May 20, 2020

What's Your Life Like Right Now?

Photo from our front porch session with Kayla from Truly Photography

In response to a recent post on one of my favorite blogs (I started this post several weeks ago but never finished. Oops!), I wanted to document answers to the questions in the post. (Here is the link to the post!)

COVID-19 has been such a remarkable time, and I know it's something our children and grandchildren will be curious to know about. Stephen mentioned recently that one of his ancestors died during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. We looked through Family Search and ended up calling his mom. It was fascinating to learn about her family history and to learn about her grandfather who did, indeed, die in 1918 during the pandemic (from "flu and pneumonia" is what one of the family records said). He fell ill and died within days. He had even hiked Mount Timpanogos a few days before he died!

Anyway, back to the Cup of Jo questions:

Where are you in the world?

We live in Murray, Utah and have been blessed/lucky enough to be able to stay home.

Are you living solo or with other people (and if so, with whom)?

People living in our home right now: My husband (Stephen), our baby (Charles), and one of my brothers (Spencer), who recently returned home from serving a mission for our church in El Salvador and Belize.

Are you working or passing the time in other ways?

We spend our days working, taking care of Charlie, and going on walks. When we can, we try to squeeze in some exercise, house cleaning, and maybe some time together after Charlie goes to sleep.

Another thing I've been doing is cooking/baking. I really enjoy cooking and don't do it enough in my normal life. It's been really fun to have Sunday dinners at home, and I've used that as an opportunity to try new recipes. Some things I've made for the first time during quarantine include: cheesecake, buttermilk biscuits, rhubarb cake (first time cooking with rhubarb!), banh mi sandwiches (first time making a Vietnamese dish), sugar-free baby muffins for Charlie, and DIY baby food pouches (mostly fruit/veggie pouches and a savory chicken/carrot/potato/rice pouch last week).

We also planted a garden last week (tomatoes, sweet peppers, spicy peppers, zucchini, baby butternut squash, herbs, and sugar baby watermelon), and Stephen has been working on cutting down tree branches, so we've all been spending time in the backyard lately. We cleaned the patio off in April and have had dinner outside a few times, and it's been really lovely.

What's hard right now?

Work! I'm not going to lie: balancing our time right now is HARD. We are SO grateful and SO blessed to be able to both work from home. (And we're glad that Spencer was able to start a job a few weeks ago where he can also work remotely!)

Stephen and I have divided the workday into shifts. Stephen works from 7am-12pm, and I'm the primary person on Charlie duty during that time. I try to work when I can, but if I'm being honest.... It's hard to get things done on the computer while being engaged with him. I like taking calls or meetings during the morning shift, because I can multi-task with Charlie. I save tasks that require focus for the afternoon.

Around noon, we go on a walk, get Charlie some lunch at our neighborhood school, and come home to eat lunch together. Then, it's my turn to work from 12(ish)-5pm. I take a few breaks during my "shift" to nurse, and I work as fast and frantically as I can otherwise. It can be a bit hectic to meet deadlines, but we're doing our best. Sometimes, we have to work after Charlie goes to bed to keep up, but we're making it work.

Truly, we are grateful that we have the luxury of staying home when so many people -- including my parents -- have still had to go to work in person every day during this pandemic.

Another thing that has been really difficult is navigating family dynamics when we have different standards for social distancing. Some of our family members still have to work every day. Other family members aren't taking social distancing as seriously as we are. It's hard to explain why we're being as strict as we are, and I know there have been hurt feelings. I hope and pray that things will calm down soon and that we can work on rebuilding family connections.

It's been really hard to not let anyone hold Charlie, especially his grandparents. Thankfully, Charlie has been able to at least SEE his grandparents during this time -- either six feet away or via technology (FaceTime, Zoom, Duo, etc.). He is such a people person, and I know he has missed interacting with others. We were able to join in last week on a daycare Zoom call, which was SO fun. And we've been able to keep in touch with other family members through technology also, which we're grateful for. I really hope that things have eased enough by Charlie's birthday (6 weeks away: OMG!!) that we will be able to gather with at least some family members to celebrate him!

