What a past few months!

Greetings Readers,

To say that our family has had a roller coaster past few months is really putting it lightly. This update essentially sums up the last few months:

Move

We are pretty much settled in to the new home. The kids love the new house, and it feels like we’ve been in the home a lot long than since December. We’ve transformed it into a home that works for our needs, and we need to make use of every square foot of space possible.

Here’s a list of things that’ve we’ve done to make it what we need.

  • Added a front patio deck (the kids love to hang out with their neighbor friends in this space and I’ve used it to host friends I’ve met along the way
  • Reused pavers from around the property to make steps and step out areas off the street for cars so guests don’t have to step on river rocks
  • Added desert-ish landscaping (grass-free) out front, transplanting a persimmon tree from out back and adding a lemon and mandarin tree in addition to a few maple trees
  • Extended the driveway to maximize the available parking spots for cars (we can now fit 12 cars in the driveway)
  • Added cameras all around the property (5 Google Nest Cameras, and 2 ADT Security Cameras). The cameras allow us to have eyes on the kids when they are playing wherever out front and also out back
  • Added synthetic grass above the pool wall so the kids (or adults) can lay out beach towels and sunbathe
  • Added steps around the pool
  • Added a custom cross into the stamped concrete that I ordered from France. It is the symbol of the Midi-Pyrenees region in the south of France that I used to live in
  • Added plumbing and electrical for a future pool house. We’ll be able to have a toilet, sink and outdoor shower outside
  • Bought (not yet installed) a pergola system for in front of the pool – shade for it is still pending
  • Added concrete walkways on both sides of the house
  • Converted the third car garage to a home office finished space (AC/Heating addition is pending but coming soon!
  • Painted the girls’ rooms – Michaela requested pink and Emma requested purple
  • Tapped into the electrical in my son Christopher’s room to add additional capacity for my home office/podcasting/audiobook narration space

Most of these projects were fueled by our handyman Todd, who has become an extended part of our family since we’ve worked with him so much since we moved in.

Pool!

This is one of the bright spots over the last few months. The project was flawlessly and finished in lightning speed (2 months!). Shout out to RPM Pools for the personal experience – we never felt like just another customer. We now have a tool in the pool that will allow us to make memories for years to come. I’ll just leave you all with the photos

COVID-19

After a 3 year run of avoiding COVID-19, my family all got it in mid April. No idea where – probably someone was asymptomatic. My wife got sick first, then Christopher, then Emma, and then Michaela and finally me. I was caught in the caretaker cross-fire. As you know, there many variants out there, so while there were some scares with the wide range of varying symptoms my wife and kids had, it probably would have been a lot worse with the earlier variants.

It was an eye opening experience. It had been a few years since everyone got sick and I had to be the caretaker for everyone before falling sick myself, and it seemed like my instincts kicked in from all the previous years of experience caring for sick little ones. However, with COVID-19, it seemed to add a legitimate since of uncertainty to the equation. We were all generally weary from 3 years of living in a pandemic world. Angelique had no immune system after 7.5 years of infertility treatments which wiped out her immunity to even the basic crud. The kids were all born 10.5 weeks early, and were born with premature lungs and have always been more susceptible to illness and each time they get sick, it always hits Emma the hardest. Emma had the hardest time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

My takeaway from the experience is that there are many more memories that our family need to make in these early impressionable years. For example, we have never been on a proper family vacation. Any attempt at something beyond 2 days or greater than 3 hours from home was usually derailed by one or more kids or my wife being sick. We’re going to change that this summer though – we’re just going to go for it. First flight, first a lot of things. Life is too short!

Over the course of this 3 year pandemic, I went from never hearing about anyone I knew having it, to hearing that a majority of people that I know have had it, an now hearing that several folks that I know have had it twice now. Fascinating, yet scary at the same time. My take away: live life, make time for what is most important to you, be mindful of those around you, and make quality memories.

School

It turns out that the move was very hard on the kids in different ways. It was the hardest on our son Christopher. He had a substitute teacher for the first 3 weeks of the school year because the teacher quit on the first day, so his experience out the gate wasn’t the same as his sisters’.

He struggled making new friends, as when we moved and changed schools, all of the dynamics were pretty much baked in, and without his sisters in his class, he struggled to fit in. It started to reflect in his school work and participation in class. He had a special relationship with his speech therapist, and he opened up to her and she called us and told us what was going on. The school intervened and created more socialization opportunities and that seemed to help.

The girls are in the same class, but have had to navigate what most of us had to endure when we were in elementary school: disruptive “bad ass kids”, bullies, group dynamics challenges with Michaela having more friends than Emma and Emma seeming being annoyed by everything anyone does and using most of her day to try and tell others what to not do. We think she’s extra sensitive as a result of her time in the NICU. Hates loud noises and people touching her. She was also sandwiched in between Michaela and Christopher in the womb for 7+ months so there’s that.

One of the highlights from these crazy few months was participating in the school Raptor run. I volunteered 🙋🏾‍♂️ to help guide the students (1st through 5th grade) so that they stayed on the right track. Each class ran a different race so I ended up doing 5 races! COVID sapped my energy for a few weeks, but it was fortunately restored by the time this event rolled around. I’m so glad I made the time to participate!

What’s Next?

Flying back east tomorrow for a funeral. I’ll be in DC, Maryland, and Virginia over the course of the week. It will be good to get back in touch with my “Southern” roots. My connection to both the east and west coast lead me to brand myself as a “Southern Californian”.

Take care and thanks for reading,

M.