COVID-19: A Family Update

March 10, 2020 is when it all started unraveling. I have been doing bootcamp in my friend Sarah’s basement the past year and I met with her, our friend Jenn and Jamie, an ER doc from our ward. On all of our minds: COVID-19. I had been casually watching what was happening in China but it seemed so far away and non-applicable but things in the U.S. had slowly started heating up. We peppered Jamie with questions and she had answers.

No, the hospital and staff are not prepared.

We have only 30 test kits in all of Utah and no labs to perform tests.

This is going to explode. Soon.

Little did we know just how soon. Things would start unraveling fast later that day when church was canceled and moved to home-based, an NBA player tested positive causing the league to be canceled and Disneyland closed. Those were the big three that night.

When I arrived home from bootcamp, I told Jamie, “We’re going to Costco. NOW.” I was admittedly panicked because I knew we weren’t prepared. We had dumped most of our food storage when we moved to Utah. At Christmas, I had thrown out our expired canned food in our storage room with the promise to replenish ASAP…but hadn’t. We had some items but not nearly enough. There was an accident in Provo Canyon, causing an hour of delays. Jamie wanted to turn back but I knew this might be our only chance to go for a while. While we waited, I read to him the latest medical reports, solidifying to both of us that this was no flu. We had both undermined the severity.

The parking lot and store were packed but fortunately, we were able to navigate the store fairly seamlessly without waiting too long in line (the next week, Costco would only allow a certain amount of people in the store, resulting in huge lines around the block). We were able to stock up on most of our items with the exception of the staples that have been scarce in this pandemic: toilet paper, flour, sugar, sanitizers and yeast. We had two overflowing carts and spent $800; a personal record at Costco.

That was Tuesday. By Friday, school was canceled and the reality of homeschooling our kids set in.  Everyone was directed to self-isolate (only leave the house when absolutely necessary for food) but Hadley was placed under strict quarantine for two weeks; a student at her school tested positive for COVID-19 and was the first in Wasatch County.

The following week was one of nightmares. Trying to work while navigating an endless stream of emails from teachers. It was the end of third time (traditionally the most challenging of the terms) and Hadley was behind. Really behind. She was nearly failing physics and math and we had no way to help her. A friend’s son stepped in to give her virtual tutoring and we had a series of 10-hour days. I had my first panic attack that Monday, prompting Jamie to step in and provide more assistance (he has been a star, truly).

On Thursday, we were in bed watching the news at 7 a.m. when the bed started shaking. Really shaking. WHAT THE? ARE WE HAVING AN EARTHQUAKE? What fresh hell is this? A 5.7 magnitude earthquake, to be exact. We were 30 miles from Magna’s epicenter so were spared the worst of it but our nerves were frayed.

We somehow survived the week, Hadley squeaked out all As and Bs (a miracle), Bode got straight As (BLESS HIM) and we started our first week of fourth term on March 23. She is somehow two weeks behind…only one week into it, confirming what I have long suspected: she is not an ideal candidate for homeschooling. Bode is really self-directed and just cranks it out. She is easily distracted (a new boy in her life isn’t helping her focus) and when she gets overwhelmed, she just shuts down. She is already behind in every class and Jamie and I have been so busy ourselves we have done a poor job staying on top of it. I don’t know how working parents are managing everything.

The Monday before everything started crashing, our refinance came through to finish our basement. Last fall, Jamie strongly felt we should start on the process and I agreed. We haven’t liked this house–at all– because we just don’t have the space to entertain. Our home in Arvada was THE social hotspot for kids and they never bring anyone over here. Our basement will be the perfect refuge for teens with a home theatre and game room but we keep asking ourselves are we being foolish to continue with it with everything that is happening in the world? Maybe. But it is also something that has come together in a miraculous way. The building marketing was bustling a month ago and it would have been difficult to find contractors but now, so many are out of work that we are able to find contractors who are willing to work within the confines of our budget. We found a team that framed our basement in one day on Wednesday.

Last week was very chaotic with contractors in and out to give bids and the constant pounding with the framers. We are having them enter through the basement window to avoid contact with our family. This week, we have the plumber and electrician, after which we will hopefully get our permit and then move onto drywall and mudding after we hang all of the insulation. The good news is everyone is home now to help. Or bad news for the kids!

