I don’t know how long I thought self-isolation would go, but it feels crazy to be writing this summary about our sixth week. In January when I was covering the lockdown China was doing, it felt kinda magical. Not being allowed to go anywhere, no reason to leave the house, hunkering down with just my little family.
Flash-forward three months, and it’s a little less magical. I did not see that coming. We’re all getting antsy to go somewhere, but we’re not allowed to and where would we go anyway? Everything feels irresponsible and slightly dangerous. Not for us, but for our community as a whole. I selfishly want to see friends, wander around some stores, and see a movie. But I don’t need to do those things. Seeing social media posts where people are visiting friends, going places with their whole family, and letting everyone know that what they’re doing is fine is helping to show how entitled so many of us are. OOh, you’re allowed to see your friends right now but we should all stay home? Explain that one to me, please.
Entitlement. Entitlement. Entitlement.
We all want to see our friends right now. You’re not special, stop acting like it.
That was a little tangent to tell you we’re still here and still staying home. It is fine, and it is not fine. I had a therapy session Wednesday morning, and I cried for part of it. I think that’s only the second time I’ve cried during this whole global pandemic. I am mostly okay; surviving hard stuff is what I was made for, but spending an hour with someone who only wanted to know how I was doing and feeling was harder than I expected. In lots of ways, I’m the one everyone else leans on and sometimes I forget to check in with myself. I’m glad I still get to see my therapist over the phone. I was going to virtual appointments for a while before the pandemic happened because of my schedule so the consistency of seeing my therapist has been comforting.
The week started off with Chris hurting his back pretty badly. We’re in the beginning stages of a million outdoor projects. A few weeks ago we moved my garden beds to a new spot in the yard. We did this, because we’re covering our family room patio and the new roof was going to block a lot of morning sun from the garden beds. After we moved the beds, the tiny concrete slab off the kitchen looked depressing and lonely. So instead of moving on to the family room patio build, we took a slight detour to break up the kitchen patio and have a new, much larger patio poured.
Which meant on Sunday, to save us a little money, Chris was supposed to break up the old patio.
Except he was about 10 minutes into the project when he tried to pick up a piece of concrete that was way too heavy and pulled something in his back. He could barely walk inside. I had to take his shoes off for him. We got him to the couch and there he stayed.
The mess he started in the backyard needed to be finished and cleaned up so I got to spend Sunday afternoon breaking up a concrete patio and hauling it away. Want a cheap way to relieve some coronavirus stress? Grab a sledgehammer and break up some concrete. It took most of the afternoon for me to break it up, load it into my SUV, take it to my aunt and uncles, drop it along their eroding creek bed, then drive back to do it again.
I thought I’d be sore for a week after that, but I guess the gym workouts (pre-COVID-19) and the sporadic garage workouts (during COVID-19) have been paying off, because I pretty much felt fine. Truthfully, I love feeling sore so I was little let down after the whole episode.
Chris spent the whole week slowly walking from one place to another, going to chiropractor visits, or trying to be helpful but just getting in the way. He worked, slowly, and did a lot of moaning. Then he’d do something dumb he wasn’t supposed to do and be back to lots of pain and discomfort. The only way to heal a back is to rest and he seems hell bent on hurting himself *just* enough every day to never get better. His back injury might be the end of our relationship if he doesn’t just sit himself on the couch and stop doing stuff.
Stay tuned for more announcements about the end of our relationship. I’m sure it will be exciting and involve many more trips to the chiropractor as he keeps doing things he shouldn’t.
Harper was supposed to get her braces off this week. Except, the orthodontist isn’t seeing patients, obviously, so they pushed her appointment back one month. She’s had braces for almost two years, much longer than we originally planned, and the minute she’s finally allowed to get them off, we can’t go to the appointment. Worst timing ever.
The weather this week was perfect. Sunny, warm days we spent outside. Well, the girls did. I mostly spent them at my computer because being an adult is lame, but I took breaks outside as much as possible. Wednesday evening at dinner, I noticed the girls had pink cheeks from the sun. It felt hopeful to see the result of a day spent outside. I’m finding hope and encouragement in new places right now.
My garden! I’ve had people ask for specifics on my garden so I’ll probably do a full post later this week, but I transplanted zucchini and yellow squash seed to bigger cups this week. They were outgrowing their starter containers fast and I still have weeks before I’ll plant them. I probably have more than I need, but we’ll see if they all survive to mid-May when I plant. I’m still prepping boxes for planting too. I weeded this week and put down weed killer/plant food. Sometimes I forget how much goes into the garden before I even plant, but the excuse to be outside and getting my hands dirty is welcome right now.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned this at all, and I need to write it down so I don’t forget: The first week of self-isolation involved cleaning the girls’ rooms and moving Harper’s room around so she could have the optimal classroom setting. She LOVES to play school. The first weekend of staying home, she asked us to come into her room for class. Chris, Ellie, and I spent about an hour being bossed and abused by a very strict Harper Graham. Ellie eventually dropped out due to bullying and somehow became the principal of the school. It was a weird transition, but probably for the best.
Since then every Saturday and Sunday, Chris and I have spent 45 minutes in Harper’s classroom. She creates lesson plans, yells at us for talking to each other, and gives us LOTS of work to do. We had to set a time-limit of 45 minutes because she would keep us in there for hours if we let her. She spends time during the week copying worksheets on my printer, grading work from the prior weekend, and writing notes on her whiteboard for us.
