Nine to Five!

Such a great film. Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlinson and Jane Fonda are such powerful feminine feminists and shine in this kicker of a film (9 to 5 – 1980). I have Dolly Patton’s song in my head and it’s tangentially applicable to Lady Kitty. She incredibly sleeps from nine to five. That’s right: nine to five! And sometimes mothering feels relentless and thankless and insanity begetting. “All takin’ and no givin’” is the theme of the fourth trimester. So I’m incredibly blessed Lady Kitty is such a strong sleeper and as timely as a Swiss clock… since she turned one month old, she’s been sleeping solid from 9 to 5. Prior to that I was perfectly delighted with her sleeping for about 5 hours at a time. Now, I need to remember to start getting her ready for bed with her fresh Night nappy somewhere after 8 pm, because by 9 she’ll be absolutely out. Asleep like a log! Not to stir until the clock strikes five… then she wakes like a rooster! …hungry for milkies.

One could absolutely set their watch by her at 0500. Then after efficiencies of breast feeding in bed for about 30 minutes she’s a noisy breather wiggles for another 30 then sleeps again until 0900. Mama’s back on the clock, albeit unusually well rested rested!

Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin’
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin’
With folks like me on the job from 9 to 5

Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’
Barely gettin’ by, it’s all takin’ and no givin’
They just use your mind and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it
9 to 5, for service and devotion
You would think that I would deserve a fat promotion
Want to move ahead but the boss baby won’t seem to let me

I swear sometimes that man child is out to get me!

Sheltering in Place

We were all hearing the murmurs trickle down. Everyone seems to know someone who knows something was about to change. Thus far, public health recommendations to slow the spread of novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the mild to severe respiratory illness COVID-19, have already limited much commerce to voice-over-internet platforms and mail order delivery models, and schools and places of worship and other gatherings have closed. Restrictions were rumored to get even tighter. Following Germany. Following the Bay Area. Following New York. Seattle, Washington, and the whole country may be advised to Shelter-in-Place by the end of the week.

By now heard Governor Jay Inslee’s evening address: Stay Home Stay Healthy. In light of the continued spread of the SARS-CoV-2 (2000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington State and 100 deaths) and the ensuing global pandemic, government officials are urging folks by all compassionate means to limit the social contact to absolute essential in order to slow the rate of infections. The intent of the “Stay Home Stay Healthy” or Shelter in Place mandate remains the same as previous guidelines, but the activities are more delineated. If it’s not an essential activity, put it on hold for a few weeks at least, (this includes weddings and funerals by the way), and do your duty to save lives by not maxing out our health care services for those in need.

As far as I can tell, “sheltering in place” is a euphemism for “house arrest,” with outdoor privileges or “business as usual” if you’re a couch potato at baseline: ordering take-out delivered, watching streaming videos to your living room, relaxing online via social media, and working from home (WFH). Okay, but even the most die-hard introvert shut-ins are starting to feel the alienation set in. It’s different when it’s no longer your choice to be socially distant, and you’re being requisitioned for social distancing. So, here I am to share the burden, lighten the load, the mood, offer some camaraderie, some friendship. The bottom line remains: we’re all in this together! So what do we do to feel good? Feel fresh? Stay inspired? We’ve walked outside amongst the blossoming springtime, we’ve stocked up our pantries, we’ve tried new recipes, we’ve brushed our cats. What now? With no foreseeable end in sight, okay, two weeks for now, however the situation is predicted to intensify before it lessens and resolves. What do we do now to make the situation feel easier, more comforting and bearable? Well, we reach out to our friends and family in all ways available (write a letter! chat with a neighbor over the fence! send a care package!) and… we show our household some love!

For those of you who know me, you know that I love tidying. I’ve recurrently blogged about it in 2017, 2018, and now today! For those of you who may not know this fun fact, allow me to share that I have in my (well-edited) personal library Clutter Busting Your Life (Brooks Palmer), Home Sweet Maison (Danielle Postel-Vinay), Spark Joy (Marie Kondo).

So, naturally, what does one like myself turn to in times like these, where one is kindly requested, ordered? to “shelter in place?” Hunker down and be domestic at home! Clothing optional. As Lake observed the other day, “Mama, you’ve got naked pants!!” So, Bonus if you have the blessing to live with lots of interesting lovely folks, so much richer than sheltering in place by yourself or with boring uninteresting people. I feel so much gratitude for my household! Thank you every day for not fleeing back to Germany, Vivien!

And just so you, dear reader, don’t feel so distant or abandoned, know that we are here. And also in case you actually do live alone, by choice or by circumstance, I’ll share what I’ve been up to in between life with a toddler and an infant… Maybe this inspires, or at least amuses you!

Quick and Easy Tip 1: Organize your bookshelf by color. Not difficult and requires no difficult paralyzing decisions of what to keep and what to toss. Very gratifying results, especially  when you’re spending a lot of time staring at that bookshelf!

