Sunday, May 24, 2020

Kids, PSAs, Food, and Happy Bulldogs

Two posts in 5 days? What am I, an almost regular blogger who didn't even stay up until 2 a.m. this morning reading A Court of Mist and Fury?! (Except that I did totally do that.)

I have happy news to report: Maggie's teeth are clean! Because of her history of seizures and her "everything is complicated" bulldog anatomy, and the starting price for full anesthesia tooth cleanings at $800 at a nearby animal hospital, I was on a hunt for a better solution. It wasn't just the money- though, I mean, that's a lot, anesthesia is risky for Mags and if it could at all be avoided for this otherwise routine procedure, I wanted to do that.

Enter Cowtown Canines and their anesthesia free tooth cleaning service! Highly recommended by the woman who boards Maggie when we travel, I talked to the tech who performs the cleanings, took flash-on close-up (utterly horrifying) photos of Maggie's teeth so the tech could make sure they weren't clearly infected (which would then require the hospital), and brought a VERY excited Maggie over to the office on Friday morning. They took Maggie back, I went to Target nearby (my first trip since February; I wore my mask and it was a little surreal and weird but also a little bit nice and normal), and they called me 35 minutes later to say she was done!

And you guys, her teeth are SPOTLESS. They glow like teeth in a toothpaste or sugar-free gum add. Her breath, if perhaps not fresh, no longer smells like a dead and rotting fish and she was totally awake and calm and being petted the whole time. I had no idea this solution even existed until my googling, and I'm so thankful for it. It's not an option for aggressive dogs or if there is infection present or actual dental work is needed, but for maintenance, it's amazing. The bill was $90 and she'll have yearly cleanings for life. Afterward, like any lady in quarantine, she wore her athleisure wear, did not work out, and looked forward to happy hour.

Who knew a successful tooth cleaning could bring me such joy?

To continue with the theme, Maggie got a bath, which she endures, stoically and sadly, until I can wrap her up like a baby seal in a fluffy towel. That moment, she LOVES. If I don't wrap the towels tight enough she bobs her head until I fix it. Who doesn't love some post-treatment pampering?

Her other favorite part is when her bedding comes out of the dryer. It's 90 degrees outside but the a/c is turned down so our bulldog can enjoy her warm towels. She deserves it.

Maggie's recent adventures have apparently reinforced for her that she is my canine co-pilot and she takes her job VERY seriously. I was going to the store yesterday afternoon and she flew out of the house, opening the door with her big head, raced around my legs and jumped nimbly into the driver seat and then over into the passenger seat where she sat, yawned, and looked ready to go. This is a dog who forces me to deadlift her 48 pounds into the car every time we go on a ride. I was cracking up and had to enlist Landon's help in getting her out so I could leave.

In other family news, James met my mom halfway between here and Houston to pick up our human children who'd had an AMAZING time at Camp PapaGigi. I am DEEPLY grateful for the break we got- for the break THEY got- and from that place of gratitude I will note that I think we perhaps needed 12 more days apart. I hadn't realized, in the moment, how much we were all wearing on each other until we stopped. And things have been really good! Generally very smooth and the kids play so well together and there's been very little fighting or problems at all. And yet, the ability for me to just WORK, to close my door and write and research for 8+ hours was so needed I didn't even break for lunch until nearly 3 p.m. one day. And for James, to just work on swim school stuff, answer emails, be on the phone, run his Board meetings... other than my evening daytime TV watching, we mostly just worked a lot and it felt GREAT. The constant awareness of the kids and their needs, not at all something I even realize is a weight when we're in it, was gone for a brief while and it was like a rock had been lifted off our shoulders. I had no idea how heavy it was. I'm a little (lot) worried about summer, without camps or childcare, and with the swim school partially reopening and my work still very busy... I'm a lot stressed about that.

