is inspired. Served with crusty fresh bread.


  1. Has James looked into the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Emergency Disaster loans from SBA? or the expanded unemployment that covers self employed folks? PPP loans may be tough because it's really focused on giving small businesses the ability to cover salaries while they are closed, but it's worth looking into. Both are out of money at the moment, but I expect Congress will get to a deal sometime soon to appropriate more money after both sides get through their politicking and finger pointing.

  2. Thanks for blogging through these tough times. I don't think I've commented before, but something you wrote a few posts back really resonated with me. You wrote a list of a few good things in the pandemic, and that gave me a way to think differently about this crisis.

    I've appreciated how lucky I am in various ways (job security, etc.) but it's easy to drift back into the ways things are so much worse than before. Appreciating things that are good because of this terrible event feels very different. It's not a lot, but I was able to come up with three things that I got to do or are better because of COVID-19. For example, my very cautious five year old would not be as confident on his two wheel bike without the many empty parking lots and time for practice we've had this spring. I was hoping to remove his training wheels by the end of the summer, instead I would remove them now if I wasn't so terrified of the emergency room (now is not the time to need stitches!)

    This is a terrible time for so many reasons, but somehow starting this list of the few things that are better has really helped me mentally, so thanks for writing!

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  4. Trying again! The Landon-finding-your-blog comments are the best. Thanks to you (and him) for sharing.

    And this is all so hard. As someone who is single and childless and can work from home easily with a busy job, in theory, my life would seem to have no additional stresses/workarounds. And while it is true that I have less to deal with than many may people, I still broke down sobbing over the kitchen sink on Sunday over something tiny. I can also really relate to being in and out of a funk. Thank you as ever for being so honest and sharing with us.

  5. Do you think you will be more careful about what you share because Landon may read? Or perhaps edit old posts? Just curious...

  6. Hugs. Just hugs. It's hard. I'm in the same category as em (single and childless and working from home), and yesterday was my day to be in a funk. Even a streaming yoga class didn't un-funk me. But today is a new day and one day closer to the end/beginning.
    <3 the carafe for your tea! Definitely a great idea that falls into the "why didn't I think of that sooner" category.

  7. Just FYI, that Landon kid DOES seem to be the coolest kid ever. I still hold out hope that he and my daughter will one day end up at the same college, or same job, despite the fact that they live very far apart at this time.

  8. hahaha, love the Landon comments! I was sad to miss the last Zoom barre, so I'm looking forward to getting back to it on Sunday :)

  9. "This is not Landon" cracked me up!

    I'm SO glad you're getting into the Sarah J. Maas books. Did you read the Court of Thorns and Roses series already or did you start on Throne of Glass? I'm doing a reread of that one right now because I need some "old friends" in my life.

  10. Landon's responses are hilarious! I have to wonder how he found it. I assume he didn't search "barre, yoga, lawyer mom blol", lol.

    Glad you and James found a new balance. These are trying times!!

  11. I used to live in Chicago and miss deep dish. That recipe IS good :). It's not Giordano's but it's pretty tasty (it's a special occasion thing I make for my husband). It is more work than other pizza though, so that stops me from making/eating it too often. Enjoy!

  12. Honestly finding out that James needs space away makes me feel better. Not that anyone's story is the same but I have a similar personality. I can be ON and great but I NEED my alone time or I feel totally suffocated. That is amazing that Landon found your blog! All of your kids seem really rad. Thanks for blogging. It brings light to my week even just sharing the mundane. I love that tea carafe and am so glad you got something to treat yourself!

  13. Lol on Landon finding your blog.

  14. First, read allllllllll the Sarah Maas books. I loved Throne of Glass so hard, but I loved Court of Thorns and Roses more. I'm listening to Crescent City right now - her first "adult" novel- although I'd fight anyone who says her YA books are not as epic as any adult series out there.

    My 11 year old daughter found my FB and blog (13 year son has known about them but doesn't really care)- it's a riot to see her reactions! Some she loves and laughs over, some she's mortified by and others make her worry for my mental health, I think. ;)

    This time period is HARD - so freaking hard. Like you, we're really good. We both have stable jobs, our kids are killing it at distance learning, we have a roof over our head and the means to buy groceries without issues. Yet I find myself taking my "take-as-needed" anxiety meds at least once a week and wake up with a pit in my stomach. There is no real reason, but there it is.

    Wish you and yours the best as we weather this.

  15. First of all, that Landon kid IS the coolest. I'll have to read the comments of every post from now on so I don't miss out!

  16. I made the carrot cake! Thanks for the recipe! It was a bear, but it was AWESOME. My little one may or may not have had a slice for breakfast today. (It's vegetables, right?)