Adventures,  Kids,  Personal

Let the Pandemonium Begin

Last week my kids took the bus every day to school, we went to the library and the park most afternoons, and we were planning our annual St. Patrick’s Day party. I was thinking of splurging on a cleaning lady or buying a new desk. We were budgeting for L’s first season of soccer. I got annoyed that rice, toilet paper, and water were out at Costco. We were getting our internet set up, and I was able to work 3 hours a day on the side. My boys were coming down with a mild cold, and I hoped it would be nothing. My sister had 3 months left on her full-time mission serving in the Philippines. We were planning a family reunion for when she returned.

This week looks quite different. Corona virus was declared a pandemic. The gathering limit went from 100 to 50 to 10 in a matter of days. In an unprecedented move, church and all activities were canceled indefinitely. Most public places closed or shut down. Soccer is over before it began. School was dismissed, so Jer spent 48 hours converting his classroom to an online class. I started home schooling our kids using packets we pick up from the school at a drop-off door every Monday because our internet ran into issues with installation. Days after, they weren’t allowing technicians to come back and finish it. The only other internet company was at capacity because everyone started working from home. My work hours have gone down to less than 10 hours per week.

Grocery stores filled with panicked shoppers emptying all shelves and forming lines all the way to the back of the store. I had my first panic attack at the Smith’s meat aisle with not a single piece of meat, eggs, milk, or anything I had planned to feed my family. Today I went to Costco for the first time since all these changes were made, and stood in line 6 feet from the person in front of me with no point of contact with our membership card. Health care workers, grocery clerks, and delivery carriers are on the front lines—including my Dad who works at a hospital, and is the only one left in the department so they won’t let him take time off even when my sister comes home. He’s at high risk of dying from COVID-19 due to his age, history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma—I pray that he doesn’t catch it. My sister is one of thousands of missionaries being flown home out of the Philippines as the country locks its borders indefinitely. She’ll be in isolation for at least 2 weeks, so he won’t even get to see her when she’s living in their house. Oh yeah, and an earthquake made it gently clear how unprepared we are.

We’ve been told to “hear Him”. I’ve been trying to listen, but I feel like I’m slow and distracted. We started our food storage maybe 2 weeks after I had strong promptings. Now I’m getting promptings for 72 hour kits, and the only thing I’ve done is announce to everyone to set aside a backpack and ask Jer about his camping stuff. With the kids home from school and “social distancing” the priority now, we’re doing our best to handle the changes. It’s not a perfect system, but here’s what has helped me:

  1. Prayer
  2. A schedule
  3. BINGO board of activity ideas
  4. Jer’s help with planning & preparing meals
  5. L’s help with homework & chores
  6. Taking a break from social media
  7. FaceTime with friends
  8. Keeping the library books/movies until they open again!
  9. Bringing out all the craft supplies, old reading tent, games, etc.
  10. Going outside

This experience has definitely motivated me to get organized! I’ve literally had to make room for all the food storage, redo the closets so there’s a place for the updated meds we’re supposed to have on hand, figure out where the art supplies are, and somehow rearrange our room to fit an office desk.

Dedicating more time at home and being intentional about teaching and spending time with my kids has created some special moments. The other night we went to the little green area between our complexes and let the kids roll on the grass while Jer and I held hands on a walk. Then we all laid down and looked at the stars. It was so wonderful holding my kids while we oohed and aahed. I now know that things I didn’t have time for before were really because I put cleaning or work in front of it. Being pushed to teach at home consistently, I’m seeing my preschooler progress in learning colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and even writing his name! I’m so proud of him!

Just what have we been doing? There’s plenty of work, and lots to play after, too. The kids have been enjoying Pokemon, LEGOs, and reading. Our first Sunday at home we dressed up like we normally would when going to church, got the living room set up with a table for the boys, L gave the lesson about the allegory of the vineyard, and we had a wonderful spirit in our home as we finally did a Come Follow Me lesson. We celebrated St Patrick’s Day as just us; it hasn’t been like that in many years. When Jer came home from work, we ate baked potatoes with corned beef and cabbage (delish!), and everyone played St Patty’s Day BINGO after dinner. Plans have changed for the most part, but I am loving the good parts of having my family so in focus with no events, commuting, callings, or extra distractions. We really are getting to the bare bones of what matters, and still keeping it simple.

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