Staying Home – The New Normal

Exactly a month ago, we cancelled our first ever Europe trip that would have started in Venice, Italy. Looking back, I am so thankful for the timing of it all.  These are uncertain times indeed, and we are exactly where I would have wanted us to be while we watch and wait for this pandemic to pass – right here at home.

Surprise Trip to Italy

Back in January, we were watching what was happening in China with Covid-19 along with the rest of the world.  Even as the number of cases kept rising, we were not panicking or anticipating how big this was going to become.  Pieter, as a surprise and combination birthday /anniversary gift, booked a trip to Italy for the beginning of March.  He works in Austin, TX and has been coming back home to Atlanta about once a month for the last year.  While he was here for Christmas last year, his work schedule meant he missed a lot of other family events and special days.  There was Sidney’s birthday, New Years, Simon’s birthday and also his own birthday in January.  Two weeks in Italy sounded like the perfect getaway and opportunity to make up for some lost time.  Not to mention that I’ve always wanted to see Venice and this was finally my chance!

I was really excited when I learned about the trip but didn’t go into my normal planning mode immediately.  It was already mid-February when I found out and the crisis in China had already started to spread and cases were starting to pop up all over the world, including northern Italy where we were starting our trip.  Still, we were optimistic.  Within a week, it all changed and by the end of February, 10 days before our planned departure, we heeded the US Travel Advisory for Italy and cancelled our trip.  Bye-bye Venice and our first ever Europe trip 😦

Traveling to Venice Italy
Planning a Trip to Italy

Could Have Been Worse

In true South African fashion, we immediately recognized that it could have been much worse.  There was (and still is) always the risk of getting sick, no matter how healthy you think you are.  Or we could have gotten “trapped” in Italy, quarantined along with their citizens, away from our kids and home.  And what is quickly becoming obvious as the biggest fear around Covid-19 – became hosts to the virus ourselves, travelled back home and infected everyone around us in planes, airports and at home.

Early March

So, instead of heading to Italy, Pieter made it home to Atlanta for the first week of March and we were able to spend time with the kids, friends and family.  And we watched the news and watched the beginning of this new level of virus-related anxiety right here at home.  By the end of the week, school closings were announced for our area.  Stores were out of basic necessities and we started worrying that Pieter will not even be able to fly back to Texas and his job (thankfully, he was).

Eating Out
Family Dinner

Keeping Busy

I normally work from home, so it is business as usual for me.  The two teenagers are adjusting to a digital learning schedule and keeping themselves occupied at home.  I think it is hardest on them at the moment.  They are so used to the social aspect of their daily lives.  Leaving the house to go to school, see their friends, go to sports practice and visiting their favorite hangouts.  Both have their drivers licenses now and both were working after school jobs.

For me, the isolation surrounding working from home is very normal.  I’ve been working from home full-time for the past 7 years and part-time since 2011.  The only difference now is little outside social interaction, which I realized early on was needed when working from home.  There are no occasional lunches with friends, shopping excursions to see what is new in stores or fun weekend events to attend.

How appropriate is the art in my home office right now?  Breathe, Create Calm, Relax.  To read more about my home office, follow this link: From Bedroom to Office

GariesGirl - L-Shaped Desk
Desk Space in my Home Office

Changes During a Time of Social Distancing

Pieter moved back to Atlanta for now and we are thankful to be together during this time.  The kids have fully adjusted to their new learning schedules.  They still have a lot of questions about the remaining 7 weeks of their school year, but they know it is out of their hands and that everyone is dealing with similar situations.  Simon is still working since they provide a pizza takeout and delivery service.  They are busier now, but also noticed a new, more appreciative attitude from their customers.

We are doing a lot of cooking and baking and we now spend quiet evenings at home.  We enjoy being able to spend time together as a family.

GariesGirl - Staying in the Kitchen
Baking South African Treats

Looking Forward

There isn’t really any other option than keeping a low profile and waiting this out.  We are all in this together and we just need to get through it.  I will still try and stay busy with projects around the house and this time everyone can be involved (if they want to be).  Since Spring finally arrived here in Georgia and provides the best weather for outside work, I can start on my list of outside projects.  Might as well be productive and get things done.  As always, the goal is to spend as little money as possible, so that is what we will do.

Stay safe everyone and stay in, like Ben here. Keep on reading:  Staying Home – The Summary

GariesGirl - Stay Home Like Ben
Ben Keeping Calm


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