posts tagged with 'pandemic'

what are we doing now with this pandemic?

I don't pay the closest attention, but as I understand it the federal and state governments have abruptly removed most or all of the Covid restrictions we've been living under for the past many months. Which is great! Especially since lots of our friends have birthdays this time of year. But there's also some uncertainty in the air—not to say downright anxiety! For example, while I'm totally fine with wearing a mask I don't love it, especially as it's been getting so warm. Now that I don't have to, outside at least, I'm back to feeling like I did way back at the beginning of this plague: what do I need to do to make the people around me feel comfortable? Like when someone's approaching on the sidewalk: should I put my mask up? Or will that make them think I'm afraid of them and want them to have a mask? Can we just all carry signs indicating our preference?

The kids, of course, aren't vaccinated, nor do they have any immediate prospect of so being. At schools they're now letting the elementary kids have mask-free outdoor recesses, but most of our friends are still more cautious and we're mostly staying masked up for playdates. Which makes sense, since there's a lot more wrestling at homeschoolers' play dates than at your typical school recess. But bike rides are now unmasked. You may have noticed Zion unmasked in the photo heading Sunday's post; as soon as I took it I told him to put his back on. As hard as that is in a water fight. Confusing times.

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we had a party!

All through the pandemic we've kept up with all our friend groups over Zoom. And of course we have our bubble friends over every week or so. But all that is nothing to the amount of entertaining we did before the plague hit. Well, now that it's maybe drawing to an end—or we're pretending it is, at least—we figured it was time to have a party!

several marshmallows toasting over our fire

what you do when you have a party

Well, it actually wasn't much of a party. Just our church community group, and only half of the families were able to make it. Still, that means there were ten people on our back deck not counting us (and really not counting Leah, who was in bed with a migraine). That's a big deal! It was delightful seeing folks in our space, more delightful even than I imagined it would be. The only problem was everyone had such a great time they stuck around past 8:30, and then there the cleaning up to do. When we met over Zoom I never had to put away chairs!

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being traffic

I don't love leaving the house in the car, but occasionally I have to—like this afternoon, when I ventured out to Costco to get more flour. There were moments on the trip, both there and back, when I felt like the whole idea of automotive transportation might be a mistake. Like on the way home when I contributed to filling the highway and causing a traffic jam. Traffic is back in Massachusetts the last couple weeks; I guess people are all vaccinated or trust the folks around them are. What's strange is that the stores don't seem to be any more full... I wonder where everyone is going? I did have a thought that maybe the volume of cars wasn't really what it was during rush hour pre-pandemic, but people just have forgotten how to drive on full roads; that came to mind when we returned to highway speed after five miles of traffic without any reason for the slowdown to be seen.

And I did see some specific moments of concerning behavior. On the highway on the way to the store I was in the right lane, as I tend to be, and there was a driver in the next lane over who was so slow one moment that I found myself passing on the right, and then zipped past me the next moment. When this happened a second time I looked over and saw them texting—or anyways doing something very absorbing on their phone. Yikes! Then a couple minutes later I stopped at a red light and was startled to hear screeching brakes as the driver following barely stopped in time to avoid rear-ending me. Maybe they expected me to run the light? All in all, it wasn't super fun, and I'm glad I don't have to leave our little local roads for another week or so!

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had the new jab

Leah and I got our first covid vaccine shot yesterday. I had expected challenges in getting an appointment—challenges that Leah would face, since she does the communicating with medical professionals in this household—but as it happened her parents' health care place had tons of vaccines to give out, so we got in just about two weeks after Leah first thought to look. And the appointment was really quick and easy too. Plus the shot hardly hurt a bit! Although it did make Leah feel a little sick, and leave us both with sore arms today. We got the Moderna vaccine, so we have to wait a month for our second dose; then we'll all vaccinated on June 10th. Pretty good!

