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Quarantine Life

May 10th, 2020 at 02:36 pm

My initial feelings on lockdown, posted over a month ago:
I am just so buried at work, life continues on as it has. We are homebodies and try to generally limit unnecessary errands, always eat our meals at home, etc. so it's been a small change for us at this point.

I only leave the house to go to the office. MH only leaves the house to go to the grocery store.

At 8 weeks of lockdown, I'd say not much has changed for us. One-income living has prepared us for "quarantine life". I am still buried at work. MH and the kids have their slow "summer schedule" (no school/work). It's all in some realm of normalcy for us.

{This was true through the end of April. Now MM and MH are both working, more info below}.

I commented in another blog that we aren't experiencing any +/- in our spending. A lot of it is having a bare bones budget to begin with. We are clearly using a lot less cell data (on wifi 100% now) but that might save us $4 this month ($1 per line). My commute has decreased a little bit, so my electric fuel spending might be $20 instead of $25. It's just stuff like that.

I am waiting for several windfalls, none have materialized yet: refi, stimulus, unemployment. Crickets, crickets, crickets.

Except for one surprise "windfall". My boss called me up a few weeks ago and offered MM(16) a job. He received a 50% raise (over last summer) and it sounded like he was about to offer him use of a car, we are so desperate for help at the office. That was a sudden turn of events. The night before we had literally discussed how MM probably wouldn't be working at all this year. (The seasonal summer job he had gotten would have started yesterday, but is on hold indefinitely. We had discussed that even if they do open it wouldn't be worth being exposed to hundreds of people every day. Going to the same office I go to, with a whole whopping 5 other people... Talk about night and day).

I am still digging out of my hole. It's a million times better than it ever was in 2018 or 2019, I am very well aware. But last last weekend I was catching up on taxes (for relatives) and this past weekend I finished up my professional education for the (entire) year. Phew!

By itself, I may literally have crossed everything (non-work) off of my to-do list and can maybe realistically experience a May with "nothing on my plate." {I know a lot of people are home and bored. It's just not anything I can even begin to fathom right now; have not been able to fathom "boredom" for a few years}.

But... MH has been called back to work. From part-time to full-time. He hasn't worked full-time since 2002 (before kids). Ugh! It's very in line with my current years-long jinx. Every time I think I turn a corner, something else crazy is thrown at my feet. So technically last Sunday was my first peaceful/quiet day in as long as I can even remember. But then... I was thrown head first into the domestic side of things. But I think it will be a good thing. It's always good to walk in someone's shoes for a while. It should just be for a month. Whenever I try to help at all, MH refuses. & he's already a control freak in the kitchen so just isn't good with delegating anything "kitchen" to anyone. He admits it will be good to get out of his comfort zone and this will force us to have more teamwork in the kitchen, regarding both dishes and meals. We are mostly delegating to DL(14) who literally has nothing on his plate. The schedule and responsibility would obviously be good for him; he's already told us he feels better than he has in weeks. (We've given the kids full kitchen duty in the past, but it's just never stuck).

Thursday night I did make our favorite spinach manicotti recipe. We couldn't find any manicotti, so turned it into a lasagna instead. MH was nervous about it and hovering over me in the kitchen. I agreed to cook because DL(14) does not like this dinner. We asked him to make rice for leftovers, as his chore for the day. Anyway, I could tell the lasagna had cooked through and was fine, but MH was driving me crazy. Honestly, it was a much simpler way to make it. MH might prefer the manicotti, but I think I am sold on the lasagna. It will be interesting what meal modifications endure this time. I think we are long practiced in "creativity" and "making do", but are just flexing those muscles more than usual.

Week 1 went really well. It was definitely a team effort.

Last Sunday MH did a big grocery run for 2-3 weeks. He is being protective and refuses to let anyone else in the house go to any store whatsoever. So his plan was just to do a big grocery stock-up before he was back at work and super busy. We probably hadn't gone to the grocery store on a weekend in a couple of months. Things have settled down considerably. We were able (for the first time) to find more than a roll of toilet paper.

{I think we honestly have food for a solid 3 weeks, not counting "emergency reserves" like extra meat and rice. It feels we barely put a dent in the groceries this week}.