But the kids are, as always, very good. Cora has created a vast open floor-plan doll house in the playroom. She has been such a trooper with her Kindergarten lessons on the Kindle and works SO hard on her school work. We've all learned to practice patience as Cora spends 15 hours carefully coloring in her every assignment, very few of which actually require coloring. But her work is important to her and I love that.

I know she misses Kindergarten so much, the routines and songs and interaction, but she cheerfully participates in her weekly call and loves the lessons with songs. She is, as always, a source of joy for the rest of us.

Claire turns 10 in 11 days and I cannot believe it.

I mean, I can- she's tall and lanky and finally moving to a new clothing size (she's been a Girls medium for like 6 years and I am so sick of everything she owns in that size). She misses the social aspects of school VERY much, but has handled the transition to distance learning much better than I feared (and far better than I have handled the transition to life from home). She logs in and works every day without complaint, sends messages to her teachers whenever she can, and remains a cheerful, very affectionate member of our pack.

She also makes lists for EVERYTHING and it cracks me up. This was one of several she had around the house before we left for Houston. Whether it's nature or nurture, it's fun seeing glimpses of yourself in your children, even if most of the time I'm awed at how wholly they are themselves.

Landon has been the biggest surprise to me as we've all spent every waking moment together for 10 weeks. He's so social- he loves his friends and is such a chatterbox, I always saw him as an extrovert like me and was worried SIP would be really hard for him. But turns out, he's been completely fine. More than fine. He logs in each morning, does his work all day with no involvement from us at all, and seems completely content. He has never called in for a single Zoom call (they're all optional as long as they're on pace for their work) or requested a phone or FaceTime call with friends. He misses them, and he'll be so glad to see the, but... he's fine. In recent weeks we have started letting him play Frisbee Golf outside in our street with one or two friends and he loves that, but I think he's much more of an introvert than I previously realized and I'm glad to have this insight into another angle of Landon.

He's also read every book in the house, is a proud holder of the record for "most words read" for 6th grade this year (nearly 5 million), and (we recently learned) finished his required schoolwork weeks ago and has just been doing every extra assignment his teachers offered. When at my parents' house he lost every single game of Left Right Center and never complained. And he took this selfie when I asked him to take a picture of me and my brother. He turns 13 in 6 weeks and while simultaneously bracing myself, I can say I wholeheartedly look forward to getting to know teenage Landon.

In house news, has anyone removed Plantation Shutters? Ours came with the house- they're very heavy, solid wood, and custom made, so I know they were very expensive and every post I've searched for on "removing plantation shutters" just results in finding people who want to install plantation shutters, but they block SO much light and you can't ever fully open them and we took off the dining room shutters to paint and now I don't want to put them back up.

The view isn't pretty- it's just our fence and neighbor's house, but there's a lot of green and when you sit at the table there's so much more light. I think we'd leave the ones in the kids' rooms, but I'm also considering removing the ones in the kitchen. Thoughts? Has anyone done this? Is it as crazy as all the online posts wanting to add them make it seem?

And finally, I've mentioned that James is President of the Fort Worth Drowning Prevention Coalition which does amazing work in the community teaching water safety and providing free water safety classes. Like so many, their work has been drastically altered by Covid, so they made a quick transition to online learning. He was on 2+ hour calls multiple days a week with the Board and other stakeholders to make the switch and this is their first PSA video and I'm SO PROUD. I think it's amazing.

As are those child actors they hired, right? This was filmed under SIP restrictions, so that's our pool and the videographer's pool and James and the kids are the only participants. I love it and their message and mission and look forward to more.

And with that, I'm off to prep to teach my Sunday barre class, so here are our meals for the next two weeks!

