The Coronavirus Rules

I’m discovering that life under the stay at home policies isn’t much different than being a SAHM, except I can’t go anywhere.

In seriousness… We’re living in unprecedented times right now, and everyone is justifiably stressed and scared. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every aspect of our modern lives: how we shop, what we shop for, the way we do business, teach our children and do our jobs, attend church services, and communicate with friends and family.

I worry for my grandmother, who can only see my aunt from a distance when she stops by with groceries because my uncle is an essential worker. She’s lonely and depressed, and doesn’t even have any technology to video chat with us. (My aunt would facilitate that, but again, social distancing.)

I feel terrible for Babycakes, whose kindergarten year is effectively ruined. She misses her teacher and her friends, is sad and lonely and can’t even play with the girls next door (at least they have each other). Fortunately I used to teach kindergarten so we have  no worries about her academics. But school has done wonders for her socialization. She’s afraid she won’t be able to go to first grade or that she won’t be able to have her birthday party in August. That trip to the beach we have planned for June? She so wants to go and we just don’t know if it’ll happen.

Sugarpie is a challenge. What I wouldn’t give to be able to escape to Target for an hour. The one time I ventured there to get a chocolate bunny, I was so stressed and a bit freaked to see certain aisles look like something out of a Soviet bloc country. At least I can work on her sleep habits, right?

People are comparing this to the Spanish Flu that struck at the end of WWI, and in some ways it’s as scary. But we do know more about how viruses work, and there are teams of scientists around the world working on antiviral treatments and a vaccine. That wasn’t happening in 1918. So there’s a better chance of us getting this thing under control if we work together globally.

We also need to follow the rules. It’s annoying and intrusive, but everyone needs to do what they can to flatten the curve. The sooner we all do this, the sooner we can start getting back to life as normal.

So speaking of the rules, here’s a list that’s making the rounds in Facebook. It’s very tongue in cheek, but humor is an important coping mechanism. The flood of coronavirus memes is evidence of how much humanity needs to find a way to laugh and connect at a time full of so much seriousness and isolation.

The Coronavirus Rules (according to Facebook)

1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.

2. Masks are useless, but maybe you have to wear one, it can save you, it is useless, but maybe it is mandatory as well.

3. Stores are closed, except those that are open.

4. You should not go to hospitals unless you have to go there. Same applies to doctors, you should only go there in case of emergency, provided you are not too sick.

5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster.

6. Gloves won’t help, but they can still help.

7. Everyone needs to stay HOME, but it’s important to GO OUT.

8. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there are many things missing when you go there in the evening, but not in the morning. Sometimes.

9. The virus has no effect on children except those it affects.

10. Animals are not affected, but there is still a cat that tested positive in Belgium in February when no one had been tested, plus a few tigers here and there…

11. You will have many symptoms when you are sick, but you can also get sick without symptoms, have symptoms without being sick, or be contagious without having symptoms. Oh, my..

12. In order not to get sick, you have to eat well and exercise, but eat whatever you have on hand and it’s better not to go out, well, but no…

13. It’s better to get some fresh air, but you get looked at very wrong when you get some fresh air, and most importantly, you don’t go to parks or walk. But don’t sit down, except that you can do that now if you are old, but not for too long or if you are pregnant (but not too old).

14. You can’t go to retirement homes, but you have to take care of the elderly and bring food and medication.

15. If you are sick, you can’t go out, but you can go to the pharmacy.

16. You can get restaurant food delivered to the house, which may have been prepared by people who didn’t wear masks or gloves. But you have to have your groceries decontaminated outside for 3 hours. Pizza too?

17. Every disturbing article or disturbing interview starts with ” I don’t want to trigger panic, but…”

18. You can’t see your older mother or grandmother, but you can take a taxi and meet an older taxi driver.

19. You can walk around with a friend but not with your family if they don’t live under the same roof.

20. You are safe if you maintain the appropriate social distance, but you can’t go out with friends or strangers at the safe social distance.

21. The virus remains active on different surfaces for two hours, no, four, no, six, no, we didn’t say hours, maybe days? But it takes a damp environment. Oh no, not necessarily.

