Sunday, March 15th was the first day that ALL our plans were cancelled. We spent most of the day virtually reaching out to people and didn’t get around to doing our church meeting until 7pm. It went okay, but we decided it needed to happen a lot earlier in the day. The kids didn’t have school the next day (the district was giving the teachers a day to gather their wits) so I made a schedule for us to hopefully help us be productive.
That first Monday was pretty productive. I had to take Cooper to the school to get some supplies since we hadn’t sent him to school on Friday. None of the secretaries were at the school and there was a note taped to the front door with the principal’s number in case you needed anything. He didn’t answer so I left a message and we waited. After about 15 minutes, another mom showed up. She said she had been by the school 40 minutes prior, given up and then went to her other kid’s school. We decided to see if we could see any teachers through the windows. Her kid’s teacher let her in and then she let me in. (Cooper’s teacher was not there.) The school was a total ghost town. Since Cooper’s teacher wasn’t there, one of the other 4th grade teachers helped us figure out what he needed. After getting his stuff we headed home. (In case you were wondering, the principal reached out later. He had been in a virtual meeting with the superintendent.)
Back at home, we did chores, read books, and planted seeds. In my role as school garden leader, I was supposed to help the 1st graders plant seeds, but we didn’t end up doing it. At the moment, school was only officially cancelled for two weeks, but I had a feeling it was going to be longer and so I went ahead and started the seeds for the 1st graders. It was therapeutic to be outside in the sun. Planting in general is also always like a little lesson on faith and hope, so I found solace in that.
The next day was our first day of remote learning. Cooper and Ellen both have chromebooks they use at school and were allowed to bring them home. One of the online accounts Ellen needed to be able to use for 3 out of her 5 assignments wasn’t working. We kept getting error messages and were doing an online chat with her teacher. Her teacher then called and we talked through some things, but still couldn’t get it to work. The teachers were working so hard – they seriously deserve raises – but I could already tell this was going to be a wild ride.
We were supposed to feed the missionaries that night, but they were no longer allowed to eat at people’s houses. We ordered them takeout and had it delivered and made ourselves Ruebens. This was the most St. Patrick’s Day thing we did.
The next morning, Noel and I were working out when we got a text from his sister, Joy, saying they’d just had an earthquake, but were fine. I quickly texted my family to make sure everyone was alright. I grew up doing earthquake drills at school and have always had general anxiety about them. I love Colorado and have no regrets about moving here and staying here, but suddenly I felt so far away. All of my emotions about Coronavirus and worry for my family bubbled up and I just started bawling. Throughout the day, I tried not to give into feelings of bleakness, but they were always there under the surface. Still, we gave school another valiant effort and did fun things for recess like mountain bike on the mesa near our house.
On Noel’s family text thread (cousins, his sisters, and everyone’s spouses), someone sent out a screenshot of people talking about their kids like they were co-workers. We all started doing it with our kids and/or animals. Mine was, “My co-worker brought a balloon to work and insisted we all act like it was cat.”
The next day was dreary and rain/snowing. I went to the grocery store with the intent of getting two weeks worth of groceries. I’d heard the stores were getting picked over, but it was something to see with my own eyes. I had joked with Noel that I was making a “grocery wishlist,” but hadn’t realized how accurate that would be. It was really jarring to see so many shelves empty. I almost found myself crying, again. (This is going to be a common theme during quarantine, sorry.) Ultimately, I was able to get almost everything I needed or at least find good substitutes. We’re fortunate to already have a lot of shelf stable goods on hand and we’ve been doing milk delivery service for years so we were good there. (The dairy company had been sending out emails begging people to only order what they need and that they would ration people if they were making excessive order requests – cows can only produce so much milk. I was happy when we got our whole order and realized they probably weren’t sending out those emails because of me.) I had to ask for eggs at the grocery store, but they still had a few cartons. I ran into a friend at the store and it was so good to see a familiar face that didn’t belong to one of my family members.
We received word that day that the kids would be out of school for at least 30 days. it was a bad morale day. We were trapped inside because of the weather and just feeling really bummed. That evening, the kids came to us with a startling revelation. They had been chasing the cat and he ran under our bed and disappeared. They crawled under the bed and discovered he was climbing through a hole in the bottom of the box spring. We rectified that quickly with a staple gun.
