Wednesday, May 27, 2020

trucks for 3 minutes

Jordan is doing school time today with the kids, and I'm using the time to make plans for our summer school time and our summer days. As I was thinking about each of the kids and making notes about what each of them needs right now,  Isaac's list was simple
1. Read to Isaac
2. Play

Then I started to remember (what feels like a different world, almost as much of a memory as any of the older kids toddler & preschool days) what our days were like a few months ago, just me and Isaac.

Morning jobs, movie time/shower time, preschool time. On our own, preschool time was a scribbled list of activities with a little drawing for Isaac to see what was next. And always on the list was trucks for 3 minutes. Thinking about that trucks for 3 minutes filled me up with all the feelings and I had to switch courses from my plans to write just a minute and remember.

Isaac loved to play trucks -- the kind of play that is hardest for me where 'you be this one' and 'I'll be this one' and we take our trucks on imaginary adventures. So I'd set a timer for 3 minutes and every day we'd play and it was as much as I could happily do, and it was something. And then we'd do other things together that were also sweet and happy for both of us.

And now those days are gone and I don't even know for sure if Isaac still loves playing trucks. And really, I could only manage 3 minutes? Why is that? (Though I think I will always remember playing ducks with little Landon when I hadn't yet learned to set a timer and I know that wasn't my favorite, though it was memorable!)

I am sad that those sweet, slow days with just Isaac at home were cut short. We've figured things out and we've made it through this school year with 2 1/2 months of learning to home school, and many things have worked well and some things have been hard.   This little thing of playing with Isaac, of talking with him, of seeing the world for a few hours each day with just my 3-year-old little boy -- I hadn't realized till just now, thinking of those trucks for 3 minutes days -- I miss those days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


I always have a hard time writing in the middle. It's so much easier to sit down and write when the story has a beginning, middle & end. But right in the middle I don't know yet the what perspective to take, what lessons I'll learn. Still, I feel like I'll regret having no record of this wild time we are in the middle of, so here's my first attempt to write right from this uncomfortable middle.

I thought I'd try today to piece together our own Brough family Coronavirus timeline of how things felt as this began to become a part of our lives more and more.

About a week into all this, Isaac said in a prayer "Thank thee for our Brough family world..." and that little phrase has stuck in my head. These last 7+ weeks it definitely has felt like we've lived in our own little 'Brough family world!'

End of January 2020

We planned a trip to Disneyland! As it neared, we began to see more news about the coronavirus in China.  A week before our trip, Wuhan was locked down to slow the spread of the sickness. I think that a couple of cases had appeared in Washington and New York at this point. We worried a bit about how safe we would feel on our trip to Disneyland with so many travelers gathering, and I stocked up on Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer for the trip.

January 30- February 5

We had a wonderful time at Disneyland! We wiped down our airplane spaces, and made an extra effort to wash/sanitize our hands before meals while traveling, but felt pretty safe overall.

Every time I think of this trip, I am so grateful we were able to have this wonderful, happy time!

February 2020

February was full of all the regular life kinds of things, all of which feel important right now since things have changed so much since then. From our calendar --

Jordan and I taught our Lego Robotics club and made plans for the last 6 weeks or so. Isaac and I had preschool time, and swapped days with a friend twice a week. Landon swam after school twice/week. Landon and I had Young Men/Young Women activities, including the annual Valentine's dinner. Ellie had cello lessons and Ambassador practice. Jordan and the kids played and worked hard at Brough basketball a few times each week. Landon went on a Klondike campout. Ellie had Activity days. Porter had stitches (yikes! that was not a regular life occurrence thankfully! In the past when the kids have needed stitches, it has often been a slow process of thinking, asking a friend for advice -
does this need stitches?' This time, I saw Porter and immediately knew that gash above his eye needed stitches. Yikes. But what a brave boy!)  Ellie registered for Middle School.  I went with Ellie on an Orchestra Ambassadors field trip to Salt Lake where she got to perform with the Orchestra at Temple Square. And I took a mini overnight vacation to Salt Lake by myself! I worked on a design class online and went to see Strictly Ballroom at the Hale theater (and loved it so much!!)

