This March seems like one of those months that has a big divide. There was the first part where life was more or less normal and then there is the 2nd half (the half in which we’re currently living) where everything has been cancelled. It only seems fitting that I write about these two parts separately. (Also, I have a lot less going on now than usual, ha, ha.)
The first of March was a Sunday. Noel’s sister Danielle was in town for work. She’d arrived a few days early so she could hang out with us. It was a lovely Sunday – church went smoothly, we went on a walk, put together Ikea furniture and ate Choco Flan. After the work obligations in Denver, Danielle was supposed to head onto California for a big food expo. At this point, California was already a hot spot for Coronavirus, especially the county she was going to. She was really hoping the trip would get cancelled. A few days later it did get cancelled so she stayed in Denver until Ellen’s baptism the next weekend. We spent Monday and Tuesday grinding through work and finishing the basement. My forearms were so tired from gripping paintbrushes and caulk guns. Wednesday night, Danielle and Noel’s cousin Jessie came over and helped us put the finishing touches on the basement.
Thursday was my day off. I spent it cleaning the house and buying groceries to feed all our guests. One of my stops was Costco. I’d heard that they’d run out of toilet paper the weekend before because people were freaking out about Coronavirus. As I pushed my cart through the store I noticed that there were many people with carts loaded up with toilet paper, like 3-5 packages of Costco sized toilet paper. I grabbed myself one package (I did have a ton of family coming to visit), but the thing I stocked up on was syrup. Every once in a blue moon, Costco has Kodiak berry syrup. When I saw they had it, I texted Jessie who just the day before had mentioned that if I ever saw it at Costco to let her know. I grabbed five bottles to split between us, plus a bottle of maple syrup because I was running low on that. Costco was so busy they had the guys from the tire shop helping check people out. I joked with them that while others were stocking up on toilet paper I was stocking up on the important stuff. That night, my sister and her family arrived to stay with us.
The kids had school the next day. If Cooper didn’t have a field trip he was really looking forward to, I would have kept them home to play with their cousins. After school they were really excited to play with their cousins. We went to the park where they had a silly string fight, launched stomp rockets, and played on the playground.
That night, more family arrived. We had a BBQ with everyone and the kids mauled my parents.
The next day was Ellen’s birthday. We made overnight waffles, which are the most delicious waffles – crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Ellen covered hers in Nutella and sprinkles and we let her because it was her birthday.
Hope and Joe wanted to take the kids to one of Home Depot’s kid workshops. When they showed up, they were told that the event had been cancelled because of Coronavirus, but gave them the kits they would have built. They brought them home and built them on the porch. At this point, we thought it was kind of funny that the workshop had been cancelled.
In the afternoon, we changed our clothes and headed to the church for Ellen’s baptism. In our region, baptisms are done on the first Saturday of every month. Both of our kids have been lucky to have their 8th birthdays fall on the first Saturday. You can’t plan that. Finding Ellen a baptism dress was a bit of a chore. She is VERY picky about clothes. First and foremost they must be comfortable – she hates bows on the back, seams, or anything that is too tight. Usually she goes to church with leggings under a skirt and a t-shirt. We roll with it because it makes life easier. I wanted her to look nicer than that for her baptism though. We hunted far and wide and I was very close to just buying her a white t-shirt dress off of Amazon. I decided to try Etsy and came across this dress. The return policy was generous so I decided to take a gamble on it. Miraculously, she loved it. We found some sandals to go with it after a very long and arduous trip to DSW.
Ellen’s baptism was simple and beautiful. She choose to fill the program with women. My sister played the flute, Danielle and my mom each gave lovely talks, and aunts book-ended everything with prayers. Ellen asked me to be one of the witnesses, which was really special since that’s a new policy change and something I’ve never done. (The act of witnessing itself wasn’t particularly exciting, but being able to do it was.) She asked Cooper to be the other witness – he was SO excited. So many good friends and family came to support her. It was a room filled with love and I wanted to hug everyone there (and I mostly did).
