8.21.2020

Quarantine Life



Back in February I started posting regularly again with high hopes and ambitions for the blog. Little did I know just a few weeks later the world would be faced with the Covid-19 Pandemic. Our economy would shut down in hopes of flattening the curve, and we all stayed home watching and waiting to see what would happen. When I look at the above photo, it feels like a lifetime ago. So much has happened since early March when everything changed. 

I'm so glad we had these photos taken to document this time in our lives. Our neighbor coordinated a shoot with Barbara Brooks Photography, we each had a time slot and she drove around our neighborhood, jumping out of the car for a mini family photo session from a distance. Our old pup Louis was moving pretty slow and not thrilled about being included, but I'm so glad that we had him in this photo. On May 1st we had to say goodbye to him, the sweetest and best pup you could imagine. He had so many quirks and for so many years it was just Andrew, me and Lou so losing him felt especially hard for me. We still often talk about Lou and Graham sometimes asks where he is so we'll look at photos and say how much we miss him. Andrew is ready to talk about adding a dog to our family again, but I'm not ready yet.

Since it's been quite the year, I wanted to document these past few months. Although we've basically been in quarantine this entire time, we've managed to have fun and make memories as a family. If this has taught me anything, it's to focus on what really matters. My family is the most important thing to me. I've done a lot of soul searching for myself these past months as well, and I am trying to be present as the best version of myself for my family.


Andrew was concerned about Coronavirus before it was really even a topic of conversation in the United States. By late February he was saying that it was going to be really bad and we needed to prepare, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit I just rolled my eyes at him. By mid-March we were quarantined and spent the next several months totally isolated. We decided to see my parents a few times outdoors, and a few friends outdoors as well, but it was always so anxiety inducing afterward we rarely saw anyone. Thankfully we were able to get most of our groceries delivered and we already work from home so our lives didn't feel too impacted. We decided to continue having our nanny come after many conversations about the risks and discussing with her protocols about seeing other people and hygiene etc. Thankfully she also has been taking this very seriously and besides us, wasn't seeing other people so it felt like the risk was worth it.

For a while we relaxed a bit as numbers started to decline. I had a few dinners with girlfriends on the patio, saw my parents more often, and Andrews Mom and sister even came for Graham's 2nd birthday. However as things started spiking again in our area, we have stayed pretty much in quarantine even though things have "opened" up again. In our area people were very resistant to masks at first and it makes it even more of a risk to go out and about unless totally necessary. We now feel comfortable doing things outdoors if we can keep a good distance, but even that is hard to plan since there are more people than ever on the trails or spending time outdoors. Overall we're doing our best to make the most of this new normal, and keeping life as fun and positive as we can for Graham (and ourselves). 

Here's a peek at what we've been up to these past few months...

Especially in the beginning, but even now, there have been plenty of neighborhood walks and playing at home. In the beginning when we knew less about the virus, we were worried to be outside with other people around so we wouldn't go on walks in the green space near our house during busy times. We had to get creative! But now we've been utilizing that space often. We also drive around to find parks that have no other kids and let G play, then we just douse him in hand sanitizer! 


Zoom calls became the norm for keeping in touch with friends and family. We had happy hour with the girls, family calls, and even a few "double dates" after Graham went to bed. We tried to get people to use WebEx since we work for Cisco, but it didn't really take off! 


For a while there we were making pizza weekly! Graham had so much fun with it, but it got pretty hot to bake inside with a 500* oven. 


With the rest of the world, I was baking a ton in the beginning. I think it brought me comfort being in the kitchen, following a recipe, using my hands. I made cookies weekly and then did a porch pick up of sourdough starter from my Mom's friend to dive head first into the world of sourdough. I LOVE it! It has become a fun hobby that I have kept up with. It makes me happy baking bread and I am so proud that it's now a skill I have. I'll do a full blog post on my method soon! 


Easter was the first holiday during quarantine and it did feel pretty sad that we couldn't do our usual celebration. But looking back now I smile because we did have a really nice day, and Graham loved it. We managed to have a family Zoom call that my cousin set up. And we did all the traditional activities for Graham with the Easter basket, egg hunt and ham for dinner. His first Easter was spent in Yosemite Valley, so he doesn't know the difference anyway. 


The hardest part of this so far has been the loss of our sweet Louis. I still find myself looking for him in the house, or scrolling through old pictures. He was my first dog and more important to me than I think I even realized. I tear up writing that. We will always love and miss him. Just last weekend Graham asked for the Louis pillow our friend had made so he could give him hugs. As he was hugging the pillow he said, "We miss Louis. He was old. Louis' not coming back." Andrew and I both had to hold back tears.


We also decided to plant a garden this year! Andrew built a little raised bed for us and we planted peppers and tomatoes. I think we crowded the plants a bit, but the cherry tomatoes did really well and the peppers started off well. But once the heat arrived this summer, they were toast. The plants went from a lush jungle to sticks, better luck next year! For a while Graham loved going outside to water every morning, and then picking them was so fun too! 