Sat: Mexican rice, toppings
Sun: Jambalaya, Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits (from the box; they are perfection)
Mon: Pesto Chicken Salad Sandwiches, chips, fruit, raw vegies. Hopefully to be eaten out by the pool, but unlikely given the forecast.
Tues: Taco Tuesday!
Wed: One Pan Healthy Sausage and Veggies (I use cauliflower instead of bell pepper, which we prefer raw instead of cooked, and use smoked turkey sausage), Parmesan Orzo on the side (cook orzo, drain; melt butter in the pot, add garlic and onion, saute, add back in the orzo, dump in a bunch of parm).
Thurs: Italian Chicken Soup (I use frozen chicken breasts to simmer in the broth until pull-apart tender and double the beans), crusty bread.
Fri: OUT
Sat: Pizza. I continue to use and love this no yeast pizza dough because it comes together super quickly (5 mins!) and easily and, as the title states, doesn't require yeast I STILL can't find in stores right now. I have one packet yeast and feel like it needs to be used for something special, like cinnamon rolls or Chicago style pizza...

Sun: Pull-Apart Cheeseburger Sliders, oven fries, veggies. Again, hopefully to be eaten outside, but it's supposed to rain for the next 100 days so we'll see.
Mon: Pasta Puttanesca, salad.
Tues: BBQ Enchiladas (BBQ Chicken done in the crockpot, shredded, rolled into tortillas with cheddar cheese, topped with additional cheese and smear of sour cream and baked for 15-20 mins at 375), Mexican Rice, Black Beans.
Wed: Sloppy Joe's (I leave out the sugar), another Claire fave, in honor of her almost-birthday. Probably with frozen tator tots and mixed veggies on the side, because hump day.
Thurs: Claire turns 10!! BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad, OBVIOUSLY, with confetti cake with chocolate frosting for dessert. Can't believe my chunky smiley baby will be double-digits.
Fri: Takeout, probably pizza, this time I swear to be eaten by the pool in a continuation of birthday fun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


So it's been 15 days since my last post. I couldn't really tell you why. On the one hand, you'd think I'd have more time for type-written navel-gazing, what without the commute or the midweek barre teaching or you know, ever really leaving the house at all. And yet, our days have taken on a new normal that seems just as full as before.

For some of us anyway

In the morning I wake up and go log in to my dual-monitor work computer that sits on a folding table 18 inches from my bed. I check email, make sure there's nothing I need to jump on right away, and then get dressed to work out. I've done the 40-50 minute OTF app workout every single day, Monday through Friday, for the last 3 weeks. It's been great. It syncs to my heart rate monitor, encourages me to keep moving, and makes me sweat and move A LOT.

I love working out outside, something I've never been able to do before, and I feel good all day for having moved in the morning. I rinse off and change, get my gigantic pot of tea, and sit down at my desk to work. I break for lunch sometime and eat with the kids to give James a break. If I can, I try to spend a little time in the playroom/school room to give him more of a break, but lately I've been super busy and pretty much lock myself back in the bedroom until early evening. Around 5 I emerge, hang out with the kids and James goes and works out in the backyard. I make dinner, the kids might swim with James or go play. We eat, so much earlier than we used to, and after dinner you will always find us in the front yard playing frisbee. Or rather, the kids will be playing frisbee with James and I'll be sitting with Maggie on the bench. It's lovely. They play until dark, which is later than the girls normally stay up, but there's no real need to go inside. Eventually we come in, the girls shower, we give them a kiss and tuck them in bed. Landon stays up a little later. He's currently reading the Lord of the Rings series so we've been watching hour-long increments of the movies at night. He goes to bed, James and I hang out for another hour or so and then go to bed. I read. I fall asleep around 11:30 or 12. And then the days start again.

I've been working a lot. I had a video conference two weeks ago that motivated me to dry my hair for the first time since we were in Curacao. With hair, makeup, and actual clothing (with jewelry!) donned, my kids could barely recognize me. The amount of glowing praise and awed looks sent my direction made me think I should really up my game a little more often.

Luckily I was still wearing pj pants and fuzzy socks to keep things familiar.