Afterward, Ellen had a party with some of her friends. We invited all of them to the baptism, but only a few attended that portion. They all still showed up in best dress though, so I guess I didn’t communicate that thoroughly, ha, ha. They had a blast.
After that party wrapped up, it was time for our family party. We ordered take n bake pizzas from a local restaurant and ate strawberry chocolate cake. It was a full day. I’m so glad her baptism and birthday were that Saturday and not a week later. Truly a blessing.
The next day, almost everyone headed home. Noel’s dad and grandma were in town, so we did have them over for dinner.
The beginning of that next week felt pretty normal other than we were struggling to adjust to Daylight Savings. The Rec Center where I work was its usual amount of busy. Even my Silver Sneakers class had a normal attendance level.
Tuesday was my wedding anniversary – 13 years! Noel and I went out to lunch, but didn’t do anything big because we had a babysitter lined up for Friday night. After lunch, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things. When I looked at the grocery store ad online they had a message that they would be limiting hand sanitizer and cleaning products to five per person. I swung by the hand sanitizer aisle out of curiosity and discovered it was empty. That night, we had a steaks and watched JoJo Rabbit to add a bit of celebratory feel to the day. It’s hard for me to explain my feelings on that movie. It was both hilarious and heartbreaking. Definitely deep in a poetic sort of way.
Coronavirus tension had been mounting all week. I went to the store again on Thursday and was shocked at how many people were there in the middle of the day. Checkout lines were 4-5 people deep and everyone had full carts. I bought more groceries than I’d intended just because everyone was wigging me out a little bit. At that point, most of the shelves were still well stocked with just a few exceptions.
Noel got sent home from work to work remotely because there was a potential COVID-19 case on his floor. Noel said when the email went out everyone stood up, looked around, and started grabbing things like monitors and houseplants. He said it looked like they were looting the place. Our church sent out an email that we would be cancelling meetings and worshiping at home for the foreseeable future. At that point, we decided we should cancel our date the next night. When I picked up the kids from school parents were talking about whether or not they were going to keep their spring break plans. We decided not to take Cooper to Taekwondo that night. Minutes after making that decision, we got emails, texts, and phone calls from the school district letting us know that Friday would be the last in-person school day.
We opted to keep the kids home from school on Friday because we had the ability to do that. I still had work, but everything felt a little weird. We asked everyone to wipe down all the equipment they used including dumbbells. I talked with co-workers and we were all worried about our older clients and class members. The gym was quieter, but people were still showing up. I followed my clients around with cleaner wiping stuff down before and after they touched it.
As the day continued, I got word that other Rec Centers in the area were closing down, but still didn’t hear anything from my work. I was pretty keyed up, but tried to have fun with the kids who were really disappointed about school being cancelled and that we hadn’t let them go to say goodbye to their friends. It wasn’t until that evening that my work officially made the call that we would be closed for two weeks. I was relieved.
Once everything was cancelled, I felt less anxious, but then just felt bummed that we didn’t get to celebrate our anniversary the way we’d hoped. The truth is we’d been having a really hard time coming up with a plan. Nothing was happening in the arts community and the weather didn’t play nice for an outdoor adventure liked we’d hoped. We should have known from the beginning that celebrating your 13th anniversary on Friday the 13th was a bad idea. Still, we tried to make the most of it making a nice dinner and making milkshakes. This being stuck at home business hasn’t been my favorite, but if I had to choose someone to be stuck with, I’d choose Noel every time.
The next day, I think we all felt a bit adrift. It was really weird to look at our calendars and not have anything there. We pulled ourselves together though and went for a hike. There were a lot of people out, but we all gave each other a wide berth.
We all felt much better after that. We celebrated pi(e) day with pizza and a coconut cream pie with a macaroon crust. That sums up the first half of March and life before we really fully immersed ourselves into social distancing.