Thursday, July 28, 2022

Frequent Flyers

Currently on my millionth plane in the last few days, this time with the kids (though not with James who is at a swim meet), heading to my family reunion in the great woods and beautiful lakes of Wisconsin. It's been six years since we graced the shores of Silver Lake, where I spent so many summers of my childhood, camping in my family's trailer on my grandpa's lake lot, right next to the farm where he grew up. I'm so excited. It's been a crazy week and a half.
Last Thursday I flew to Monterey for a firm hosted client event at Pebble Beach. It was an honor to be invited and I gave a CLE presentation one evening.
I met some fabulous people and clients. It was also gorgeous and in the 50's every day and I got to turn the fireplace on in my room and throw the patio doors open and almost be chilly. And after many days of 110+ in Dallas it was GLORIOUS.
I am not a golfer, but my dad is a GREAT golfer and he has never been to Pebble Beach and he was equally happy for me and jealous for him. I bought a pink plaid golf shirt off Amazon and took a golf lesson in his honor.
The Pebble Beach golf pro was amazing. So calm and encouraging and always finding something nice to say about whatever I was doing while also managing to correct however many things I was doing wrong.
I also got to learn from a golf robot which was one of the coolest things I've ever done.
I can't say I'm going pro yet, but I do now know how to hold a golf club and I'm a weirdly good chipper. It was also SO fun to reconnect with some of the attorneys I worked with in the Austin office lo those many years ago. Especially friends I now get to call partner.
I also did an e-bike ride down 17 mile drive. I saw seals and otters and lots of birds, along with about 100 houses I would really REALLY like to tour. I hadn't ridden a bike since I was in the Netherlands in 2004, so I was a little nervous, but turns out, it IS exactly like riding a bike! There was also a putting contest and my teammate and I balanced each other's champagne glasses AND we did not get last and I feel like we were the true winners.
On Sunday morning I got to wake up at 4:30 a.m., fly to Dallas, spend the afternoon with the kids, unpack/repack, and then fly to Denver for a deposition the next day. Except my flight was delayed about 2 hours, so I spent a very long time nursing this glass of wine and getting work done at a comfortable table. I got to my hotel about 1 a.m., worked much, and then mid-deposition on Tuesday got an email from Southwest that my flight- the last flight to Dallas- had been canceled. James had already left for a swim meet, and the kids were at home waiting for me to join them after dinner, and Maggie was now at risk of being promoted to overnight babysitter. (Or, let's be real, the cats would be the ones in charge.)
After many emails, I got a new, even later flight landing at a different airport where my car would not be sometime after midnight, and our wonderful house manager volunteered to stay the night. That flight got delayed as well and I got home about 2 a.m., abandoning my car to airport #1, and taking an Uber in to work a few hours later. I was supposed to see Mean Girls in Fort Worth last night, and while I was SO excited for it and to catch up with my friend going with me, I finally had to back out. I hadn't unpacked from Denver, much less packed for Wisconsin, or sat on my own couch in far too long and Cora had had quite enough of this nonsense. If I was going to move to Dallas, the least I could do is live there as well. She's tough, but fair.
I know it's been hard, but as I've told her, of all my trips recently only one of them has been something I couldn't say no to. These first six months are my road show and I'm building something and I'm so excited and truly loving every minute, and my family has been AMAZING, but I'm not sad that I will have both feet in Dallas for all of August. Even if it is pretty much the worst month to be here.
Last night, once I finally collected my car, still waiting patiently at the airport (though sadly not the airport we were flying out of today), drove home, packed, and spent a whole luxurious evening with the kids. We ate dinner and watched the Disney+ Baymax series and it was ADORABLE. We loved it. All the stars; highly recommend.

