An Indefinite Amount of Time

Last Tuesday, my office sent us home with our computers, laptops, supplies and anything else we might need to work from home — which is what we’re doing.

For an indefinite amount of time.

On Friday night, I finally set up my home office, pulling my desk out of storage. I had been meaning to do that anyway.

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I also ventured to grocery stores Friday night, spending three hours hunting for eggs, milk and produce. Luckily, I had found six rolls of toilet paper behind a bag full of bags in my upstairs bathroom cupboard.

I felt like the richest woman on earth.

Mostly because it meant I didn’t have to go out again on Saturday.

Friday night at my neighborhood Dillon’s looked a lot like Sunday afternoon the week before…

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No bread on Friday. Thankfully, I still had half a loaf with a “Best By” date less than a week prior.
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Few soap options. I bought three, one for each bathroom and an extra to take with me. Excessive use of public soap has officially caused my eczema to flare and my knuckles to crack and bleed. The itching means I also bought an super-sized bottle of eczema cream.
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No paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins were sold out. To the world, please don’t flush products other than toilet paper. (Women already understand this.) The last thing we need is a clogged water system during this quarantine.
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The worst? No diapers (or wipes!). I found a pack of 18 in my son’s size on Sunday, and then again on Friday. One pack each day. Soon, we’re going to be potty enforcing, instead of potty training. Luckily, I’ve had people reach out to help me.

On Saturday, my husband and I cleaned the ever-loving s*** out of our house. We used the last of our Lysol wipes to scrub appliances, countertops and sinks. We dug deep into the kitchen sink with baking soda and cream of tarter. We swept, Swiffered and mopped the bathrooms and kitchen. We dusted, Windexed and vacuumed the house top-to-bottom.

I sprayed disinfectant purchased during my husband’s latest cold (more than a month ago) on every cabinet pull, door knob, light switch and surface my son might decide to press his face on.

So all the surfaces.

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Ignore the grammar errors. I was near an anxiety attack. A well deserved one, I might add. And autocorrect is a nightmare.

On Sunday, I outlined my week of billable work hours and homeschool for my son.

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My agenda book has never included “School Activities” and “Outside Play.”

With the school district closed for the rest of the semester and my household #socialdistancing (and now under a shelter-at-home order), my 3-year-old no longer has access to the education, social/speech therapy and daily work he needs to improve on his cognitive and speech delays.

Now, that therapy falls on me.

Why me? Why not my husband, too?

Let me be clear: We are not a gender-“normal” household. We share the load across the board. We take care of bills, housework, paperwork, pets and the toddler equally and equitably.

But, right now, he’s taking care of even more because he works at a major hospital in our community. He has staff on the front lines of fighting coronavirus, flattening the curve and supporting the hospital.

All while they’re all trying to take care of themselves and their families.

So, that’s why me.

However, he still has to make dinner some nights because I’m generally a terrible cook (unless he wants frozen “chicken chunks” and oven-roasted corn on the cob for the indefinite amount of time I’m home).

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Honestly, even with no butter, the corn was pretty legit.

In return, I’ll do the laundry and try to potty-train the toddler.

No promises on that second one, though.

Homeschool — and the attempt to teach my son how to string English words (instead of “his language” words) into a sentence — are my new normal for a while. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go back to daycare or school where he can learn from professionals.

Remember, this is indefinite.

What hasn’t been suspended for an indefinite amount of time is my job.

Because I still have a job.

A flexible, gives-a-s***-about-me job that understands and makes accommodations for my new normal.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Sometimes, in the thick of things, we can forget how lucky we are.

I know I have.

Since Tuesday, March 17 — without a lucky St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I have been reminded over and over how lucky I am through the actions and words of people who care about me. The people I work for and with every day.

I know not everyone is going to be as lucky as I am during and after this pandemic.

Coronavirus is reshaping households and families worldwide. For an indefinite amount of time. Remind yourself, if you’re one of the lucky ones, that you are in fact lucky.

Stay home because you can.

Buy less because you can.

Donate more because you can.

Remember, not everyone can.

We’re all in this together.

I Left My Left Ventricle in San Diego

Six months ago, I planned my first-ever vacation alone for my birthday to San Diego — but I wasn’t going to be alone when I got there.

This trip was a reunion six years in the making to see my very best friend.

And it was F-word epic.