Quick and Easy Tip 2: Liberate your freezer! ie. Resolve to eat everything (I mean every last thing!) in your freezer. Okay, so the resolving part is quick and easy. Actually accomplishing this feat may be a little more time consuming. I like to under-promise and over-deliver, mostly to myself, so I’ve set a four month parameter with a July 15th deadline. When it goes sooner that that, that’s great too! And we’re uniquely positioned spending so much time at home with the restaurants on lockdown that it’s the perfect time to get all that freezer-burned food out of there: either eat it, or toss it! Bonus: just think of the ice cream!

Quick and Easy Tip 3: Deliver a roll of toilet paper to your neighbors with a sweet note like this one I found yesterday on our doorstep…

Quick and Easy Tip 4: vacuum your floor… okay, I’m reaching… but the process can be therapeutic and cathartic and the effect can be profound.

From here the work is not so quick and easy, but strategically enlistinging the help of women-owned local small businesses can reap real rewards:

Advanced Sheltering Tip 1: Edit your closet. Enlist the real assistance of a professional Mellicia Marx. She can work remotely and provide you with welcome relief of gentle honesty, humor, and unflagging enthusiasm. Create a boutique closet of your own, tailored just for you and your life right now!

Advanced Sheltering Tip 2: Schedule an outdoor photo shoot with Chamonix! With the whole family at home, take advantage of the opportunity to get your yearly family portraits taken. Take it to the next level and get a bonus video to commemorate these times with The Happy Film Company. Genius photographer and principal Chamonix is offering great deals right now. Snap up a package while you’re at it.

Advanced Sheltering Tip 3: Reboot your life and/or career with Lena D. Meyer Get a leg up on the changing financial climate and use this as an opportunity to realign your work/life balance. The new WFH culture may have you staring yourself and your work reality in the face. There’s nowhere to hide. Do you like what you are seeing? Do you love what you do? Either way, Lena can help!

Master Class Sheltering Challenge Extraordinaire: Mari Kondo your whole shelter! Why not? When will you ever have more time?

Thanks for tuning in. Know that I am thinking of you and filled with gratitude for all you dear folks in my life. So, Stay Home and Stay Healthy, loves! Please note, this Stay Home Sheltering in Place order does not exclude exercising outside, even with friends (maintaining a respectful 6′ distance of course). In general have a blast alright?! Get outside, play tennis!, have fun with your household playing board games and cooking and baking and… get creative sprucing up your abode!!! Tell me all about it. I would love to hear what you’re up to!

Lady Kitty’s first Sakura

Basking in the cherry blossom glow

We crossed the yellow “do not cross” ribbon and entered the sacred Sakura grounds of the UW Quad. It was an essential activity for us. There was plenty of space to accommodate even the most conservative social distancing recommendations. Lady Kitty was immersed into her first cherry blossom experience. It’s therapeutic to get outside, to socialize (at a naturally occurring outdoor distance of at least six feet) with the neighbors and enjoy the springtime. Spring and cherry blossoms are unfurling all around us, oblivious to the tensions of the game playing out between humans and virus right now on planet earth. Meditate on the cherry blossoms. Take refuge in the eternal rebirth of nature. Gaze into the eyes of a newborn. Pet a cat or dog. Build what community you can. Employ all your critical thinking skills. Keep them sharp and relax into the wonderments of a sky full of blossoms.

Wise innocence portrayed by Lady Kitty

One Month In

We’re one month in to the global COVID-19 pandemic here in Washington (since the first US death) and one month in to Lady Kitty’s life. The usual refrain applies to both: it is a rapidly evolving situation. As Lady Kitty and I are beginning to emerge from the postpartum cocoon, the only thing that is emerging with us is the spring! Thank Goodness for spring growth and the glorious weather we’ve been having! It’s easy to begin to feel panicked and isolated with the extreme measures to slow the spread of the novel Coronavirus and the subsequent repercussions of global financial free-fall. Everyone and everything is hunkering down, closing down and distancing. Work is shifting to either from home (WFH) or cease and desist. Lake has one friend who will still get together for picnics and playing outside. I also only have one friend remaining who will still walk outside with me in the fresh UV sanitized air. Thank goodness for her sanity and a healthy regard for science!

Lake and George picnicking at Carkeek Park

For her part, Lady Kitty is growing strong, still grunting a lot and showing strong marks in eating. She’s begun sleeping eight hours through the night in her hallway bassinet. Mama is completely enamored!

Neighbors’ glorious magnolia

We’re trying to schedule a newborn springtime family photo school amongst the cherry blossoms. Timing it with optimal neonatal cuteness, baby acne, peak bloom, cooperative weather, and impending statewide lock-down is proving to be a challenge. This has put the birth announcements on standby, but stay tuned… they’re coming! Meanwhile time is passing, we’ve emerged from winter and Lady Kitty has already seen one month of this beautiful world!