Some other things:

    • My friend Stacey was supposed to fly here from Canada on Wednesday (it was to be her first visit since our move). Our family was then supposed to fly to Sea Island, GA next Monday for Spring Break. Jamie’s best friend Stan has a condo there and this was a trip we had already rescheduled when a hurricane last fall forced us to postpone. This has probably been my biggest disappointment of the whole thing.
    • I’m so sad for all of the graduation ceremonies and milestones that have been canceled. My niece was supposed to get married in St. Lucia in a month. We’re lucky that didn’t have a ton planned for spring. Bode’s Nordic ski team ended a week early but they don’t train during mud season and Hadley isn’t enrolled in anything besides her Young Artist Academy which has gone remote. However, the kids both have weekly church meetings, Scouts, workouts and Bode is part of a board game group that hangs out regularly (they’re now doing online Risk tournaments). It has been strange to have everything wiped from our schedule. but also kind of nice to not be racing around all the time.
    • There has been a flurry of changes in church policies this past year and the inspiration is downright staggering. We have shifted to more home-centered church and it was actually been very memorable to have our own Sacrament meetings and classes in our living room. Except for when Fat Kitty started puking on me in the middle of it last week.
    • The first week was such a frenzy with zero self-care that I was a wreck. Last Monday, I let the kids sleep in until 9 a.m. so I could workout and having that time to myself has made all the difference. I started a GroupMe with friends “Quarantine Queens” to help motivate each other to stay active. I was much better–I even went for a ski up Snake Creek with Kristine and Donna–but I could still do better. I need to carve out an hour to myself every day for my sanity.
    • I’m grateful for our family relationships.  Of course, we’re only on Week 3 but overall, it has brought us together. Hadley and Bode were really close before we moved to Utah and while they have never fought, they have been on different planets the last few years. Quarantine has brought them back together. They have a blast playing Settlers of Catan as a family or Minecraft. It warms my mama heart to see their bond deepening. Jamie has been a complete rockstar with juggling work, all of the basement construction, Hadley’s homeschooling and everything else…all while he continues to struggle with his health.
    • Meanwhile, Fat Kitty is a mess (see previous puking reference). He hates change and there has been a lot of chaos and commotion. The Saturday before the contractors started coming, we spent an exhausting day moving everything out of the basement. Thankfully, we spent a week during our Christmas break organizing and pillaging everything in preparation but it was still a lot of work to move everything out. The most impacted was our storage area where we keep his littler box and food.  He voices his displeasure by pooping and he has voiced his displeasure loud and clear. The night after the framers left, he went down to the basement, desperate to let us know how mad he was. He always has to poop ON something (because pooping directly on the floor is not an option) but all he could find was a board so that’s what he pooped on. How you know you’ve hit rock bottom…. :-)
    • This quarantine has confirmed one thing: We are the Addams Family and Hadley is Wednesday. Last night, I shared my friend Jenn’s darling ideas for daily themed adventures at home for spring break with her kids. On Wacky WEDNESDAY, they’re going to wear silly clothes, take an outing in the car and roll a dice at each intersection to see which way to go, eat mixed-up meals, and have a funny utensil night. Hadley looked at me and morosely declared, “We shall eat soup with our sharpest kitchen knives.” It’s gonna be a spring break to remember.
    • We went for a hike last week to a cool tunnel with graffiti that felt like we were plopped in a dystopian movie. Maybe we are. 
    • Self-isolation is HARD (especially for an extrovert like me). Yesterday, I was moping ALL DAY. I refused to work because I just needed a break but there’s nothing on TV I want to watch. So, I whined until Jamie and Bode took me for a walk up Dutch Hollow. It works for dogs…and me!
    • So many are suffering and that has weighed heavily on me. I had a conference call with the Health Department for work last week and domestic abuse calls have gone up significantly and it breaks my heart so many feel unsafe in their own homes. My dear friend Julie took Bode skiing with her son last month and got in a really bad ski accident and has been navigating a concussion. Yesterday, all the crap hit the fan: her dad has pancreatic cancer and collapsed (they don’t expect him to make it), their family of seven moved out of their house into a small apartment yesterday..and it was her birthday.

It has all been so much but there are silver linings. We went to Julie’s house (she obviously wasn’t there) and her husband recorded us singing a silly birthday song in our costumes. I joined friends to serenade a neighbor for her 30th birthday on Thursday. We left a note for a neighbor who lives alone of Hadley’s cool Quarantine Man” drawing. Last week,  Julie and Jenn brought me yeast because they knew we were running low. Yesterday someone ding-dong ditched us with Charmin toilet paper.

There is so much fear and pain but there is so much good and we’re praying and fasting today for healing and hope for this crazy world of ours.

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