TeaChat: Pandemics & Forced Family Time

For those of you who are new around here, TeaChats are a monthly post that I do in which I pretend that you and I are going out and grabbing a cup of tea (or coffee or wine) and we’re chatting about what we’ve been up to lately.

Let’s chat!

Dude… dude.

Things have change significantly since I last did a TeaChat life update.

I’ve been working from home for about 3 weeks now and the girls have been eLearning for the same amount of time.

I’m lucky that both my job and my husband’s job allows us to work from home, and that the girls are in a private school that was very prepared for eLearning. Their school was the first in the area to announce the closure on a Friday, by Monday eLearning was fully up and running smoothly.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing since then, I’m not going to lie. It has nothing to do with the school, the school has their sh*t together, however, 99% of my job can be done from home which means that I have the exact same workload I had before, except now I have to homeschool my 5 and 7 year old, who are fairly well-behaved, but still need guidance and need to get their wiggles out.

And, let’s be real, listening to mommy is a little different than listening to your teacher.

Though my husband is home with us – we all sit around the dining room table working together – he is on and off conference calls all day, so I do most of the guiding and prepping each day for school.

Let me tell you how we’ve been (for the most part) surviving:

  • I create checklists for the girls every night for the following day. I make each “checkbox” into a heart that they get to color in after every task
  • I made a daily schedule that stays on our dining room table as a reminder – we aren’t strict with the times – sometimes we sleep in – but routine is how we survived baby and toddler years and it has been working well for this
  • I make sure the amount and type of work that my youngest has takes her the same amount of time as my oldest’s workload. My 2nd Grader’s assigned work takes her much longer than my 5yo’s work, but I utilized online resources to come up with games and work that my 5yo can do pretty independently in the same amount of time as my 2nd Grader.
  • The girls have the same morning routine as they did when they were going to school. They wake up, eat breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, and go to the dining room table when they’re done. I get ready, but in much more comfortable clothes and no makeup. I make my bed every morning.
  • There is NO screen time during school days until after dinner for about an hour. That’s no TV, no phones or tablets. The only time they use tablets is for school and school-related apps during school time.
  • The girls do PE every day. Usually, they choose to do Cosmic Kids Yoga, but occasionally we just find a kid-friendly workout video on YouTube. This is done in the middle of school time to break up the day.
  • Part of their schoolwork is preparing their morning snack (usually a fruit salad that we call Rainbow Soup), preparing their lunches, and chores. This also helps break up the day.
  • Their school day typically lasts from 8am-1:30pm: it’s a long day, mostly because my 7yo has some processing issues and it takes her a little longer than most to finish her work. She just needs extra time. Meanwhile, my 5yo is very fast, so she ends up doing twice and much work as my 2nd Grader. If I let my 5yo play by herself while my 7yo is still working – she’d distract her sister.
  • Any time I can, I give my 7yo a “break” by letting her help her sister. My 5yo does Sight Word Hunts, so I have my 7yo hide the Sight Words for her and my 5yo has to read the words to her. This also gives me some time to work!
  • My husband and I schedule our conference calls around each other. More like… I schedule mine around him because he has way more than I do. This way someone is always available to help the girls while the other works uninterrupted.
  • Once the girls finish school for the day, they have “free play” until my husband and I finish with work. They can play outside, go in the pool, play in their room, or in the playroom. Luckily my husband and I both have laptops, so if they decide to play outside or in the pool, we can sit outside with them.

I hope all of this helps. It’s not perfect around here. I think all of us have cried at some point these past few weeks (except my husband). But we’re falling into a routine and the girls are happy. They barely notice anything is different.

I say “forced family time,” but I absolutely adore every second of it. I’m a homebody, so I’m perfectly happy staying at home with my little family. I do miss my siblings and parents, but we chat on the phone and text all day.

I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy I feel sitting at the dining room table with my husband and my beautiful girls every day. I’m going to miss them SO much when we have to go back to work. I think that is going to be harder than anything.

My chest hurts just thinking about it.

Anyway… onward to the usual TeaChat updates:

At Present I Am…


House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah J Maas
This book is taking me so freaking long to read. I ended up downloading the audiobook as well so that I could read it more often. I’m only about 1/4 of the way through. I like it so far, but I don’t love it.

