posts tagged with 'pandemic'

zooming through the last book

When the pandemic started there were lots of people creating attractive offerings online, and one of them was from our friends the Jacksons (creators of the amazing story podcast, Tales From the Moosiverse). As we entered the first full pandemic week—the first week of lockdown, no school, and work from home—they stepped up an offered to read a chapter book to any and all kids who wanted to tune in over Zoom from two to three o'clock. They kicked it off with Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, and when that was finished—in just a couple of days—they moved right on to the fabulous Adventures with Waffles by Maria Parr. They read for an hour every day, and the group of kids listening quickly became a real community. It was certainly a big part of our life! The five-day-a-week schedule ran through the end of June, then they switched to Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the summer months. This week, after something like 35 books and close to 100 hours of reading, what came to be called "Zoom Through a Book" came to an end.

The Jacksons didn't read all those books, all those hours. Other parents and grandparents stepped in for a few—I read three, myself—and a couple kids even did some reading. But they carried the bulk of it, and all of the scheduling effort, and they were definitely the heart and soul of the project. The 30 or so kids who were there that first week back in March didn't all stick around, of course: as schools' remote learning started up some of them got too busy, and others drifted away when the weather got nicer. But that just meant the group that stuck around became more and more of a community (interestingly, all but one of the diehards were homeschoolers...). After the reading ended each day they'd stick around to chat and share games and pictures with the "share screen" function, for 45 minutes or more if they could get away with it. Human contact is precious these days! There was a party on Wednesday to wrap things up, and it definitely felt like something worth scheduling.

At this point, to be honest, we're ready for a break from screens. That full schedule I described in the linked post up again (here it is again if you don't want to scroll up) eased up a bit as the months of the pandemic passed, but not that much. We're doing Kids Church on Sunday, then it's no Zoom for a full week—more, if we can manage it—while we clear our brains and get ready for fall. We're planning a little more (careful) human contact, but we know that there will be plenty of virtual interaction too. Which is fine: because the Jacksons have shown us how well it can go! Yay for Zoom Through a Book!

more

everyday outings again?

It's been a long time since we went on an outing that wasn't an adventure in the great outdoors. In former days we used to go shopping, visit playgrounds, and spend lots of time at the library. Oh the library! How we miss it! Well, the library is still closed but the playground has reopened, and kids aren't barred from stores any longer, so yesterday we took a trip to the center of town just like old times. One difference, of course, was that Elijah rode his own bike: up the hill for the first time! We played on the playground for good long time before doing a little shopping at Whole Foods and Marshalls (for shorts: two out of three boys had holes in the ones they were wearing on the trip). When we got back Mama asked the kids what it was like going into a store for the first time in four months; pretty much regular, they said. It still feels kind of like a milestone.

Another milestone was returning (almost) the last of the library books we checked out back in March. While they're not letting us in, the library is now open for curbside pickup, so the book drop is back in action as well and they're sending us overdue notices for the books we've had for four months. It felt strange looking through them as we bagged them up to take back: we've read some of them so many times it felt like we owned them, while others, read once back in March, reminded us of how much time has passed since all this started. We used to go to the library at least once every week, often twice! We miss it. I'm psyching myself up to use the online catalogue and put in an order for pickup, but that's just not how I want to find books. We really want is to be able to browse the shelves again! The town just cancelled all town activities through the end of the year, so it doesn't look good for that. We're ready when they are.

more

summer vacation

The boys are just coming to terms with the idea that we won't be going camping in Maine this summer. Leah and I haven't missed a year in Acadia since we've got married, which of course means none of the kids have missed at least two nights camping in Bar Harbor every year of their lives. So that's kind of tough. As Zion has said more than once, "stupid Covid." But that isn't to say that everything is terrible. Sure, we're stuck at home. But with everything the way it is, home is actually feeling pretty vacationy!

Zion and Lijah in swimsuits by the fire, Zion enjoying a smore

our life these days

At least for Leah and me, the thing that does the most to make every day feel like vacation is getting to eat outside at least two meals every day. Breakfast outside in Bedford isn't much less special that breakfast outside on the Cape, and our fire is just as good at suppertime as any we've ever had at a campsite. Sure, we're missing out on all the delightful attractions of those locations—but we have our own kitchen! (Young people: when you get old you come to appreciate kitchens at least as much as beaches.) And of course we have some serious flexibility in our work hours that's letting us take as many exciting outings at the pandemic allows. The dogs have walked in every woods inside a 30-mile radius, and we've done plenty of cycling and even some swimming. Only one boat trip so far this year, but we've got that leak patched up now so more of that will be coming. So while Covid is indeed stupid and we're really going to miss camping with our friends, things aren't entirely terrible around here. At least we'll always have smores.

more

strange pandemic shortages

With the Covid 19 and all we figured we wouldn't be getting out to pick berries this year, so we want to make sure we're taking good care of the ones we're growing here. And after all the strawberries got eaten by an animal that got through the netting, we want to make sure the blueberries are protected! I've never netted them before, but since the pandemic has also given me lots of time for gardening they're doing better than ever, with lots of fat almost-ripe berries that are apparently very tempting for squirrels, chipmunks, and robins. A few days ago I built a frame to put netting on, but our supply didn't quite cover it and on Sunday I headed out to the hardware store to buy some more, plus some chicken wire to run around the bottom for extra security. They didn't have either—no chicken wire or bird netting of any size. OK... today I went to Home Depot, where I was sure to find at least chicken wire. Nope: they were cleared out of both items as well, plus pressure-treated 2x4s, the other thing I wanted to buy.

