family

COVID-19, physical separation, grocery shopping and children

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COVID-19 is here, though so far our family are doing ok - it has been eight days since our last venture out of the house and we're not showing symptoms, so it's so far so good.

We've actually been wondering how to handle a scenario where both my wife and I become ill, and how to manage grocery shopping and food preparation for our three children. There's potential for us both to fall ill and be unable to cook for everyone for two-ish weeks.

There are a few aspects to this.

Firstly, COVID-19 can take up to two weeks for symptoms to show up. Every time we go out we want to wait two weeks to ensure we weren't infected from our last exposure.

Secondly, many people (including some folks I know) have full-on symptoms for two weeks, or longer, where they're unable to do anything, never mind if you need to go to the hospital. If we fall ill towards the end of a two week grocery period we could be out of action for another two weeks.

Put together, that sets us up for wanting to shop every two weeks but having two additional weeks worth of food, so that if we both fall ill by the end of a two week grocery period there's still food in the house for the kids to eat.

Towards that goal we've started focusing more on cooking fresh food instead of processed food, with the goal of freezing half-or-more of it per batch. We're labeling everything that goes in the freezer with the date so the food can be eaten in order.

So we're going to focus on cooking fresh food while we have it, try to freeze some of each meal, and then if/when we're ill our kids have something they can take out and heat to eat.

Ultimately I'd like us to have four weeks of of food between the fridge, freezer and pantry; we'd favor cooking fresh when available, then cycle through frozen stuff while leaving a two-week buffer of "mom and dad are both ill" time.

This is made all the more complicated because of my wife's ongoing health problems. She has been nursing her gall bladder for two years and is currently trying to improve it. Part of this process involves juicing vegetables and fruit to make them easier for her to get the nutrition (and throwing the pulp/fiber left over into chicken broth). Because so much fruit & veg only lasts a week-or-so she found a technique to prolong their shelf life by putting them in baskets of wood shavings, separating each item so that if one starts rotting it won't affect the others. This has been helping so far, e.g. instead of one rotten apple in a bag causing the rest to rot, when one apple started showing signs we could spot it and the others weren't affected.

Even so, fruit and veg can still go off fairly quickly, some items only lasting a few days before they start going off. As a result, it becomes hard to only shop once every two weeks and keep fresh fruit & veg in your diet. To help with this we signed up for Misfits Market a company that ships you a box of fresh veg & fruit every week. They're super busy right now so our first delivery won't be for two weeks, but it looks like deliveries will start on our grocery week off, so I think it'll help.

I should also note that we are in a very privileged position of being able to do this. I work from home and still have a job, and thankfully we're able to fund these efforts. I know lots of people who aren't as fortunate, hopefully the government funding will be able to help people.

Anyway, be safe, stay home if you can, and take care of yourselves.

Never thought this would be the scenario I wouldn't be able to travel for

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When my nephew Elliott's health started taking a turn for the worse, my first thought was to start preparing for the possibility of needing to make a trip to Ireland to be with my family. Unfortunately with the COVID-19 pandemic uprooting the entire world, flying is both not recommended due to the viral load component of virus transmission, and also not easily achieved because so many airlines have stopped their flights. Even if I was to make it back to Ireland somehow, the Irish health board has requested that "Everybody flying into Ireland from overseas should self-quarantine for 14 days". There was not going to be any chance of completing that in time, which would run the risk of me transmitting the illness to my parents or others, should I pick it up along the way (if I don't already have it and am asymptomatic); alternatively, I could pick it up from someone in Ireland and bring it back to the US to share with everyone I was in contact with between the airport and home, never mind my family.

So instead my brother and I have worked out how to use the conference call system Zoom to stream the funeral to family and friends across Ireland and the world. While I won't be able to comfort my family, we'll at least be able to say our farewells to Elliott.

Historically when people from Ireland emigrated to the US family and friends would hold a party for them to send them off. This was traditionally called an "Irish wake" as it was from a time when it was not expected that the emigrating person would ever be seen again. When my wedding 22 years ago became a makeshift Irish wake for me, I never in my wildest, worst dreams believed I would be unable to return home because of a pandemic, with the ease of travel across the Atlantic I assumed I would be able to pop over with short notice, as happened in 2016. The timing this year really is atrocious, and gut-wrenching.