22. The virus stays in the air – well no, or yes, maybe, especially in a closed room, in one hour a sick person can infect ten, so if it falls, all our children were already infected at school before it was closed. But remember, if you stay at the recommended social distance, however in certain circumstances you should maintain a greater distance, which, studies show, the virus can travel further, maybe.

23. We count the number of deaths but we don’t know how many people are infected as we have only tested so far those who were “almost dead” to find out if that’s what they will die of…

24. We have no treatment, except that there may be one that apparently is not dangerous unless you take too much (which is the case with all medications).

25. We should stay locked up until the virus disappears, but it will only disappear if we achieve collective immunity, so when it circulates… but we must no longer be locked up for that?

(If anyone knows where and with whom this list originated, please let me know. I’d like to give proper attribution.)

How are you and your family holding up right now?

This is Not the Maternity Leave You Are Looking For

When it became clear that, pre-delivery, Sugarpie was healthy and would be arriving to stay, I started thinking about how my maternity leave would play out.

Things have not exactly gone according to plan.

WHat I IMagined This Maternity Leave Would be Like

There would be binge watching on Netflix and Amazon Prime Streaming! (Outlander Season 4, I’m looking at you….)

Exercising on the regular!

Writing. So much writing!

Reading! I would finally have time to read stuff!

Cooking and baking as I haven’t done since before I had Babycakes!

Volunteering at Babycakes’s school!

Taking naps!

Playdates (eventually)!

What This Maternity Leave Has Actually Been Like

Trying to soothe a fussy baby who doesn’t like to nap.

 

Homeschooling my kindergartener.

Needing protective gear to go to Target.

Watching Frozen 2 at least three times a week.

Did I mention a fussy baby?

Stress eating.

Getting beat up on the regular when try to feed the baby.

Shushing the whole house when I do finally get Sugarpie to nap.

Only to have her wake five minutes later. (And multiple times a night.)

Oh yeah, those Target trips? Can’t do that now.

Wash yo’ hands!

Starting to sleep train.

 

In seriousness, this is a hard time for everyone. We’re fortunate, I know others are not. Let’s just try to keep some lighthearted moments in the coming days. Look for beautiful things. Be kind. Celebrate small victories. Eat chocolate. Sleep when you can. Hug your children and kiss your partners (they don’t mean to irritate the hell out of you).

In closing, a PSA from Samuel L. Jackson (language warning):

The Light at the End of the Fourth Trimester

Sugarpie is quickly approaching her 3-month birthday,  and the official end if the newborn phase. And, oh my gosh, what a phase it has been!

For those that don’t know, the first three months of a baby’s life are now often referred to as the “fourth trimester”, a period when baby wants and needs to be kept close – preferably to Mom – under conditions that closely mimic life in the womb. The idea is that this period is a time when parents gently help a baby transition to this big, loud, bright world we live in.

Every baby is different, and so it has been with Sugarpie and her big sister. To be fair, I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about Babycakes’s newborn days. But their temperaments have been different from the start.

We have dealt with mild colic and gassiness (which thankfully seems to be abating for the most part). We have dealt with inconsolable crying, which is now termed “purple crying” (perhaps to make parents feel better). We went from ridiculous all-day sleeping to “We don’t need no stinkin’ naps!”

The sleep is one area where Babycakes and Sugarpie have some similarities. Babycakes was a crap napper, and we struggled with night sleep for a long time (those of you who have been with me for a while will recall my lamentations on sleep training, etc.). While Babycakes was sleeping 10-11 hours straight at night by about 10 weeks before going back to multiple night wakings from about 4 months until 15 months, Sugarpie still wakes once or twice a night to eat. I usually get a big chunk of 5-6 hours (once she went 7!) at the start of the night, so that has helped me immensely. But the lack of good naps (I mean, longer than 10-20 minutes, I kid ye not) makes it hard to get anything done during the day. I know naps will get better, because they did for Babycakes, but it does make it hard.

