Monday, April 27, 2020

Quarantine in Spain, Weeks 5 and 6

45 days. It's been 45 days that we have been quarantined in our small apartment and I am happy to announce that yesterday Vera and Laura were finally able to go outside. With the latest relaxation of our lock down kids are able to go outside one hour a day, with one parent up to one kilometer away from their home. It's not much, but I will take it. If all goes well, adults will be added to this measure next week.

It was wonderful to see them be able to run and stretch their legs, to shout hello to birds as loud as they wanted and to discover that it really is spring in the south of Spain. Vera and Laura have been amazing this past month and a half. Before it would have been impossible to imagine two four-year-olds staying inside for longer than a few rainy days. And they did it for 44 days, with no complaint, accepting the situation and trusting that we were doing what was best even if they could not understand it at times. Many people out there complaining and protesting could learn a thing or two.

It was a busy weekend as we also celebrated feria, albeit at home. The girls wore their flamenca dresses and we set up a caseta in our living room. We got a lot of the typical food and even had a drink with our neighbors outside in our hallway (maintaining our distance and staying in our doorways).

Besides these latest developments life has remained pretty much the same. Jose and I have moved on after having watched all the Marvel movies and are now revisiting the Star Wars films. Having kids during quarantine certainly gives us something to do each day, a routine to follow. I think in some ways it makes things easier as there is always another activity on the horizon, breakfast, getting dressed, straightening up, class, play, lunch, nap, etc. Now we get to add outdoor time to our days. 

We are hoping that this truly marks the beginning of a de-escalation of the lock down measures we face here in Spain. There are still a lot of questions though. Will school restart at some point this course? What will this summer look like? Will our pool open? (This is one of my biggest concerns at this point as summer is so brutally hot here). When will people begin to travel again? (My parents had a scheduled visit this week and we are sad that they won't be able to come). How big of a hit will the economy take here in Spain? 

We are trying to remain optimistic and hopeful that when this is all over we will still be working and more importantly healthy. I'm wishing the same for everyone who is reading.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quarantine in Spain, Week 4

This update is coming a few days late so really we are about four and a half weeks into our quarantine and still no end in sight. This past week has been hard since it's starting to really sink in how long we have been inside and not knowing when this is going to end. I've been reflecting on how fortunate we are (still healthy, Jose still working, the girls are still behaving better than I would have ever expected) but also how a lot of things seem to have worked out before this crisis to put us in a better position right now.

For example, as many of you know I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer this past fall after having surgery to have my thyroid removed. I had to have a follow up radioactive iodine treatment when we got back from our visit to the US which required me to stay in the hospital isolated for a few days and then to self isolate at home for about a week. (Really I have been in quarantine more than not in 2020). I was able to get all of this done in February and have the girls and Jose back home before COVID-19 made its way to Spain. If not, I would still be waiting to have a treatment that hopefully killed all the remaining cancer.

We have also been house hunting (perpetually it seems sometimes) and we were just about to put an offer in on a house that although lovely would probably have been a bit of a stretch for us financially. We had all of our paperwork together and yet someone beat us to the punch and we didn't get the house. In the end, it has been a blessing in disguise as although I would LOVE to have an outdoor space to play in, with the uncertainty going on right with the economy I feel much better in our smaller space. Not to mention the idea of moving right now or adjusting to a new space with all that is going on.

Thirdly and this sometimes seems like divine intervention, I took this course off of work to take care of Carla. This was decided before I had been diagnosed with cancer (before surgery and recovery, before further treatment and recovery and now before this quarantine). I wanted to stay home until Carla was one and it is working out perfectly. I didn't have to take time off when I was sick, I was able to have a nice long visit to see my family before Christmas and now things are much easier since only Jose is working from home and I am able to take care of the girls. I feel so much for people who are juggling both right now. I'm not sure how they are doing it. So really in some ways I feel like we were being prepared for these trying times without knowing it. All those things that at the time were a disappointment I am now trying to look at in a positive light. And the what ifs no longer bother me. I feel so fortunate that we were able to spend six weeks visiting family this fall because we aren't really sure when international travel is going to start again or when it will be safe to go (I really doubt this summer). 

