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When things were normal

I’m writing this on March 21st, day five of the Shelter in Place order from Alameda County, where we live. I’ll write more about what brought us here later, but for now I want to catch up on what life was like before that!

My last general update about life covered our visit back east for the holidays. Upon my return from that trip, I flew to Australia for a conference, so things didn’t quite return to normal until I came home on January 18th. It was also then that we started on the next challenge of our parenting journey: Switching to solid foods.

Adam checks out the menu at our local Thai place, he got rice and prawns

Feeding has been a significant source of stress for me, starting out with my exclusively pumping journey and now simply learning what you’re supposed to be feeding a one year old to keep him happy and healthy. We’ve had to employ some strategies to get him to eat more vegetables and more generally, feeding a new human food presents new challenges when going out to eat and traveling, in contrast with just making sure we bring along a bottle of milk. On the one hand, I no longer need to pump (hooray!) but on the other, we always have to be thinking about his next meal, packing food for him when we travel, and making sure we dine at places that have appropriate options for him. This all may seem obvious, but it’s not trivial! We’re managing though, and he has his next doctor appointment in a couple weeks where they’ll check his weight and probably confirm that he’s doing fine.

The other thing I had to deal with upon my return home in January was a leaky dishwasher. It turns out that it had been leaking for some time, and had leaked through the floor into the garage. The first step to handling this was fixing the leak and ordering a new dishwasher. Then we had to get a water damage company in to check for mold and dry everything out. They cut a hole in the ceiling of the garage, treated the mold, and that began nearly a week of having a noisy dehumidifier and heater in our already cramped kitchen. I did not enjoy this process and was thankful when it was over. In the beginning of March the new dishwasher finally came in and was installed. Turns out the old one was over 15 years old, so it was probably time to replace it anyway.

We’ve gotten a lot of baby-proofing done. At the townhouse in Philadelphia the outlets are the newer kind that resist tampering, but we aren’t so lucky here, and have taken to putting covers on the ones he has access to. We also put up a couple Retract-A-Gate baby gates so he can stay confined to the large family room we have upstairs, with only a small corner reserved for the plans and a lamp that we secured with the remaining gate pieces we had from when we baby-proofed the townhouse.

Adam and I continued going on local adventures. He seems to enjoy taking BART, so one evening we took it one stop over to Target. A few weeks ago we took it to the mall in Pleasanton. I’ve spent some time hanging art in his room too. I realize that decorating the nursery is something people typically do before the child is born, but I never managed to make time for it then. Plus, this way I’ve been able to buy specific prints of art I really like and have actually enjoyed the process rather than feeling like I’m on a deadline. I completed the decorating by putting up pair of colorful maps for children, one featuring the United States, and the other of the world.

I’ve started having a little more time to myself now that Adam has turned one. His schedule is pretty reliable, and though there still are a lot more chores than before, I’ve made specific effort to carve out time. In addition to rebuilding my desktop recently, I also finally got around to resurrecting our backups and media servers, one of which had a completely failed RAID array and needed to be recreated. Over 500GB of backups are now being reliably made of everything, including the server this blog runs on and had previously only been backed up to my desktop. I also recently put together my Raspberry Pi 4, and I just finished debugging why the graphical display is so dim on my GPD Pocket running Debian (I had thought it was not booting up, but then I noticed it was just really dim!).

Reading still hasn’t returned to my pre-parenthood rate, mostly due to my time on weekends being spent playing with Adam instead of reading, but I do still manage to get some time in most nights before bed, and I take half hour here and there during my work week to read work-related books. I also got back into using an RSS reader. This was driven by my terrible habit of using my phone too much, and I realized that if I was going to spend so much time on it, I should at least give myself some good content to read rather than refreshing social media feeds. It also made me set up feeds for work, which has helped my tremendously in my goal to make sure I’m staying on top of mainframe news and podcasts.

In early February I came down with a brutal sinus infection, and while on antibiotics and making a slow recovery, a long weekend of windy and rainy weather swept through, taking out part of the fence in our back yard. We’ve known about the vulnerability of the fence for some time and have sketched out plans to replace it, but now the situation is a bit more dire. Without the fence back there, Caligula can’t enjoy play time in the back yard without supervision, so I’ve been taking time to go outside with him and make sure he doesn’t run off. Last week I was able to take some time to at least pick up the fence and put the wood in a pile, during which I realized just how bad the fence was, parts of it just broke to pieces as I pulled it apart.

We spent several days in Las Vegas at the end of February and then we were off to the Southern California Linux Expo in Pasadena, both of which I’ll write about soon. On March 10th I took Adam out for his first haircut, which I’m glad I did because his hair was getting a bit long, and we’re not certain when salons and barber shops will be open again.

Which leads me to mention that everything related to COVID-19 has hit us. It’s caused me to cancel work and family trips coming up, which is pretty disappointing, but we’re well-situated to work from home and so far we’re doing fine. I could, and probably should, write a whole post soon about how it’s changing things for us – starting with all of us being home all the time! We’re running the dishwasher a lot.