In the end, we realized that all the green onions we had, had gone bad. So we already need green onions though clearly we could survive without. But MH didn't really have room on his grocery cart to stock up on more cat food, and he got me some stuff for a recipe (that I found recently) but didn't know I needed tomato paste. & I later remembered a couple of other recipe ingredients I had forgotten. So... On a whim Friday I looked if I could do a grocery pick up. MH was talking about doing a run to get these things. Which is confusing to me because he's been so much otherwise, "Once every two weeks at the most, JUST ME." So it's confusing to me when he's kind of, "Oh well, will go to the store just to pick up green onions". So I ran it past him Friday and asked if he needed anything else. I just did a quick pickup; they delivered to my car. (I have more work flexibility, so it fell on me). The personal shoppers are free at our store (and they don't accept tips). For smaller orders it isn't free, but I guess the first 3 times are free. I think this is more of a "MH is working and it's chaos" thing that anything else. MH was a little skeptical about using for such a small pickup, but I pointed out it's always free on a $100+ pick up. Not hard to do $100 for a family of 4. In fact, on the way out the door MH told me "granola bars are on sale, get some of those." & then he ran in a minute later and told me to check the sales ads, there was some good deals. So I ended up spending $60. That was the quick/small grocery run. My conclusion is that this worked out really well. I got lucky, they didn't have to omit or substitute anything in my order. I didn't bother with things that I *knew* were not as well stocked. But still, I figured I'd end up with a different brand or something or other. (I indicated most things I would not accept substitutes ~ all the sales items. But if I had to get a different brand of tomato paste instead of just the generic, or of had to pay a little more for organic onions, whatever).

I think mostly our personalities are, "Meh, it's easier/better to just do things ourselves". We've been doing some Target grocery deliveries to our house (regular shipping), but is nothing I foresee doing once things normalize.

Our menu this week:

Monday: mini meatloaves and roasted potatoes (we have the most amazing recipe, horseradish and chili sauce are the secret ingredients). MH has discovered red potatoes during quarantine so asked us to roast some red potatoes, versus our usual mashed potatoes with this dinner. Just remembering a change that will endure. MM(16) and I cooked dinner.

Tuesday: Burritos (simple/old family recipe) - prepared by DL(14)

Wednesday: South of the Border Wraps (black bean and salsa burritos with green onions and cilantro; simple but divine) - prepared by DL(14)

Thursday: Spinach lasagna - prepared by Moi, with a hovering MH

Friday: Thai chicken (noodles) - prepared by DL(14)

DL(14) has also made a couple of batches of hummus this week.

I share because my kids can cook. 😉

MH is cooking this weekend. Phew! On the menu still (ingredients on hand): Sesame chicken (a new recipe to try), pasta with chickpeas and garlic sauce, Fiesta chicken (crockpot recipe, spicy shredded chicken that we eat with tortillas), salisbury steak, sloppy joes, zuppa toscano, pasta meatball soup, Kashari, Indian butter chicken with jasmine rice, Spicy Stir-Fried tofu & Coconut Rice. This menu is heavy on some of our easier meals. I think MH has another couple of recipes to make next weekend and so we probably won't need another grocery store run for another two weeks. Which feels like a miracle with two teen boys to feed. (MM is still running 8 miles per day; DL has reverted to the home workouts he had been doing for many years before we recently joined the gym. So I am not getting a break with "school sports" retired. Caloric needs continue to be completely absurd. But MM is getting fed some at my job, which helps *a lot*). Will see how I feel about it next weekend...

9 Responses to “Quarantine Life”

  1. Wink Says:

    I think it's awesome that your kids can cook and are involved with that responsibility! It really prepares them for self sufficiency when it's time to leave the nest.

  2. CB in the City Says:

    Willing to share the meatloaf recipe? With horseradish and chili sauce it has to be good.

  3. GoodLiving Says:

    Oh yes, chili sauce and horseradish sounds tasty!

  4. rob62521 Says:

    Sounds like some things are looking up as far as MH going to full time. Great that the kids help cook. As Wink said, it helps prepare them for self sufficiency.

  5. terri77 Says:

    I just discovered the Indian butter chicken dinner at Trader Joe’s & I really like it.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    It's so cool you still do kushari after all these years! Smile Only me and NT like it so we hardly ever do, but maybe I should do it for a lunch for him and me sometime...hmmm...

  7. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    awesome! Can't wait for the kids to get older!

  8. MonkeyMama Says:

    @ceejay - We actually haven't made kushari in a few years. I took the sauce and made a pasta sauce out of it, so my takeaway was the sauce, nom nom nom. But for some reason my 14yo mentioned something about it and he seemed incredulous I had a recipe. It might have been because he was doing a school report on Egypt, I don't remember. But that sounds vaguely familiar. & it sounded like good quarantine food. We have a lot of pasta/rice/lentils. 😁 My husband would never make it, but now that I am the one picking meals...

  9. MonkeyMama Says:

    I'll share my recipe on a new post.

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