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,)


  1. Good Sunday morning!
    I am up in Canada and we have been and continue to be much less affected than the US. Though, of course, one person dying is too many :(
    We have camping plans this summer with friends that I’m hoping will still be on. This all has been tough for my teens - especially the super-social one.
    So I mostly wanted to comment to recommend escapist reading - lol - we have very similar taste in fantasy books. You may not have heard of the Canadian author Meghan Ciana Doidge - fabulous writer! First book is free! Many books to follow! Lol!
    Thanks for your posts and your commitment to being real online.
    And thanks for sharing your Maggie!
    :) Erin

  2. I know this is probably not what you want to hear, but most likely you won't have firm confirmation from the airline/your government until a few weeks before your departure date. August is just too far away right now!
    We had a trip planned for Japan in early April and did the "wait and see" thing for months. Japan had cases back in January! Basically all of January, February and the first half of March was "will we? won't we? will we? won't we?" Our government (Canada) still hadn't said to avoid non-essential travel to Japan 3 weeks before our trip! Finally, they said avoid non-essential travel to any foreign country and that was the thing we needed to cancel our flights (and to have our trip cancellation insurance kick in). But it honestly wasn't until 2.5 weeks before our departure date that we got our confirmation that Japan was not going to happen. My only tip, as someone who just went through this, is not to think about it. We established a set of "go / no go" rules and just accepted whatever would happen was going to happen and that it was best to focus on the here and now and not think about the trip. The more I thought about going, the more anxious I got, so I just stopped thinking about it.

  3. I hope your sister gets well soon! My husband and I came down with covid in mid-March (we live in NYC)...luckily we both had mild versions but it was still the most stressful period of my life. You live in fear every day that the virus will take a turn of the worse. What helped for us was having a pulse oximeter handy so we could test our blood oxygen levels regularly. This way, we had a quantitative measure of how bad our shortness of breath was. Highly recommend getting one if you can still find it near you.

  4. Hoping your sister's case is mild and she recovers asap. Also, so sorry to hear about Tahiti :(

  5. Travel Plans...yes, I can appreciate your dissapointment. Our travel plans have been nixed as well. Mr. Pea and I were going to northern Italy this summer to hiike in the Dolomites - this would have been my first visit to Europe and our first trip away alone together in more than twenty years. (Like the Lag Liv Family, we always traveled with our four kids.) But now? Nope. All European reservations were cancelled on their end and refunded, and we are waiting for the Airline to cancel so that hopefully we can use the tickets someday in the future.

    I hope your sister recovers quickly, and am holding your very worried parents in my thoughts and prayers. The worry over my oldest daughter and her husband (both frontline workers - EMT/Fireman and ICU nurse) and our granddaughter is overwhelming on many days!

    Tell Maggie I said hi. I love love love the picture of her in the sun!

  6. I hope your sister recovers soon. That has to be so hard - internet hugs to you all.

    For travel, I’ve found procrastination (ie, thinking I should do something and then being too overwhelmed by it all) yields the best financial result, because the travel companies act for me, including giving me a full refund of a British Airways holiday package. That doesn’t help the disappointment or the feelings, but it’s a start. In this endless decision-tree world where our brains can never be turned off, it’s oddly sort of nice to have one made by someone else. Generally too, they don’t want to force people on to flights and I can’t see that changing by the end of the summer.

    And those Maggie photos are everything. I have a sun-worshipping 13 year old cat I adopted 3 years ago and I joke I should buy her a tanning bed. She has the same look on her face too.

  7. I am really appreciative of your perspective and that's honestly why I enjoy reading your updates BUT I live in a state that is mostly still Shutdown and I definitely don't think it's for the best. I feel like, as with most illnesses, we all need to be exposed and that sheltering in place is not making this go away it is just killing small businesses. I personally don't understand why a target or walmart can be open but a department store (which would likely have less people in it) can't be. I am loving what the GOP Lawmakers are doing to ensure that business owners have a chance to survive and how they are trying to prevent the governor from becoming a long standing dictator. Now to get the meat plants reopened so that the rest of the country doesn't run out of meat, etc.
    p.s. Do your parents know if they are allowed to visit their vacation home in Colorado? We were asked by the association where we own property, in Colorado, to not come and visit until after June 1st because the town is small and may not be equipped to handle a surge. A surge which I doubt would happen but we are trying to be considerate. If after June 1st we can't go, we'll go anyway.

  8. We had to cancel a major anniversary (15 for us, 40 for my parents) trip to Banff. Instead, we booked a last-minute trip to Yellowstone! This is normally the sort of thing I would plan 2 years in advance to get the perfect itinerary and lodge reservations, but I’m trying not to let the perfect be the enemy of the pretty great. Downside, the lodges are closed. Upside, the park isn’t allowing tour groups — which is awesome, because I HATE the tour groups that clog up the parks. We are driving out from MN, camping on the way, and staying in a condo in West Yellowstone. The very nice owner says she’ll have it all thoroughly bleached before we get there.

  9. Hi LL, just wondering how your sister and her family are doing? I was so hopeful that things could at least open up again for the summer before a second wave in the fall, and that I could even put my kids in swim lessons in July. I'm still kind of hopeful for July, but the way we've all decided to open up in May is crushing.

    1. Hi Kim! My sister is doing so much better! I'd say she's pretty fully recovered and we're so grateful. Thanks so much for checking :).