I need an epic love, people. Give me ACOMAF 2.0


Little Women (2019)

I have so many fond memories of this story and this is by far the best adaptation I’ve ever seen. I didn’t think anything could beat that 1949 version, but this absolutely did.


Rainbow Soup!

This is actually an adaptation of a fruit salad (more like soup) that my grandma used to make. You simply combine all the following ingredients (it keeps for around 3-4 days, it’s best on the second day.)

  • Sliced grapes (2 handfuls)
  • Blackberries (1 package)
  • Blueberries (1 package)
  • Raspberries (1 package)
  • Diced strawberries (1 package)
  • Diced bananas (2)
  • Diced apples (2)
  • Diced pears (2)
  • Diced plums (2)
  • Diced peaches (2)
  • Enough orange juice (the fresher the better) to cover everything completely

Listening to

My obsession with this song is never-ending.

Obsessing over


This book. I finally read it and now I’m officially obsessed. I loved it so much.

What’s Next

The school is staying virtual until at least May 1, and we’ll be social distancing and staying home until then, too!

Tell me… what have you been up to lately? What’s up next?


For those of you who are new around here, TeaChats are a monthly post that I do in which I pretend that you and I are going out and grabbing a cup of tea (or coffee or wine) and we’re chatting about what we’ve been up to lately.

Let’s chat!

Read More

How I Organize My Bookshelves

During the summer of 2019 my husband and I went through the process of replacing all the flooring in our house.

Long before that I’d been contemplating rearranging the books on my bookshelves in some way that would allow me to find books a bit easier. Originally, my bookshelves were organized only by READ and TBR – otherwise I just put books together that I felt looked good together.

Needless to say it was really difficult to find books!

I knew I needed more organization, but I didn’t was the sacrifice aesthetics.

So, knowing that I would have to remove all the books and furniture from my library anyway, I came up with a reorganization plan.

Because similar genres tend to have similar cover styles and sizes, I decided to organize my shelves in this way:
1. Two categories: YA and Adult
2. Within those categories: Contemporary and Everything else (fantasy, sci-fi, historical, etc.)
3. Within those genres: alphabetical by author last name

Want to see the entire process, before photos, and after? Check out my video:

Life Update: I’ve Never Felt More Trapped In My Own Body

As someone who has suffered with panic disorder for over a decade, I’m very familiar with the unsettling feeling of being trapped inside your own body.

When I’m having a panic attack, I’m fully aware of what is happening. It is not an out-of-body experience. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’d much prefer to be anywhere but in my body when panic sets in and I know I’m in for the crashing-plane-feeling of a panic attack.

It’s that exact feeling that has been hanging out in the back of my mind as I’ve slowly started compiling symptoms that I’ve had for years.

It all came to a head at the end of September when I had what I thought was an ocular migraine. I don’t usually get migraines often. Headaches? Yeah, all the time. But migraines are few and far between.

Then, that last Friday in September came and I had the weirdest migraine I’d ever had. Suddenly my vision was skewed, as if I’d looked up and the sun and back down, but couldn’t clear the dark blobs in my vision. Luckily, I’ve heard about ocular migraines before, so I took some medicine and quickly left work before it got worse.

And it definitely got worse.

And since then it’s as if that migraine barely left.

The entire next week I had light sensitivity and headaches. My vision returned to normal, but my eyes were even hurting.

I went to a walk-in clinic who prescribed me migraine medicine, but told me I probably shouldn’t be at work when I take it because of my side effects (so, I didn’t take it).

I went to an ophthalmologist the next day, who told me that my eyes looked healthy, but she started asking me odd questions about my medical history.

Your hand has been tingly and slightly numb for two years? Tell me more about that.
Is it in only one eye that you have the pain?
Have you noticed any discoloration in your vision in that eye?
Has your vision decreased in that eye? Or become dimmer?

Ultimately, though my eyes looked healthy on her end, she insisted I see a neurologist. I took the card for the neurologist she recommended, and went on my way.

Her leading questions, though, stuck with me and I did the unthinkable… I took to Google.

And that’s when I came across Optic Neuritis.

“Optic neuritis is an inflammation that damages the optic nerve, a bundle of nerve fibers that transmits visual information from your eye to your brain. Pain and temporary vision loss in one eye are common symptoms of optic neuritis.”