And oh, my gosh. Baby sleep is hard right now. We have not done well with sleep training, and things are rough right now! Charlie is teething, which we think is hurting his nighttime sleep. I think he might also be in the middle of another mental leap (I need to check his Wonder Weeks timeline.), so that might be part of our problem also. He was never good at napping (except at daycare sometimes... IDK how they do it.), and it's hard to get him to nap for longer than 30-40 minutes right now. Often, the only way he'll nap is if we take him on a stroller walk. On the bright side, we're walking a lot more than usual. Lol.

What's bringing you joy (making, baking, playing, watching, etc.)?

Even though some things have been hard, we really do feel so blessed.

The biggest silver lining is being home with Charlie full-time. It was SO hard to leave him at daycare when I had to go back to work! Charlie was three months old when he started daycare full-time. He was 8.5 months old when the pandemic started, and he is 10.5 months old now.

That means he has spent about half his life with me home full-time and half his life going to daycare. It's not in the cards for me to be a stay-at-home mom at the moment, and I truly do enjoy and value my job. But right now, I'm getting the best of both worlds: being home with my baby while still getting to work full-time. I do not take this for granted and often feel guilty for how much I'm loving this time at home.

When we first went into lockdown, Charlie was on the verge of crawling. Within the first week of quarantine, he had mastered crawling and by that Saturday, he had moved to standing in his crib and standing and scooting along the furniture! He now crawls super fast, zips up the stairs, stands and scoots like he's racing someone, and we are so grateful to have been here for so many fun milestones! He babbles all day long, he waves goodbye (Or "Bah," as Charlie says it), and is just such a joy to be around.

Another thing that's bringing us joy is spending time outside.We live for our daily (sometimes multiple times a day) walks. It's wonderful to be in the sunshine, and it makes me wonder why I don't normally take a lunchtime walk when I'm at work. It's something I need to bring with me when we move back into post-COVID office routines. The weather has changed while we've been in quarantine, and we've enjoyed almost all of spring and are now about a month away from the start of summer. Charlie experienced grass for the first time on St. Patrick's Day and enjoys spending time outside, crawling in the dirt (and trying to eat it. lol), climbing on top of yard waste piles, etc.

We also are a household of introverts, so the stay at home order was probably not such hard news for us as it may have been for others. Turns out we enjoy being home, even when we're being "forced" to. Ha. I've discovered that I still love my husband after spending 24-7 with him (even though we may or may not get a little impatient with each other sometimes. It's the nature of being home together 24-7, I guess.), but he's still my favorite person and the one I'd choose to be quarantined with over and over again. And while we would love to be able to gather with loved ones, as long as I have my boys, I'm happy here at home.

March 24, 2020


Me, nursing Charlie on the couch while working
Nursing Charlie on the living room couch while working on my laptop
We've been working from home for just a few days now, but it feels like it's been a year. ­čśé

During this time of economic uncertainty, we both feel EXTRA grateful for our jobs. We know many are being impacted by the economic downturn already brought on by COVID-19, and we know how blessed we are to not only have jobs, but to have good jobs, and jobs that are currently allowing us to work form home.

Our daycare is currently closed, which means that in addition to both of us working full-time, we also take care of Charlie during the day. Charlie is SUCH a delight, but it's SO hard for both Stephen and me to be productive for a full workday when we have to also balance taking care of an 8-month old. I'm used to taking four pumping breaks at the office throughout the workday, but caring for a baby in person is a whole other story!

What we've been trying out so far is working in shifts. Stephen works in the morning, and I take primary responsibility for Charlie while trying to somehow also work. And we swap at noon so I can work. (Except what actually happens is we eat lunch, Charlie needs to be wiped down, then he needs to nurse again, etc etc.) Stephen has set himself up in our little office downstairs, but I typically just work on the floor of the nursery or on the living room couch with my laptop. Anywhere where Charlie has room to crawl safely and toys to spread out on the floor.

It feels like everyone else suddenly has loads of time on their hands, and even though we don't have anywhere to be, we are busier than ever. We often work again in the evenings after Charlie has gone to bed, just to keep up with our workloads. We do feel very blessed to be in this situation and to be able to work from home, buuuut if anyone has tips on how to successfully have BOTH spouses working from home while caring for their baby (or tips on how the heck to get our 8-month old to NAP during the day), please send help ASAP! (I'm even considering going back to pumping during my half of the workday, just so I don't lose momentum or time.)