In addition to my travels, the kids have also been living their best lives. Cora went to soccer camp at Texas A&M and LOVED IT. I also love that Landon (15) had his first sleepaway camp the same summer Cora (8) did. #ThirdBaby
Claire got to come to my office one day and fell in love with my little window nook. She has requested to be my assistant and spend all her time writing in journals in that corner. Not sure how that assists me, but happy to add to the team.
And Landon spend a week with my sister and her crew in Boulder, flying alone there and back, navigating the airports, and being SuperCousin to her girls.
And that's where we're at! Currently circling Minneapolis, about to land, get our rental car, and drive to Wisconsin to see my parents, all my siblings, all four of my nieces and my one nephew, AND my aunt and uncle and it will be SO FUN! It is the twins' first birthday and I can't think of a better place to celebrate. Looking forward to a long weekend of fun lake days, cool Wisconsin nights, and listening to cousins play together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Proof of Life, and a Birthday (and a House!)

Hi everyone! I did finally recover from my Covid. And by "recover" I mean that my fever went away, the body aches faded, and I stopped feeling like I would pass out any time I did something more than lay in bed all day and sleep, but the headache remained for a long time (and occasionally still pops up, but softer, like a nagging reminder of what it used to feel like) and my congestion and cough (now dry and far less frequent) remain. My fever ended on Day 6. I was capable of working from home starting on Day 8. I tested negative on Day 13. No one else in the family ever tested positive or exhibited any symptoms.
(Homemade cards are Cora's love language and she worked SO hard on this one. It was passed to me under the door when I was actually starting to feel better, but I feel like all her efforts over the previous days are what finally broke my fever.)
And after exactly a month away, I was VERY excited to go back to work on Day 15.
I felt like I was on parade all day, waving to colleagues and catching up with everyone, but I was *exhausted* when I got home. Nurse Moose stepped in and made it VERY clear that I was to rest.
Also, last Friday, this tiny little baby Landon turned FIFTEEN years old.
Fifteen, y'all. The baby who made us parents, the leader of our Fike pack, the kid who is always on the roof, always climbing something he shouldn’t, and always ready for our next adventure. He is deeply chatty, especially when it’s time to go to bed, loves the cats more than anything, does extra workouts for fun, and remains a general delight. We love him so much.
He got an Apple watch that he has desperately wanted for at least a year.
And his sister's picked out their own special gifts for him which he loved very much.
We didn't have our usual birthday party decor drawer because all of that is in storage, but he was pleased with his Target shark theme and dollar store gift bags. It was a very sweet morning.
Today that little boy flew all by himself to Denver, handling security, getting to his gate, the Southwest seating lineup, flying, landing, and riding the train to baggage claim in the Denver airport with ease. My sister and her girls picked him up and it was the sweetest thing.
He's going to have such a blast playing with his cousins, helping my sister, hiking in the mountains, and otherwise enjoying a place that is NOT 118 degrees during the day.
Meanwhile over here in Dallas the bulldog wants you to know this weather is some bullshit, but she is a lady so she'll still go outside for the bare minimum necessary to go potty and then come in and recover.
Also we kinda sorta saw a house for 10 minutes yesterday, put in an offer last night, and just got the signed and executed offer back tonight! We're going to have a forever home!! It's beautiful and I'm still a bit in shock. The close will be late August and then we're giving the owners a 2-month leaseback, but by the end of October we should be in our house and home for the holidays and I am SO EXCITED. Living out of boxes is not my favorite and I hate not having a home I can make beautiful and feel like our own.

And now, while I would love to write more, I'm also giving a CLE presentation to more than 400 virtual audience members tomorrow, so I should probably figure out what I am going to say before tucking myself in bed.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Sickbed Diaries, the opposite of a travelogue