Thursday

Vacation began just after toddler drop off when I took a long, hot shower. Complete with a hair conditioner mask, face mask, moisturizer. The works.

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In the background, you’ll see my inability to choose a paint color for my bathroom.

I packed my bag in the Mari Kondo manner of folding. Sort of.

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Ignore the painter’s tape…
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Years of traveling for work has taught me to fly light.

My Uber dropped me off at the airport two hours before my flight, which turned out to be completely unnecessary. 

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No line. Super nice TSA agents. Great airport amenities. #iflywichita

I waltzed through TSA and skipped hanging out at my gate because the Wichita Eisenhower Airport houses River City Brewing Co.

Hey, I was on vacation.

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On my way to San Diego, and they were out of the Hoosker Don’t. Of course.

Southwest doesn’t have a direct flight to San Diego, so we had a layover at LAS. There was a group of women on the flight who were staying in Vegas.

For a bachelorette party.

And the bride was on the flight.

And this happened.

I love Southwest.

My layover was about two hours, and we made good time in the air, so I spent a while in the airport — which, turns out, is just like the city.

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Everything was so colorful. And lit up. And ringing. And omg.

So… I “gambled.”

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I have no idea what I’m doing.

After a net loss of $10, I continued to fully enjoy airports on my way to San Diego.

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Things to which I cannot say “no:” Chicken Tortilla Soup. (Also a hazy IPA.)

We landed at SAN at exactly 7:10 p.m. — fully enjoyed airports and on-time flights this trip — and I raced out of the terminal to find my ride.

Because, again, I hadn’t seen her in six years. When I found her, we hugged for 45 minutes.

OK… that’s hyperbole. But there was much hugging.

So now begins our epic adventure.

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Like Alice’s cake, the stairway down to Vin de Syrah in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter shrunk us down to fun size.

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Ideal for over-sized booths and perfectly sized beers. Drink me!

We entered a secret door, hidden by a wall of shrubbery and spent the first hour of our San Diego adventure catching up, drinking beer and more hugging.

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My love.

At home, I finally got to meet her pibble.

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He snuggled me every night and even cuddled up with me under the covers.
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I mean LOOK at his sad old man face and tell me he’s not perfect.

Friday, February 7

We went to New Zealand.

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Just kidding. We went to brunch at Dunedin.

And, yes, we took pictures of everything.

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Delightful, if small, Bloody Mary — spicy.
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Potentially the most delicious breakfast burrito I’ve ever eaten. I mean, it had tots in it.

Then, it was time for best friend tattoos.

Yes, I said tattoo.

No, I can’t show it to you.

Why? It’s not internet appropriate.

I mean, just imagine it’s on my left ventricle.

Hers is, too.

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Black Anvil Tattoo Shop is in North Park. Ask for RJ.
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This is RJ.

We had time to kill before our dinner reservation, so we planned to go to Coronado. But there was no parking for the ferry, and no one wants to drive over that bridge, so instead we found more beer.

Again, vacation.

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Brew30 houses San Diego brews in the biggest Hyatt I’ve ever seen. Seriously, it was unnecessarily large.

While it wasn’t a hole-in-the-wall or something with a sunny patio we usually frequent, they did have a ton of beer on tap.

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And we really like beer ‾\_(ツ)_/‾
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Latitude33, Ballast Point Rotation, Belching Beaver and Modern Times.
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Beer beer beer beer beer ♪

Now, it was time for dinner…

AT STONE BREWING OMG YOU GUYS!!!

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I love this gargoyle.
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An IPA with my bae.
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Outdoor pre-dinner beer seating.
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I don’t know who these people are. They were just in the way of me taking pictures.
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If I lived in Escondido, I’d never leave this place. Seriously, the brewery is a garden!
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Obligatory bathroom selfie. Yes, it’s obligatory.
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Obligatory Stone gargoyle photo. Yes, it’s obligatory.

Saturday, February 8

When I woke up Saturday, there was still a sweet, snuggly pibble on the bed — who didn’t move even a little bit when I got up.

Saturday breakfast took us to A Delight of France, and there were so many delightful things — including the coffee, and the crepes, and the almond croissant, omg guys the almond croissant.

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It was the size of my face. And maybe two other people’s faces.
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I said, “Do something French,” and this is what I came up with. Je ne sais pas. Je suis une stupide américaine… qui parle francais… un peu.