COVID-19 update

This is going to be a bit disjointed, but I felt the need to get some thoughts down online. (It’s the easiest way for me to journal during this crazy time in the world.) We just started our second week of COVID-19-quarantine, and.... We're doing okay. I'm officially working from home as of Friday, which is much easier than Stephen working from home with Charlie and me working in a office feeling stressed about how hard Stephen’s day must be, trying to balance a baby + his work. 

This is also our second week of statewide school dismissal. Originally, the dismissal was supposed to last two weeks, but we got word today that we will be out of school until at least Friday, May 1. Last Monday and Tuesday, everyone was working in their regular buildings (except for our school daycares, which were closed). Teachers were supposed to use those two days to transition student learning to be remote as of last Wednesday, March 18. Wednesday was supposed to be the day when we would begin remote learning, give laptops to students at schools, etc. But then.... We had a 5.7 earthquake in Salt Lake County (epicenter in Magna), and it flipped everything even further upside-down. (Seriously; just when we thought things couldn’t get worse during a global pandemic.... They did.)

Work is crazy, and the world is falling apart. It’s hard to find basics at the grocery store, especially things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, water bottles, and Clorox wipes. Sadly, some crucial essentials like diapers, baby wipes, and formula are also hard to find right now, as well as pantry staples like flour, sugar, milk, etc. Many are hoarding these supplies, and it’s making things hard for a lot of people. The photo above is from a couple of weekends ago. My mom sent it to me from a shopping trip to Sam’s Club, but it’s the same in almost every grocery store.

Last week was tough with everything that happened. Stephen says it was the hardest and longest week of his life. We’re full of economic uncertainty, worries for our jobs, our duplex, our health. But I already feel like this week has gotten off to a better start. 

Everything has been cancelled (sporting events like the NBA, NCAA tournaments, the Olympics, etc.; musicals; concerts, etc.), including Church. Last week, Governor Herbert shut down all restaurant dining rooms. Many places are now only open for take-out, curbside delivery, or drive-thru dining. And we have been asked to practice social distancing. We’re advised to stay home unless it’s essential that we go out (like to go to work or to buy food). If we have to be around other people, we’re supposed to keep six feet of space between us, and we’re supposed to limit groups to no more than 10 people. Those who are 60 years of age or who have pre-existing health conditions are considered high risk for COVID-19, so these guidelines are especially important for them. It’s infuriating how many people aren’t taking these guidelines seriously.

Charlie y Mami at Costco on Friday, February 28. We were at Costco stocking up on essentials. We didn't know how bad things would get but had a feeling it would be smart to buy a few things we knew we'd need. At this point, water and toilet paper were already out of stock... (I actually went shopping for my mom two days later at a Costco 45 min. north and found empty shelves where sandwich bread and toilet paper should have been.)
Stephen thinks I’m a little paranoid, and he might be right. We’re still encouraged to get outside for things like walks around the neighborhood, as long as we keep 6 feet of space between ourselves and other people. I am not afraid to go off trail (we typically take our walks along the Jordan River Trail behind our house) when someone passes us and is not six feet away. I’d rather be paranoid and healthy than careless and sick/dying. 

As far as work, since the earthquake (the district office has not been earthquake retrofitted), we are mostly all working from home, but we still have some employees out at schools. We are still providing breakfast and lunch to students + emergency food boxes for families (working with the Utah Food Bank, SLC Mayor, and Church of Jesus Christ on this). And in addition to food +all the work that teachers did in the buildings last week, we've been checking out laptops the last few weekdays to students who don't have computers at home. 

With regard to the earthquake, I’m not gonna lie: it was a little nerve-wracking, especially since I vividly remember the earthquake my family survived in California in 1994. (That's actually the reason we moved to Utah.)

Stephen was already awake and working downstairs. I had nursed Charlie in our bed about a half hour before the earthquake (it hit at 7:09am), so he was asleep, and I was up answering emails on my phone. I grabbed him and ran to a doorway (which you're apparently not supposed to do anymore. Oops.). Grabbing my baby mid-earthquake made me think of my mom and how she grabbed Jason upside-down in 1994 and then also made sure we two little girls were safe. That must have been so stressful!

As soon as the earthquake stopped (it lasted about 20 seconds), I went downstairs to find Stephen. Then, I called my family. And in the middle of family calls, I started getting work calls and texts. 

