COVID19 life Weekend

Day 133: Socially Distanced Outdoor Fun & A Pen Test

July 26, 2020

Well! A yard that size certainly helps when you are hosting a socially distanced party (they rented the giant inflatable 30′ water slide).

I felt pretty comfortable at this party. Everyone masked (kids included when they were not in the water) and the closest anyone got was when the kids were in the pool together. The slide was enjoyed one kid at a time (hopefully there was some chlorine in that water). I don’t think a gathering like this would be worth the (small) risk for just any occasion but for Annabel’s best friend, it seemed right after 4+ months with zero interaction.

“SIX FEET GIRLS!” was a common reminder

A was so tired after all of this that she passed out on the couch after we got home. So did I. And the weather even cooperated!

I don’t think I’m ready to start arranging casual playdates or taking the kids on outings but this felt okay and I am glad we went. The only annoying part was spending a long stretch of time talking with a women who was obsessed with telling us all about how much better her life was after she quit her job once she had her 3rd child. I didn’t have it in me to explain to her that staying home with 3 kids did NOT sound preferable to working to me.

(One could comment – well, that’s what works for her! And that’s true; she seems to enjoy her current setup and I absolutely respect her right to do what she wants with her life. But those of us who worked weren’t sitting there crowing/proselytizing about our life choices. ALSO her SAHM life was assisted by an au pair.)

((Josh thought my response should have been to comment brightly: “Guess you think I’m crazy for working then!”)).

Saturday Night Activity

This is what I did while the kids watched a movie:

NOTE: I am very distressed to find that my FAVORITE PEN (highlighted in purple above) may have been discontinued. It is available on Amazon in a pack of 4 “business colors” but very few other places and it does not seem to be on the PaperMate website!!! I am tempted to order 10 packs from Amazon and hoard them but I also feel like it is the kind of pen that may dry up and then my efforts will backfire. Aghigh, #bujoproblems.

Today’s Goals:

✅ Groceries

Backdoor Roths (yesterday was 529s – this is a financial cleanup weekend!)

✅ Take outfit pix (for post coming next week!)

✅ Do nails (they are gross)

✅ Sephora order (yay)

PS: I rather love the kerfuffle the J Vasc Surgery article has stirred up. I have always written this blog knowing that some people wouldn’t like that it exists (because doctors are robots and always perfect!), but feeling that it is still worth it. Post like this one are “inappropriate” I guess! #medbikini


  • Reply Maya July 26, 2020 at 6:57 am

    OMFG From the JVasc article: “The journal’s editor, Dr. Peter Gloviczki, commented that the paper had gone through the journal’s standard editorial review process, with three reviewers accepting the manuscript after major revisions. While the board is racially diverse, Dr. Gloviczki acknowledges that it lacks gender diversity.”

  • Reply Irene July 26, 2020 at 7:29 am

    I am so glad that A had fun. After 4 months of isolation it’s feeling important to find ways to let my super extroverted 5 year old see some peers especially since school is not happening. I am struggling to figure out the right balance because I am not ready to just allow her to play with every kid in the neighborhood with no precautions and it seems like most families around here are doing a very all or nothing approach to playing. But since my kids are in developmentally different places I feel she can’t wait until feb 2021 to have some peer interaction. Ugh. I wish she had a clear BFF in the neighborhood that we could pod up with. I am really struggling with this so any thoughts you or other commentators have are welcome. Our neighborhood Facebook group is starting to try to organize some sharing of information but it hasn’t really happened yet.

  • Reply Chelsea July 26, 2020 at 7:37 am

    Perhaps – to be generous to the other mother – after 133 days at home with extremely limited adult interaction she literally had nothing else to talk about other than her family decision. Or she may have some social anxiety which makes her a bad conversationalist. All of which is to say, what she said probably had absolutely nothing to do with her view of your choices. And there’s this little voice in my head – which could be totally, completely wrong – that makes me think that a semi-snarky comment like Josh suggested could have potentially really hurt her feelings and not led to any productive discussion. Feel good that you took the high road :).

    • Reply Katie July 26, 2020 at 8:11 am

      I agree. This is such a strange time that there’s all the more reason to give others the benefit of the doubt. Who knows why she felt compelled to press on that issue? She might have been feeling insecure about her decision to stay home – especially while talking to a mom of three with a thriving career – and it came out the opposite way. In any event, it has helped me in recent years when confronted with moms vocally proclaiming that they’ve got all the answers (which differ from my approach) to adopt the Amy Poehler motto of, “Good for her, not for me.”

      • Reply Taryn July 26, 2020 at 11:30 am

        I was actually going to say pretty much the same thing! My gut instinct was also that she was feeling insecure and having doubts about her decision. While I don’t know anything about this women, I do research on perfectionism and health and when someone is going on and on about how “perfect” their life is, that’s usually far from the truth. Good for you for not making a snarky comment, as tempting as I’m sure it was. It’s sad really because if she’s putting on a front and struggling (even a little bit!) then she won’t get the support she needs. Anyways, I’m sorry you had to listen to her go on about this! And I hope you had an otherwise good time 🙂

        • Reply Katie July 26, 2020 at 3:55 pm

          Your research sounds very interesting!! Do you have any books you recommend on that topic?

