Skip to main content

A Big 'Ol Quarantine Update

How are you doing?

How is quarantine life?

How are you not going crazy with your kids home all day?

How is that sink full of dishes doing?

I thought I would type up a big 'ol Blackwell family quarantine update. How its going, what we're doing (and not doing), how the kids are handling it and how many wine corks we have lined up on the shelf, you know, to count the days ;-)

What does work look like these days?

Chris and I are both engineers so the majority of our "office" work can be done virtually. My office setup is in our bedroom and he took over our actual office. Since we both have virtual meetings throughout the day its nice to have these separate spaces to work in.

I am still scheduled for console shifts every couple of weeks, so on those days I do actually have to put on business professional attire and drive over to NASA. But inside it feels like a weekend evening shift - there are limited people in Mission Control itself and a few extra people here and there as support requires, but generally very quiet.

How are the kids are adapting?

Even though we don't have close family in Texas we are lucky that both grandmas have volunteered to come out and watch the kids for a few weeks at a time. This way Chris and I are able to work mostly uninterrupted during the day while the kids get quality time with grandma! Lately "grandma school" has been heavy on outside time - walks, climbing trees, tending the garden, swinging on our backyard playset and swimming. We have been avoiding common areas like playgrounds just to be safe. The weather has been incredible here in Houston so we are taking advantage while it lasts! Both kids received gardening tools for Easter, so they like to dig in the garden to find worms, then we go fishing in the retention ponds behind our house in the evening!


Any tips for sanity?

Over a month into this quarantine journey I'm sure everyone has a new normal and has implemented ways to stay sane. Some of our top tips include:

  • Plan out meals. We have been planning our meals/take out about a week in advance. This helps us streamline our grocery store trips, and sometimes even shift some of the needed items to online order/delivery instead. 
  • Lots of walks. Grandma usually takes the kids on "discovery walks" during the day. These walks are more leisurely and inquisitive - one day we even found this Box Turtle roaming around! In the evening we try to squeeze in a bike ride or walk with the kids before bed and since grandma is here, Chris and I can take a grown-ups only walk after the kids' bedtime - something we don't normally get the chance to do! 

  • I've seen a lot of memes and facebook posts about using the time in quarantine to learn a new skill. I think that's a pleasant idea if your situation allows for it, but in our case, we are full-time parents and full-time employees, it's hard to fit in learning a new skill. So, we have turned that sentiment around a little and made it our mission to TEACH our kids new skills - so far we have tried Lego building, fishing, tending a garden, riding a bike (for the 2-year-old), making bead bracelets, learning how to use a tape measure, peeling an egg, miscellaneous baking and so much more! 


  • We have also had to implement new ways of parenting including rewards beyond candy and treats (for our sanity, honestly). Temporary tattoos have been a hit, even if my daughter's arms look like sleeves. 
Tell me some of your tips in the comments!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution?

On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there is b…

International Travel with Type 1 Diabetes

Whew! Back from one international trip and on to another next week! I will admit my eyes roll every time I get the "we're gunna need to pat you down" talk at TSA, but international travel is a whole different animal. I thought it might be fun to see what goes through my brain and into my bags for these types of trips!


I wouldn't be a NASA Flight Controller if I wasn't good at planning, the key to international travel as a T1D is PLANNING!

3 months prior

Assess supplies. Mine come in 90-days supplies so I like to inventory at least 3 months prior and make a plan to order more early if the trip is going to coincide with the end of my 90-day stock. In my experience supply companies are usually pretty good about adjusting orders as needed if you tell them the reason for the early request - just mention you have an international trip coming up and want to make sure to have plenty of supplies (and backups!) in time. Request a loaner insulin pump. It's likely the comp…

Hot OJT

Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts.

Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz.


The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years on average and is considered by many to be enough specializ…
01 09 10