We've continued to make all the meals all the time and do takeout on Fridays. We have DRASTICALLY cut back on all spending that isn't food. Our last two credit card bills added together equaled almost exactly what we generally spend each month. We aren't going anywhere or doing anything and everything just still feels very uncertain with James's business and life generally. And when things feel uncertain, I clamp down on what I can control, and what I can control is discretionary spending. There is now almost none. But we have attempted to spend money on two things! Paint and Maggie's teeth. On the paint, it was successfully purchased and continues to be applied to surfaces. Every piece of trim in the hallway, bathroom, foyer, kitchen, and living room has been repainted and they positively gleam. The walls of the hallway, bathroom, kitchen, and half the living room are done. It looks amazing and we (James) have maybe another day of work to do and I will cheer him on while he does it.

We also attempted a tooth cleaning appointment for Maggie. Doggie dental work is often terribly expensive, but there is a local nonprofit vet who came highly recommended and does discount cleanings on Thursdays. I was so excited to sign Maggie up and she was SO EXCITED to go on a car ride adventure to get there. When we arrived I filled out a lot of paperwork, sitting safely in my car, handed the paperwork and my smiling bulldog over to the vet tech and was told to pick her up at noon.

At noon I went to get her and the doctor came out to talk to me. Apparently, rather than make her heavily sedated, the Propofol they gave Maggie made her hyper. "Hyper?!" I exclaimed, what could that even be for a bulldog? Apparently it is dancing and repeated attempts to hop in place. They tried to add some gas, to help her mellow out, and she just gave them huge smiles from behind her mask. Because she's a bulldog and medically delicate, they couldn't do anything else, so she partied with the vet techs for 3 hours and I left with a dog who was safe, breathing, and with a mouth that still smelled like a dead fish. Sigh.

Also in the last few weeks we had Mother's Day!

I love Mother's Day. I woke up to a table decorated by the kids, who needed a warning that I was about to enter the room because they'd hand cut confetti to shower upon me. And then they cleaned up every tiny piece because they know my heart.

I got all the cards, a delicious brunch, taught my barre class, ate snacks, and drank a full bottle of rose champagne over the next five hours while petting my bulldog and watching the kids play. James made me a steak salad for dinner, my very favorite meal, and I felt very loved indeed.

It was a really nice day. I love this crew.

This past weekend I drove to Houston with the kids to see my parents and celebrate my sister-in-law's graduation with her Associate's degree in Accounting. She got it while working full-time and we are very proud.

James stayed home because we realized midway through the week that he really needed a break. And because my needs are somehow always louder than his, and he has felt very strongly about handling home school and not ever complaining because his business is closed and he wants to contribute, I didn't recognize it. But he went from being alone most weekdays to being alone absolutely never. Not for even a minute, while I sit in our room, dying slowly because I am SO alone that I'm an oozing mass of need by the time I exit and he's always there for me. So I went to see family and James stayed here and it was badly needed for us both.

While visiting my family we made up for Easter and Mother's Day with the traditional PapaGigi egg hunt and a big brunch made my me in honor of my mama. It was lovely.

Maggie was also delighted to be part of the festivities and was especially delighted to get 8 whole hours of car ride time in 2 days. She smiled the whole way home.

And so did I because I was ALONE! Just me and my canine companion, driving without pause down the open road. Because my kids were STAYING at my parents' house for the next 3 days. Oh yes, we did PapaGigi camp a little early this year as I had a huge work deadline, James is working out registration for a new heavily modified session of the swim school, and we thought my parents would spend the whole summer in Colorado. It's been amazing. They are spending their days on the boat, on isolated islands, and hanging out at my parents' house. They have having so much fun and my parents are so happy to have them there. (We let my parents take the lead on whether to get together; we've been fairly isolated and totally symptom-free and they wanted us to visit. We drove without stopping and it was a truly delightful break in routine.)

