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Food, art, furniture, and outdoor markets

It’s inevitable that I’m tired when I write these blog posts lately. I’m usually carving out a few moments before bed or after I wrap up work for the day. Working full time, then taking the kids, and making sure our household stays on track is exhausting. I know it’ll get easier after this first year and when I’m no longer breastfeeding, but until then, it remains tough.

Still, I’ve been trying to keep active, I did another 5k, this time going out all by myself instead of with the kids, so I could actually do a bit of running! Weight-wise I’ve stopped losing weight, just a few pounds from my second goal. I didn’t plateau, I strayed from the diet as life got more stressful. Thankfully, I haven’t gained any weight back. I do hope to get back to actively losing again, but it’s less of a priority at the moment. Plus, I just discovered a local pizzeria that does halal pepperoni (it’s beef!) and a local donut shop that sells amazing donuts! That said, my diet is greatly improved over what it was a year ago. I really have managed to integrate healthy, satisfying breakfasts, I always skip the french fries and soda, and I eat more protein-balanced salads. Focusing on the fact that not every meal has to be indulgent or have a dessert attached to it has really helped keep things in check. Going to the local farmer’s market with the kids every Saturday morning is helping too. It’s causing us to always have fresh fruit in the house! Which is a nice alternative to other snack foods when I’m feeling hungry, especially in the middle of the night when I’m up with Aaron.

Aaron is now approaching 7 months old, which is hard to believe. As our final child, I am trying to soak in this baby time as much as I can, but I am looking forward to a time when the boys can play together. So far we’re working with Adam to get him to share his toys, and succeeding sometimes! Last weekend we had a couple kiddie pool days and Adam learned that Aaron liked to play with the boats, so he gave them to him a few times.

Adam and I have also been spending some good bonding time together – creating art! I have an uncomfortable relationship with amateur art, especially my own. I was somewhat discouraged art-wise as a kid, and I grew up with a great appreciation for “real” artists and left my own interests behind. Now that I have kids, the interest is coming back, and being older has made me care less about the product and more about the process. It’s a creative outlet that we can have fun with as we put our “toddler art” all over the house. I’ve especially been having fun doing finger painting with Adam, which I then cut up and we arrange it to make flowers and other designs.

We’re also continuing to make progress on home things here and there. We got the TV in the family room mounted on the wall, which was a big relief. It was the one thing in the family room that was dangerously not child-resistant. Adam also had a tendency to hit the power button when he wanted to watch something else (less baseball, more Pocoyo!). We hung it quite high on the wall, since it’s not meant to be a focal point of the room. The TV is really just so we can watch baseball games together while we play, and a few minutes here and there of shows for the kids. Our downstairs living room is where the adults escape to for watching TV and movies, with the comfy couch and nice speakers. Next up: cable management! The parts have been ordered.

We also had a hutch painted that we acquired a few months ago when one of our neighbors down the street was getting rid of it. It’s solid wood and it good shape, so we were happy to pay a handyman to paint it so we could put it outside our laundry room. It looks good and is already useful, and I’m glad to have it out of the garage. Finally, I ran out to a local plastics company storefront a few weeks ago and had some shelves made for the rack that we have in the downstairs bathroom. The shelves had been glass, but with the kids that’s not really safe, and I could only find two of them anyway. So I brought one of the current glass shelves to the shop, and 20 minutes later I had 4 shelves! Which you can’t see in the picture, because they’re clear. Hah!

Work is continuing to pick up. I’m really glad to be back and to gather the satisfaction that working gives me. Since returning from maternity leave I’ve given a couple talks and started writing for third party publications again (in addition to what I do on IBM websites). It’s really nice to be working with people again. As much as I get out of creating toddler art, it’s nice to be putting my technical know-how back to work and to be engaging with other technologists about things we’re excited about again. I’ve also participated in a couple events as an attendee, which has been nice for getting my finger back on the pulse of what’s been going on in the mainframe community during my absence.

On the pandemic side, things are opening up. MJ and I are fully vaccinated, and our new au pair got her second shot last weekend. As I’ve mentioned, the kids are the real wildcard here, so we’re remaining cautious. On June 15th California dropped many mask and capacity restrictions, so most shops here now only require masks for folks who aren’t vaccinated, and the farmer’s market, being outside, has dropped all requirements. We’re still wearing masks everywhere, and a decent chunk of our community is too, but they have started to taper off for outdoors, and I’m increasingly seeing maskless folks in stores. It’s important for things to open up, but without the kids having any protection and the virus continuing to spread to some extent, we still won’t be bringing the kids into any stores for the foreseeable future. We’re also still not comfortable with indoor dining ourselves, but we may start being open to outdoor dining if it’s still being offered over the summer, and the weather holds out. It has been nice to see what some of the opening has brought though. The farmer’s market now has live music again for the first time in a year. A local parking lot now hosts a weekly food truck event (even if it’s small!) with live music. We’ll keep monitoring the situation, but ultimately a lot of our public life is still on hold until we feel the risk to the kids is much lower.

As chaotic and tough as everything is, the good days outweigh the bad, and I’m treasuring this time with our little ones.