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Theater rental, vaccine, and home with the kiddos

The pandemic has caused a lot of businesses to really struggle, but one that was particularly decimated was theaters. With sky high ticket prices, I have limited sympathy for the big chain theaters and suspect most of them will manage to survive, but the smaller ones that were already struggling worried me. Here in Castro Valley we have The Chabot, a privately owned historic theater with a single screen. We’ve seen a few movies there over the years, but it closed at the beginning of the pandemic. Recently I noticed the marquee mentioned you could rent it! I reached out to them about cost and availability and we decided to celebrate our eight wedding anniversary a couple weeks early so we could get within their rental window. A fun evening out together AND supporting our local theater!

Food-wise, we played with the idea of setting up something fancy, since it was a nice opportunity to do that with the theater to ourselves. But ultimately it was a bit too much to plan, and theater food was just as fun. We got some chili dogs and I brought along pop corn. I even had soda for the first time in months.

In healthier news, on April 19th I got my first COVID-19 vaccination. The appointments had been a little tricky to get, but they started opening up somewhat that week, and I secured one for the Pfizer vaccine at the Alameda County Fairgrounds site operated by Stanford. I was so thrilled to get the vaccine. After a year of such incredible caution by our whole family, I’m grateful to finally be at this point and that our country mobilized so quickly to get the vaccinations distributed. I do hope that the trials for children go well and our little ones can be vaccinated this year too. I’m concerned about the number of people who are refusing the vaccine, and how much risk that continues to cause for children and folks who are immunocompromised or otherwise unable to get the vaccine. This refusal is continuing to put the most vulnerable people at risk, and for them I worry that the “end” of this pandemic is still a long way off.

On side-effects, for this first dose it was pretty mild. My arm was sore at the injection site for a couple days, and the day after the vaccine I was cold for most of the day, very thirsty, and ended up with some aches in my shoulders by the end of the day. None of it was bad, and if I hadn’t gotten the vaccine I would have written off all the symptoms to just general “I am sometimes cold, I didn’t drink enough water yesterday, and I’m almost 40, aches and pains exist!”

As I mentioned in my last post, I returned to work at the beginning of April. I was getting caught up and back into the swing of things, very happy to be back. The hardest part has been juggling my schedule. Between getting up overnight with the baby and then taking the kids after work, typical chores, and basic things like showering and eating each day, I was overwhelmed. Plus, I don’t want to lose momentum with diet and exercise that I’ve been doing so well with! As a result, I ended up buying a laptop stand for my treadmill. There’s a decent chunk of work I do each week, from reading emails to updating tickets and watching videos that are necessary for my job, that I actually can do while walking on a treadmill. I don’t love this compromise, since I really do want to have time to do more serious exercise, but right now I simply can’t make the time for it.

Unfortunately just as work was picking up, it became increasingly clear that I’d need to take a couple weeks off. Our beloved au pair of two years finished her term, and we didn’t have enough gap coverage to make it until our new, delayed au pair can get here. We carefully discussed and weighed options around bringing in a new caregiver for a couple weeks, but with the COVID-19 infection numbers still troublesome here and difficulty in finding reliable, fully vaccinated, childcare on such short notice, we were really in a bind. Thankfully IBM has a program for this situation, and my boss has been incredibly supportive of me using a little emergency leave. I still don’t feel great about the situation though. As someone so dedicated to my career, we worked hard pre-pandemic to not only make sure we always had childcare, but that I could easily travel every month as my job required it, even when the children are little. This pandemic caused our entire support and care network to collapse, and left us with very few options. So in this situation, it simply made more sense for me to put work on hold for a couple weeks than take the risk of bringing a new person into our home.

I will admit that it hasn’t been easy. Aaron still doesn’t sleep through the night, so my sleep is suffering and I’m not at my best when I don’t get much sleep. I worked out that I need at least 6.5 hours per night, preferably 8, and that I need at least an hour mid-day for a break so I can shower and get a little time to myself (like, to blog, hello!). MJ has been great about providing this support, as well as picking up some of the household chores that I typically do on days when I’m extra tired. I’m also trying very hard to let some things slip. The house isn’t as tidy as I want every night, and at the risk of a broken dish, I’m managing to do dishes each morning only by letting Adam “help” me with them. I’ve also been trying to laugh when I feel angry or frustrated instead of giving into those feelings. The ridiculousness of the situations that caretakers of small children find themselves in is often comedic if you’re able to take a step back and give yourself some grace. I’ve also been asking for help and taking more help when offered. I can’t do it all, and trying to but failing was making us all miserable.

I’m also making sure we take time to enjoy this time together. In spite of how difficult it’s been, this is a great opportunity to bond more and have some fun. My new treadmill desk got a break as I’m taking the kids out for walks every day, sometimes also stopping at parks so Adam can run around a bit. This week a second seat for the stroller also arrived, so I’ll be able to test out putting Aaron in that for our walks instead of carrying him in the “baby backpack” I have. He really loves being carried, but my back isn’t always a huge fan of it every day, especially as he grows!

While at home, I’m also mixing it up a bit with crafts with Adam while Aaron is napping. We got to do some painting the other day, and then took the painting and made a collage a la Eric Carle.

The television has also been on a bit more than I’d like, but this is where a bit of grace for myself comes in. If putting on a show keeps Adam calm while I feed Aaron, that’s just how it’s going to be sometimes. We’re all happy and healthy, a bit more screen time than usual will be OK for a little while.