Temperament is very different, too. Babycakes was a content baby who displayed almost no interest in moving on her own for the longest time. I would put toys just out of reach to entice her to roll over, watch her get 3/4 of the way from back to tummy, and I could seriously see the moment when she decided the toy just wasn’t worth it. She didn’t crawl until 8 months and didn’t walk until 14 months. Sugarpie, however, is in constant motion and, other than that first bought of night sleep, isn’t really completely settled when she’s asleep. And she is just now starting to play reasonably well on her own for a little while (which gives me time to, you know, attend to nature’s call).

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, or trying to compare my kids. Both of my children are amazing blessings that I honestly didn’t think we would have. Maybe it’s because we were so far removed from the baby phase that it feels harder. And I know it will get better. Within a couple months, the naps will start consolidating (and I can perhaps get a regular schedule going for myself and my writing!), and life will become normal again – at least, whatever normal will be for us now.

My Goals for 2020

2020 is upon us, and with it the obligitory Yearly Goal Setting Post.

Goals.gif

This year, I’m piggybacking onto the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

So what’s on tap for me this year? I’m trying to be conscious of the fact that I have a new baby, which obviously changes a lot in terms of how much time I have for any sort of goal setting. But here goes.

Writing

Obviously I want to try and do more writing this year. This includes submitting the historical romance that placed 2nd in three 2018 contests (yes, I know that was a goal last year, too). I also need to return to the first installment in my Sweet Somethings spinoff trilogy, which has sat in First Draft Limbo since last February.

This also incorporates freelancing. I had several excellent freelance writing gigs the past couple years and I want to keep that up, in addition to my independent contractor work with Newsela.

As an extension, I would love to finally set up a copyediting business as well. This has been sitting on my chairside table for over a year. I should probably start perusing it:

Ultimately I would love if I can make enough with my pen, so to speak, to cover Babycakes’s school expenses and maybe a little extra.

Reading More Books

Or just reading books.

More on that later.

Cooking

I love to cook and bake, but haven’t had time to do much of either since I went back to work in 2015.

Okay, since Babycakes was born and then we moved to Charlotte and most of my kitchen stuff stayed in boxes for almost a year.

Being a stay-at-home-mom again for a while will, eventually, give me time to cook and bake again like I used to. For now, it helps that I am now the owner of an Instant Pot:

Apparently I can make yogurt with it? I’m also interested in the fact that I can also apparently sterilze baby bottles with it.

Being Mommy

Of course this year, I want to focus once again on being Mommy. I am officially on maternity leave for the rest of the school year, and then we have to reevaluate our plans beyond that. But I have a 5 year old in kindergarten, and I want to volunteer at her school. And of course, Sugarpie is here.

I also hope to not only finish filling out Babycakes’s baby book, but also keeping up with Sugarpie’s.

what are your big goals for 2020?

A New Edition – I mean – Addition

2019 is coming to a close, and what a whirlwind year it proved to be.

I got started with some very cool independent contracting work, which I’m looking forward to continuing next year.

I self-published a historical fiction short story.

And our family welcomed a new “edition”, you will.

I found out on April 1st (no joke) that we were expecting again. It was the first time since having Babycakes that we had a positive test, and disbelief isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt. As with Babycakes, worry and a lingering need to remain somewhat detached were the norm.

It was not an easy pregnancy.

With Babycakes, I had pretty severe nausea and vomiting from week 6 to week 16 of that pregnancy, and this time around was worse. The nausea began around week 5 and continued literally until the day before I delivered. I had food aversions, mainly meat – which caused anemia. I felt tired. I felt terrible. And as with Babycakes, I worried that, no matter what I did, there was a chance this just wouldn’t work out.

But on December 4th, Sugarpie arrived.

She is an unexpected blessing.

Now, we reenter The Baby Bubble.

Summer Break Got Me Like…

I was actually a bit shocked the other day to realize I hadn’t posted ANYTHING here since April, and for that, I apologize. The last quarter of every school year always bogs me down, and this year was no exception. Between state testing, final projects, packing up my classroom to move to a new classroom (thankfully I had several students who were willing to help in exchange for donuts), and a few minor health things that have kept me down for the count for several weeks… well, it should come as no surprise why I went incommunicado. Again.

We’re into my second week of summer break. and I’m still all:

April and May took a lot out of me, and I almost feel a little hung over with lingering exhaustion. There has been a lot of napping and binge-watching of Netflix. I’m trying to carve out some time to actually read some of the books that have been stacking up, so to speak, on my Kindle.