It's pretty amazing here too. On Sunday, I got home around 4:00. I worked out, put on pj's by 5 p.m., made a giant bowl of my favorite snack foods and not a single person asked for a bite. I didn't have to make dinner and I didn't have to tell anyone they couldn't have a snack, thus making it impossible for ME to have a snack. I ate salty things and watched the Food Network for nearly 2 hours. James did a workout and we ate a late takeout dinner on the back porch. We went back inside at some point, watched some TV, chatted, and got the lazy downtime together we so rarely get anymore. It was soul and marriage restoring.

On Monday I did my workout and worked really hard all day without ever feeling guilty at all. I ate another super late snack and watched more daytime (evening time?) TV. What even is this life? No one needed a thing from me and it was a delight to connect with James again over another takeout dinner.

The kids are coming home tomorrow. My work project is done and I'm ready. James is ready. (He's commented at least 3x a day how much he misses them and I just kind of vaguely nod...). This has been a really necessary 4 days.

I continue to be so grateful for SO MUCH about our life in this crazy time. There have been moments that have been really hard (realllly hard). But there's been a lot of good. And after 3 evenings of popcorn and TV at 5 p.m. (omg the luxury), I'm pretty excited to get back to our cozy busy days and lazy frisbee nights.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Early May Status Update: Food & Fitness

I want to start posting my menus in separate posts because I often use my old posts to plan new week's meals and I hate scrolling through all the narrative. And if I am annoyed at scrolling through my OWN preshus family stories, it's probably annoying to anyone else desperately seeking meal ideas for the week ahead. And so! Let's visit the food and fitness from the past week and the week ahead.

Workouts! First up, one big highlight of last week that I didn't mention in the last post: I managed to work out every day! I did it even when I was stressed and worked for 12 hours one day, and it made me feel REALLY good and I'm really proud of it.

Me, the week before

Mon: liabartha Instagram Live Class a blog reader sent me and then followed up until I did it (thanks Amanda!)
Tues: CorePower Zoom 45-min Sculpt Class.
Wed: 2 mile run.
Thurs: Orangetheory 40-minute app workout.
Fri: Taught a 60-min private yoga class.
Sat: Taught 75-min vinyasa yoga class.
Sun: Taught 60-min barre class!*

*I should note that when I teach now I do the whole class and just talk through it, so my students can see me on the camera the whole time, and NOTHING burns more calories that talking loudly continuously while you do a vigorous workout. I broke 700 teaching my last barre class and it feels GREAT.

Maggie feels similarly invigorated

I've made a few new playlists for my classes. This is my current Yoga set and this is Barre. Let me know if you have any new favorite songs for me to add!! I'm RebeccaFW on Spotify if you want to find me.

My plan for the week ahead:
Mon: Orangetheory 40-min app workout (done; this was killer!)
Tues: Orangetheory app (done!)
Wed: Orangetheory app
Thurs: Orangetheory app (I hope; I have a big video presentation that day and I'm already forgiving myself if this gets dropped)
Fri: Yoga on my own, maybe another Orangetheory workout. I'm taking off 2 hours early and it would be great to use part of that for a workout before I use the other part to drink a frozen takeout margarita to kick off Mother's Day weekend.
Sat: Teach 75-min vinyasa yoga class!
Sun: Teach 60-min barre class!

As you can probably tell, I've been very into the OTF app workouts. They're 40-minute videos that pop up on the app each morning; you can watch them anytime, they get my heartrate up and my muscles shaking, and I don't have to think in the slightest. The videos work in blocks, demoing each move and putting them together for various intervals, with a little ding each time you need to switch. I've been doing them outside at lunch while the kids swim in the pool for recess. I love the fresh air and the break and for whatever reason I will make myself start one of these when I won't get up to do anything else.

My view today during crunches


Sunday: Big Salad Night! All the things- lettuces, bell peppers, tomato, cucumber, hard boiled egg, goat cheese or feta, cooked farro, beets, and whatever else we can scrounge up. Homemade balsamic vinaigrette (heavy on the balsamic vinegar, spoon of Dijon, little salt, little honey, olive oil).