March 1

We had lunch with a cousin and lots of family to celebrate a baby blessing. We all crowded in the living room/kitchen areas on fold up chairs and such, happily visiting,  and served ourselves from a pop-up table in the corner. There was a bit of talk about 'did you hear' of things that might be changing in some other places related to coronavirus.

March 3

I had my quarterly RA doctor's appointment. I wondered if I should ask about coronavirus, but didn't want to seem paranoid so I didn't. I was getting the 2nd dose of a pneumonia vaccine and as the doctor left, he somewhat joked "maybe next year we'll have a coronavirus vaccine too!"

I read an interview of a writer I really like, and I was surprised when he answered one question with this - "The top idea in my mind right now, to be honest, is Covid-19..." For me, this was when I started to realize maybe I should pay attention to this more seriously.

Preschool time with Isaac & a friend.

February 27 - March 13 

Unrelated to Coronavirus, but a big part of these few weeks was a school issue. One evening, our Superintendent posted to facebook that the district was looking at consolidating our DLI programs. It was an unfortunate way to find out about this (especially for our teachers and principal who were as surprised as parents and students!) These few weeks for me were filled with meetings, planning, drafting emails, etc. in an effort to support the Portuguese program we have loved so much for our kids.

March 4

Ski Day for Ellie + Jordan

Dentist Appointments

Activity days Etiquette Dinner

Landon Swimming

A DLI Parent meeting at the Middle School with about 300 parents and students asking for continued support.

A temple trip with the Young Women.

March 5

Squeezed in more dentist appointments with someone else's cancelation, starting to think it would be good to get these all taken care of sooner rather than later...

Isaac went to a friend's for preschool time while I went to help in Porter's class (I miss this.)

Landon Scouts

March 6

The crowds! Watching movies, etc. it feels strange to see large gatherings like this!
I took Isaac along and we went with Ellie's 5th grade class on a field trip to the State Capitol in Salt Lake, and it was really great. We toured the building and spoke with Senator Hillyard,  Representative Dan Johnson, and the Governor's Education advisor.  A few 5th graders asked our representatives what they could do to keep the DLI program in our district when it felt like they weren't being listened to. (These great brave 5th graders! :)

An intern gave a high five to a student and was reminded by another staff member 'remember no more high-fives -- just elbow bumps'  Someone mentioned that the governor was meeting with superintendents, etc. that afternoon to start discussions on what to do if schools needed to close at some point due to coronavirus.

I drove with a friend who is a nurse and I asked her what her thoughts were on the coronavirus. She hadn't thought much about it and it really hadn't come up at work.

March 7

I spent the morning at a County Republican convention. I felt just a little uneasy with a handshake from a neighbor running for office (what a way to spread germs!) and a little more uneasy when the guy beside me mentioned, "I have a quite a cough so I need to sit on the edge here in case I need to leave -- I don't have coronavirus though, I just have a 5-year-old!"  Besides being a long, slow meeting, it felt a bit uncomfortable thinking about all these people packed into this little space... (I've since had several coronavirus dreams which are almost always large gatherings (one actually another republican party convention :)  and I suddenly realize 'wait a minute! we shouldn't all be here!')

March 8

Our last Sunday meeting together at church!

March 9

Lego Robotics, Landon swimming

March 10

Orchestra for Ellie, Preschool time with a friend, helped with Portuguese teacher interviews at MLMS, School Board meeting, young men/young women activities

March 11

Landon orthodontist appt, helped a bit with the science fair, Landon swimming. Jordan and I talked about what we might need to be prepared for an emergency, and ordered groceries (some time this week).

A few days before, Italy had locked down first one city at the epicenter of their infections and then a day or two later the whole country.

I spent Isaac's nap time looking at their numbers and where they were compared to where we were, and what that might mean for us (meaning, the United States). It was sobering to see that where we were at (in total reported cases), they had been only 10 days before. Impossible that we could be 10 days from a lock down!? Though of course, they'd probably never really have a lock-down here... This was the second time this felt extra serious to me. I read about Italy and wondered, could it really get like that? Here? (Yes.)

March 12

Helped in Porter's class at school.