Now the best I can do is tell my family in Ireland I love them, do everything in my power to keep my family here health so that when the pandemic subsides we'll be able to travel. Because there are so many hugs to be shared, and tears to be released.

RIP my nephew Elliott Seamus Patrick McKenna Roddy

Elliott smiling while listening to music being played for him

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My wonderful sister and her husband lost their child after a long uphill battle against the odds. Dearest Elliott Seamus Patrick McKenna Roddy passed away quietly in his mother's arms on Saturday, March 21st, with his dad at her side and his two grandmothers in support. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Ringing in the new year with a sick child on my lap

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ringing in the New Year sitting up on my bed with an ill child asleep on my lap, and I couldn’t be happier. Well, maybe I could, but you know what I mean.

And “happy” is the wrong word. I have a very strong paternal urge to care for sick children, especially our own, so when one of our children is ill there’s nowhere I’d rather be than there taking care of them.

We spent most of the past two weeks with someone ill. First it was our eldest, who grew 3/4rs of an inch over the space of three weeks and then had some mono-like symptoms for a few days but ultimately was fine after some rest. Then our middlest and awesomewife both came down with lethargy and some sinus congestion at roughly the same time, followed quickly by our youngest. Jump to yesterday and our youngest was jumping around feeling back to normal while the other two still had some residual coughing, so I was expecting that today everyone was going to wake up and be right as rain. Our hearts sank quite a bit when at about 6 this morning our youngest started a croupy cough in his sleep - this bug wasn’t quite done with him yet, and we were in for another few days of ickiness until he was fully recovered. We then changed our plan for New Years’ Eve to skip going to the Bangor Library’s festivities (with special indoor mini-golf?) and instead having a mostly quiet evening in.

At bedtime he went down to sleep really quickly, but within half an hour awesomewife sat up in bed with him on her lap. Half an hour later again, and I’ve traded places with her, she’s now doing some final nighttime things and I’m writing this.

I’m anticipating 2019 being a good year for us. We have some exciting plans for the year, I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

I do hope you and yours have a very Happy New Year. I appreciate you taking the time to read this, and look forward to meeting up at some point throughout the year, or at the very least talking on the phone or online.

'Twas a good day

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That was a rather good day.

It's the first day of our vacation. Next week We go to DC for some sightseeing and for me to attend the Drupal GovCon event for a few days. I'll be giving a presentation on one of my favorite topics (open source software) and running a code sprint for the Metatag module (plugin) for Drupal that I maintain.

This morning Jen surprised us with blueberry scones. We had quite the chuckle as she made them as I first thought she was making traditional American biscuits to go with breakfast; she joked about adding cheese and I suggested garlic too. So then when she poured in a cup of blueberries it took me a moment to get the vision of garlic, cheese and blueberry biscuits out of my head X-) They were quite tasty in the end, and yes they were blueberry scones and not the unholy concoction my imagine invented.

I then met someone locally who was just starting to learn Drupal, and told him about the Keene Drupal user group meetings that I help run with a friend.

I finished reading an excellent interview with an historian who has been researching the revisionist theory that the Irish indentured servitude of the past was in any way similar to the slavery of black people in the USA. Needless to say, while indentured servitude did happen, it was far removed from the treatment of black people throughout this country's history. The interview is well worth reading, especially if you've ever heard that "Irish slavery" fable/lie/meme that has been doing the rounds for a few years.

At dinnertime we were playing hangman, taking turns around the table to both run and play the game. When it was Liam (who's nine) to take his turn to run the game, he picked a word, drew out the structure and placeholders for the characters, which had seven letters. Before we began Jen asked him if he was sure he was spelling the word correctly, to which he replied in the affirmative. Jen went first and picked 'a', which he said the word didn't have. She then asked him again to make sure he had the word correct, and again he said he did. Just as it was about to be my turn, Liam paused for a second and asked to everyone - "how do you spell 'skeleton'?" Several minutes of laughing later .. he had to pick a different word and start again ;-)

We then rounded off the evening with some tickle-tag chasing each other around the house.

That was a very good day :-)

While I'm not strictly going to start keeping my "three positive things" journal going again, with some prodding from Jen I've decided to start blogging about the good things in life again.

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