I was thinking the other day how most of my readers are not my local Colorado friends. I’ve mentioned what sort of rules or guidelines we have in Colorado during this pandemic, but I haven’t mentioned statistics about where Colorado stands.
Now, in Colorado we have started reporting two numbers related to total COVID deaths – deaths due to COVID and deaths where people died with COVID in their system. It’s a comical differentiation driven by politics. As of May 23rd, our death numbers are 1,088 (due to COVID) and 1,327 (died with COVID). We’re not New York by any means, but Coronavirus is definitely here. In our county, we have had 142 deaths which is more than the total number of deaths in some of the states my friends and family live in. There have also been multiple cases among employees at Noel’s work. All of that factors into the actions our state has taken and the actions we are taking personally. With that background, let’s talk about the first half of May.
May 1st was Enrichment Day at school. The librarian at the school had arranged for a bunch of different online classes, activities, and challenges with partners from the community. It was a day of self-directed learning and fun. It was also much needed. School has not really been fun during this period of remote learning. Ellen started off the day with a Hip-Hop class that I think I enjoyed more than her. Cooper did some programming. They both did Legos, karate, and a building challenge. The principal also arranged for rotating Zoom rooms for lunch so the kids could eat with peers and staff members. The kids had a blast. It was a very hands on day for me getting them into Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, but totally worth it for their happiness.
That night, the kids slept in the tent by themselves just because they wanted to.
On Saturday, we took care of a few projects. Noel went and mowed the lawn of an older woman from church. I painted the kitchen. We’d been thinking about doing a remodel and had been testing paint colors, but decided to put the remodel on hold. I didn’t want to have patchwork walls for however many months or years it would take us to circle back to the project, so I took a can of paint we had in the basement and painted everything the same color. Noel also went and filled up the car with gas. With gas prices being so low, us rarely driving, and our gas points racking up, Noel ended up paying something crazy like $.45/gallon.
The next day was Sunday. We had a decent church at home and then an uplifting gospel study group over Google Meet. Noel was recently asked to start the group and it’s been nice to talk about spiritual things with adults.
In the afternoon, we played Slammo in the backyard. Maybe I should say we tried to play and mostly just chased balls around and laughed at ourselves. We may all be athletically challenged. We took dinner to a family from church that night who just had a miscarriage. We talked from a distance for a few minutes which was nice. Chicken Alfredo and brownies can’t heal all wounds, but hopefully it can make people feel loved.
After eating our own dinner, we decided to go for a hike on the mesa by our house. As the weather has gotten nicer, there’s been a lot of people out at all times of the day which has made it hard for us to comfortably social distance. Going just before dusk was just the ticket for a quieter experience. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a lover of social distancing long before it was a thing.
The next day was May 4th. Noel went to great lengths to set up a green screen so he could join work meetings from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. (May the 4th be with you!) One of Cooper’s friends did a drive by so they could see each other and chat for a bit. The drive by was a surprise to Cooper. I had to endure a very long pogo stick battle to keep him outside long enough.
May 5th was Cooper’s 10th birthday. He’d been lamenting about not being able to have a birthday party so I wanted to try and make the day as special as possible.
We set up a balloon drop that would be set off when he opened his door in the morning. I didn’t witness it because I’m pretty sure he set it off at like 5:30am. Once we were all up, he opened some gifts, ate confetti waffles, and got ready for school.
Even though Cooper had school, we wanted to still make the day special. I made a background for him when he did his meetings. (The falcon only works in Zoom and also only on Noel’s phone or computer.) Then at 10:25 I presented him with an envelope. Cooper was born at 10:25am and we had him open an envelope every hour with a fun activity for 10 hours. Activities ranged from a fun brain break to a picnic at the park to a surprise virtual birthday party with his two best friends.
We did lunch at the park and set off bicycle pump rockets. (The playground and picnic table are closed, but the fields are open.) We drove in the car to get everything to the park and realized it was the first time since quarantine that the kids had been in the car. Cooper’s biggest surprise came in the afternoon. His envelope started him on a scavenger hunt that led him to a big gift from us – a Lego Millennium Falcon.
I should have taken a video, but he basically yelled in all caps ITS A LEGO MILLENNIUM FALCON!!!!!!! He’s been wanting one for a long time and we kept telling him there was no way he was getting one because it was too expensive. (Note, we did not get him the $500 one that’s basically for adults, but the under $200 for kids.) He was saving his money to buy one. He worked on that while watching Rise of Skywalker.
Another surprise was eating dinner on the roof. He’s been asking to do that again. The final surprise of the day was a Google Meet with our entire family so everyone could sing him happy birthday and watch him blow out his candles.