This past week was Holy Week and it was definitely strange not to be out seeing any processions or enjoying the springtime. The Meester Bunny came and brought the big girls chocolate eggs, slime to keep their hands busy and as tradition, new flip flops to wear down to the pool and to the beach. (Fingers crossed that we get to use them). It was also my birthday and Jose and the girls made me a cake. We ordered some food to celebrate and I got a new Kindle to try to get some reading done when I have a spare minute.

Vera and Laura are still having weekly classes online with their teachers. They are keeping busy most of the time and we are still keeping up with our routine. Carla has gotten two teeth now and started crawling tentatively this morning. She refuses to nap in the morning anymore and instead complains and tries to stay awake until she crashes (the other day directly falling asleep with her head on the floor). It's like she has to be awake when her sisters are. This does not bode well for the future I think...

All in all, we are hanging in there. There has been talk of allowing kids to get some fresh air each day and even if this initiative is limited I am hoping that it gets pushed through. Jose and I get our ten minutes a day when we take out the dog but it is weighing heavily on me that the girls do not. At least for the past few days it has been rainy and overcast so we aren't missing out on the otherwise normally gorgeous spring in the south of Spain.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Quarantine in Spain, Week 3

Week three of quarantine in Spain recently ended. Not much has changed for us. We try to wake up at about the same time each day, have breakfast and get dressed. We are still doing lots of "projects" as the girls have come to call our arts and crafts time each day. The latest addition to our arsenal of activities has been beads. We've made just about everyone we know a bracelet. I really think our routine is making things easier all around. 

Jose is still teaching his classes online and we are making good use of technology as we've been using Zoom for some family chats as well as having some classes with the girls' teachers. I am really thankful for the technology that is allowing us to stay connected with everyone. I'm used to using it for my family but we've been forced to do the same with Jose's family and our friends as well.

Jose and I have continued our Marvel Universe movie marathon. We have only 10 left of the twenty or so films that exist. It's what we do after we put all the girls to bed around 830, dinner and a movie. It's something we haven't done in a long time (usually we watch a series instead). This week we ordered in from our favorite Mexican restaurant and the food was amazing as usual. I think it's important to support local businesses that are still open as much as possible right now.

We've been dressing up quite a bit and there are days that I miss being able to dress the girls in their school uniform because now I actually have to think about what they will wear. And argue with them about why they can't wear certain things. Four year olds have really clear ideas about these sort of things in our house.

I'm going to have to plant some trees after this quarantine because we are using so much paper each day. Our girls love to draw and color, especially Laura. She likes to draw pictures and then tell stories about them or play that she is a teacher. Besides being budding artists, we have some future chefs as well. This past week I've been trying to bring Vera and Laura into the kitchen more. I've also found myself cooking a lot more now that we are all home for lunch. Before we would eat simple dinners together but really lunch is the main meal here in Spain so I've been able to cook more complicated recipes than before.

Carla has finally gotten her first tooth! She hangs out in what we call her habitat in the living room (a gated area to keep the dog off her soft puzzle flooring) and she is super nosey and wants to know what is going on with everyone else. She has been sleeping and eating like a champ but has started to express her opinions about certain things (don't dare take away something she thinks she needs but shouldn't have) and has discovered pulling hair.

This week is Holy Week and it is strange not to be going to see any of the typical processions that should be happening right now. Nothing right now seems typical but we are trying to get through it. Our quarantine has been extended until at least the end of the month but I recently saw something that said it might be until summer. I try not to think about that or about the fact that my favorite singing competition Eurovision has been canceled this year. I just try to think that this is all worth it and that we are making a difference. And to take it one day at a time.