Optic neuritis had a lot of the same symptoms that I was having, minus the vision changes. This was the only thing I could find that listed symptoms I was having and as I was researching it further, I came across something even more unsettling… Optic Neuritis is often a sign of Multiple Sclerosis.

Of course, I started digging into MS and that’s when things got scary. My tingling hand, that time my entire left side went numb and tingly, the ice pick headaches I was having a few months ago, frequent UTIs… these are all symptoms of MS.

I stopped researching MS altogether when things started getting scary. I didn’t want to scare myself without knowing for sure, but I also wanted to find out some answers. So, I did a little research and found a neurologist about an hour away from where I live who specialises in MS.

Here’s the thing, MS is really hard to diagnose. Doctors have to cancel out every other option before they can determine it is MS, so I wanted to go to a neurologist who knew exactly what to look for.

Of course, this was the beginning of October and I couldn’t get an appointment until November 11.

Ok, I thought, well, I can deal with the eye pain and migraines until then.

But then, the following Wednesday, my vision started to change.

It’s hard to describe, but it is as if there was a gray screen in front of my right eye. I was seeing flashes of lights in only that eye.

After I went to Shameless Book Con in mid-October, I ended up in the ER.

My vision had changed pretty significantly within a week and a half and it was pretty scary.

I decided to go to the ER at the hospital that the MD neurologist was associated with so that my records would be available to him for my upcoming appointment.

I was pretty relaxed going in, I purposely went at a time when I didn’t think it would be busy and I fully understood that they would likely admit me and do all sorts of testing. Despite my tendency to be anxious, I wasn’t really in this situation. Surprisingly, hospitals and doctors don’t really bother me at all.

That is… until they put some medicine in my IV that I still am not sure what it was. They told me it was for my headache, but I have a feeling it was some sort of steroid.

I was fine as they put in my IV (despite some difficulty), when they took blood, and even when I got a CT scan, but about 20 minutes after they administered the IV medication, I started feeling my skin crawling and a desperate feeling that I needed to get the hell out of that hospital.

It didn’t feel like my normal panic attacks, it felt like it was right under my skin. I began shaking, my heart rate spiked, and when the ER doctor (who was abosolutely lovely, by the way) told me she wanted to admit me and possibly keep me overnight for more testing and to see the neurologist and ophthalmologist, I couldn’t say yes. I had to leave.

And I did. I ended up leaving against medical advice.

With a “normal” panic attack, just signing the discharge papers would’ve cured the anxiety, but because this was medically induced, that skin-crawling, I-need-to-escape feeling stuck with me the entire day. Even when I was in my pajamas in bed at home.

The ER doctor instructed me to try to get into my MS doctor’s office sooner and she also wanted me to see an ophthalmologist (again) and another neurologist. I consulted with the MS doctor and he added me to their cancelation list and told me to go ahead and see the ophthalmologist again, but not to worry about the neurologist.

So, I saw the ophthalmologist, who basically said the same thing as the first. After doing all sorts of tests, he told me that my eyes looked healthy in the areas that he could see, but he couldn’t cancel out Optic Neuritis or MS – I’d need an MRI for that.

The MS doctor ended up ordering me a MRI and a VEP, both of which I scheduled before my appointment with him.

And that’s where we leave off in this story. I had my MRI on Friday and I have my VEP test this coming Thursday.

And I’m feeling… I don’t know. Nervous? Sick of feeling headachy all the time? Sick of having trouble seeing out of my right eye? And, honestly? Slightly hopeless. Just a touch. Because even if I am official diagnosed with MS, there is no cure. You can somewhat treat the symptoms, but I just… I don’t know. It’s scary and it’s hard to even wrap my head around.

I want to be that person who is brave, who powers through and stays positive… and that’s typically how I am, but I can’t help spiraling sometimes.

If this is MS… suddenly the future is terrifying. What will it mean for my husband? For my kids? For my career? For my mental health?

I want to be positive. Not just for myself, but for my family and friends. I want to inspire people, not depress them…

But I’m just not there quite yet. My body feels like it’s failing me and I’m trapped inside of it.

For now, as I often do… I’ll employ the good old “fake it til you make it” state of mind. I’m great at plastering on a smile and going about my business, pretending that I am that positive person. The one who can find the light even in complete darkness. And maybe, eventually, I’ll actually become that person.