Monday: Chicken Parmesan Meatballs. A new recipe from a favorite food blogger, it was great! Salads on the side.

Tuesday: Tacos! Traditional ground beef with a crunchy shell. I worked non-stop all day Tues, so James made this one and added diced up carrot and potato to cook with the beef and made these roasted diced sweet potatoes to have on the side with black beans and it was all DELICIOUS.

Wednesday: Fettucine with Prosciutto and Peas. I used this recipe for the fettucine, tossed frozen peas into the last minute of the boiling pasta, and add sliced up prosciutto towards the end (I pan-fry the prosciutto for a few minutes, just because we prefer it crispyish). Delicious!

Thursday: BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad. Claire's favorite meal in the whole world. I cook frozen chicken breasts on low in the crock pot with some bbq sauce, shred, and serve with cooked quinoa and tasty toppings: black beans, corn, tomato, avocado, cilantro, cheese, and a swirl of bbq and ranch. Corn or tortilla chips on the side are a must.

Friday: OUT! This was supposed to be Saturday, but Friday was a DAY and I needed hot chicken tenders from The Cookshack, mostly because I needed their sangria swirl margarita. Everyone was happy.

Saturday: Pizza. Relocated from Friday when I could not possibly make pizza dough, I doubled this recipe for the dough and it was great. Sliced up raw veg on the side, National Treasure on TV.

Sunday: Meatball Subs, Oven Fries, Raw Veggies with Dip. The meatball sub was a request from James and why not.

Monday: Salmon Patties, Homemade Tartar Sauce, and a salad with butter lettuce, steamed chilled green beans, chilled roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and this Tahini Ranch dressing.

Tuesday: Tacos. Obviously.

Our Taco Tuesday Frontyard Picnic

Wednesday: Verde Chicken Chilaqulies, Mexican rice, black beans.

Thursday: Crockpot Red Beans and Rice (sub smoked turkey sausage). Normally this would have gone on Wednesday so we wouldn't have Mexcan twice in a row, but (1) nobody minds that but me; and (2) I have a big video presentation Thursday and need something that will be ready without effort when I'm done and that goes with the red wine I will be drinking when it's over.

Friday: Takeout! We switched takeout to Fridays because I am DONE by the end of the work/school week and pizza dough is too much to ask of me.

Saturday: Back to pizza! This is how I mark my weeks now. I'm going to try this variation for James and me (recommended by Jodi!), with traditional pizza dough for the kids.

And the meal planning begins again!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Highs and Lows and Summer Plans

So, only 4 posts in April. That seems right- I somehow spent most of it feeling like I was drowning while nothing around me was moving at all. Work got really busy, our isolated days felt busy, every night I felt exhausted and could only curl up on the couch under a fuzzy blanket and read Throne of Glass until I finished the series and had to re-read every book by Ilona Andrews for comfort instead. It's all just kind of a blur. Not a bad one- we spent every evening playing frisbee in the yard after dinner, I worked a lot, the kids did school, Maggie napped, it all worked... it just went more quickly and ran us down a bit more than our shelter-in-place weeks up to now.

My takeout sangria swirl frozen margarita was this week's real hero

I remember almost nothing about last weekend. I assume it was nice. I know that even though we don't go anywhere or see anyone and have no plans at all, the weekends still feel separate and precious and rejuvenating. Let's do highlights and lowlights from the last 10 days, I think I can manage bullet points!


Teaching: I continue LOVE teaching my yoga class on Saturday mornings and barre on Sunday afternoon. Chatting with friends from far away- a blog reader, law school classmate, and law firm colleague- before and after class was such a joy. Thank you to everyone who has joined me and supported my sweet studio. And thanks to the kids who silently entertain themselves in the TV room while I teach.