And writing, of course. I’ve been doing some serious edits to my historical romance and putting together submission packages for the same. A handful of short-term freelance gigs have come my way. I’m days away from hitting the “publish” button on a short story for Kindle – which is more to learn Amazon’s self-publishing platform than anything else, though I’m fond of the story itself. And I’m trying to get back into the first book of a Sweet Somethings spin-off trilogy that, sadly, has languished in First Draft Limbo since February.

Long story short, there’s a lot going on. Hopefully, I’ll soon be back to regular updates and, of course, news of new books.

The Back-to-School Balancing Act

Today I wrapped up Day 6 of my fifteenth year in education. Honeymoon period notwithstanding, I am already 99% less stressed out than I was at this time last school year.

I’m not exactly sure what’s got me feeling different. I definitely haven’t lessened my workload, having taken on some curriculum-related responsibilities at the district level that I’m a little embarrassed to admit I’ve slacked off on the past couple weeks.

(Word is I’m not alone in the slacking department. I think everyone’s gotten a bit behind. We’ll catch up.)

It’s certainly not due to a stress-free summer, because that has definitely not been the case. I feel like I barely had summer break this year. I had all these grand plans to relax with books, take a nap on my screened in back porch, take my daughter to the little local beach on Lake Norman. None of that happened.

So why do I feel so much better going into this school year, after a year that had me questioning my career trajectory?, I’d like to think it’s because I’ve started thinking very carefully about the level of balance in my life and the way I’m choosing to self-care.

I’ve take a few smallish steps toward ensuring that I not only keep a decent work-life balance, but that I also take care of myself and better manage my stress.

  1. No bringing school work home. One thing I’ve always sucked at, especially at the start of the school year, is bringing the school day home with me. In past years, it hasn’t been a big deal because I didn’t have a tiny person reliant on me. If I had to spend an hour or so grading papers or making presentations, whatever. No biggie.  But I need to protect my planning time at work, use my workdays to the max, and keep school work at school so I can devote my evenings and weekends to my family first, and then to my writing.
  2. Use a planner. This is a small thing. When I was in college, I was great about my planner. Assignments and tests and meetings and everything else were all written down. For a long time, I’ve valued a good desk calendar at work with upcoming important events jotted down from September to June. We have a family wall calendar that is full. But my personal planning game tanked somewhere around 2008, and I never really got it back. This year, I have vowed to turn that around. I bought a nifty 18-month calendar that not only has monthly and weekly pages – which are already filling up at an alarming rate – it has monthly goal setting pages and weekly exercises in self-reflection. And stickers! It comes with stickers, y’all!
  3. Eat better and sleep more. It’s been a struggle to step away from the soda and junk food (I type as I snack on Milk Duds), but I’m trying. I need to be more proactive in packing my lunch and making sure I eat a breakfast with enough protein to get me from 6:30am to 12:05pm (when I finally can sit down to shove my proactively packed lunch in my mouth in twelve minutes flat). Sleep is also essential to deal with, since my school day is shifted fifteen minute earlier. I’ve got to put a 10:30 bedtime in place and stick to it.
  4. Treat yo’self. Read a book that has nothing to do with work. Get a pedicure. Get my hair done. Soak in the garden tub. Play the piano. Snuggle those extra ten minutes with my child at bedtime – it’s as good for me as it is her, because we do have so little time together during the work week.
  5. Keep moving. I’d gotten into a good routine of taking a 20-minute walk right after putting Babycakes to bed, but that’s dropped by the wayside since school started. I guess I could argue that since my job isn’t sedentary that I shouldn’t stress too much. But I want to try and build in a solid time to exercise. If I can get the commute home done by 4:15 (possible most days if busses are on time and I’m in the driver’s seat by 3:50), I think I can squeak in a short workout of some sort as soon as I get home.

The work-life balance is important, and I’ve known for a long time that my balance has been way off. I feel like I can figure it out this year. I’m optimistic about my students, I’m excited for new idea and opportunities on the horizon, and I want to make these positive changes in my life.

So here goes the balancing act!