Stay at home

After chatting with some friends about what an unprecedented time this is in modern history, I decided that I don’t want to forget what the stay at home orders were like and therefore want to document some memories for us later down the road.

We have officially been home 9 weeks- which is 2 weeks longer than the time we were in Slovakia. The time has gone so fast and yet so slow. We have watched so many movies- including the famous “Groundhog Day” which feels like the life we are living.

We are cooking all the time. I have mastered the homemade Scotch egg which is Ryan’s new favorite food.

We have made a lot of banana bread

We have had some social distance fun like neighborhood bingo.

We visited John’s 93 year-old Grandma from the ground floor while she sent love down to us from the 4th floor.

There have been many hikes to get the kids out and walking.

Nope- not ready yet for resuming family pics

Easter 2020 was far from what we had planned. The Flemings were supposed to be in Bratislava and we had been so eager for that visit. Instead, we were home and watched mass online. John’s parents stopped by with ham and other goodies but we only said a social distance hello.

Out of sheer boredom, I bleached Veronica’s hair (with FaceTime guidance from my friend Jen). It turned out fairly lovely if I do say so myself!

After our experience of attempting to direct our childrens’ learning in Slovakia before their school started, we knew that we needed direction once we arrived home. We had always decided that our kids would attend PA cyber school if school in Slovakia didn’t work out. So, soon after our arrival home, I started the process of enrolling them. With the changing environment in PA due to coronaviurs, there was a delay in their admission to school but eventually they were officially PA cyber school students. We were floored at the amount of supplies that suddenly showed up at our door.

The first week was….brutal. We had to learn how to navigate their online teaching platform. Our kids haven’t spent much time on computers so they needed help every step of the way navigating around websites and we had to do a lot of scanning of assignments, etc. I did have one meltdown. However, we have kept at it and feel very acclimated to cyber school life. I’m very grateful to have John navigating this with me. Not surprisingly, he manages the arts- English, Social Studies, etc. I have the Math and Sciences. We have been so much more engaged in our kids learning than ever before. We are learning also that so far, all of our kids are gravitating to the liberal arts. They are doing well and although this isn’t a style of learning we ever thought we would engage with, they are successful- they just really miss their friends.

Living life mostly at home and masked when out and about is hard and bizarre. For me, the only time I have worn masks has been when I’m in the operating room. We have limited trips outside the house. We’ve fallen into a routine where I go grocery shopping during the hour of 6 am-7 am with the immunocompromised group. It works well because I’m a morning person. I’m also and extrovert and have enjoyed at least seeing people once a week. John will make any needed in-between trips. As above, we cook a lot more than we ever have and occasionally enjoy a take out dinner. I have gotten a skillet out and use it multiple times a day.

We have been out fishing to break up the boredom. We still play cards although the sibling rivalry has increased with the on-going continued limited exposure to anyone outside of our family.

Our neighbors offered up their backyard for campfires which has been a new-found favorite pastime for our family.

One particularly fun thing for me each week is the “Bocce Coffee Crew.” Some of my friends started meeting each Saturday at the Bocce courts behind St. Raphaels for social distance coffee. We have sat through sun, snow and rain and this has really helped to ease the pain of such minimal contact with others. Some of this crew also started up beachbody workouts and although that has never been my exercise of choice, I jumped on the bandwagon.

I also participated in a virtual running race with some of my friends from Diabetes Training Camp (https://www.diabetestrainingcamp.com/). That sparked my desire to keep running and therefore signed up for another virtual race with my good friends Debbie and Melissa. This has been such a light for me to get out and run with my friends, albeit virtually, yet feeling connected.

Mother’s day brought an announcement from our governor that we were just one week away from transitioning to the first stage of re-opening (aka “yellow”). The case numbers in Western PA remained low and although this virus is so unpredictable, we felt like we could visit with family for a little longer time. With everyone’s consent, we let the kids hug their grandparents with masks on. Those hugs were some of the sweetest you could ever imagine. Who knew how much we took hugging for granted.

During the week after Mother’s Day, we rented a car and drove to one of my favorite places, Ohiopyle. Although the trip was a little harder with the continued closures, it was literally a breath of fresh air.

This past Friday, we officially started in “yellow.” There continues to be between 6-25 new cases a day and we will see how the re-opening affects those case numbers. Sadly, the same day we progressed to yellow, the announcement was made that both the county and city pools would be closed for all of the summer. We are assuming that Kennywood and Sandcastle will also not open- along with all sports.

A group text between some mom friends of mine blew up with panic and pool purchases. I threw the idea out to John and showed him some blow up pool options. With these pool closure announcements, he was quickly on websites researching above ground pools. This is something we NEVER would have considered. Yet, there we were headed to Pool City for an in-person masked meeting about putting a pool in our backyard. And. We did it. We bought a pool. That led to all sorts of ideas….like converting our garage into a pool house/she shed, stone paths and electrical hookups for the outside. John jokes that this feels a little like us deciding to build a tree house….how will this actually turn out?! Well, we will know in about a month. We hope that this will be an avenue for exercise and a way to safely connect with friends.

I think this story will need to be continued. Pool pics to follow……

John continues to teach his Comenius students from our basement. He’s dedicated to them even though this has been difficult. I have been ready to return to work if needed, however thankfully our staff have remained healthy. I will go back in person on June 15th.

Joe learned to ride a bike! I’m glad to have the time to spend with all the kids. Even though we are quite sick of each other, I suspect I will look back lovingly on these days together.

We continue to be proud of Slovakia. They have kept their rates of coronavirus so low that they are really beginning to reopen. They have also received some well-deserved attention!

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/05/slovakia-mask-coronavirus-pandemic-success/611545/

2020- you are sure not what I expected but there are still many things to be grateful for.

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