The Scooter Gang: You guys, they only travel by scooter and the way they all crouch down to fly down the hills brings me a burst of pure joy every single time. I cannot get enough. They crack me up and make me smile. I am so thankful we have these three.

Maggie: My tireless co-worker, officemate, and wannabe member of the scooter gang.

This portrait of Maggie: My sweet sweet fire and sun-seeking goddess. I looked up from my bedroom office folding table and saw this scene and just had to snap a picture. I think it's maybe the greatest picture I've ever taken and it's of my dog. In my bathroom.

Her back rolls are particularly glorious in the light. She sat like this forever but eventually her neck got tired and she had to rest her giant head on the wall. I love this creature more than I can say.

Cora's Video Conference Style: Cora has one class video conference a week and she LOVES THEM. She requires her hair to be done moments before they start and she sits tall and thrilled throughout the chaos, writing notes on her whiteboard to show her teacher. It is the very cutest.

She misses Kindergarten so much. Here is a sample of her work. She always adds extra flourishes. This was supposed to be a "How To" writing on any topic. She chose How To have a bulldog. Other than skipping the vet visits and allergy meds (and sun bathing), I'd say she nailed it.

Top Chef Fridays with Landon: Every Friday night after the girls are in bed, Landon and I watch the week's new Top Chef episode. Top Chef used to be my personal guilty pleasure, but it's now a beloved mother-tween bonding event. We feel all the feelings, discuss each chef’s culinary choices, loudly cheer the successes, and (possibly even more loudly) mourn any failures (“Mom, I can’t watch!). There is stress, we ride multiple emotional roller coasters and engage in NEAR CONSTANT discussion of ingredients and techniques and cuisines. We rewind a lot. It takes 90 minutes to watch a 50 minute show and I love every second.

As I've written so many times, our kids are very much a pack and it’s rare we spend time alone with any one of them. And truly, that’s their preference. But this new Friday night tradition, while the girls sleep and James watches something with more guns than dialogue, it’s become a highlight of the week for both of us.

The Memes: They are so on point.


Surprise Google Results: So James's best friend/swim teammate from college and the best man in our wedding worked in finance in Houston (they were roomates when James worked in Houston before we got married and moved to Chicago) and then moved overseas. We've slowly lost touch over the years and James randomly googled him last Friday to see where he was up to. Turns out, he may have been doing a lot of insider trading and the SEC sued him! I doubt this will be in the alumni newsletter.

My one-day employer will one day sue the man hugging me on my right

Painting: It continues. It looks amazing. It is not the littlest bit fun.

Reopenings: My state is reopening. I understand why some people want to, I understand why some people need to, but the cases in our county are still trending sharply up. We have not peaked and so many people are congregating, so many stores arne't enforcing any social distancing, hardly anyone is in a mask... it just makes me very nervous. There is nothing about the last 8 weeks that makes us any stronger or safer in the face of this virus- we kept the hospitals from being overrun which was vitally important, but it didn't go away because we waited a while to leave our houses. We still don't have near enough tests, so I don't know how they can track and trace anything and Texas had its highest death toll the day before the reopening began. It doesn't inspire confidence and we aren't changing anything about our SIP lifestyle for this month.

Unemployment: James's business is closed. He obviously desperately wants to reopen, but how can you possibly safely teach learn-to-swim lessons that require touch and face-to-face instruction? Kids spit in his mouth pretty much constantly. His pool is still closed, so it may not be a decision he gets to make, but we keep talking through the decision-tree for when it does and just get stuck on the fact that nothing has changed on the safety front with this virus. Waiting another month won't change that either. Or another one after that. So do you not reopen until there's a vaccine and herd immunity? Financially, that would be beyond devastating and he's worked for 7 years to build a strong brand and client base. Do you only teach kids who already know how to swim and give instruction in private lessons from the deck? That might be enough to limp along. I don't know. He could teach private lessons in our pool even if his pool isn't open, but the same decision-tree applies. But if we can possibly hold on without his income, it seems we should rather than have him in the pool with kids whose families may or may not have been socially distancing and then bringing that contact into our home, particularly since any income under that scenario would be small. But of course it's not just the money, it's his business and livelihood and so we aimlessly discuss with no answers while knowing there aren't any decisions to make right now anyway.

