Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Catching Up, Nov. 2018-Dec. 2020

Hello! I'm still here! It has been over two years since my last post. As you may have surmised, I've lost interest in regularly writing here. Blogging just doesn't feel like an outlet that I need anymore. However, I had a few days off work and thought I'd pop in to post a life update for anybody who's still around.

Late 2018

After a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Lorraine's house, we did our normal advent calendar activities leading up to Christmas. I like this cream cheese frosting for the gingerbread cookies. I took both boys to the mall individually to buy presents for each other, and we saw The Grinch in the theater.

We took a train ride down to California and spent Christmas with family. The mountains were nice and snowy on our return trip.

Christmas train ride 2018

Winter/Spring 2019

The main reason that I stopped posting here is that I got a full-time job in January 2019 (yay!). It's at a company located in downtown Portland (though we're all remote at the moment), and I get to do a combination of Project Management and Quality Assurance work. I think it's a great fit for me, and I'm really happy I got back out there, even though it means less time with the kids.

Since I wanted to make sure I still got one-on-one time with each of the kids, I planned monthly activities with each of them in 2019. Arlo and I got season tickets to Broadway shows, and I took Felix out for dinner once a month to different seafood restaurants. It was a great way to make memories, and I'm hoping to do it again once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. Arlo's favorite show was Come From Away (especially wonderful in person!), and I loved Wicked as well.

Felix tries octopus sushi
Mothers Day 2019

For Easter dinner, we had a crepe buffet with banana-nutella, strawberry-cream, and ham-gruyere options.

Summer 2019

In May, Patrick's little sister Meg got married, yay! It was a beautiful day, and it was great seeing family. Plus the boys got dressed up in their cute suits again!

Me and Felix
Me and Arlo

In June, we headed down to San Francisco and saw Hamilton! Very cool.

Hamilton in SF

In July, we sold our house of 11 years and moved into a duplex in the same neighborhood. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the house that we'd brought our babies home to, but it wasn't the right fit for our family anymore. Patrick and I separated in January 2019, and we decided to continue living under the same roof, to give the boys family continuity and to give each other co-parenting support. We decided that moving to a duplex would allow the boys to continue seeing both of us every day, while giving us grown-ups our own space in the evenings. So far I am really happy with our living arrangement, and I feel so lucky that we were able to find a duplex that met our needs without having to change schools.

Duplex before exterior work

The transition between houses was eased with lots of Minecraft.

Almost empty
Minecraft Bros

Fall/Winter 2019

For Halloween, I dressed up as Velma from Scooby Doo, and the boys were a zombie and a security guard.

Halloween 2019
Halloween 2019

We had our favorite contractor put a door in between the two sides of the duplex, so the boys could go back and forth between my space and Patrick's without having to go outside.

Duplex wall before
Duplex wall during
Christmas mantel and completed door

We had our first Thanksgiving at the duplex. We split the cooking work between our two kitchens, which made it no harder than preparing a normal dinner. Well, okay, pies are a little more work, but totally worth it so we can celebrate Pie for Breakfast Day!

Thanksgiving pies

We stayed in Portland for Christmas and were able to celebrate with my sister and Patrick's family. We split both holiday decorations and meals between the two sides of the duplex, and it worked out really nicely.

Christmas 2019 - Sisters

Winter/Spring 2020

The big event (before COVID hit) was that my kitchen was remodeled (we merged the dining room and kitchen and squeezed in a half bath on one end). Luckily, the kitchen was mostly done before the pandemic lockdown went into place, and my contractor was able to coordinate the remaining work so that there were only one or two people in the space at any given time. Maybe at some point I'll write a more detailed kitchen tour post, but here's a peek for now. Yes, I borrowed a lot of ideas from the last kitchen remodel.

Kitchen remodel in progress
Kitchen drywalled
Kitchen progress - cabinets
Max in the kitchen

Sad news: Right after the lockdown started and we were all working/schooling remotely, Fluffy was hit by a car and died. I realize this is small compared to what has been happening in the world, but it was sad and unexpected, and it took me longer than expected to grieve him. Even more frustrating is that only a few weeks prior, he'd had a sore tooth pulled, and since then he had become much friendlier and started sitting on my lap. I wish I could've gotten more quality Fluffy time before he left us. But lesson learned--no more indoor-outdoor cats.

Fluffy aka ConeRunner

Happily, we still have Max, and he is still the sweetest buddy.

Felix distance learning (2nd grade)

Splitting into two households meant buying some new furniture, and fate brought me this beautiful sapphire velvet couch. I had ordered a sensible gray wool couch, but Anthropologie accidentally delivered this beauty to me instead. When I checked with them, they said the person who originally ordered it had already received a replacement, so I could keep this couch if I wanted. I kept it, because clearly the furniture gods wanted my living room to be more fabulous.

New comic book day
Current living room configuration

The rest of 2020

Since the pandemic started, we have spent almost all of our time at home, all together. It has been trying at times (remote school is not ideal), but we've stayed healthy, and we're all getting along pretty well, so I'd call it a win.

Like everybody else, I did a bunch of sourdough baking at the outset (Little Spoon Farm is a great resource), sewed some masks, and then we just kind of settled into our hermit lifestyle. I miss going out in the world! What a year this has been. I feel very fortunate and grateful that we haven't had to endure much personal upheaval or loss.

Sourdough cinnamon rolls
Sourdough boule and muffins
Sourdough chocolate scones
Going on a walk

In May, I turned 40! I love it (apart from the pandemic). Arlo made me birthday brownies (what a guy!), and I'm feeling good. I feel free to be myself, and it's awesome!

Turning 40!
Me and the boys

Felix turned 8 and Arlo turned 10, and they're such big kids all of a sudden! I'm so glad that they (mostly) get along. They will spend hours talking about their imaginary games (mostly based on Dungeons and Dragons or their latest Nintendo Switch game).

Chocolate coconut bundt cake
Felix turns 8
Arlo turns 10

This summer, after the kitchen remodel, the house was resided, seismically retrofitted, and repainted. It's good to have that work done, and I'm glad we're able to have a quiet winter without any loud banging. Yes, I chose a chartreuse front door again, at least for now.

Duplex, siding/stucco removed
Duplex with new siding
Duplex with fresh paint job!
Duplex with fresh paint job!

We just wrapped up Thanksgiving and Christmas, both celebrated at home with just the four of us. Thank goodness for Skype calls! I made this chocolate satin pie for Christmas Eve dessert this year, and it was really good. Definitely worth revisiting at future holiday meals!

Thanksgiving pie anticipation
Making sugar cookies
Chocolate Satin Pie
Chocolate Satin Pie
Christmas Skype

I hope you stay safe and healthy. Maybe I'll see you back here in a few years...