For Fathers Day Andrew got a cool trailer for Graham to go on family bike rides. Before it got unbearably hot we got some great rides in together as a family. I'm looking forward to starting up again when the heat (and smoke from CA fires) subsides this fall. 


We did some outdoor visits to Mimi and Papa's house. Graham loved exploring their garden, walking along the canal and just playing outside in the yard. And one time had Mimi and Papa down to our house for dinner to cheer us up after we lost Louis. 


Lots of play at home. Thank goodness for Friends Art Lab sensory bins, play dough and our train table! The biggest hit of the summer was our Garage! No idea why but G loves the "graaa-gy" and always wanted to be out there. Now that it's so hot, I think the novelty wore off a bit. 


When the numbers seemed to be low and we thought we might be on the other side of things, we hung out with our friends outdoors a few times. We had a great day at Folsom Lake all together. The kids loved playing and it was so nice to be in the water and use our SUP. I could tell G really missed playing with other kiddos his age. He loves his besties Ivy and Reed! Plus 'Auntie Bea and Coco' got a new double kayak so Graham went for a ride and it was the highlight of his life, he loved helping to paddle (with a stick) and seeing the buoys. 


When we were really feeling the cabin fever we decided to take a day trip to Dillon Beach. The drive is relatively easy and although it was definitely busy, we had plenty of space around us to feel safe. Plus the wind helped me feel comfortable. Graham had a great time and loved walking along the beach and going in the cave with Daddy. 


Although numbers were bad again, our friends Corrie and Erica have been taking things as seriously as we have, so we felt they were safe to see and be in a quarantine bubble with. Corrie's sister lives in Sebastapool and was out of town so they offered their house to us. It was so wonderful! It was the perfect getaway. They also have kids so the house was set up for G. He loved the sand box that he called his "area" and the garden had strawberries we picked daily, plus a swing, pool, sheep and the neighborhood filled with farm animals we could feed carrots and visit on our walks each day. 


Even though we were nervous, we hadn't seen Andrews Mom or sister since our trip to Maui in January, so they came to stay with us for Graham's birthday. We had a great weekend with lots of celebrations for Graham and good family time. There wasn't much we could do but we did go to the park and pick some blackberries too. And of course we made a big Italian family dinner. 

Graham's 2nd birthday was a Monday, so Auntie Nina had already left. But the rest of us went to Sugar Pine Reservoir for a nice lake day. There was hardly anyone there so it felt very safe. We swam, took turns on the SUP and played a bit in the sand before Graham was ready to go back home. I think Grandma had the best time of everyone! It was a beautiful day and great to spend time together.  


Typically we go camping at least a handful of times a year. It's been slower since Graham was born, but we definitely want to make it a big part of his childhood. We decided to risk it and plan a weekend with Auntie Bea and Coco in Tahoe without a reservation. Andrew and Corrie had stayed in this spot last year on Labor Day weekend so we thought the chances were good. Unfortunately we got there and all the sites were taken! But we were able to find a site (in a much less desirable campground) about 20minutes down the road. This allowed us to still keep our hiking and lake plans for the next day. Even without camping at our desired spot, we had a great weekend. It was so rejuvenating to get a change of scenery and spend time unplugged in the mountains. 


We thought our beloved annual trip to Tuolumne Meadows might not happen this year. We had reservations for August 8th but they decided not to open the campground due to Covid-19. Understandably so, but still so disappointing. Thankfully my parents were able to head down a bit early, and they got a campsite at a small first come, first serve campground outside of the park. We went up to meet them and spent 3 full days together in our favorite place! 


As if there isn't enough going on already, Andrew and I have decided to start the process of looking for a home to buy. It was always to plan to rent for a year or two after we moved from San Francisco, and now of course when we're ready the market has erupted. It seems that with everyone working from home, the entire Bay Area has decided to move here so house prices are skyrocketing and often selling for cash above asking. Part of the reason we left SF in the first place was so we could afford to buy. But I am positive the right thing will come up if we're patient. I'll keep you posted!  

Another part of this quarantine journey I can't go without mentioning has been learning more about racism and doing what I can to support the Black Lives Matter movement. I've been reading a few books (White Fragility and I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness) and added to our collection of children's books as well. George Floyd's murder as well as Breonna Taylor and so many others really sparked something inside me. We have to do better. This year has been heavy in so many ways, and I'm doing my best to really feel it, even the uncomfortable times, and I'm committed to becoming a better ally. I really hope that we can come together and vote this November to bring our amazing country together again. The division and hate I have seen these past few months truly hurts my heart, I know America is better than this. 

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into our Quarantine Life over the past 6 or so months! While I am so grateful for my family and our health, I do look forward to the day life feels a bit more normal and we're able to travel again and spend time with loved ones without fear. 

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