We already had staff and families at schools that morning for breakfast, prepping for laptop check-out, emergency food boxes, etc. We had to get word out to principals to get everyone out of the buildings. The superintendent cancelled all food programs, laptop check-out, etc, until we could check the buildings for damage, so we had to let families and employees know ASAP. It was crazy!

And then an hour later, I had to report to work for a leadership meeting. 
That was the hardest part -- having to leave my family right after an earthquake. I was late to the meeting, but I was NOT going to leave without at least nursing my baby first. 

The after-shocks throughout the day were also anxiety-inducing. But we're trying to be prepared and stay hopeful. It's really hard not to feel super anxious all the time though. We’ve felt after-shocks every day. I think I read in the news today that as of this afternoon, we have experienced 280 after-shocks.

The day of the earthquake, I kept thinking that all the TP and water bottle hoarders and how maybe they had the right idea all along. ­čśé(We have a bidet in our master bathroom, and we had recently bought TP at Costco, so we haven't bought any more toilet paper during the pandemic. And we figure we have water in the tap, so we have two cases of water bottles but haven't been hoarding that either.)

That day, we filled up our bathtub with water (just in case), and Stephen loaded our 72-hour emergency food, snacks, a case of water bottles, and Charlie’s bags into the back of the Prius. Our emergency kits are in desperate need of being updated. I was going through them last night, and oh, boy. We had soup cans in there that expired in 2015.... Whoops! That’s one of my goals for the week — make sure our 72-hour kit is updated and ready to go with useful items for all THREE of us. 

On a brighter note, it has been really nice to slow down our pace of life and to spend so much more time together, especially with Charlie while he’s still so little! What a privilege to be his mother and to get to spend this time with him! He learned to crawl the week before we started our “quarantine,” and he is just constantly on the move! It’s made it a little more challenging for working from home, but we are so proud of all his progress! On Saturday, he stood in his crib for the first time, so we lowered his mattress. Today, he stood in the crib again for the first time since the mattress was lowered. He is such a happy, sweet guy, and we feel so lucky to be his parents.

I also live for sunshine walks with my boys every day. I’m glad we’ve had sunshine most days so far, because the sunshine lifts everyone’s spirits.

I don’t know what our immediate future holds, but I’m trying to cherish this time at home, to not look at the news/social media so much (there’s nothing in good in the news right now, and that increases my anxiety), and to find gratitude where I can. So today, I’m grateful for home church, for Stephen who is able to bless and administer the sacrament for our family on Sundays, for the ability to work from home, for my job, for my family, and for our health.

May 14, 2019

My First Mother’s Day

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day, and it was such a lovely day! 

I woke up first, but once he was up, my Smoop brought me two dozen beautiful roses and breakfast (oatmeal + fresh strawberries, at my request!). He also got me an amazing gift, in the form of a PRENATAL MASSAGE, which I can’t wait to use!!

At Church, we listened to wonderful talks and to the Primary kids’ sweet musical numbers, and then Stephen and I taught our Primary class. I spent a lot of my time at church thinking about how like the Savior’s love the love of a mother is. Both have literally bled for us, to give us life, and to help us progress in God’s great plan. And even though my Chatbaby won’t be here until next month (in theory ­čśé), I feel so much love for him already and am willing to go through whatever it takes to get him here safely. 

After Church, we spent time with our own moms. We visited mine first and enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner and time with family. My sister took a few photos for us while we were over. 

And I was so touched that my three siblings who aren’t on missions all wished me a happy Mother’s Day, and two of them even bought me presents! I was truly touched. 

Then, we went to the Chatwin Mother’s Day festivities, where we had a delicious second dinner and got to spend time with our Chatwin family members. 

We ended the night at home, getting ready for the week together. Stephen finished putting together our nursery double rocker, and we sat in it together for the first time. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to become a mother and especially to get to do it with my Stephen. He is already the BEST dad, and Chatbaby and I are so lucky to have him!

December 17, 2018

Sick Weekend + 12 Week Pregnancy Recap

It was a rough weekend in the Chatwinners household, with both of us coming down with the flu. But even though it wasn't ideal, if you're going to be home vomiting and with a fever, why not do it with your spouse/bestie, amiright? ­čśé Snuggling, soup, Netflix, breaking in our new couch and watching Elf  by the light of our Christmas tree (which we finally decorated this week): what more could you want from a sick weekend?