COVID in the Family: My sister tested positive for COVID on Friday. She's okay- so far her symptoms are fairly mild, though the classic "no sense of smell or taste" is in full force, along with some respiratory symptoms and tightness in her chest. She's been required to go into her office and several people are sick, which is scary and reinforces everything about my fears on reopening. Keep her, her husband and her "you can't isolate yourself from a baby and toddler" kiddos, and my worried parents in your thoughts.

pic from my visit last March

Schrodinger's Travel Plans: I know this is true for absolutely everyone, but the uncertainty and inability to plan ANYTHING is so tough. With James's business, with our summer, with travel that was already planned. I think I mentioned this before, but our 15th anniversary is at the end of this summer and three years ago we decided we were going to take a big trip with just the two of us to celebrate. We've never done that before, but my parents would be retired by then (now) and they agreed to watch the kids and we were so excited. I started a monthly transfer to a new online savings account in 2017 and the planning began.

Our calendars currently say we'll be flying to Tahiti to stay in overwater bungalows in Moorea and then Bora Bora from August 20-28th this year. I've had a countdown on my phone that started at 900-something days. Now it says 108, but I can't imagine we'll be able to go. The island is currently shut down- they don't have the medical facilities to properly care for anyone who contracts COVID and need to keep their people safe. Even if they reopen, it's hard to see us getting on two planes for 12 hours, being in the LAX airport, going through customs, etc., though at least our actual destination is quite isolated. I suppose it's possible travel will open up some this summer, and maybe there will be protocols in place that make it a reasonable decision before everything shuts down again if cases jump in the fall. Late August could be that window. But, I doubt it. And part of what's SO hard is that we can't just reschedule- as of now, our flights are still on the schedule, and we can't change them without penalty unless the airline makes the decision first. At this point I'd rather say, we're not going this year, let's try August 2021, but the flights were over $3,000 (months and months of auto-transfers!) and I don't want to lose them completely if I don't have to. So I wait. Telling myself we won't go, but unable to simply take action to make it so. And, because of that, also unable to plan something in temporary place of the big trip- like a socially distant road trip/hiking trip or visit to my parents' Colorado house becuase I don't know if I'll need the vacation days in August.

I know SO MANY people have had to cancel huge trips and events, and I'm one of many, but while we aren't planning anything new, it's so hard to have the lingering calendar entries of trips planned before we ever imagined COVID-19.

(The kids played "airplane" yesterday. It's a private jet, I was told, and in-flight entertainment was a must. They made tickets, went through security, and flew 3.5 hours to California. It was all very realistic and likely they only travel they'll get for a long while.)

Back to the present.

So how are you guys doing? What are you thinking for summer? Anyone thinking your travel plans will stick? Our big family trip was supposed to be Swimming Olympic Trials in June, but that's rescheduled for 2021. All the kids summer camps are canceled except one for Cora which is still making its decision. Even if they stay open, I don't know that she'll attend. I'm hoping to keep working from home for a while longer. We're thinking of visiting my social distancing parents this month to expand our circle ever so slightly. I will keep obsessively checking the Air Tahiti flight updates, sadly hoping our flights are just canceled so our decisions are made and we can reschedule for the future.

I remain thankful for my job, for James, for the kids who continue to make this as easy as possible, and for our weekly takeout. And that deep dish Chicago style pizza recipe- and the fact that so many of you tried it and told me about it. Things are good- strange and often sad and a little scary, but also brightly joyful in big and small ways throughout the day.

(Meals and workouts coming in the next post because this is already too long! Happy Sunday to you all,)