We are back! We actually got back last Saturday the 2nd, but turns out I brought a little present back with me and got punched in the face pretty hard with Covid when we returned. Just when I was starting to think we'd avoid it forever...
I've been quarantined in our rental bedroom since Saturday, which thank the rental gods has a TV and my own bathroom (I've never had a TV in my bedroom before, but watching West Wing reruns has been the only thing my delirious fevered brain could handle the last six days and I think I would have gone insane without it). James and the kids remain symptom free and seem to be living their best loud happy lives in the rest of the house outside the entrance to my quarantine troll cave.
Wednesday was the first day I could string coherent thoughts together enough to attempt a blog post, which is when I started this one. The 2,000 work emails that had built up in my inbox while we were away remained out of my cognitive reach. I still had fevers off and on, my body ached, my face ached, my head ached (still does!), my throat hurt, I coughed a lot, and I randomly fell asleep all the time. It's not great. A few weeks ago I would have thought a few days in bed sounded great, but I feel far too terrible to enjoy it and instead just watch more and more things pile up that I should be doing but physically and mentally cannot.
Nurse Milo has been my constant companion. Maggie visits. The girls send me lots of texts. James delivers me food and water with a mask on. He's sleeping in Claire's room while Claire bunks with Cora and Landon screamed when he saw my face pop out of my cave because he said I looked like a zombie.
So it sucks. Very grateful to be vaccinated and boosted so at least I don't feel scared; just sick and shitty and lonely and waiting for a day I wake up feeling better.
I got nervous on Wednesday when Moose arrived to supplement my care team. Like, did he sense something? Had I lost all perspective and was actually fading away here in this room? I dug out the pulse oximeter we bought when Covid began and it assured me that I was getting as much oxygen as I thought. I still called the urgent care I went to on Sunday and they said to come back, but then when I did they just confirmed that yep, you're sick, and you're too young and otherwise healthy to get any of the antivirals that are apparently very effective in making you feel better.
I laid down on the exam table in defeat at that news. Leaving the house exausted me and I spent the rest of the day under Nurse Milo who felt strongly that I should not be moving.
I never managed to publish the above, so now it's Friday. I did log in for a few hours yesterday because oh my gosh I am so behind. I worked for about an hour, felt exhausted (sitting and typing! this made me exhausted wtf), and Head Nurse Moose came in and laid down the law.
So my camera roll went from spectacular Iceland pictures (still need to blog our last two days!) to one billion pictures of my cat caretakers. The only change is whatever pajamas I'm wearing and the date on the bottom.
And now it's Day 7. I'm at the desk in my cave, 3 feet from my bed, filing emails, if not actually answering many yet. Everyone else in the family took a test yesterday and they're all negative and feeling great, so I'm glad we've at least been able to keep it contained to me. My last fever was Wednesday night, so that's good and I can feel some of my strength returning in the absence of that debilitating cycle of heat and sweats. The urgent care doctor told me I only had to quarantine for five days, but that seems crazy short. I'm still actively sick. I'm going to stay in my cave until I feel much better than I do now, and will then mask around everyone until I test negative. Or stop coughing? Has anyone else had this recent bout? How did you handle your return to society? Trying to look ahead to a time when standing up and walking across the house, not to mention one day actually leaving it(!), won't send me immediately back to bed...

Friday, July 1, 2022

ICELAND Day 9: Then the Magic

Day 9: Golden Circle

When I woke up, a mama and two baby sheep were directly below my window (totally normal Iceland thing) and it was only lightly drizzling! We could see the glacier across the street! Visibility was above-average and I shook off my bad dreams, absolutely confident my family and our rain coats could thoroughly savor our day. We all enjoyed a farm fresh breakfast before packing up and setting out in our rental car, ready for a big day of 12 stops ahead.
And, after an hour of driving in a thoroughly reasonable amount of rain, the clouds parted and we saw the sun for the first time in days and I knew it would be an absolutely magical day.