At first, I thought I was just having more awful pregnancy symptoms. I haven't had any pregnancy-related vomiting, but I have been constantly nauseated (and I mean CONSTANTLY. I keep snacks in my nightstand for my two nightly trips to the bathroom. If I'm awake, I'm probably nauseated, so I have to eat something before going back to sleep.) for most of this first trimester. My nausea has gotten so bad, I am now taking two different prescriptions to fight it and am also taking another medicine for indigestion. So fun!

Anyway, I just assumed my symptoms were pregnancy-related. But then at 5am on Friday morning, Stephen threw up. A lot. (TMI. Sorry.) And then I threw up. That's when I realized it might be more than just pregnancy symptoms... We had also both had fevers since Thursday, which should've probably been my first clue that we were sick.

But, like, I said, we made the best of it and took care of each other as best as we could. We are feeling MUCH better and are both back at work today. We even felt well enough to go out for a Sunday walk yesterday. (Speaking of Sunday, we were supposed to both speak at church yesterday. We had to cancel, and I still feel so badly about it. But I'm sure they'll reschedule us at some point, right?

Sunday walk on the Jordan River Parkway

Amid all the craziness, we celebrated hitting our 12-week pregnancy milestone. YAY! My pregnancy symptoms haven't eased up yet, but I know the risk of miscarriage is now significantly decreased. We will get to see our little Chatbaby again this week at our next appointment, and we are just so excited to be this far! I had started writing down my pregnancy symptoms into my journal after we first found out we were expecting, buuuut I actually haven't even unpacked it yet (I think it's in a box in one of the other bedrooms?), so I've been doing a poor job of documenting my pregnancy. I figured I'd write out a quick recap here, but I'll try to actually write things down henceforth.

  • Leg pain. This was SO WEIRD and one of the first issues I had! I had such severe leg pain, it felt like I had bruises ALL over. It started out with my thighs when I was 4 weeks pregnant, but by the end of that week, it had spread from knee to butt, where it was incredibly painful to even pull my tights on in the morning before work. It got better on its own, but I still have tender thighs.
  • Tender (and larger) breasts. So fun... I had to buy new sports bras at about 6 weeks...
  • General bloating. Me at six weeks: am I showing yet? Nope. Just bloated.
  • Nausea. ALL. the. time. I eat every few hours to keep it at bay and have tried just about every remedy you can think of except Seabands and acupuncture. But to no avail. Hence the prescriptions now. I tried Unisom + Vitamin B6 for a couple of weeks, but it's still been really bad. A few times, it's been so bad that even making turns while driving makes me feel super sick.
  • Peeing twice a night. or more. Ha!
  • EXHAUSTION! This was the first symptom. Before I had even taken a pregnancy test, I felt constantly EXHAUSTED. I assumed it was because we were working so hard on our house, which I'm sure made it worse, but nope. I'm just constantly exhausted and have had to shut my office door to put my head down a time or two.
  • Migraine. This one was just this weekend. I've only had one migraine EVER, and it was 3.5 years ago. It took me two days to figure out that's what this was this time around.
  • Indigestion. TMI again. Ha. Taking a prescription for it now, so hopefully that helps!
  • Constipation. TMI, TMI, TMI.
  • Lower back pain. Actually, pain everywhere. We bought a new bed that we LOVE right when we moved in to our new house. It's a firm mattress, and it is killing me right now! I had to go out and buy a twin-sized memory foam topper for my half of the bed this week... My SIL gave me the idea. Everything hurts all the time. It's made it super hard to try to exercise. The other night, I got nauseated just from walking on the treadmill for 30 min. My foam roller and yellow peanut are also helping a lot!
  • Feeling more easily emotional. It's even more fun when your husband laughs at you for crying at a Facebook video.
  • Food aversions: vegetables. I normally LOVE produce! But this kid has his/her daddy's appetite. Lol. More evidence: I've had soda and pizza cravings, which are two of Stephen's main food groups.
  • Food cravings: orange juice, Lipton chicken noodle soup, Pho, carbs, carbs, carbs. CARBS are my life right now!
  • Another fun milestone from December 6 (11 weeks): I officially can't button up my button-ups over my belly! I really thought the bust would be the first thing to go, but nope! It's the belly.
I'll leave the list at that. Pregnancy is SO weird, but it is also so exciting to be growing a little Chatbaby. 28 weeks to go!