The highlight of Saturday? Escondido’s For the Love of Chocolate Festival. If not beer, why not chocolate?

And beer.

Because there was both.

Glass blowing lessons were the goal of tickets — not for me, I don’t live there, but for my bestie — but we did not win the golden ticket.

Didn’t stop us from hanging out at the glass blowing place…

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Play with fire, indeed.

…and checking out all the art…

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Sculpture that would not survive Kansas.

…but eventually we left and wandered off the beaten path…

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“I just want to be an eagle!”

…and found our kind of brewery.

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The Jacked Up kind.

We’re now members of the Society of Jacked Up Individuals. I have the sticker to prove it.

Back on tour — with shopping bags, stickers and swag in tow — we made it to Little Miss Brewing.

…and I had a severe, slightly embarrassing, sympathy nerd moment for my husband.

Let’s be clear:

1) He was not there.

2) He was a political science major, and he enjoyed studying about Russia and WWII and one of his favorite books is Darkness at Noon.

Note: I just had to get up and go ask him, “What’s that book about Russia that I won’t read?” because I couldn’t remember what it was called.

3) He’s a nerd.

4) I’M a nerd.

5) The entire bar is decked out like a Russian spy novel from WWII.

6) I spazzed.

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At this point, I don’t even know what we were doing. But there was beer.

7) Pretty sure his response was “neat babe.”

Saturday, February 9

On my last full day in San Diego, it rained. I argue it did because it was sad I was leaving the next morning at WAY too early.

Ashley took me axe throwing for my birthday.

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I wasn’t “nervous.” It’s just… I have poor depth perception.
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The first several axe throws ended like this.
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But I got better.
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She is…
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…already…
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…a pro.
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I think we’re ready for the zombie apocalypse.

SoCal Axe Throwing is hooked up to Wild Barrel Brewing.

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So, yes, we had more beer.

We went to dinner at a nearby ramen shop and feasted. Last night of vacation? I’m eating my weight in ramen and sushi.

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And drinking Japanese beer. Because it’s still vacation.
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At Mirin Cafe where the motto is “No Ramen No Life.”

On my final night in San Diego, we hung out, hugged more and went to bed unfortunately early.

Sunday, February 10

Because my flight left at 8 a.m.

I left my left ventricle (which is a euphemism for an inside joke that I don’t have 20+ years to explain) in San Diego.

It won’t be another six years until I hop on a Southwest flight and see her again… however, it might take six years to burn off the beer calories.

2020 Resolution Breakdown: Take Some F Word Time

Take Some F Word Time is my second 2020 New Year’s Resolution.

Because I want to take back my house and Get an F Word Hobby, I want to add to the quality (and quantity) of time I spend with my husband and son.

How?

Step 1: Make breakfast. 

Right now, my picky eater enjoys two things for breakfast: yogur’ and ‘nacks — and honestly he’s so picky that I don’t fight him about the maybe 10 things he’ll eat.

I just feed him those things.

Well, no more! Improving the cycle means dragging my sleepy butt out of bed earlier and making breakfast.

Some days that might mean eggs, sausage and toast. Other days that might mean toaster waffles and yogur’.

I mean, no one’s perfect, but definitely no more ‘nacks.

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Eat the eggs.

Step 2: Focus on family.

I’m a working mom, and my husband is a working dad.

Our son spends more than a third of his day with other people. Absolutely amazing people — but they’re not his parents.

When we all get home from work and school, we’re exhausted. Especially the toddler who’s been behaving all day.

At the end of the day, we’re not focusing on family — we’re sprinting toward bedtime.

Again, I say no more! Improving the cycle means bringing quality (and quantity) to our limited time.

That means…

  • Dragging a chair into the kitchen, so our son can help us cook dinner.
  • Eating together as a family — as often as possible — unless the toddler already ate because he’s not about to wait for food he doesn’t want to eat anyway.
  • Playing, instead of relaxing after a long day — but that doesn’t have to be every day. Some days, momma needs to recline (and snuggle a toddler).
  • Taking walks after dinner when the days get longer and warmer, which can be every day for all I care. Walking FTW. Plus, we love watching our son explore.
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He’s already so good at helping me make coffee.
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Just FYI. He has his own chair.

