Home Sweet (stuck at) Home

As we complete our second month of never leaving our house, it dawns on me that I never took the time to write about our new house. I did a Farewell Petaluma post, but never got around to a Hello Washington post. So today I will take you on a tour of our newish home while I share our trials and triumphs in the age of COVID 19. I will attempt humor and realism without a rose colored glasses treatment.

As soon as we made the decision to move to Vancouver, WA, Brad and I started trolling real estate apps for our new house. The home we eventually bought stole our heart the first time we saw it only to go sale pending immediately. As luck would have it (for us), that sale fell through and the house was back on the market 2 days before our house hunting trip. After seeing it we told our realtor we were done looking and went straight to his office to craft our offer (one that required us to gamble with earnest money since our Petaluma house had yet to have any nibbles). Fast forward through much stress and worry (even through we had two amazing realtors) to us hitting the road one Friday morning to drive from old house to new house. In Ukiah Friday afternoon we got the call that our CA home had closed and money was on route to WA. In Eugene Friday night we got the call that the WA house was ours. And Saturday morning we moved in. Talk about crazy!

Now that we are “trapped” in this house, I am so thankful we found it and fought for it because it is making our stay-at-home life as good as it can get.

Now I promised no rose colored glasses and I meant it. The ups and downs the last two months have been intense. Brad, after many failed tests, has learned just how many pillows it takes to buy yourself some personal space on our couch.

And today I yelled, yes yelled, “THIS IS SO HARD!!!” as I tried to finish one work email with Lucy on my lap while simultaneously helping Otis with his math assignment.

Because let’s face it, while many are feeling alone right now, families with young kids and pets are mourning the lack of solitude.

We love you, but we miss personal space.

In the absence of school, we are aiming to teach our kids life lessons. Yesterday’s lesson brought to you by Brad “when people are moaning on the floor, you are not supposed to touch them.” Not to worry, this is not a sexual reference, merely an allusion to an after dinner ritual that we recently began. It entails dirty dishes sitting on the table and throughout the kitchen while the adults lie on the floor avoiding responsibility. Sadly this usually ends with a dog licking our face or a child jumping on us, and in the end, we have to rally and face the dishes and bedtime routine to come.

Perhaps slightly more valuable lessons learned are that Otis now knows how to cut his own meat and make his own quesadilla and Lucy has learned that if you wake up before it is light out, you are supposed to read your books and not wake up your mom yet.

I’d be lying if I said I was not enjoying this quality time with my family. My usual schedule involves me getting home at 9pm four nights out of the week. So family dinners and bedtime stories have not been taken for granted. I like that Otis and I are into chapter books together and there have been a plethora of awesome family memories made.

However, I did promise humor so I’ll let the pictures illustrate the good times and move on to some noteworthy quotes of late.

“Mom can I have another snack since you ate my first snack?” -Lucy

“Mom look what my penis does when I jump up and down!” -Otis

“Mom is not currently available.” -Mom said while hiding in the bathroom.

We have learned a lot of things during this crazy time. We know that the Tooth Fairy operates an essential business as she has paid us two visits during quarantine.

We have learned that Becky can give haircuts (kind of). Here are the before and after shots.

We have learned what’s truly important to us in life. When Brad asked us all what we miss the most:

Otis- charcuterie platters and play dates.

Lucy- ‘nastics (short for gymnastics). When she and Otis found dandelions to make wishes on he wished the virus had never happened and she wished the “birus” wasn’t at Otis’ school and her ‘nastics.

Becky- eating lunch alone, separation of work and family.

Brad- going to the bathroom without an audience and making music with others.

We also now know that insane levels of multi tasking actually diminish brain function.

To illustrate this last tidbit of knowledge . . . a story . . .

I want to start by acknowledging that we are among the lucky ones. Brad and I are still gainfully employed and are incredibly thankful that financial stress is not an issue for us. We do not take this for granted by any means. However, that does not mean I will refrain from kvetching about the difficulties of two parents working full-time with a 2 and 5 year old underfoot. A typical day:

6am the children wake us up and ask for breakfast #1

Here is our lovely kitchen/entryway/my current office/ballet studio

7am Brad starts work. This past fall we converted a tool shed into a detached office for him. We didn’t even know how brilliant that idea would turn out to be.

Before:

After:

7:30am I respond to requests about breakfast #2 and then try to have some couch time with a second cup of coffee to ease into the day.

8:00am Get wiggles out in the backyard. Sorry neighbors, we need some noisy time.

8:30 I assist Otis while he does his reading/writing assignment of the day on his iPad (issued to him by his school), followed by listening to him read the book of the week. Lucy is largely ignored during this time. #honest. Lucy requests to do school as well which she insists is done on an ipad (enter pbs kids games app).

