1st Half of April 2020

1st Half of April 2020

Ellen doing a virtual play date with her friend.

I felt like life got “busy” again in April, yet we hardly leave the house.

Remote school picked up. The teachers began to do more live meetings which is good for the kids to actually interact with teachers and peers, but is also a logistical nightmare. Everyday it’s like: When are the meetings? What application are they in? Then there’s always some sort of problem with technology – like the teacher sent the wrong link or the kid accidentally hangs up or mutes themselves when they weren’t supposed to. Then there’s the school work. The work is supposedly mostly independent, but let’s be real. There are like three different ways to view assignments in Google classroom and each view is like a Venn diagram – all the views have an overlap of information that makes up the majority, but then there’s that small sliver of unique information for each view. It’s alarming how crucial that sliver is. On April 1st we had our record of meetings – 7 meetings across 4 different platforms. I feel like it’s a lot to keep to track of. I’m working a 1/3 of what I worked pre-COVID and I still can’t keep on top of everything and make sure the kids are following directions and completing assignments in full. School days are like playing whack-a-mole as I rush back from one kid to the other and field emails/texts/phone calls from their teachers.

Kids looking out over the neighborhood.

The first Thursday of April I made one of my bimonthly grocery store trips. There were people wearing masks. I kept running into this couple with some pretty serious medical grade masks and I thought, “Geez, that seems a little overkill.” Later, after I got home from the grocery store I got an email from the school district with tips on how to stay safe from COVID-19 and they recommended sanitizing all your groceries before bringing them into the house. Then I worried I wasn’t doing enough because I’d just put everything away. Life with COVID has felt a little like whiplash. The info is constantly changing on what is or isn’t appropriate. My boss also called an urgent meeting with our instructors who are doing online classes to let us know we could no longer use Zoom due to security issues and that we would immediately be switching to Webex. Again, the whiplash. Noel and I spent the evening trying to familiarize ourselves with Webex so I could teach my 6:30am class the next day. (Links to my classes here. Would love to work out with any of you!)

April Snow

On Friday, April 3rd the school district officially announced the kids would not be returning to in-person learning this school year and cancelled all graduations. (They’ve rescheduled for August.) I fully expected this, but it was still sad to have it be official. Our Governor, Governor Polis, also held a press conference asking all Coloradans to wear mask when leaving the house to help slow the spread. I then felt guilty for judging people at the grocery store the day before – whiplash again.

That weekend was our church’s General Conference. While we watched and listened to sessions, Noel and I worked on making some masks. The pattern I had called for bias tape, but I didn’t have any so Noel and I made our own. It was really good to listen to the conference messages. Definitely needed peace spoken to my heart.

All of us in our finished masks.

Mondays are okay these days because the kids don’t officially have school. Mondays are a planning day for teachers and a catch up day for students. If it weren’t for Mondays I’m afraid I might lose it. The kids really like Mondays too because they get to play. On this particular Monday, they set up a Ninja course in the backyard.

I don’t know if my kids’ school has a lot more work or if we are dunces, but it seems like other people finish their school work in the morning and then have all this free time. Our school day seems to just draaaaag on. The assignments take forever and there are so many of them. We skip almost all the specials (music, art, PE) just because by the time we get the core stuff down we’re about ready to murder each other. And this is why Mondays are so great. On Mondays we have time to do literally anything else. We play in the backyard, we work on life skills. Mondays are my new favorite.

On Tuesday, Noel and I went on a long run. (Long for us these days – 8 miles.) Before heading out, I dropped some masks on neighbors porches who’d taken me up on my offer to make some. We wore our buffs from the Dirty 30 and pulled them over our face whenever we ran into people. I know some people think we’re okay out in the fresh air, but we run into so many people when we go on our outdoor excursions and because of trail width it’s often difficult if not impossible to stay 6 feet apart. Besides, can it hurt to be overly cautious?

That evening, we ate dinner on the roof. It was nice to have a change of scene. There was a super moon that night, so we stayed up there to see it rise. Every night at 8pm people in the Denver metro have been howling to create a sense of community and cheer on our frontline workers. That was our first night participating. In addition to feeling like part of a broader community, it was also quite therapeutic.

The next day, we went for a bike ride. That was probably the highlight of the day. Cooper had a slew of online meetings and I had several calls from people from the SPED department. Everyone is trying to help him succeed in this new learning experience, but it usually just means more work for me – coordinating virtual meetings, encouraging him to use thinking charts, etc. I can’t imagine how we would survive this if I were working full-time.

Noel snapped this pic of me teaching an exercise class on Friday. It’s taken time to smooth out the process, but I think I’ve gotten it to something workable. It’s been really nice to have these appointments to get me out of bed at a reasonable time and to virtually be with friends and class members. That day was also the day of our church-wide Good Friday fast. I usually wouldn’t do a hard workout on a day I was also fasting, but that’s just what the day held.