The flour shortage I can understand, and the toilet paper thing has been explained to me in a way that I suppose makes sense. And both of those supply chains are pretty much back to normal now anyway (except that Market Basket has mysteriously stopped stocking whole wheat flour or bread flour, boo). Now I guess everyone is gardening? It seems strange to me, but I suppose it shouldn't be unremarkable that other people have planted berries and, I guess, started raising chickens for the first time? And the hardware stores didn't anticipate this? Whatever reason it's happening, I hope the supply gets sorted out soon because I hate seeing all those almost-ripe berries disappearing! Plus the frame looks pretty dumb with the netting stopping three feet short of the ground...

more

the beginning of the end?

This pandemic has got me down. Sure, we can find positives about all the time we've been able to spend together, free of so many of our usual commitments—this morning Lijah asked as all, "what's your best and worst thing about coronavirus?"—but I seem to be running out of energy for appreciating them. Instead, I've been missing our friends and regretting all the missed adventures and beach days. And when I'm feeling so sad it's hard to write in the blog.

That said, things may be looking up a little bit. As of yesterday, Bedford only had one new case of the virus over the past week, the first time we can say that since mid-March. And I don't know if there were more cases today, because, as of Friday, the Bedford Citizen stopped daily reporting of the numbers. They've now planning to let us know the data twice a month in order to, they say, make room for news about camps and re-openings and other activities that are starting up around town. I hear that; we've got two in-person social engagements scheduled for the coming week, which is as much as we had in each of the last two months. Maybe life will be a little more lively in July? As long as we all steer clear of people from Texas or Florida, at least.

varying protocols

I had to go to the grocery store yesterday. Since the last time I was there they've taken down the markers for lining up outside; there was someone at the door ostensibly counting to control the numbers in the store, but it was pretty crowded regardless. I don't know if he was actually paying attention. Stocking levels were pretty much back to normal too. But at least everyone in the store was wearing masks. Still, it was clear that people aren't all taking the disease threat with the same degree of seriousness. As I was putting the bags in the car I noticed one shopper disinfecting her door handles before taking off her gloves, in what was clearly a practiced and well-thought-out maneuver. Then I saw someone else coming out of the store and immediately taking off his mask; when he needed to reach into his pocket for his keys he just held his mask in his mouth to give himself a free hand. So there was that too.

My own practice was in between those two extremes. Stay safe, everybody!

today in the pandemic

This morning Leah sewed up masks for all the family—or, as the boys like to call them, templates (the templates were a couple days ago, but the name has stuck). Only they're wondering how much chance they'll have to wear them, because they're not allowed in stores or anything anyway. I've been hinting that before too long they might need them every time they go outside past our fence. Because yes, they are getting out—even seeing friends from the neighborhood from an appropriate six-foot distance. How can you not, especially on days as beautiful as today? Today some of their time was spent sitting some distance apart on the street and chatting, but Harvey, Zion, and Jack also did some cycling.

That's my favorite, because it means they have to stay safely apart from each other and their hands are busy and likely away from their faces. There's not really anywhere to go, but they didn't let that stop them. Harvey and Jack went around the block seven times, which by my calculations is over five miles of riding. Not bad! Harvey tells me he spent much of the time working on riding with no hands. I'm proud of him, but I kind of hope he doesn't get comfortable enough with it to be able to, I don't know, pick his nose while riding. See, those masks may get some use yet.

catching up

What strange times we're living in. Since I last wrote, everything is different. I wish I had been noting down everything as it happened, but had I done so I probably would have looked stupid in retrospect—there was a time, for example, when I thought this virus business was no big thing. Happily we got Lijah's birthday party off before the epidemic got going, then we hosted Bible Study here a week ago on Tuesday evening. On Thursday we thought we were going to a homeschool music gathering, but the hosts, with an immunocompromised family member, were more on top of the news than we were and cancelled. We met up with one other family at their house anyway, played some music, and took a hike. Then Friday we cancelled our Book Group here but still invited families who wanted to join us. Just one took us up on the offer and the kids played outside while the adults talked about SARS-CoV2 and social distancing. We had lunch together, but carefully. They left at 1:30, and nobody has been in our house since, nor have we visited anyone else.

I guess that's only been four days, but to be honest it feels like a lifetime. Not because the time has been hard—on the contrary, except for some base-level existential dread we've been having a great time! I guess it's just that with so little on the schedule the days have felt stretched out. Not so much that I've had time to write, clearly, but lots for board games and stories and learning to use Zoom. It looks like this is going to be our schedule for quite a while now, so maybe I'll be able to work some writing in there too.

more