Another dentist appointment.

Went to pick up groceries with a stop at Sam's club, and it was pretty crazy! So many shelves like this one above that I texted a picture of to Jordan.

School Community Council at the middle school. Started discussing what teachers would do to start preparing for the possibility of school closure in the future.

Had a Relief Society dinner planned for the evening, and just before heard that all church meetings were now canceled. Since everything was all set up, instead of gathering, they just had everyone stop in for a plate of food to take home -- these abrupt changes felt so surreal.

March 13

A busy day with back and forth to the school all through the day (one last time!)

Orchestra for Ellie

Hillcrest School Community Council. Had a discussion with the Superintendent about what the district was starting to do to prepare for possible future school closures (no idea for any of us that would be later the same day!)

One last dentist appointment. While we waited, I called my doctor to ask about what recommendations I should be following and was told to follow guidelines for high-risk individuals. (A changing point for me.)  Also while I waited, Lee's called about my grocery order and most items were unavailable. (This continued through March and into April. Now, most things seem to be available, though there are still quantity limits on many items.)

5th grade maturation program with Ellie at school.

Ellie's Ambassador practice

Landon's last "rock party" - every Friday he and his friends would get off the bus at the furthest stop and slowly walk through the neighborhood with stops at friends' houses, just having fun being together.

School canceled.  This was the biggest thing yet. Jordan called Landon (at his rock party) to tell him and the kids celebrated (Not for long though, they sure miss school. Landon sure misses his friends.) A 'soft-closure' was announced in Utah for 2 weeks (plus our district's Spring break just following).

We went out dinner at Olive Garden, knowing it would most likely be 'one last time' eating out for a little while. (Restaurants in Utah were closed March 17th for dining in, though take-out has been open. We still feel like that's an easy way to spread sickness, so we haven't eaten out -- making dinner every night has been a big change!)

Also, I think it was this day that 2 Jazz players and a few other public figures tested positive for Covid-19 and it seemed to be a sort of tipping-point where this became more real for people in general.

March 14

Our ward emailed asking us to check with those we minister to  if everyone had enough supplies for 2 weeks, etc. Felt ominous!

Picked up a few more groceries, etc. Stopped at the library to get books for the kids before they closed. (This was the last time we went to any indoor public places in the last almost 2 months!)

Jordan got out the wheat grinder (somewhere around this time) and started practicing using our food storage. Bread, eggs, fresh fruits and veggies, rice, flour, yeast were gone from the stores. (I still don't think we would be able to purchase toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or disinfectants now even.)

A beautiful Saturday. We worked and played in the yard. Neighbors walked by and stopped to visit. 'Isn't this a crazy time?!"

Wanted to get together with Jen & Jeremiah's family, but felt like outdoors would be safer. We had a campfire at the base of Green Canyon -- on a  crazy windy evening! Chips were blowing off the plates as I served them :) but it was fun to get together.

Recommendations for high-risk individuals included avoiding unnecessary interaction with anyone outside your household, and that's what we have done.  Sometime in the next week or so the Governor issued a formal "Stay home, stay safe" directive (though this was never made an order).

March 15 - 28

First 2 weeks of home school, home church, home everything.  Felt grateful for the last year of practicing family study at home for church so that the transition to church at home was fairly simple.

Decided to edit out a bit here -- but this all home, all the time + home school time was a hard transition for us. I thought it should be easy since I've done summer school each year, and I've been a teacher... But it was hard. I was stressed and anxious with so many unknowns. It was a struggle to figure things out. Hard for the kids to be only home and all the unknowns and missing the normal routines + friends, etc.

(But look at that hard-working Porter!)

I answered a text to a friend with a typo "definitely still fighting things out here!" (was supposed to be 'still figuring things out' but there was definitely some truth to that typo!)  Near the end of these 2 weeks, the school closure was extended through May 1.

We hadn't been using the park for a few weeks, but it still felt a little sad to see it officially closed.

Also, sometime in March -- Jordan grew a beard! :) It drove him crazy, so he decided before long that he was done with it, but it was something fun for him to try.

March 29 - April 4

The world has turned upside down, but still Spring is coming!