(The title from this post is a reference to a song on Youtube by the Marsh Family: it's really good, you should check it out if by some remote chance you haven't heard it already.)

a momentous day

In former times the library was pretty central to our lives. Both because we all love having a constant stream of new books to look at, and because it's great to have somewhere to go in any sort of weather that's a) not the house, b) inside, and c) free. As I've noted before the second biggest trauma at the start of this pandemic—after having to cancel our long anticipated co-op music day—was that the library closed down before we had a chance to lay in a big store of books. It was my fault; I thought of it on that fateful Friday the 13th but told myself that Saturday morning would be a fine time to browse. Nope: they closed that evening and haven't opened to the public since. Of course, books have been available since last May or so, but in order to get them you had to know what you wanted in advance, put a hold on it, reserve a pickup day and time, and then be there in the specific half hour you put in for. All of those steps are hard for me! Well, the procedure hasn't gotten any easier, but my desire for new books has reached a breaking point (and I've been properly shamed by friends who do regular library pickups) so I'm proud to report that, yesterday evening, we received our first library books in over 13 months.

picture books on our coffee table

library books at our house!

I was super excited to go and pick them up. In retrospect, I could have extended that excitement to the boys by requesting some books that would be particularly delightful to them; I didn't do that. Mostly it's picture book biographies of poets, since that's what I've been thinking about. Still, such is the demand for reading material around here that Harvey has now read every word of all of them (he accomplished the feat in just slightly under 24 hours). Good thing there are more coming! Including some requests from the boys. What I need now is some way for them to access the library website and put in their own holds when they want something... any chance I can manage that before the library reopens for real?

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not much of a holiday

In the past, Patriots Day has a been a big deal for us. Parades! Battles! Last year, of course, all the observances were cancelled, but we were still excited to follow along online. Then along came the second Patriots Day of the pandemic, and we put our trash out like it was any other Monday. What holiday?

Actually, while that is technically true, we didn't forget about the day completely. We watched the reenactment in the morning—the same reenactment we watched last year, since they haven't filmed any newer ones (does that make it a re-reenactment?). And Elijah wore a tricorn and carried a gun all morning. But it was hard to feel like it was any kind of a holiday. We even did school! Of course, in keeping with the day it was solidly Patriotic. Our poem for the day was Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" and we started an overview unit on the American Revolution. The boys have research projects they're working on on Revolutionary topics of their choosing. Which is fun and all, but it can't really compete with a parade. Next year back to normal?

can you miss people you see three times a week?

One thing that helped us survive a week without our bubble school friends was a chance to hang out with different friends for the first time in over a year. While we see lots of them over Zoom—the kids do things together online three or four times a week!—they have an immunocompromised family member so they've been quarantining hard since February 2020. But now the vaccine has opened their horizons a little bit and we were able to take an expedition with them on Thursday afternoon. We drove to their house and then biked all together to Great Brook Farm: a short ride for the sake of the youngest cyclist, new to her own two wheels, but one that gave us a new sort of challenge as we navigated the high speed auto traffic of Concord Road in Chelmsford. We survived! And then we were glad to take to the trails at Great Brook.

It wasn't all cycling though. We spent lots of time watching and chasing the bullfrog tadpoles in the pond and comparing notes with another aspiring zoologist, a boy who approached the kids looking to play—and who turned out to be a long-ago member of our church community group. That was like six or seven years ago and he's only eight, so it didn't really matter to their interaction, but it was still a fun coincidence. We also jumped onto and over some horse jumps for a surprisingly long time; and, most importantly, the nine-year-olds had time to wrestle a little bit. You can't do that over Zoom! We were masked up of course, but it was still a wonderful opportunity for connection that we were missing. The only problem was that it was so much fun I didn't take any pictures of the kids playing together! Oh well, we'll have to do it again soon.

still managing to read

As we started spending more time at and around the playground the last couple weeks, I remembered that I really miss the library. Really, not getting to visit there once a week—or more!—is one of the hardest things about this pandemic for us (which shows how incredibly fortunate we are, something I don't take for granted in the least). But even without the library for fifty-three weeks and counting we haven't done that badly for books. Sure, we'd love to have access to new and interesting picture books, and research on the internet isn't nearly as fun as paging though age-appropriate texts. For chapter books, though, we've managed to find enough new material to keep up our habit of reading half and hour to an hour every day. My habit of stocking up at every used book sale I see is paying off!