We’re going to ease into it. One weeknight. Two. Maybe three? While I want to give our son more time, I also know that we need time to ourselves to recharge.

Introverts, yo.

Step 3: Do Fun Family S***

We’re about to renew some local memberships to our favorite places, including Botanica Wichita and the Sedgwick County Zoo.

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The playground garden at Botanica had so many things to climb over and under.
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He didn’t listen to us about this mean blue pigeon in the Jungle.

Our super active toddler loves climbing, exploring, jumping and running. Botanica and the zoo offer endless opportunities, but there’s even more in Wichita that he hasn’t experienced or explored yet.

  • A library filled to the brim with books made for rough toddler hands.
  • Baby goats at Elderslie Farms.
  • Cowtown actors reenacting gunfights and slinging sarsaparillas at the saloon.
  • Dozens of playgrounds with slides, swings and sand pits to dig in.
  • Farmer’s Markets full of food I want him to pick out for himself.
  • Gyms made especially for super active toddlers complete with ball pits, foam blocks and toddler-only trampolines.
  • Movie nights made for kids, so there’s no fear of screaming ruining anyone’s good time. (We’re in this Pixar nonsense together, moms.)
  • New exhibits at Exploration Place.
  • Riverfest!!!
  • Splash pads to beat the summer heat.

We also received a 2020 Bucket List from Ria Farmer, Realtor.

Not all are toddler friendly options — he can’t set a monster toddler foot in the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House.

But I could see us breakfasting with ice cream at Little Lion, getting outside at the Great Plains Nature Center and taking ourselves out to the ballgame at Wichita’s new baseball stadium.

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Mom and dad will be spending an afternoon at Johnson’s Garden Center at the greatest beer festival in Wichita: the Iron ChildHead Competition.

So.

Many.

Fun.

Things!

In 2020, we’re taking the F word time to do them.

2020 Resolution Breakdown: Get an F Word Hobby

Get an F Word Hobby is my first 2020 New Year’s Resolution, and I have so many ideas.

Before becoming a mother, I had a ton of hobbies. Some of my favorite activities included cooking, drawing, painting, reading, salvaging “junk” found at antique and thrift stores and writing poetry.

The birth of my son took the fun out of a couple of hobbies. Cooking and reading, for example, became chores. At the end of a long day working and parenting and housing, I didn’t want to cook — and reading new books with new characters took too much emotional and mental energy.

Energy I didn’t have.

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One hobby (yoga) was TAKEN from me by pregnancy. Obviously, I’m still not over it.

A good many hobbies, though — the ones I enjoyed for the benefit of self-expression — had to be boxed up and taken to the basement where my suddenly mobile baby wouldn’t eat them.

Charcoal, brush balm, oil and watercolors do not a teether make (unless you’re a baby who will put anything and everything into your mouth).

Well, my son is older now, and he puts far fewer things in his mouth than he used to — so I’m taking back my hobbies and finding some new ones along the way.

Here’s my current never-complete list of happy hobby ideas:

  • Crafting — I don’t know what this means yet.
  • Creative writing exercises to inspire new poetry.
  • Crocheting rugs and scarfs and shawls.
  • Drawing with charcoal, oils and pastels.
  • Gardening.
  • Going to antique and thrift stores.
  • Joining MakeICT.
  • Making tapestries — the drapey ones that are made of yarn.
  • Reading books that don’t rhyme (and that I haven’t read 10 times already).
  • Salvaging the furniture I find at antique and thrift stores.
  • Sewing.
  • Taking pictures of bugs, which I’ll explain after the bathroom remodel.
  • Yoga, damnit!

Most of my happy hobby ideas don’t have a goal because hobbies don’t have an end.

I’m not making it a goal to read a certain type or amount of books in 2020 — I just want to read.

Flip Side: If I write enough poetry, I might someday have the goal of publishing my work.

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I haven’t read ALL of these books, but I’ve read a few of them as many times.

I’m not making it a goal to sew my own clothes — but maybe I’ll sew some curtains, or a dress, or some throw pillows.

Flip Side: If I make a beautiful tapestry, it might hang in my dining room on the wall encasing my heater.

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No nails or screws. Command strips only.

I’m not making it a goal to cover my unadorned walls with my own art — but I might frame the only piece I have from high school that was any good.

Flip Side: I do plan to hang a lot of pictures of bugs in a bathroom.