9:00am breakfast #3 is requested and delivered so that Mom can shower.

10:00am-12:00pm Becky teaches ballet virtually while Brad monitors the crazies. Should Brad need to get work done (which is always the case since he works to create online courses which are oddly popular right now) screen time ensues. Brad moves in from his detached office to the guest room where he attempts to exercise on the treadmill while working while child wrangling. When fighting begins over which show to watch starts, one of two courses of action are taken. 1) children are made to compromise or take turns. 2) one child is set up in front of the TV while the other is given the Nintendo or iPad. Which option is chosen is based entirely on parental sanity and whether the reservoir of patience exists or has run dry (note: this reservoir currently requires constant refilling and occasionally we find that everywhere is out of stock on patience and we must carry on without it).

Should Brad have a meeting at the same time as Becky teaches, children are left to their own devices and one parent may be called to leave work should a scream of a certain decibel be heard. Today was one of those days. Lucy’s emergency was extreme hunger (she’d gone like 45 minutes without sustenance) so she got to make an appearance on Mom’s livestream (which have moved out of the kitchen and into the bedroom to keep things fresh).

12:00pm Lunch (usually Brad cooking while Becky scrambles to get some desk work done)

12:30pm wiggle session part 2.

Sometimes we head to the front yard for a change of scenery.

Sometimes it gets weird 😂

1:00pm Lucy naps while Mom and Otis work on math and writing.

2:00pm Mom forces Otis to play by himself while she gets work done. Otis usually coerces Dad to play with him instead.

3:00pm craftiness ensues. Thank goodness for cardboard and imagination.

4:00-6:00pm Mom teaches again or gets work done while dad takes the parenting reins and tries to tie up the loose ends of his work day.

6:30pm Family dinner. One upside to this wild time is we no longer have to feel guilty about all the takeout and delivery we order. Now we can just feel proud as we support local businesses.

7:00pm puzzle time or perhaps a volcano walk from our backyard, but more often than not laps in the backyard to make sure bedtime won’t be the straw that breaks the parents’ backs.

8:00pm bedtime ritual begins

8:30pm Adults must decide whether to continue working or collapse exhausted on the couch. Note adult beverages are permitted for either option. Again this decision is made with regards to long-term preservation of sanity.

Now this timeline began with me saying that we’ve learned that insane levels of multi-tasking (i.e. full-time jobs and full-time parenting) leads to diminished brain function. Enter the tomato story. One night half a tomato was eaten with dinner. The next morning Brad opened the drawer where we keep our foil, parchment paper, etc. and said “why is there half a tomato in here?” After 5 minutes straight of laughing until we cried, the misplaced tomato incident got even funnier. . . we discovered we had no idea which of us had done that. You see both of us assumed that our mental state could have easily lead us to putting that tomato in the drawer. The cylinders are clearly sputtering!

All I can say is thank goodness there are two of us at the helm right now because we often need to tag out. Brad and I have gotten fairly adept at taking turns when it comes to melting down.

I am so thankful that we can walk out our back gate and stroll for 5 minutes to Salmon Creek. This little “beach” has become my destination of choice when I need to unplug and breath. Again, thank you universe for leading us to this house.

I am also thankful that Brad never runs out of ideas for projects. They’ve created a nerf shooting range.

Made a CGI short.

They are polishing up rocks galore.

And are painting miniatures, molding clay figurines, and creating landscapes for an animation they have planned.

Last thankful thing I’ll mention is for this incredible community. We are having a chalk conversation with neighbors we’ve never met.

We’ve got 4 elementary school kids on the block that leave each other notes and gifts. Otis has a kindergarten teacher that lets the kids connect and talk about their emotions on zoom and patiently councils parents with way too many questions 🙋🏼‍♀️.

And I am thankful for the community of ballet students I get the privilege of working with.  They keep me sane as, together, we channel the emotions we are experiencing through our art.

If I had to pick the one thing I am struggling most with (a hard choice as there are many), I’d say it is managing my own expectations.  The first week that school “started back up” Otis was frustrated having me as his teacher.  That night at bedtime I told him I was sorry I was not as good a teacher as Mrs. McLaughlin and that I was going to try my very best to learn to be better.  He looked at me and said with all seriousness, “Mom- you are medium good.”  And that has become a mantra for me.  I need to be satisfied with medium good in all areas of my life right now.  I know this.  I understand this.  But being okay with being medium good is a daily struggle.

It’s a good thing I have an incredible husband and two contagiously happy kids who think that “math bath” is the coolest thing ever.  They keep me loving life and loving myself during this wild time.

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And now I’d like to offer up cheers to anyone reading this.  I miss you!  I am off to ignore work for the evening and enjoy the peace of our deck.

Followed by a soak in my happy place.

May we all embrace our medium good-ness and find the courage to just let some things be.