It also helps, of course, that the boys all really love being read to, and that all three of them are interested in a wide variety of styles. In the last couple weeks we've read Misty of Chincoteague and The Tale of Desperaux (that's a new one for us; Leah found it at Savers), and now we're working our way through My Family and Other Animals, an autobiographical account of zookeeper and naturalist Gerald Durrell's childhood on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s. I don't think I would have tried to read it to them a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic: it's more episodic and atmospheric than plot-driven, and while it's filled with beautifully written description it's not necessarily a story you'd expect would be enjoyed by a seven-year-old. But it's also silly and full of animals, so I guess that's a winner.

That's not to say I wouldn't much rather have the option, at least, of finding some good new books at the library. Every time we reach the end of one book I start to get nervous that, this time, we've really come to the end of our supply. Everything else is open now: even the elementary schools are now back in person four days a week, and middle and high school will be going back full time in a couple weeks. And we can go to supermarkets and malls and, for all I know, bars and movie theaters! So why not libraries?!

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Elijah's birthday in time of pandemic

On Saturday morning, Elijah was heard to ask, "how long is my birthday?" Three wonderful days, my son! At least, that's how long his birthday banners were up, and how long he got to say things like, "I get to have that because it's my birthday." I think all things considered—the main thing being, as always, coronavirus—he had a pretty good one. On Saturday, which was his actual birthday, he had his Zoom party with his socially-distanced friends. The birthday boxes I delivered along with the cupcakes had little animal erasers that were the centerpiece of an animal trivia game Leah led the kids through. It was a great success, and I learned that kangaroos can't fart! Sadly there's not that much for six-year-olds—and one brand-new seven-year-old—to do on Zoom, so after the game, watching each other eat cupcakes, and a little shared drawing, they wrapped up after about 50 minutes. The shortest party we've ever thrown! But since one Zoom minute is like eight minutes in real life, it was actually a little over our usual time.

Then today we got to celebrate in person in real life with our bubble school friends. Which basically looked like a regular day of playing and learning together—which is so wonderful it's like a birthday party every day we do it! Treats are also pretty usual in our school day, but today one had a candle in it, so that was different. More to the point, the friends came with presents! Lijah was delighted to open gifts containing stuffed animals, notebooks, and a playdough candy factory, plus a lego set sent over by one of the Zoom party attendees. And those were on top of the amazing things he got from his parents and grandparents on Saturday: a new bike, a new helmet, and a matching stuffed bunny and fur cloak handmade by Mama! It was a hard birthday in some ways—in our house it marked one full year of pandemic life, as Lijah's 6th birthday was the last open social event we held before the world shut down just a couple days after. But I think even with that we did a fine job, and our little boy feels properly celebrated.

One way I did under-perform, though, was in the picture-taking department. I was too busy having fun. But here's an image of him riding his new bike wearing his new cloak early Saturday morning. Isn't it delightful!

Elijah riding his new bike on our street

birthday ride

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marking the day when time has no meaning

New Years feels kind of strange this year; Thanksgiving and Christmas were both so low-key, and we very well may have let New Years Eve pass by entirely unremarked. Sure, we're glad to see the back of 2020, but as Leah remarked this morning when we were talking about resolutions, "why bother trying to do anything different these days?" Tomorrow will be much like today, I imagine. But one of our friends asked yesterday if we wanted to do something like a hike, and another friend said they weren't around until the evening and suggested a fire. So in the event, we had a pretty good party! I made pizza, friends brought cookies and hot cider, and for a couple hours we sat around the fire (at an appropriate distance, of course) and chatted about New Years hopes and movies and water heaters. Some of the time the kids played laser tag. It actually compared pretty favorably to some other New Years observations I've taken part in: there's no mess inside the house to deal with, and I didn't drink so my upset stomach is due only to overconsumption of pizza and cookies plus s'mores, eggnog, and maybe a bit too much cider. So now I'm ready for a new year. Here's hoping it's a better one!