The First Ten Days: Social Distancing during the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s my day ten of social distancing. I don’t know how many days it’s been since you’ve seen friends outside of a screen or run an errand that was deemed non-essential. Maybe it’s been five days since you hit the gym, or maybe you waited until they shut down the bars in your city before you stopped going out. Maybe you’re a medical professional or you work somewhere that supplies essentials and you’re still more vulnerable than those who can or must follow through with the recommended guidelines. Everyone has their individual reality during this pandemic. Historians and friends alike are saying ‘write it all down!’ so I’m here, in my often-defunct, rarely-resurrected blog to share what my family’s reality is during the COVID-19 world health crisis.

Chatting with a Neighbor during coronavirus social distancing

For us, everything changed on Thursday, March 13. I went to the gym that morning, reassured by the owner’s Facebook posts about deep cleaning and preventative measures to decrease the likelihood of spreading of the virus. As we were doing our cool down stretching, she received an alert on her iWatch: the district’s schools were closing that afternoon for an unforeseeable amount of time.

Watching birds and a rare car pass by during the pandemic

My friends at the gym and I had a feeling we might not see each other in a while. We exchanged goodbyes with a curious feeling about when there would be another hello, while most days it’s a ‘see you tomorrow!’; knowing our gym routine is ingrained.

Nothing feels ingrained anymore. I went with my toddler to the store directly after the gym, as we did most weekdays for the last year. It didn’t look the same. It was frantic, things were flying off of the shelves. The clerks who we know by name were already harried, and it was still early. Very early.

Those of us who had been paying attention during the days prior weren’t terribly surprised. The neighboring Town of Westport had announced that their schools were closing the day prior. A recent international visitor had received a positive coronavirus test result from their home country after attending an event in Westport, and several other attendees had begun to experience symptoms. We still felt secure in knowing that there weren’t yet any cases in Fairfield, but at the same time we were well aware of how intermingled our towns are.

Proud of their pandemic pillow fort

The school officials were aware of this as well, and decided to make the call. Thursday, March 13, 2020 was the last day for students for the foreseeable future, while teachers were to report to school the following day, March 14, to make a plan and familiarize themselves with the resources for a distance learning program. By Friday evening, parents of the 10,000 children in the school system were given a quick run through via email about the distance learning program, and gave us a start date of Tuesday, March 17. It gave the district time to get approval of the distance learning program from the state so that the days the kids missed would not have to be made up at the end of the school year like snow days.

Elvis likes that we moved Tobias’ desk from the shared office to the living room for distance learning

Distance learning for middle school (in my district, at least) has been pretty seamless. Each middle and high school student was already supplied with a Chromebook at the beginning of the school year, and those who do not have access to the internet at home were given solutions. The students follow their usual schedule and are able to have access to their teachers at that time for answering any questions. Teachers have modified their coursework to better suit distance learning and the work has sufficiently taken up the allotted time. Some classes are utilizing chat rooms and this upcoming week my son’s French class will be using their mics to elevate the language learning experience.

The distance learning transition hasn’t been a matter of difficulty with the coursework, but rather the distractions. It’s hard to keep my older son on task when my youngest is having such a good time.

Coronavirus distance learning struggles

My husband’s job made the call that same Thursday. We’re lucky that his career is very computer-centric and he’s able to continue to work from home throughout all of this. This took some adjustments with two kids at home through the day. We had to do some rearranging. In our office we have a desk for every person in the family, but we couldn’t have our middle schooler trying to get work done while dad’s on business calls all day. I also needed to keep an eye on him, so I didn’t want him using the desk in his room. So there’s a desk in my living room—make that two. My toddler just couldn’t deal with my oldest being the only one to have the privilege of sitting at the living room desk all day.

The little guy has been on a streak of OBSESSION with his Dada, so it was causing some problems with him thinking every day was a Saturday but his Dada was ignoring him in the office. So our new routine is to wait until Elvis starts eating breakfast, then Mark gets his coffee, puts on his briefcase (while still in pajamas) and says, “I’m going to work! Bye bye!”

Elvis will say bye bye back and even if he overhears him it’s 👌. Mark gets his coffee delivered by his temporary secretary to avoid any confrontation with the baby before lunch. After lunch, the babe goes down for a nap.

How we’re Passing the Time During Social Distancing

When shutting everything down was just a rumor, I thought, ‘huh. I wouldn’t mind being quarantined at all. I have plenty of projects to do around the house and can always run and hike.’ I’ve also just come out of a very busy snowboarding/travel-filled winter, eventful Christmas season, and fall fun/travel-full fall. I was ready to cut out some social obligations.

Pandemic Baby Playgroup

But day two of social distancing, I went for a run with the jogging stroller on the sidewalk. Someone had overgrown bushes that were impeding the full use of the sidewalk and I ended up falling and spraining my ankle in a divot. It’s by far the worst injury I’ve ever gotten while running, and a huge bummer given the circumstances. No hikes or runs for me, and even cleaning things up around the house has been painful.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons online on our filthy playroom 🤪

The kids have busied themselves with a lot of outdoor play, painting, sensory play, listening to podcasts, playing pool, reading books, drawing, hanging out in the fort the kids made, taking naps, a video chat playgroup, a three-hour Dungeons and Dragons session with five friends, watching Frozen 2 and Wreck it Ralph as much as possible, and playing chase around the house. I’ll let you guess which one was doing what.