Friday it continued to snow and morale continued to be a bit of a roller coaster. I started the kids on some school work and spent a lot of time trying to make a workout video for my work. When I came back to check on the kids I discovered Ellen had just been watching cat videos on Youtube. Cooper had his first meltdown about COVID-19 and was worried about his birthday at the beginning of May. Poor kid.
The next day, the sun came out and we all felt a little better about life. We let Ellen play in the yard with our neighbor. Our house basically extends into theirs with the girls going back and forth, so at that point we felt okay about them having contact. I also talked with the adult neighbors and we talked about our emotions.
Noel went to get bread from our favorite bakery, Grateful Bread. We’d been receiving emails from various local businesses begging people to still come in or buy gift cards to help them stay afloat. These guys usually make most of their money from supplying high end restaurants with bread, but with restaurants and bars being closed they’d lost a lot of business. All this gave us the courage to go out. We’ve often joked that their retail shop is like a Soviet bread line on regular days (they’re very popular), now it was also a social distancing one.
The next day was another Sunday. We did our sacrament meeting and lesson after Noel did a Zoom call with other leaders from our congregation. It was a better start to our Sabbath than the previous week. In the afternoon, we let Ellen play with her neighbor friend again.
Monday officially kicked off the start of our Spring Break. We had originally planned to go to Santa Fe, but cancelled that when things started to build with Coronavirus. We’d still been tossing around the idea of going backpacking at Coyote Gulch with a few of Noel’s co-workers and their families. (We did an amazing trip their a few years back.) A part of me so wanted to bug out with all the craziness going on, but as things ramped up with COVID-19 though, we began to have second thoughts. Even though the camping would be remote, there would be a lot of public restrooms, gas stations, etc between here and there. Eventually, all involved parties backed out of that plan. Instead, we stayed home and tried to make the most of it. Monday was Lego Day. We watched Lego Masters and built Lego creations. Ellen also did a Facetime play date with one of her good friends. The girls loved it so much.
Tuesday was probably the best day of spring break. We decided to camp in the backyard. The kids really wanted to roast marshmallows, but I hadn’t bought any at the store. We looked up a recipe for marshmallows and we happened to have all the ingredients, even though there were some things I rarely use like corn syrup and gelatin. We also had a little chalk art festival in the driveway. I’ll admit, the neighbors were kind of stressing me out while we did this. A bunch of them were still letting their kids play and so there was this big herd of kids out in the street and they were not social distancing. The parents also wanted to come over and talk and I didn’t want to seem rude, but also didn’t want them to get really close. It’s a little hypocritical that I wanted those neighbors to keep their distance, but we let Ellen play with the neighbor girl, but I was rationalizing that we’d probably already all shared germs with them anyway. We also headed down to the school to work in the garden for a bit. At this point, all the park playgrounds had been closed (roped off with caution tape), but nothing had been done to the school playground. I wouldn’t let my kids play on it, but I saw a few families come with kids. This was also stressing me out.
That evening, we set up camp in the backyard. I hadn’t been very excited about it, but it was a lot less lame than I’d anticipated. It was relaxing to read by the fire and swing in the hammock. I’ve been very grateful for a yard during this time. We roasted hotdogs and ate dutch oven Mississippi Mud Cake I usually fall asleep really easy (ask Noel about how annoying it is), but had been having a hard time falling and staying asleep several nights in a row. I fell asleep so quickly in the tent and slept really hard until early morning. It was earlier than I would have liked, but it was the longest, most restful run in days.
Noel and I did a Zoom workout that morning put on by a gal I go to church with. (She coaches at a Crossfit gym.) Noel suggested I offer to teach a class for her and I boldly and uncharacteristically did. She seemed excited about the idea and then I was suddenly really nervous about it. (I’m tough and have great endurance, but I have not drank the crossfit kool-aid.) That same day, my boss reached out about teaching some online classes. Suddenly, I was working again. I lost steam on my plans to make Spring Break awesome and let the kids watch lots of tv. That evening, we tuned into an address from the Governor where he officially issued a stay at home order. Ellen had her first breakdown that evening when we told her she could no longer play with the neighbor girl.
We went for a hike on the mesa by our house that evening and it was bustling. Again, it stressed me out to be around so many people. People were trying to keep their distance, but it’s hard to stay 6 feet away when a trail isn’t 6 feet wide. Still, it was a gorgeous evening.
After dinner, we lit another fire and roasted marshmallows. (We hadn’t actually roasted any the day before. The cobbler seemed like enough dessert.) There’s just something soothing about sitting next to a fire. We let the kids sleep in the tent another night, but Noel and I opted for our bed.
