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Five questions: How we're staying home

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We asked some of our team members to answer five questions about how they’ve been navigating the stay-home orders – challenges they’ve overcome, how they’re practicing self-care and what they’re doing for “fun” in these extraordinary times.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic?

I have two kids, one is 3 and the other 5, the main struggle for me and my wife has been balancing childcare with work. By the end of this, I'll probably have a pretty good blooper reel of my kids interrupting me doing interviews and voicing stories! ~ Mose Buchele, Senior Energy and Environment Reporter  

just moved from Miami, Florida, to Austin when the pandemic hit. In fact, I had only been working at KUT for four weeks when we started working remotely, so I have had to learn not only everything about my new job but also how to collaborate with my new team from afar. It has been a weird way to start my life in Texas! For example, everybody keeps on talking about the bluebonnets and I have never seen one in person. ~ Teresa Frontado, Executive News Editor

Upon returning home from hours-long shifts shooting photos and videos around the city, I’ve developed a routine of standing on the welcome mat to my apartment disinfecting camera gear, keys/phone and gloves with cleaning supplies left at the door; then, disrobing and making a beeline for the shower before getting to editing. ~ Gabriel C. Perez, Multimedia Journalist

My biggest hurdle has been trying to make connections with people and talk about this serious subject while not being together. When times are normal, I almost always meet a subject in person, preferably at their home or place of work, because it helps me understand them best. I’ve been talking to people on Zoom as much as possible and having them record themselves on their phone so I can still maintain the face-to-face contact. I realized through this process that the thing I love most about being a journalist is meeting new people and understanding their worldview. But, I’m thankful for all the technology and ways we’ve found to bring stories online and on the air – it’s just been an adjustment. ~ Claire McInerny, Education Reporter

Where is your “home office” located?

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Education reporter Claire McInerny records a story in her closet.

I live in a 600-square-foot apartment, so trying to figure out how not be on top of myself has been tough. I don’t even have room for a kitchen table! So, I ordered a desk online and carved out a little corner in my bedroom to be my work area. The first few weeks I had my radio equipment and personal stuff all over and it felt chaotic. Now I feel it’s more separated. I voice in my closet and usually throw a blanket over my head to help muffle noises. ~ Claire McInerny

Virtual work has taken over our dining room. I work from the table there and the kids also do their class work. Headphones have become indispensable gear in our home! ~ Teresa Frontado

I voice my stories in my bedroom closet. The clothes actually make for really good insulation! The rest of my work is done typically at my desk in the bedroom or in the kitchen where I can keep an eye on the children. ~ Mose Buchele

I’m working out of our spare bedroom/home office. Fortunately, we recently started allowing the dogs and cats to share space, so my pups are with me during the day. ~ Kayla Gabriel, Membership Coordinator

How are you practicing self-care?

Lots of doggie walks, some yoga and Zumba via videoconference have kept me sane. I am thankful to my partner, who doesn’t let me eat too much junk food. And being in contact with friends and family. They always put a smile on my face. ~ Teresa Frontado 

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Credit Kayla Gabriel
Membership Coordinator Kayla Gabriel has set up a home office in her spare bedroom.

Among other things like jogging, and gardening, I try to maintain the traditon of happy hour. It's clearly not the healthiest option, but a drink is a good way to demarcate work time from quitting time. Like many people these days, I've also really loved checking in with old friends and family and catching up with them. ~ Mose Buchele

Walks, re-reading the Harry Potter series, and Camp Gladiator virtual workouts with Priscilla Lê. ~ Kayla Gabriel

I’ve kept up my appointments with my therapist via Zoom, which has been really helpful. I also have had to give myself news boundaries. I listen to “Morning Edition” in the morning while walking my dog and am engaged during the day, but when I do my evening walk with my dog I listen to podcasts and stop checking email (I still have to engage with Slack in case news is breaking or something pops up). But I’m trying to not to be glued to a screen consuming COVID-19 news at all times, because I know I would struggle to do my job if I constantly felt the weight of this. The first few weeks were a really hard headspace because the news was nonstop, and I felt I couldn’t take that kind of break, so I’m thankful we are able to carve out a few hours at the end of the day to disengage. ~ Claire McInerny

What are you doing for “fun”?

I rear Monarch butterflies in a milkweed garden in my yard. I enjoy watching them grow and transform. I've been paying closer attention to the birds at our feeder too, also gardening has been a real pleasure, and I’m trying to get a grapevine started. I try to jog when I can. Unfortunately for my family, I also play guitar and sing. ~ Mose Buchele

I live alone so the dog and I are starting to have some great conversations. I’m journaling almost every day so I can remember this totally bonkers time in my life. I love to cook so I’ve been trying to do new and labor intensive recipes that I might not normally make time for. I’ve been baking cookies every Sunday, then putting them in Ziploc bags, and driving small batches to drop off on friends’ doorsteps. It’s a good way to get out of the house while social distancing. ~ Claire McInerny

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Headphones have become indispensable gear for Executive News Editor Teresa Frontado as she works from home.

I am an avid knitter, so I have been very productive in the last weeks. My son and I have been watching this show about a bank heist in Spain on Netflix. We watch one or two episodes every night so it lasts us longer. I also have an online book club with a group of friends. We are currently reading “Antigua Vida Mia,” (Antigua, and My Life Before) by Chilean author Marcela Serrano. We are a group of journalists from all corners of the world, from Australia to New York, and it has been fantastic to hear their opinions about what we have been reading. We are currently meeting every two weeks instead of every month or so, so we have been very productive! ~ Teresa Frontado

How are you managing childcare? Have you had any funny work moments while parenting (or pet parenting)?

No kids – just lots of pets. We have two dogs, two cats and several chicks. Funny story: While ushering our young chickens into their coop during a recent daytime thunderstorm, I managed to lock myself into their chicken run! At the prospect of being stuck there for hours, (my phone was not on me), I was thankful to find a stick. It did the trick – I was able to reach and unhook the latch and get back inside. ~ Kayla Gabriel

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Credit Mose Buchele
Mose and Moon Buchele.

My wife and both work from home so we try to take shifts when we are available to my two kids (3 and 5). We get up early so we can get them outside before our workday starts. When we can’t focus on them, they often turn their attention to each other (playing and fighting) TV (vegging out) and our two dogs, who have endured countless indignities at their hands. Most recently, they had an extended game of dress up with the dogs! My kids are always popping in on our morning editorial meetings and my interviews during the day. Everyone is very understanding. ~ Mose Buchele

We don’t have small children; our kids are 19 and 15. They both have taken reasonably well to online learning. My son was sad about having to come back home early from his first year of college, but he has been mostly a trooper. One hard part has been that I have been trying to diet while in quarantine and my son’s snacks are a big temptation, especially when he’s seated at the same table.

The dogs, on the other hand, have been very proactive in their demands for love and attention. They are particularly smart in detecting when I am starting a video conference. As soon as the camera turns on, they jump on my lap and demand to be pet! ~ Teresa Frontado

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Members of the KUT News team participate in a virtual meeting.

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