It was an unusual birthday, but I think he felt very loved.
The next day everything went back to “normal.” I was tired and maybe in a bit of a post celebration funk. Above is a Google chat happening in Ellen’s 2nd grade class. I’m sure the teacher loves it, ha, ha.
Cooper had a really hard time focusing on school work and kept sneaking away to work on the Millennium Falcon. He had the whole thing finished by the end of the day.
I helped Ellen clean her room. This is everything we swept out from under her bed, dresser, and out of the closet. She and I have very different cleanliness standards which is rough.
The next day, Noel and I went for a run somewhere other than our mesa. It was the first time we’d gone somewhere else in 8 weeks. It was nice to do something different. We went early to avoid crowds and brought our buffs along like we always do to pull up when passing people on the trail.
That was the day Noel received word that he probably won’t be going back to his physical work until September. Those that work in labs are able to come back with lots of guidelines and restrictions, but office workers won’t be going back anytime soon.
That night, Cooper made us dinner from a cookbook he’d gotten for his birthday. It’s nice to be getting to the point where the kids can help with things like meals.
That weekend, the Stay at Home Order for our county expired, but not much changed for us. A few more things are open, but I feel like the recommendations are about the same. We worked on sprinklers and then Sunday was Mother’s Day. I was treated to thoughtful gifts and yummy food.
Monday, I went to the school to officially open the school garden. The garden had been off limits until the Stay at Home Order ended. There are a lot of rules that need to be followed though and the first step was posting them on all the garden entrances. A single household or two individuals are allowed to go to the garden at a time. We’re getting everything prepped and planted through signup slots and a detailed checklist since we can’t all get together and have a big work day.
In the evening, we took the kids for their first hike away from our mesa since March. We’d wanted to hike at one place, but even going later in the evening the parking lot was swarming. We decided we didn’t feel comfortable being there and headed to a different location. The final destination was less crowded and truly gorgeous. My heart felt at peace as we hiked and looked at gorgeous views as the sun set. As I reflected on it, the words from the hymn “It is Well With My Soul” came to my mind. (If you’ve never read about the history of the song, it’s sad, but inspiring.)
Nothing terribly notable happened the next day, but here are a few pics:
Thursday, I went to the grocery store to buy groceries for another two weeks. I always have a really full cart. While I was at the store, I got a call that the dirt I’d ordered for the school was being delivered. They were 2 hours earlier than predicted. Fortunately, Noel was able to hop on his bike and sign for the dirt.
We went and moved a bunch of dirt that night and I wondered how we were going to move all of it. A few people had signed up to help in shifts, but it seemed like our two hours of work barely made a dent. Noel told me it was exhausting to be married to me and he’s probably right, ha, ha.
On Friday, we slogged through the school day and house tasks, then mustered some energy for an at home date. The kids ate in the basement like last time and Noel and I enjoyed some quiet and good conversation upstairs. We tried a salsa dancing tutorial on Youtube and then gave up and jumped in puddles outside with the kids. Dancing has long been a source of contention in our marriage (I’m decent at it, Noel has two left feet), so the fact that we ended the evening laughing was a success.
On Saturday, we worked in our yard and also at the school garden. We hadn’t been there in 48 hours. So much dirt had been moved since the last time we’d been there. I was so grateful for everyone’s hard work
That day, we let the kids ride bikes in the street with one of the neighbors. I had them wear their buffs and told them to not get close to each other. For me, this was really being easy going. I’ve been thinking a lot about people’s reactions to Coronavirus and my own. I run in an interesting circle. I’m a Christian and a registered Democrat (registered the day Trump was sworn into office as a statement). Noel and I joke that we’re too liberal for our conservative friends and too conservative for our liberal friends. Our friends and family span a wide range of political, spiritual, and social opinions. Having friends with different opinions is sometimes difficult, but I feel like it’s also really important. I can have rational conversations with these people because we also have mutual respect and some shared values. We don’t always change each others’ minds and there are some topics we avoid to keep the peace, but I think we are less angry and hateful to ideas that are different from ours because we care about someone who holds those opinions. As much as I sometimes would like to surround myself with people who share all of my opinions, I think I’m being forced to be a better person because of the different circles I run in. Yesterday, our former neighbors were in the neighborhood to check on their rental property. They were talking to one of our current neighbors and we went out to join. The three of us have different feelings about the seriousness of Coronavirus and are taking different levels of personal precaution. But, we had a good chat and gave each other space because some of us wanted it. We all probably judged each other for different things that were said, but we were kind and I personally think that was the most important part.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back in a week or so with the recap of the 2nd half of May.