Monday, May 18, 2020

Update

Well, we're still hanging in there through the coronavirus quarantine.  We're still working from home (which is pretty busy), my parents are still helping out with the kids (thanks!), and we're trying not to watch the news too much.  Things are feeling a little bit like Groundhog Day (get up, eat breakfast, get on the computer, go for a bike ride, get back on the computer, etc.).
I had a little video happy hour with some of the people who work on the mental health dockets at work, and that was nice.  We also briefly visited via computer with Ryan and Jamie this weekend.  It got cut a little short because the kids were already a little wired-tired and getting ready to get cleaned up for bed, but it was nice to see them!
I'm just gonna post a few pics from this week.

Amy took this pic.  Apparently Kiddo rode her balance
bike through a puddle and got her sandals wet.  So
she immediately got off her bike to put them on the
curb and "dry them in the sun"

Amy read an article in the paper about a woman who has been making art
and then giving it away for free in her front yard art gallery during the
pandemic.  Raylan and I rode our bikes over to Jinx Avenue and
snagged some artwork!

Amy made soap in the back yard with the kids.  Jean had sent the kit.
They had fun.  Thanks, Jean!

Grandma and Papa got Kiddo this inflatable outdoor
easel for her birthday.  The kids had a blast playing
 with it.
You wouldn't think this would be a great pool for diving practice, but....

Amy made us a dish from her childhood named Johnny Marzetti.
It was really good!  Apparently Teresa Marzetti, a restaurateur from Ohio,
invented the dish and named it after her brother-in-law.  I expect
Jamie or Heidi to produce a delicious dish called "Jason Steanso" any day now

Anyway, this is how we're living during the pandemic!  Everyone try to stay healthy!  If you do get sick, we wish you a speedy and painless recovery!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Kiddo's Birthday; Mother's Day

Picking up a curbside grocery
order during quarantine

Hey!  It's taken a little while to post this week, but things can somehow become shockingly busy when you're working from home!
We had 2 big events last week!
Kiddo had her 3rd birthday, and we celebrated Mother's Day!
Celebrations during the quarantine are a little unusual.  Birthdays have turned into small, family gatherings (usually we would probably try to have at least a couple of the kids' friends over), and celebrations like Mother's Day can't really involve going to restaurants or taking the kids to a park all day while Amy gets a chance to relax.

For Kiddo's birthday, Amy baked a cake, Kiddo opened presents, and Grandma and Papa were there to help celebrate.  We all ate macaroni and cheese (which is pretty much Kiddo's favorite food right now) and had sausages and salad.  She was very excited about her birthday, and talked about it a lot in the weeks leading up to it.  Among her favorite presents were a tutu and dancing ribbon set, a little doll house, some tie-dye shirts, and some books.

blowing out the candles!

the family on Kiddo's 3rd birthday

Kiddo, excited about her birthday loot

Kiddo's birthday rave/dance party
So Kiddo had a very nice birthday celebration.  She seemed very happy.

Amy got Raylan this shirt.
So I had to post a picture of him in it.
Cause... truth.



at some point this week Amy and the kids got matching tie-dye shirts
I had a virtual happy hour on Thursday with the guys from my band, Therapy Pets.  It was good to hang out with the guys.  We were online for like 3 hours, and I don't even know what we talked about.  So it was kinda like having one of our band practices...

Jim, Reed, Frank, and me
On the weekend, we went out to my parents house.  Grandma helped the kids make some presents for Amy for Mother's Day, so that was really nice.
I got a little present for Amy and some flowers for my mom.
We picked up some food for both breakfast (Kerbey Lane) and dinner (Tarka) for Mother's Day, so Amy didn't have to cook.


Raylan presents some Mother's Day gifts

Hanging out with Mom

Mother's Day is over!  Take care of us!!!!
Raylan has been getting better and better at riding his bike, so we've been taking longer bike rides.  It's not unusual for him to go 4 miles on some days.  It's a lot of fun.


I still take solo rides by myself for exercise, though.  I don't really get the speed and distance to get in a good workout with Raylan, although it's fun to ride with him!


And Raylan and Bella continue to do some learning activities both at home and with Grandma.  He's really working on his reading and math skills.  Kiddo is learning her letters.

practicing some letters
And that's been about it!  Work is still busy for both Amy and I.

I hope everyone is staying happy and safe during this strange time!