One of the ladies I work with at church dropped off some silk tie Easter eggs for the kids. They were unboiled which meant they were easy to sanitize, plus the kids got to behold the magic of the process. Ellen also got really upset because she wanted to ride bikes with her friend. I told her the only way I would even consider it was if she wore her mask and kept her distance. She didn’t want to do that and continued to throw a fit. By the time she relented, her friend had gone in which was probably for the best. It’s really hard to parent when several of the other families with kids are letting their kids roam the streets and flaunt disregard for social distancing guidelines. I know this virus doesn’t seem very personal to many people and some even question the validity of everyone staying home. I also know that me saying anything probably won’t change anyone’s mind, but I have some strong opinions about why it’s important for all of us to do our part. I know at least one person who has died from COVID complications. I also have a relative who has ended up in the ICU in the past due to a virus (the flu) and barely survived. Additionally, I have been a caretaker for someone who would have been particularly vulnerable to this virus and can imagine how stressful caring for someone during this time must be. (My mother-in-law Glenna who died from lung cancer.) I also have several relatives in high risk categories and I worry about them. Because of all of those reasons, I don’t dare be flippant about following local and national guidelines. I know that there are real people and real sorrow behind every death. Because of that, I am a little more uptight, but I also like to think more responsible. Let me step off my soapbox.

Saturday was a gorgeous day and snow was in the forecast so we made sure to get out. We ran into several people who for the most part were good at keeping their distance and many were also wearing some sort of face covering.

Since the weather was nice, we decided to do our egg hunt on Saturday. (This wasn’t terribly unusual on years we’re being intentional about Easter we often do our egg hunt on Saturday so we can focus more on the spiritual stuff on Sunday.) We were almost out of eggs so Noel went out to try and buy some as well as a few Easter basket things. (Buffs from a local business and artisanal handsanitzer from a local distillery.) The grocery store was completely out of eggs. I suppose it was foolish to think there would be eggs the day before Easter during a pandemic. I jumped on the group text with the ladies I work with at church and said I was especially grateful for the silk tie Easter eggs since we wouldn’t be doing any of our own. One of the other ladies said they had a ton of extra eggs from her chickens and that she’d put some out for us. We were really grateful for that. We did our egg hunt, barbecued and ate dinner on the porch, and let the kids sleep in the awesome blanket fort Noel had helped them build.

It did indeed snow on Easter. We had a decent at home church service including a spiritual Easter egg hunt courtesy of The Friend. Noel and I spent the afternoon brushing up on an Easter piano duet. It was nice to stretch our brains and fingers in that way. Despite the snow, it was a pretty good Easter. This Sabbath Devotional from MWEG brought an especial sense of peace to my heart.

Monday was okay. There were a lot of good things happening, but I felt pretty meh. The school was having a school spirit week and each day had a theme. Monday’s theme was school spirit. We wore our green and gold for my Fit Family Fun exercise class. One of the kids was kind of a pill and refused to help which is super fun when you’re broadcasting live . . . That afternoon, the teachers did a parade through the neighborhood. I kind of thought the whole thing sounded stupid, but we walked the two blocks to get to the route. It was rain/snowing and we had to wait quite awhile before the caravan arrived. But then it was actually really touching to see all the teachers waving out of their windows. It was uplifting, but then I returned to feeling meh and ate way too many Kit-Kats while giving the weather the stink eye.

Tuesday was another not so great school day. I lost my cool on more than one occasion. In the afternoon, I hid in the office with Noel and watched trashy tv while the kids watched as much tv as they wanted. To reward ourselves for all being alive at the end of the day we made white chocolate lava cakes.

Wednesday started with a basement workout. We were not quick enough to purchase weights before they were sold out everywhere so we’ve been getting creative with all the cinderblocks from our basement project. It was also time for my 2nd bimonthly grocery store trip. This was a big one as I was also going to go to Costco. On this trip 98% of people were wearing masks. King Soopers (our Kroger store) had also turned all the aisles into one way aisles. They had signs at the end of every aisle and arrows on the floor, but it seems people are illiterate or oblivious because more often than not they were going the wrong way. Costco was pretty crazy. They had pallets in the middle of almost every aisle making social distancing very difficult. Then the checkout process felt a little bit like the Soup Nazi scene from Seinfeld. I got yelled at multiple times and I was really trying to pay attention to the process. I think the workers were just a little stressed. I returned home with quite a bit of supplies. I know we have been really privileged during this whole thing. Yes, it’s emotionally hard, but we’re fortunate that Noel is still making his full wage and that we’re all healthy. When I got home Noel lamented to me how awful remote learning had gone that morning. It was good to know it wasn’t just me. And that gets us halfway through April.

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