          • Taryn July 26, 2020 at 6:17 pm

            Thanks! My supervisor (Gordon Flett) has written some books on perfectionism, but they are more academic. Can’t go wrong with Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. Or if you’re interested in reading specifically about perfectionism during the pandemic, Gordon Flett and Paul Hewitt co-wrote a commentary in the Journal of Concurrent Disorders. You should be able to download it for free if you search for Perfectionism Pandemic Meets COVID-19 in Concurrent Disorders. Hope this helps!

    • Reply Claire July 26, 2020 at 10:46 am

      Was she implying that her decision was superior? I don’t understand why she can’t say her decision has been great for her family without women that work taking offense or when women say how glad they are to work why sahms take offense. It seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to say given how stressful work + no childcare has been for many people in these times, the more kids you have the more challenging it probably is. I appreciate that some people go over the top though and it’s hard to not take it personally so maybe that’s what this was.

  • Reply Ali July 26, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Staying at home plus having childcare does sound really nice sometimes (esp since I’ve been working from home with no childcare thanks to Covid, ugggghhh). I usually think that people who are trying to convince others that their choices are the best are coming from a place of insecurity/ justification. 🙂

    For our family, we have felt comfortable doing outdoor activities with others since our children seem to be in a lower risk category (under 10). We are trying to enforce 6 feet of separation (probably not perfectly since they are kids), but if we contract the virus outside between the uv rays AND pool chlorine, then I don’t think we can avoid it. Based on what I have read, these activities seem pretty low risk. At least that is how I am thinking through it, and it has been key for all our sanity!

  • Reply askateachermom July 26, 2020 at 8:14 am

    So many eye rolls that the editors have “racial diversity but not gender diversity.” Of course no woman looked at the article. I’m so over the idea that teachers, doctors etc have to be robots. Clearly politicians don’t have to be! Yes, set a good example and don’t disclose patient/student information, but wearing a bikini or having a glass of wine is not inappropriate. I’m glad we live in a time where this absurdity is at least being called out.

  • Reply Gillian July 26, 2020 at 9:02 am

    How on earth was that article peer reviewed?! It would make me question every article published in that journal.

  • Reply Nelle July 26, 2020 at 9:05 am

    I saw a doctor friend post a photo of herself on vacation in response to that article. Personally, I hope my docs are taking care of themselves and I don’t begrudge them private lives! It would be mean to expect them to have their lab coats on 24/7. (One of my siblings is a teacher and she is quite careful about her social media but teachers get a similar level of scrutiny–maybe even worse.)

  • Reply Omdg July 26, 2020 at 9:14 am

    J vasc has (had?) an impact factor of 0.9 before this and the quality of the article reflects that… though I recall an article in critical care medicine on a related topic a few years back…

    Party looks like fun! I’d cut the mom some slack. She probably hasn’t talked to many other adults lately and may have been a bit off her rocker.

  • Reply Danielle July 26, 2020 at 10:36 am

    I saw the fine point flairs in stock on JetPen’s website a week or so ago. I’ve found the Marvy Uchida Le Pen’s to be similar, but hoping the Flairs aren’t discontinued. They seem to still be very popular so I’d be surprised if so!

    Like others mentioned, good job taking the high road in that conversation!

  • Reply Teresa July 26, 2020 at 11:32 am

    So funny that some doctors are taken aback by seeing parts of the human body exposed. Thanks for sharing! What a terrific example of unconscious bias that seems to be getting more and more attention in the numerous arenas it exists.

  • Reply Sara July 26, 2020 at 11:36 am

    We’re also struggling with the idea of play dates. We had a successful tennis play date recently (the kids kind of had to stay 6+ feet apart to play!)

    We’re also in the process of organizing a “pod” with another like-minded family with two boys the same ages as mine (6 and 4). The boys all play well together and the older two go to the same elementary school. I think it could work well – we are friends with the parents, too. It still feels overwhelming to actually do it though. Potential hurt feelings from other friends and the actual increased risk are a lot to deal with.

    I feel like some people are being a lot looser with guidelines (although not my close friends – my friends are smart like me, haha) and I am pretty determined to do what we can to control the spread of Covid. We’re in Northern Virginia outside DC and in a weird spot in “Phase 3”, but cases are rising even though overall rates are lower than many areas of the country.

  • Reply Victoria B. July 26, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    I have seen the PaperMate Flair pens at Michaels near the registers. They have a bulk pen bin with lots of colors that aren’t available in multi-color packs. I believe I have also seen the Flairs in the bulk pen bins at Staples as well. Not sure if they are the fine tip though.

    Bristling over someone’s comments around staying at home and not working always seems to rile the masses here, so I’m glad to see a few commenters coming to the defense of the mom at the party. I have said this before and I will say it again, another mother’s choices should cause no reason for defensiveness of your own different choices.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2020 at 12:42 pm

      Flairs are everywhere but the fine point seem scarce (not the regular or the ultra fine!).