Sunday, May 03, 2020

Update

Hi!  Well, like most everyone else, we're still "sheltering in place" during the COVID-19 outbreak.  Working and living at home has sort of become the new normal at this point.
We all went into this thing (i.e., working from home and staying at home) with a sort of sense that it would last for maybe a month or two, and that life would then sort of pick up and resume to normal.

Now, with experts saying that the epidemic could go on much longer or produce returning waves of the virus, we're faced with the more daunting question of when life will return to normal.  Business and political leaders want to get us back to normal as quickly as possible, and that's certainly understandable, given the economic toll that the COVID lockdown is having on the country.  On the other hand, the idea of allowing outbreaks that could overwhelm our hospitals and kill lots of people feels untenable.  It's just an impossible situation.  Fingers crossed for a speedy vaccine.

My parents continue to help out on some weekdays with the kids, and Amy and I have been very busy with work stuff.  I continue to manage dockets from home, and Amy has been working to prepare for an upcoming hearing relating to cleanup costs for a Superfund site.

Working from home on the days when we're all here together is a balancing act of taking care of the kids while also trying to get our work done.  It usually feels like neither job gets done with the full attention that it deserves, but, on the other hand, we're all getting along fairly well, and nobody seems to be suffering too much.

"Take a picture of my virus haircut."
Amy was the cosmetologist.
Raylan is the model.

waiting for Dad to bring home breakfast tacos

pretending to be statues at Mandy's house

I took Raylan to the Burger Center to practice riding his bike.
They had tents set up for mobile COVID testing.  I didn't let him
get any closer than this.  He had a lot of questions. 
Strange time to be a little kid.
It's been pretty hot lately.  Kiddo and Raylan have already been enjoying the sprinkler and the back yard pool.  I don't know what we're going to do if the neighborhood pools don't open at all this summer!

back yard kiddie wonderland
That's all I have,  I guess.  The weekends have been nice.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Update

Well, we're still in quarantine lockdown, and it's still pretty weird.
I didn't write a blog post last week because I think that all of the days have just sort of been running together for me a bit, and I lost track of time.
Last Saturday Dad and I put together a dome climber for the kids to play on.  Grandma and Papa got it for Raylan's birthday, and the kids love it.  Raylan has already learned how to do a "kitty flip" on the bars, and Kiddo has turned out to be much better at climbing the thing than we expected.

And they're off!!
Let's see, what else...? 
Well, Raylan has been figuring out how to ride his bike without training wheels!
He's been doing a great job.  We practiced in the empty parking lawn at Woodlawn Baptist Church, and he really seems to have been figuring it out!

Look at that kid go!
On this Sunday, he rode about 4 miles around the neighborhood with me without any training wheels!  We're so proud of him.


Last Sunday, while I was on my daily bike ride (my gym replacement during quarantine), I hit 3000 miles on my trusty ol' bike.
I haven't ridden the bike quite as much since Raylan was born, but I've been riding a lot since the gym has been closed.  I was downtown on the Pfluger Pedestrain Bridge when the odometer hit 3000, which seemed appropriate because it's one of the most scenic spots that I ride through on a regular basis.






In other news, I bought a Gretsch resonator guitar.  I'm not sure that it's a purchase which makes any sense, but, then again, neither does a global pandemic and quarantine lockdown.



it's loud!
My parents continue to help out a lot, taking the kids some days during the week so it's easier for Amy and I to get work done.

creating structures with Papa
Raylan's birthday was May 20th.  On the following day we had a little birthday celebration at our house with the grandparents.  We had pizza, cake, and milk, per Raylan's request.  We also had a Greek salad that Amy made, which was tasty, but not part of the request.

Cake excitement


Other from that we've just been working and playing with kids, mostly.

Jean/Nana sent a kit to make bath bombs for Raylan's birthday, and the kids had a lot of fun making bath bombs with Amy.

child laborers in the bath bomb factory


Raylan files troubling ways to use his playscape as Kiddo wonders why

in the sprinkler

story time
That's been it!  It's a strange time, but we're doing okay.  We're definitely getting some good family time out of it!!

Everyone stay healthy and safe!


Sunday, April 12, 2020

Ryan's Birthday, Easter, Update

Hi!   Well, like everyone else, we're still sheltering in place.
We're still fumbling through working remotely, taking care of the kids (my parents have been a huge help- THANK YOU!), and trying to preserve some semblance of a social life and connection to our friends, family, and community.
The weather for most of this week was pretty warm.  The kids got to play in their inflatable pool in the back yard and then play in the sprinkler.