UW Quad

Family Time

Lake is home! He’s cuddling Mr. Cat and Mr. Cat is purring. He’s complimenting Lady Kitty for her “pretty dress” and kissing her on the head. He’s telling them he loves them. He’s happy to see his family although he misses his grandparents and wants to go back to “my house in Aberdeen” “after this day.” This he told me last night at dinner.

Michael is back at Evergreen Healthcare after his paternity “sabbatical.” I’m getting my taste of solo parenting a newborn and a toddler for 5 hours in the evenings. It’s like juggling and I can only give my attention to one of the three of us at a time. There’s a lot of “I love you” ’s and a lot of “I’m doing my best” ’s. Lake said he’s going to grow up to be a daddy and Lady Kitty is going to grow up to be a mommy and he’s going to parent just like me. Well, there’s a lot of truth to that, Lake. I’m doing my very best for you and my grandchildren, then!

Priceless, indelible, precious, challenging, blessed family time. And I’m so blessed and grateful to have all the family support of NanaBaba, Michael, Jamma Julie and definitely our au pair Vivien who hasn’t fled back to Germany as all of her colleagues have done this week! A perfect family-time day, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Love in the Time of The Virus

My friend Katie Mitchell eloquently shared her sentiments: I don’t usually go anywhere anyway, but now I’m feeling more isolated than usual… I’m like the spider that is fine being still on your desk until you trap it under a glass and then it has to circle the perimeter.

Michael agreed it’s like a cat. They’re happy to sleep unmoving all day but put them in the same place in a carrier and you will hear about it.

It’s an unprecedented time here in King County, Washington State, the United States, and globally. Schools closed in Washington State for six weeks, maybe more? Ban on public gatherings of more than 250 people, hygiene restrictions on smaller gatherings such that six feet of personal space is required for each person, limiting most public gatherings. The zoo is closed. The pool is closed. The university has gone to a virtual teaching and testing model. Even my PEPs group won’t be meeting in person. Floods of emails from every business or government official and office that has your email address. Even Office Depot, Wells Fargo, the corner kids clothing store, positive parenting… everyone feels the need to make some comments on the COVID-19 epidemic. Now simply referred to as “the virus”.

It makes for a very mellow postpartum period. The whole city is practically on bed rest too. Lady Kitty and I are well. Our world revolves around milkies, sleeping, reading, occasionally making some laundry, soup, or cake or entertaining a brave visitor here and there. The situation with The Virus has cast an eerie tone over the land. Thankfully Lake has been on the coast with NanaBaba breathing in the fresh air and surrounded by love Of nature and grandparents.

We continue to love fiercely and loyally and attempt to maintain joy and normalcy in these strange times.

With literary reference to El amor en los tiempos del cólera (Love in the time of Colera) by Gabriel García Márquez.

Grunt Work

This far, Lady Kitty Ethel spends a great deal of her time in a most unladylike state of grunting and snuffling.

Grunt Work

She’s doing her sole job as Baby. She’s appropriately placing all her efforts into getting practiced at eating, sleeping and moving her body about. Altogether it amounts to an awful lot of grunt work. It, however, belongs.

We’re aiming to be contented to sit by the fire together. She is content. I’m aiming to stay that way even amidst the 20 day doldrums. Spring will come. The virus will equilibrate. Lady Kitty will one day smile and coo. Meanwhile it’s a perfect day to spend together in our nest- putting in our necessary time of feeding/growing grunt work.

My Sunshine

After a month-long spell of outsourcing the nightly Mama cuddle to grandparents and Daddy, I felt well enough to cuddle with Lake. I’d been missing him sorely this whole time and missing our special goodnight cuddle. So, last night I was singing to Lake one of our classic bedtime songs: “You are My Sunshine.” (We also have Twinkle Twinkle, Baby Boats, and Lake Bake.

“Hey, I have something to say… Someone is going to take me away. Nana! Nana is going to take me away.”

My clever funny guy – today Piper wanted to kiss him!

It’s true, after three weeks of Nana in da house, she’s departing on Saturday and taking Lake back to spend a week with NanaBaba at Camp West. It’s good I got a cuddle in! And those two are pretty incredible- quite a pair. They walk the neighborhood in the evening after dark in their worker-clothes on patrol, to see if trash needs picking up or other tasks, and to check on the local building construction projects. Then Lake declares he wants to walk to Greenlake and touch the water so they do that in spite of the fact it’s dark and raining.

Nana to Lake: You are amazing. Lake to Nana: you are amazing!

The unstoppable team!

From all of us to Nana, you are amazing. Thank you for spending this special time with us. We appreciate all your hard work, support, and unflagging energy. Perfect days… we’re glad you spent them with us!