And it was.
Our first stop was Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon. Beautiful and ethereal, a sleek seal dove and fished right in front of us.
Pieces of glacier floated by as well, along with a mama and four fluffy baby ducklings. I found it so beautiful.
Diamond Beach was a few yards (meters) away.
Full of pieces of the glacier that have broken off and been stranded by the tides, it's a black sand beach dotted with modern ice sculptures.
The diversity of beautiful things to enjoy, experience, and climb on, mere miles apart, is like nothing we'd ever experienced.
It's a beautiful spot that must never look the same twice.
Our next stop was a National Park. You know we love a national park and this was our third international version! (Costa Rica and Curaçao were our first two.)
The park was lush and beautiful and we hiked the 2 miles round trip to Svartifoss, a stunning waterfall running over black basalt columns. You can tell the weather had changed because we were HOT (actual temp probably about 50*F), shedding all of our coats into James's ever-growing backpack, and sweating through the clothes we had left.
Once again, a big thank you to the volcanoes and lava for providing the magnificent geology.
One thing that's hard to capture in pictures is how lush and beautiful Iceland is on the way to, from, and all around every destination. Like Svartifoss- that's something many people hike to see, yet on the way it's a gorgeous green hike, with hills and valleys and spectacular views. There's waterfalls everywhere (always) and ones like this, that would be the destination of a hike anywhere else, don't even have a placard or lookout point:
We walked to the visitor's center (love having kid's old enough to take pictures; Claire borrowed my phone for a bit and it was so fun to find pictures like this later that night when I was going through them) and had a great lunch cooked by an Indian family that runs the cafe.
Next up was Reynisfjara, Reynisfjall and Reynisdrangar! A few Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here.
A beautiful black sand beach with deadly (literally) waves and stunning black basalt geological features.
As we walked up, a humpack whale was feeding a few yards off the coast. The depth drops off sharply right off the beach (part of why the sneaker waves are so deadly) and this giant whale was happily feasting in krill so close to the shore I worried something was wrong.
He or she waved hello a few dozen times until eventually swimming further out to sea. We all climbed on the columns- they make for perfect stepping stones up and down- for nearly an hour, just enjoying the sounds of the waves, the novelty of the black sand, and the gorgeous architecture of the cliff.
Next up was a stop at Skógar, a small Icelandic village with a museum next to a famous waterfall we'll get to in a minute. But I happened to google something about waterfalls in the area (we banned the kids from electronics while driving when you could actually see things, so if I ever accidentally maybe glanced at my phone and they saw me, I had to be googling something relevant) and learned about a "less visited" waterfall called Kvernufoss that you could hike to from the parking lot at Skógar as long as you paid the nominal Skógar parking fee.
The hike is on private property, so you need to stay on the path and (obviously) leave no trace of yourself behind. There's a ladder over the barbed wire fence and then you enter an absolutely stunning landscape and wide flat path. Even if there wasn't the most amazing waterfall ever around the corner, it would be worth a stroll.
But there IS the best waterfall ever around the corner. You hear it before you see it and then, bam, hello there beauty.
And you can hike behind it! Those three little dots to the left of the falls are the LagLiv kids. Going behind the waterfall blew our minds a little bit. It was genuinely the coolest thing I'd ever done until we did something even cooler about an hour later.
A little wet, a lot happy.
Thoroughly delighted by Kvernufoss, we next headed over to the usual headliner in the area, Skógafoss!
You can climb stairs up and around it, but I could tell my crew was flagging and we still had a few stops to go, so we stayed on the ground level. It was still loud and majestic and Landon insisted (pretended?) he wanted to go swimming in the pool at the base.
Next up should have been Seljlandsfoss, but we were getting hungry and our hotel was so nearby and I knew we could revisit, so I tempted my crew with the secret waterfall right next door instead.
See that slit in the rock? There's a waterfall cathedral back there.
We zipped up our rain coats and fjorded a small river, rock jumping and James carrying Cora on his back, to get through the opening in the rock
To reveal a secret waterfall room inside.
It was magical in a way I'd never experienced before- like a secret space just for us for those few minutes. I'll treasure that memory forever.
We were wet and giddy with secret waterfall magic.
But soon it was time to to reenter the world.
Hotel Selja was only a few short minutes away. The twelve-room hotel was perfect: clean, bright, modern and homey. They served the best pasta bolognese for dinner that I've maybe ever had and we could see Seljlandsfoss and the very top of Gljufrabui from from the dining room and our room windows. We actually got two nights there, so we could settle in a bit. We chatted with the manager and her husband and talked about their childhoods in California and why they chose to move back to Iceland when they had kids. It was a lovely night after a perfect day.

And our day... the colors of the green hills, white thundering waterfalls, black volcanic rocks, and bright farm life dotting the vistas are simply impossible to capture. I've tried, but both pictures and words fail. It was pure magic.
These are live images burned in my mind that I will never, ever forget.