God as my witness, they asked me to take a picture of their butts.
Both of our jobs have continued to keep us fairly busy.  Amy is still running, and I'm still riding my bike.


Workin' at the car wash...
On Friday I had a virtual happy hour with some of my colleagues from the mental health team.  It was good to see some friendly faces and blow off some steam.  It's really weird when you work with people all of the time, and then all of a sudden they're just names on emails and instant messages.

On Saturday, I attended a sort of virtual birthday party for Ryan.  Like myself and Jamie before him, Ryan's birthday landed smack dab in the middle of this whole pandemic, so he's not getting to celebrate the way he expected to, but the virtual party turned out to be fun.  I got to see some mutual friends from all over the country, including some folks I hadn't seen in a while.
It was also interesting to hear the perspective of people in places from Seattle to San Francisco to New York City, and to hear how the COVID pandemic is playing out in different parts of the country.  Steven and Lauren are living in Manhattan, and both actually contacted the virus and have now pretty much recovered from it.  A couple of people had colleagues and neighbors who had died from coronavirus.  Hearing the stories somehow made it feel more real.
Anyway, that was only a small part of the conversation.  Mostly it was a lot more lively and less depressing, luckily.  It was good to see everyone.
And happy birthday again to Ryan!  We still want to eat some cake with him when we can get out of our holes.
Sunday was Easter.  The Easter Bunny came to our house, bringing candy and a lot of books.  We had some cascarones, and the kids had fun smashing them in the yard.
We watched a cartoon that told the Easter story in a way that was pretty kid friendly, and we took the kids for a walk/bike ride.  The weather was great, and we spent a lot of time outside.

The Easter Bunny left a note explaining that there
weren't as many eggs this year because of the virus,
but since the libraries were all closed, he was
bringing books instead!

Reading the Easter loot!

In the afternoon we went over to Mom and Dad's house for dinner.  The kids played a lot, inside and out, and Mom made us a nice turkey dinner.  The food was great, and we had a really nice time.

Me, Kiddo, and Dad

Amy, Raylan, and Mom
It was a really nice dinner, and it was great to be able to spend some time together.  I wish it had been even more of the family, and I hope it can be again, soon.

So that's about it.

Happy Easter to everyone!  Stay safe.





Monday, April 06, 2020

Update

Hey!  Well, things are continuing their strange progression during our period of mandatory shelter-in-place for the COVID pandemic.
Amy and I have both been working from home.  It's very strange for me.  Usually my job doesn't lend itself to working remotely very well, but right now we're just using virtual meetings, emails, and virtual courts to keep the most critical aspects of the system going (mostly hearings for incarcerated inmates who can't get released on bond), and everything else is being postponed.  Still, since I work on a caseload with a lot of homeless people who continue to get arrested and who don't necessarily make bond, my workload has remained fairly busy.
Mom and Dad have been a huge help in providing childcare on some days while the kids have been home with their school shutdown.  In terms of the lockdown, we've basically just been considering them part of the immediate family.  We don't really go anywhere else, but we see them.
I've been going to the store once a week, although the last time I went to pick up groceries I wore a bandana over my face.  Not sure if it helps, but the CDC is saying to wear a mask.
Amy tries to run every day, and I've been riding my bike pretty much every day.  We keep our fingers crossed for days when it doesn't rain all day (which hasn't been very often).



Raylan has amassed quite a collection of nightlights
He had 4 of them on, but I only got 2 in this shot.
Someone posted this on a fence somewhere in the South Austin neighborhoods between our house and downtown.  Saw it on my bike ride.

Stay safe.  Stay sane.
It's, of course, been a bit of a challenge keeping the kids occupied with no school, no play dates, no playgrounds (closed), and nowhere to basically go.  Raylan and I take some bike rides.  We play outside a lot.  We play with toys, build forts, read books, and, yes, sometimes they watch a little TV (particularly when Amy and I both have to get something done).  Amy has been trying to do some "school" at home with Raylan, and I know that my mom has been working with him, too.  We also read and do alphabet and art and stuff with Kiddo.

science experiment!  putting objects in flour to
see how craters are formed on the moon


nature hike out at my parents' house

car picnic!  this is what happens when you're desperate to eat out, but
all the restaurants on the way to Grandma and Papa's are closed

chairs for the kids at the grandparents' place
tree climbing!  (he's not as high as this
picture makes it look)

Front yard races to work out the wiggles

And that's been about it!
It's getting weird.  It's been weird.  We're adjusting, and that's the weird part, I guess.