In October, I think we were as relaxed as we had been during the entire pandemic. In November, we started to tighten up more. Between the election and COVID cases rising, the first week of November was a bit stressful.
COVID cases were on the rise and the governor was urging people to not have anyone outside of their household in their home. That week, three COVID cases hit close to home. The first was my good friend who is my partner in crime at the elementary school. We co-chair a committee together and are co-room parents for our 5th graders. She had gone back home to care for her mother after she had brain surgery and while she was there she caught Coronavirus. She was terrified she was going to give the virus to her mom (or worse that she already had). She had her husband drive through the night from Colorado to Minnesota, then quarantined at home and had her kids stay at her sister’s house for 14 days. She was very sick for over a week, but luckily didn’t require hospitalization. The second was my grandmother who was also very sick, but resisted going to the hospital until she had oxygen levels dipping into the 80s. She spent one night at the hospital and then was sent home because it seemed like she was over the worst of it and they needed the hospital bed. Her recovery is ongoing and difficult. The third was Ellen’s tutor’s son. Because of this, the pod went on hold until the tutor could get a negative COVID test. All of this had me a little shaken up and I started to realize that our pod was much bigger than I’d allowed myself to realize. We had five households and each household had multiple people/households in their bubble. It was feeling too big for my comfort level especially since we weren’t taking any precautions when the kids were together.
Parent teacher conferences were that week and they didn’t go particularly great for the pod kids. We convened a meeting with the pod parents via Zoom and agreed that the pod was not working as we’d hoped. Aside from the COVID risks, the kids were too good of friends and were having a hard time focusing on their work. Their remote teacher spent a lot of time nagging the kids for not acting appropriately and then their tutor would lecture them when the meeting was over for embarrassing her. It was a really sad meeting, we honestly liked the tutor and the social aspect was so good for the kids, but we all agreed that none of us wanted to continue with the pod.
While all of that was going on, we were also trying to distract ourselves from the counting of ballots for the election. I had cognitively been prepared for the results to take awhile, but clearly wasn’t prepared emotionally. At first we threw ourselves into house projects, but at some point malaise took over.
Finally that weekend, major news outlets began to call the election for Biden. This was a huge relief for us. It was so nice to hear president elect Biden and VP elect Kamala Harris speak in a calm, well-mannered way. I really appreciated their calls to come together as a nation. I’m very excited that we are going to have a female VP. Kamala is setting the stage for many firsts. I want to add a side note here that around this time an old friend from high school posted to Instagram about how it was hypocritical for feminists to say all women, regardless of political party, should celebrate a woman being VP while vilifying Amy Coney Barrett. This made me pause and realize that there was some truth to this. I’m not thrilled about Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment, but I should be proud that another woman has been appointed to the Supreme Court. Especially, if I expect women from across the aisle to be excited about Kamala Harris being Madam VP. I messaged the old friend and thanked her for giving me something to think about.
Now that the election was mostly behind us, we began to focus on other things. Now that the pod was disbanded, Noel and I were fully responsible for getting Ellen to all her meetings. It wasn’t going great. Learning over a computer didn’t seem to be ideal for Ellen and her teacher just . . . wasn’t having a lot of patience with her. Even though the pod kids were no longer together, she kept calling them out in front of the class for unimportant things (like looking at something off screen). There were also some insinuations that the kids didn’t know anything because the tutor had “done it all for them.” This was our second year with this teacher and she and Ellen had had some struggles in the past. I was just done. After some serious thought and research, we decided to pull Ellen from school and home school her. I am pro-public school all the way and have always said it would take a very dire situation for me to consider home schooling my kid and this seemed to be it. I honestly felt so much peace after I filed the paperwork. Ellen was also happy.
There was a honeymoon phase, followed by a phase of annoyance of still having to do school every day, and at this point I think we’ve settled into a good pattern. It’s a balance for Noel and I to fit everything in, but it feels like we’re more in control and Ellen seems to have better self-esteem. I also hope she is learning more than she would be if she’d stayed in remote. The other pod families stayed with remote and have reported the teacher is still singling out their kids.
The above pictures are very indicative of what life is like for us right now. We are a floundering mess, but there’s a lot of good happening in the chaos.
The Friday before Thanksgiving, our prophet challenged the church to use social media as a gratitude journal (and said some other encouraging words for this difficult time). Noel and I were also working on talks on the topic of gratitude for church. As we pondered the subject, I really did feel a surge of gratitude. I really like this talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf on the subject, because it talks about how important gratitude is, but doesn’t dismiss the hardships of life. I’m not usually one to participate in social media challenges, but I enjoyed the gratitude one and seeing what everyone else was grateful for. Some of the things I was grateful for were:
* A finished shed that distracted us and gave us a physical marker of the progression of time during this pandemic.
*Being able to run again (my hip had been aggravated pretty bad for about a month after our backpacking trip in October)
*My kids and their adaptability during all this
*Noel who is truly my best friend and an excellent husband
The week of Thanksgiving, we went to the Botanic Garden to see their Blossoms of Light. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s pretty popular and even if you can get parking there are just so many people there. But, because of COVID they were doing timed entries with reservations. (Again, this is probably my favorite part of COVID.) The lights were really beautiful. There were definitely a few people who haven’t seemed to grasp the concept of social distancing, but for the most part it felt pretty safe.
It snowed that week, but we persevered with our goal to get outside every day. The kids played in the snow and Noel and I ran.
On Thanksgiving, Noel and I did a cold weather turkey trot while the kids watched the Macy’s Day parade. We roasted a chicken and made our favorite side dishes. The best part though were the mini pies, yum. We also video chatted with some of our family. Thanks technology!
Black Friday was my birthday. I taught a HIIT class and a few family members joined in addition to my regulars. Noel made me a delicious breakfast and we went on a walk along a beautiful frozen creek.
That evening, Noel and the kids took me on a “beach vacation.” They had flight tickets and even served peanuts on the airplane. It was really cute. We had takeout from a great Italian restaurant and nutella cheesecake to finish the night. I felt very loved.
The rest of the weekend was lovely and relaxing. The kids went on a run with us (they ran the first mile and then walked home together) – very impressive. This balloon that came with a flower bouquet my father-in-law got for me kept following us around the house in a creepy way. We got our Christmas tree (everyone was decorating so early this year!) and put up our lights. Then after virtual church on Sunday we went for a lovely hike.
The last day of November was spent trying to remember how to manage school and work, plus doing one million loads of laundry. Phew, that sums up November.