The Stay at Home Order wasn’t something to easily ignore. They pushed a notification out to everyone’s phones at 7am similar to the ones they do with Amber alerts. Luckily, responsibly executed exercise was considered okay so Noel and I were able to go on a bike ride. I haven’t done any serious mountain biking in a LONG time, but it was really fun. Again, I didn’t muster much energy for spring break fun and the kids mostly watched tv.
We got an embarrassing number of packages that day. Maybe we’d been doing some retail therapy? One of the packages had our new rug.
Friday morning, I taught my first Zoom class for my work. I hadn’t widely publicized it, but had asked a few family members to join and help me work out any kinks. One of the women that normally attends my classes came and I was surprised by how happy I was to see her. Even just through my computer.
We had a British bakeoff day and watched an episode where they made Bakewell tarts while making a Bakewell tart. Even Noel, who doesn’t get excited about non-chocolate desserts, thought it was amazing. It also snowed, again.
Earlier in the week, I’d been trying to find a way to do something meaningful. The Governor had been asking people to donate blood because blood donations were down. I have never given blood. Before kids I didn’t weigh enough and the last time I did a blood draw I almost passed out, so I’ve always been nervous. I decided now was the time though and made an appointment for Noel and I. I was kind of nervous about it in the days leading up to the appointment and especially the day of. I diligently read all the materials and made sure I ate well and hydrated the appropriate amount an hour before. When I went to do intake, they tested my blood and the gal told me my iron was barely too low. I was bummed. Then she told me sometimes if you test the other hand the results are different. I told her to give it a shot and we drew blood from a finger on my other hand. That finger came back within the normal range. I said, “Sweet, so we’re doing this.” She told me, “No, because your first one was negative we still can’t let you donate.” Now I was bummed and annoyed. Why would they poke me and take more blood if it wasn’t going to change anything? We waited around for awhile for them to call Noel, but a half hour after his appointment they seemed to have forgotten about him. I needed to use the bathroom, but didn’t want to use the one at the building, so we just went home. I was feeling really down. We’d tried to do something good and just been thwarted.
Saturday, I just felt sad. Noel handled my mood fantastically. He just sat with me and reassured me that it’s okay to feel sad sometimes, especially when the world is all topsy-turvy. We did some things to feel better like watching the Tonight Show at Home Edition, going on a walk, and drinking hot cocoa.
Then we were back to Sunday again. Our prophet had called for a worldwide fast to ease the effects of COVID-19. I’d had some negative feelings about the fast (I felt like some people were expecting a miraculous end and my rational brain wasn’t buying it, but then I felt guilty like I lacked faith), but had talked through them with Noel and felt much better. Most of the time I think it’s good to be both rational and spiritual. It forces me to constantly evaluate what I actually believe and what my testimony really is, although sometimes I think it would be easier to just have blind faith, ha, ha. Our at home Sunday service went mostly good. We decided to have a mini family testimony meeting. It was both really good and really awful. Ellen sort of threw a giant fit and didn’t want to share anything. It’s so hard to figure out that line between pushing your kids too far and not guiding them enough and mostly I feel like I get it wrong. Still, the sharing of testimonies was mostly good. We ended our fast that evening with burritos and homemade queso dip. Quarantine requires queso dip.
Taught another exercise class on Monday. This one is a family class. It’s short (20 minutes) and fun based. When remote learning was extended, the district made the decision that Mondays would be a catch-up day for teachers and students. I felt like there were a ton of online options for adult exercise, but not much for kids. I really wanted to offer something that might be helpful in that area. The first class was well attended. Many friends who I haven’t seen in years joined with their families. I almost cried (yes, again) seeing all of them and sharing a few words with a couple. (Too join that class, or any of mine, check out the calendar for my Rec Center. I would love to see you!)
Tuesday was the last day of March and the kids first day “back at school” after Spring Break. It was rough. The teachers say they’re trying not to make extra work for parents, but there’s just going to be extra work for parents. Let’s all just admit that and move on. There’s no way my 8-year-old is going to figure out what she needs to do and do it. Not even my almost 10-year-old can. Really, when I was a high school teacher not many of those kids could independently get their work done.
March was something wasn’t it? Looking back it’s crazy how things changed so quickly. Life went from carefree and normal to perilous and crazy. I hope you all are hanging in there with every curve ball and trying to stay sane. Be well!