      It’s interesting – I had no problem with her choice. She was projecting a very superior air that I probably didn’t communicate well in this post. She also did not really give me or really anyone else a chance to say much so … it wad just an annoying conversation.

      At the same time i get what you are saying. It would have been really nice if we could have had a constructive back and forth about what things have been like for her over the past few months. I’m sure it hasn’t been fun for anyone!

  • Reply Amy July 26, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I hate when my favorite pens get discontinued. I did a search and only found them on Amazon as well. I mainly see the medium and ultra fine point. I didn’t even know a regular fine point existed until you posted about it. Without having tried the fine point, I can’t give great advice… however, I have found some good art pens at Michaels. I like the Staedtler pigment liner pen. They come in a variety of sizes. It might be similar to the Flair.

  • Reply Grateful Kae July 26, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    That would probably annoy me, too, based on what you’re saying. However, maybe she didn’t have a good set up for work/life balance when she was a working mom…like maybe her husband was never around or she didn’t have adequate childcare or she was just stressed constantly. In that case, I could see that maybe life DOES feel way better to her now. Does she know you are a doctor?? I think many people also might have a bit of an inferiority complex around people with high paid/ powerful jobs (doctors, lawyers, etc)- especially if they had a lesser paid career or in her case, makes no money at all now- and maybe she just felt self-conscious and like she had to “prove” herself to you as to why she is “just” a stay at home mom now? (emphasis on the “just” as maybe her feelings, not my personal perception of SAHMs!) Who knows! I wouldn’t waste more time worrying about it. 🙂 I guess now just hope she doesn’t read your blog or maybe the next b-day party will be even more awkward. hahaha.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2020 at 7:00 pm

      I don’t think she knew anything about my job situation. I did say I worked but did not specify doing what 🙂

  • Reply Sara July 26, 2020 at 8:43 pm

    If you thought that conversation was frustrating imagine how the au pair feels! Going to the US thinking you’ll have a cultural experience and getting stuck with a SAHM in her home during a pandemic. The ultimate living with your boss (who doesn’t work at all because she has you!).

  • Reply Alyce July 26, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    Since the pandemic started, you’ve repeatedly questioned aloud whether you could (or should) work less or just stay home entirely for a while. And although you consistently come back to continuing to work is the best decision for you and your family right now, I doubt the feelings that prompted the question have just disappeared. Perhaps your conversation with this other mom rankled because of your own wistfulness about staying home. Maybe she was just a bad conversationalist (with her own emotional baggage as others have pointed out), but maybe your own feelings impacted why she seemed so annoying and how much she projected air of superiority about her family’s decision. And if there’s any truth to that (because maybe there’s not), would the conversation been less grating if you could have acknowledged your own wistfulness, internally or externally? Just a (gentle) thought.

    But it’s definitely uncool shade to imply that she shouldn’t need or have an au pair. As you and Laura always point out, the extra help may be to compensate for her partner’s unavailability to provide childcare. And even if her partner is totally available and equally participatory, it’s not like parenting is adequately handled by two people and a third set of hands on deck would be totally wasted.

    Also, I would stock up on the pens. If the worst case scenario is that you’re out a little money if they dry out before you can use them, it’s not like you’re hurting for money and will miss the money you spent. Because maybe then pens won’t dry out, and you can prolong the loss of your favorite pen. I would be devastated if my favorite pens (uniball signo dx with 0.38mm tips) were no longer available. The company that makes my favorite toothpaste went out of business late last year and since I usually buy a year’s supply at once, I didn’t find out in time to stock up. I found out during the pandemic and even though it’s embarrassing to admit because it’s NOT A REAL PROBLEM, it was one of the things that made me feel like my world was falling apart, and it broke me. (Though in my defense, it obviously landed at an emotionally fraught time.)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      All good points. I still maintain there was a tone issue that made the conversation feel particularly negative but absolutely acknowledge maybe part of the issue was the receiving end and complicated feelings.

      And yes you’re probably right about the pens 😂

  • Reply Connie C July 27, 2020 at 9:11 am

    That article. I don’t even.


    I am so glad there was push back.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns July 27, 2020 at 9:39 am

    My thought was that that woman was also feeling insecure about her decision and wanted to justify her choices, even though I am sure that none of you really cared about her decision to work within or outside the home! I don’t like to have those kind of conversations with people I don’t know. I only discuss things like that with my closest friends because there is so much nuance to the decisions we make!

    We only do playdates with kids from our daycare, and really it’s only 1 family who are our best friends. We figure we are all exposed to the same stuff so it’s safe to hang out outside of school. You could consider doing that once G and C are at Montessori school if the kids are craving extra interaction? To be honest, the play dates are more for me than the kids. Ha. It gives me a chance to talk to my friend and Paul gets to play with different toys. Since our boys are 2, they don’t really ‘play together’ but it’s still a fun morning for them.

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