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Bugs that are yellow.

My goal is to Get an F Word Hobby, and I’m liking my odds of finding one I can do often enough to make it a hobby.

2020 F Words: New Year’s Resolutions

Our 2019 resolutions were categorized by F words: finances, fitness, food and… f(h)ouse.

Obviously, F words couldn’t cover the complete list. I haven’t read the dictionary. I’m not searching for a synonym for “house” that begins with an F. Psh.

In 2020, though, every resolution will contain an F word.

The best F word.

Get an F Word Hobby

Prior to parenting, I had hobbies. Creative, fulfilling hobbies. Cooking, decorating, drawing, salvaging, writing, yoga.

Hell, I even read books that didn’t rhyme.

After my son was born, I abandoned all of my hobbies. Cooking became a chore. All the art, breakable decor and photos came down. I packed away my charcoal, paints and pencils. I was proscribed from yoga entirely by my physical therapist — still the case to this day.

And the house transformed into my son’s play space. An extra-safe, dull, totally decoration-free arena where he could crawl, explore and scatter toys.

Well, I’m taking it back.

My art, decor and photos are going back up. I’m unpacking my pencils. I’m pulling my desk out of storage.

His toys are going in his room. (Wish me luck.)

And I’m getting an F word hobby in 2020.

Take Some F Word Time

Am I taking from my son by making our house less his space? Yes, but I’m planning to give him something in return.

Time.

Our day-to-day schedule is wake, work/school, eat and sleep. We shove all of our family time together in the two and half hours between getting home from work and toddler bedtime.

It’s the smallest window of our day, and it isn’t always pretty.

In 2020, we’re making that window bigger and giving him more quality in our F word time.

How?

First, I’m going to make work-life balance a priority in 2020.

Because I abandoned all of my hobbies after I became a mother, I turned to the activity I was best at for creative fulfillment.

Work.

I love my work, but I spend too much time outside of it focusing on it. So, to Take Some F Word Time, I’m changing my focus. (Hence why my first resolution is to Get an F Word Hobby.)

See, I’m trying.

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Si’ dow’, he says. Cheee, he says. He says cute s***.

Second, we’re going to do more as a family in 2020. Activities that benefit us all by getting me walking (for my pain) and tiring out the toddler (for our sanity).

  • Exploring at Botanica Gardens or the Sedgwick County Zoo
  • Going to the farmer’s market
  • Playing at one of the parks we love on the weekends
  • Taking walks after dinner
  • Visiting grandparents and great-grandparents on the weekends

Even before we had a child, my husband and I loved these activities — and the tiny toddler terror loves them now.

I get my house back. He gets to jump in puddles. Win-win.

Remodel the F Word House

In 2019, we turned the lights back on. In 2020, we’re putting lipstick on our pig, er, house — countertops, flooring, paint. You name it. I’m changing it.

Not only does the house need some TLC, it will also be my part of my F Word Hobby.

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I’M SO TIRED OF LION’S MANE BEIGE OMG.

I love a fresh coat of paint as well as the tedious focused work of stripping layers of it off something that used to be beautiful.

Plus, remodeling the house will absolutely be part of my “might lose weight” resolution. Because omg it’s exhausting, and I’m already sore.

All of my “active minutes” during Thanksgiving break were me painting the dining room while the toddler napped or slept. 

Our goal is to do as much as we can DIY, but we might have to call in the professionals to rip out the carpet, pad and staples tarnishing the PERFECTLY GOOD hardwood floors under them.

What were the 50’s(?) thinking, for F word sake. (Seriously, this wood is OLD, and the carpet pad under the “new” carpet doesn’t look super new…)

Take Care of My F Word Self

I faced a host of health hullabaloo in 2019: eczema, GAD, hair loss, hormonal imbalance, PMDD, thyroid cysts and, as always, chronic back pain.

My body is a mess, but most of its problems stem from poor serotonin receptors. (Turns out, it was “all in my head,” or wherever serotonin is made. Also too lazy to look up science.)

Thankfully, I took time in 2019 to find a diagnosis, get treatment and pull myself back out of the hole postpartum left me in. I’m going into 2020 armed with a will to fight and a priority to Take Care of My F Word Self.

Including all our favorite F words, of course… finances, fitness and food.

Happy New Year, y’all.

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