Elvis in the outfit he picked out in front of the fort

Mark loves to cook so he’s been doing that. Sweet potato hash + andouille sausage breakfast burritos, mixed fruit cobbler, white chocolate malpua, blackened fish tacos…to name a few.

I’ve been reading as my ankle heals, and felt a lot better today so I’ve been working on a home project.

We don’t know how many days or weeks or months we’ll carry on like this, or what the future holds. We’re just taking it moment by moment, day by day. This is day ten.

A Story About Our Colorful Mid Century Modern Inspired Woodland Nursery

Around this time last year, I shared my pregnancy announcement. I showed y’all my babymoon in Paris portrait session, but aside from that, it was radio silence over here about anything baby. But yes, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy in the summer.

Birth announcement foil balloon zero days old

As you know, we moved to our new house recently. What you may NOT know is that we moved in exactly three weeks before I gave birth.

My pregnancy was less than ideal, and at one point I was put on bed rest. So when we moved in, I wasn’t able (nor did I have enough energy) to get started on my projects! It was looking like the baby would come into the world without a space to call his own.

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Introducing: Home Number Three

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may know that my little family is now living in house number three. The first was a little mid-century ranch in the the Westbury subdivision of Houston, Texas. It was a foreclosure and we did quite a bit of renovations prior to moving in. We lived there for a little over three years, decided we were moving to Connecticut, then I shared a before and after of our first home.

Next up, we owned a little Cape Cod style home. It was smaller than our previous home, but newly gutted with brand new just about everything–pipes, electric, windows, drywall. Brand new. It was small and on a small lot, but it had a really lovely view of a pond directly behind it, and I’d hop in my kayak in my backyard and row around a bit sometimes. We also had the pleasure of seeing a lot of wildlife in our backyard. It was lovely, but then came time to move, again. So, I shared a before and after of our second home and a subsequent post about maximalist decor in a small space.

Now that I’m back to blogging, I’ll introduce you to home number three.

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Tour Our Second Home, On the Market Before and After

I loved this house well and I had so much fun making it ours, adding my personal style everywhere. The following pictures don’t fully reflect my personal style, because these were the listing photos for the house just prior to us buying it (sight unseen!) and after my friend Ky and I pulled up our bootstraps and prepared the house for showings.

If you haven’t sold a home before, you probably don’t know: you don’t just take pictures of how you’re living in it. You’re going to want to do quite a few things before you put it up.

Prepping a House for the Market

  1. Take down personal items. Photography especially–you want the potential buyer to picture themselves there, not you.
  2. Remove all clutter. Your kitchen counters should be devoid of appliances, your fireplace mantle shouldn’t have any tchochkes.
  3. Take a LOT of furniture out. Open up the space as much as you can.
  4. Take the books out of the shelves and style them instead. Creating space even on your furniture opens up the room to the eye. It’s like magic.
  5. The more you move out of site, the better. Use the garage or the basement, if you have one, to put these items away. If not, rent a short-term storage unit.

As mentioned in our moving announcement, our house sold in three days! We had an offer and a back up offer quicker than we could have imagined.

The Home Tour, Before and After

These are photos that we had listed online of our house when it was on the market in 2015 when we bought it, and months ago when we listed it.

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We’re Moving…Again!

I didn’t expect to write this post this soon, or at this stage in our lives. I admit, I knew this wasn’t our forever home. When we sold our first home in Texas and moved to Connecticut, I became a bit more realistic about my expectations about how long I would live in one place.

We bought our Texas house with “forever” in mind, and we started making preparations and decisions to move to the East Coast after living there for a little over three years. I was devastated but excited. I was scared but adventurous. And then we moved 1,600 miles away.

Before I had fully unpacked, boxes still strewn about, Mark was surely high from the experience of leaving it all behind + what new experience awaited us. Then he said, “Maybe in a few years, we’ll move to the West Coast.”

The nerve! But I didn’t take it that way. He was just reminding me that adventure awaits, and to leave my heart open for possibilities. I knew I was going to take good care of it, try to not get too attached, and make it full of art, memories, laughter, souvenirs and a lot of love. That I did. And now we’re moving. But, where? Continue reading

On Anxiety

It’s been three months since my last post. I’ve traveled to the other side of the world, knocked several things off of my bucket list, and have done countless DIY projects. However, those were all fleeting moments. Before I start spitting out informational posts about things to do and make, I want to talk a little about something I carry with me on all of my trips. This is something I hold onto despite my endeavors, and the same thing that stops me from sharing online: crippling anxiety.

I thought, for a time, that my anxiety began when I moved to Connecticut. And, if that was the case, it would pass once I made some new friends. I didn’t know where I fit in, so maybe if I found my place, these feelings would subside. I’ve realized that isn’t so and if I don’t take action, I’m going to be stuck in this rut.

A lot of times I don’t understand what’s going on in my head until I write it. I utilize my daily morning pages (per The Artist’s Way, recommended to all!) to sort out most of these things in a free-form way. This anxiety I’ve been feeling, however, has been a bigger problem. Maybe, in my sorting out and sharing, I can work on it and maybe you can relate. Who knows. After all, I did decide I wanted to be more raw in this blog.

What it looks like

From my perspective, it’s a feeling of shame that spirals out of control. It can start with something simple: Continue reading