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Childcare, anniversary, trucks, and antiques

We participate in the Au Pair program. It’s an exchange program overseen by the State Department that matches families who have childcare needs with young people who are looking to spend a year in another country and take some classes abroad. We started with it when Adam was just a few months old and have welcomed two au pairs into our family in that time, and we were all set to welcome our third! But due to unforeseen circumstances, those plans fell apart just two weeks before she was to join us. Instead, we moved forward with finding someone who was already in the US but had to find a new family to spend the rest of their year with.

Spoiler: It actually all worked out.

But it was a tense two weeks of every evening spent doing interviews to find a good match. We had to cobble together childcare for the gap period we ended up with, from the empty pool of babysitters that we never refilled since the pandemic has started to wane. I am also a terrible judge of character because I’m the forever optimist when it comes to people I meet, so the interview process is extra challenging for me. The stress has definitely taken a toll. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I’ve been wearing myself ragged each day with work, interviews, and almost no time to myself. Parenthood for me has already meant that I wake up every morning tired, but this is an extra layer of challenging. Plus, uncertainty. I tried not to worry, but what if we couldn’t find someone? I don’t have enough vacation time to stay home with the kids for weeks while we continued the search, and the pandemic meant I’m very familiar with how exhausting trying to juggle childcare and work is, even with two parents here to share the load.

Fortunately, we found someone! We’re really grateful to have welcomed our new au pair to our home on Sunday. We were still balancing childcare with babysitters still coming by this week while she takes some time to settle in, but it’s a tremendous relief to have an end to childcare troubles in sight.

Childcare crisis triage aside, we did still carve out some family time for a bit of fun here and there. On April 28th MJ and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. We were both at somewhat of a loss as to what to do to mark the occasion given our precarious situation childcare-wise, and we didn’t really want to postpone celebration. Evenings out were simply too hard, and what could do such a milestone justice? We finally landed upon a weekday in San Francisco. I swept everything off my work calendar and took a random Thursday off with very little notice (sorry, team). We hopped on BART that morning and started off our day together with brunch in our old neighborhood!

We then did a total transit nerd thing: we visited the new Central Subway. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t the most direct way to get where we were going, but we had never seen the new subway and when MJ suggested it as a possible way to get to the ballpark, I was totally on board with the proposal, so to speak. And it was fun! We’re still a bit confounded by the way it “connects” to Powell Street Station, and given all the signs everywhere I think other folks are too, but it is a lovely, clean, new station and I enjoyed wandering through it while we waited for our train.

Plus, it was a good way to get to the ballpark as it was likely less crowded than taking the more direct MUNI Metro route. Our first stop at the ballpark was the dugout shop. We normally wouldn’t spend a lot on merchandise at a game, but a cute couples-matching something was on my mind as a nice way to observe our 10th anniversary. We walked out with a couple custom orders for Crawford jerseys, which they didn’t have our size of in stock off-the-shelf. Receipt in hand to collect later, we made our way to our seats.

On the way, I found a typewriter. Of course I did.

The seats MJ selected were excellent. He spent a lot of time scouring reviews and browsing photos for the perfect spot, and he succeeded. It didn’t have access to the super exclusive field club, but I actually liked this one more. The views were great, we still didn’t have to wait in a long line for food or drinks, and the atmosphere was right on. I think if we had the kids with us I might have preferred staying in the general area because we’d likely avail ourselves of all the activities beyond baseball that the park had to offer, but when it was just the two of us there to enjoy good company, junk food, beer, and baseball, this was perfect.

The weekend following our anniversary I discovered a Truck Time event in San Ramon, where a bunch of organizations brought in large trucks for kids to climb in or look at. Aaron was really into it, climbing into every cab he could and he really enjoyed the city bus on display. Adam was a little less enthusiastic, but I think that’s just because it got crowded pretty quickly. Afterwards we made our way over to the nearby farmer’s market there at city center before heading back to Castro Valley for a late lunch.

We kept ourselves busy the weekend after that starting with a visit to a book sale at our local library. They host these used book sales every few months, and it’s a nice opportunity to pick up a few more books for the boys for just a couple dollars. I usually grab a couple for myself too, but the boys were on the wild side and I couldn’t really focus on browsing books myself. That said, I don’t need more books, so maybe it was for the best!

On Sunday we went to an antiques fair in Alameda that I had recently discovered. I learned about it while watching a typewriter documentary in which the protagonists go to this antiques fair to find typewriters that were worth restoring or using for parts. I half-joked with MJ that I wouldn’t buy one, but he knew me better than that. When we came across a lovely Royal FPE, he was not only was supportive, but was ready to buy it for me. The hardest part was hauling it back to the truck. It’s over 30 pounds and it was a bit of a walk. On the walk back I came across a beautiful portable Underwood, but decided that I should limit my haul to just the one.

I also got some vinyl records at the antique fair. I’ll go a bit more in depth about buying a record player because it’s a whole story, but I was amused that records that had been going for 25 cents have shot up to five dollars or more, which reflects people like me who are returning to analog enjoyment of music.

My stress and exhaustion levels are still quite high, but I’m doing my best and continuing to make sure we all have engaging things to do. I’m also finally catching up on some house stuff I let slide for a couple weeks, and while it’s not enjoyable, I’m glad to get it done. I also made some time to fix up my new typewriter, which certainly is enjoyable.