Spring Break

I was overwhelmed with all the great ideas I was seeing. It felt like so many were feeling like 'wow! what a nice break and great chance to spend together with our family!' and I felt anxious and stressed and overwhelmed (and discouraged for feeling that when I thought I should be feeling otherwise...)

I asked for help from Kathie and Winslow and they wonderfully stepped in to make our Spring Break great. Kathie worked each day with Landon and Ellie on a 'virtual field trip' and Winslow read each afternoon to Owen and Porter. Their help made a huge difference in getting through the last of this crazy month of March.

We also had some fun outside adventures in the afternoons with Jordan after work and those were great too.

April 2020

April was a month of settling in, of getting used to this 'new normal'.

I felt heartbroken for the suffering in New York City - this city that I love so much.

We figured out a better home school routine and the kids did great (though most days still at least a few tears from one child or more...) The best change was assigning each of the kids 15 minutes to 'play with Isaac' :)

We celebrated Owen's birthday (along with General Conference on a Sunday) and had a family birthday party most-of-the-day bike ride adventure later in the week. (Trickier with no indoor public places to stop, but we tried to make it a fun celebration for Owen!)

Celebrated Easter

Started yard work projects (including removing all the rocks from our park strip!)

Lots of google hangouts, zoom conferences, etc.

Sewed masks -- for our family (for someday when we start going places again!), for a friend, to donate to IHC, and medical grade masks for projectprotect.  (Landon, Ellie, and Porter have all helped with these first 100 medical masks, and that has been a fun project to work on.)

I 'ran errands' for the first time in 6+ weeks (besides a few curbside grocery pick ups) which consisted of 1) dropping off masks at a bin outside the hospital  2) a curbside pick-up of library books for a neighbor and 3) Middle school locker cleanup (which I skipped when I saw that I'd have to search through a giant box of all the "B" last name students, and it didn't feel worth it.  Even though we haven't gone anywhere, just watching from the parking lot as I've picked up groceries, I've been surprised at how few people are wearing masks.  I feel so appreciative of everyone who is though!

Also that day, I got tested for Covid-19 (it was negative!) One of the kids had a sore throat at the beginning of our isolation, and it had spread through the family. I'd been mildly sick for a couple weeks and decided to get tested so I could stop wondering if I ought to :) (And really, it would have been super for it to be positive, because we'd know we had some immunity and that would make things a lot easier!)

We expected it was coming, and the school closures were extended for the rest of the school year. (Throughout this time, Ellie has liked to check with me a map of the US and school closures. Slowly, the map has become more and more dark blue as states close schools for the rest of this school year.)

I felt relieved for this, as I worried about how hard it would be for us if they did open schools and we didn't feel safe about sending the kids back. It's one thing to be away from school and miss all the normalcy of life when everyone else is doing the same thing. It would be much harder to be isolated while everyone else was getting back to real life...

And really, that has been the biggest thing that I still feel really anxious about. This is going to be around a long time still. And what about in the Fall if everyone's going back to school, but high-risk groups still need to be extra careful? What does that mean for my kiddos? How can we cope with that? What will we do? Will we still isolate? And how will we manage that when everyone around is is back to regular life? How can I put the kids through that, if it isn't required of everyone? All of that,  all those worries are the hardest part for me right now.

But really, our days are pretty good. It's beautiful outside. We've started planting our garden. I've been able to go for a walk (often more than once!) each day. We're healthy. The kids are learning (still learning, still working each day) to get along. Jordan's company is doing fine, even without teachers in school right now. Isaac loves having all the kids home all the time. Jordan loves the empty calendar and open afternoons for adventures.  Ellie and Owen have loved having reading parties together in the afternoons. The kids are learning and working hard in our home school time. (And making great progress in piano :) Lots of good things! I feel grateful. And also anxious. And heartbroken for all the suffering happening right now throughout the world. And happy to be with our family. And overwhelmed to be with our family all the time. And worried about what the future might bring. I feel so grateful for where we live and for the beautiful weather we've had.  We've been able to walk, bike, rollerblade, hike, even camp. It has been so, so nice to have a lot of outside time right now!

All those feelings, and more of course.