This week she started giving us homework. Things are getting out of control. I had to do a math packet AND read two chapters of a book about a classroom hamster before I went to bed Saturday night. Someone else was given homework but LIED when asked if he did it. I’m not naming names, but my classmate definitely did not read two chapters of his assigned book.
We took the cover off the camper on Thursday. I say “we,” but it was mostly me. Chris can’t lift his arms up high enough to be helpful yet. It’s probably warm enough to un-winterize (is that a word?) the camper, but we just took the cover off so we could get to our hammocks. We have a few we take camping and with the nice weather, I wanted to hang them up in the trees for the girls. They were, as expected, a hit. They read and played in them for the rest of the afternoon as well as the rest of the week.
I’m slowly running out of all the stuff I saved up to dole out when things got dire. The hammocks were one of the last things I had on my list. A few days later, I unveiled the 100-count bracelet thread container I bought a while ago. Since then, our house has become overrun with friendship bracelets. (I’ve got a running list of things that are saving us right now; I hope to put a post together soon and share it.)
Before Chris became incapacitated, we had been spending time in very intense NERF wars. I include all of us, but somehow I never had a gun and just ran around the yard trying to steal bullets from Chris and blocking the girls when they were getting attacked.
It started with just NERF guns, but ended with backpacks, helmets, walkie talkies, and belts. I’m sure people who drove by our house that first night thought something was wrong. The dogs, for sure, thought something was wrong. By the end, the only thing that was wrong was how out of breath my husband was.
School for the girls is going fine. Nothing new to report except they have completely ditched the desk and my office for cozy places by the fireplace. I don’t blame them; if I didn’t need two screens to do most of my work, I’d end up there too.
I’m normally at my desk for lunch, and Ellie has taken this opportunity to open a restaurant in my absence. She dons her waitress apron filled with straws, pens, and notebook, seats Harper at the table, providers her with a menu based on what’s available that day, and then serves herself and her sister lunch. It’s pretty fun to witness. Harper gets a bill at the end of each meal and then she pays with fake money. Food is very expensive at Ellie’s restaurant, but she’s consistently luring in customers so she’s doing something right.
At some point, I’ll break down and order more LEGOs for the girls. Not because they need more, but they’re spending so much time playing with them. I feel like a new set will bring them so much joy and excitement. I think I shared this a few weeks ago, but the LEGOs, Magnatile, Shopkins world that has taken over my family room is entertaining them for hours. They also have sets of IKEA trains and tracks that sometimes get added to the mix. There are storylines, rules, and a whole language I’m not privy to, but walking over LEGO creations is a small price to pay for the hours of fun they have.
One afternoon a Shopkins slide showed up on the handrail upstairs. It’s been there for days now, and they use it to shoot animals and supplies downstairs. Until someone loses an eye, I’m sure it will stick around.
They’ve also started decorating Shopkins with hot glue. I can’t even begin to count how many hot glue sticks we’re going through in a day or what exactly they have to glue, but the hot glue gun always seems to be plugged in. This week I found Shopkins with hot glue hats in my freezer.
Things are getting weird.
Things we read, listened to, or watched:
-Chris and I started watching the Michael Jordan series on ESPN. Finding things we both want to watch is a challenge, but watching this show feels like my childhood so I’m just as invested as he is.
-My family is currently obsessed with anything related to Bear Grylls. Our thirst for travel and adventure is so strong right now–I think this is the longest we’ve gone without traveling in years–so we’re living vicariously through Bear and his adventures.
-I finished listening to Open Book by Jessica Simpson. I posted the full review on my book IG account (@themarygrahamreads), but the short version is this book was super interesting. I’m glad I read it. But it’s weird too, not gonna lie.
-The girls spent a lot of their reading time reading books on Epic this week. I’m not sure if it’s free like most things right now (we pay for a subscription), but it’s a good place for kids books especially since the library is probably still closed in your area. Younger readers can choose the read-aloud option and older kids can read novels and graphic novels. There’s a lot of good, high-interest stuff on there and the Graham girls give it two thumbs up. (Edit: It looks like parents can try Epic free for 30 days. Teachers can use it free until the end of June. Ask your kid’s teacher to sign up for a free account then their students can use it free for a few months.)
-I’m running low on audio books right now so I’ve switched my attention back to podcasts. My top three go-to podcasts are: Up First by NPR, My Favorite Murder, Young House Love has a Podcast, and The Big Boo Cast. News podcast every morning as always, MFM when I’m cooking or working outside and wearing headphone (it’s not child-appropriate), and The Big Boo Cast and Young House Love has a Podcast for family-friendly listening. No one in my family wants to listen to it either, but if they happen to be nearby, I don’t rush to turn them off.
-The girls still listen to KidNuz most mornings. If they get up at different times, sometimes it doesn’t happen. But they still love it, and it makes them feel connected to the outside world. They don’t really have access to news other than that; we do our best to limit the things they hear because they don’t need the burden or anxiety it would cause. Between school work, the stories we find okay to share with them, and a morning podcast, that’s enough news for them to handle.
No weekend grocery run this week. Like I shared last week, I’m trying to go three weeks before needing to shop in a grocery store again. We’re starting to run low on fresh fruits and veggies, but I think I found a solution that will keep us out of the stores and help support a local business. I’m doing that next week so I’ll keep you posted.
What’s for dinner?
Sunday: bean burritos with chips and salsa
Monday: hot dogs on the grill
Tuesday: tomato casserole and Brussel sprouts from the Let Me Feed You cookbook
Wednesday: beef stew with dumplings from the Let Me Feed You cookbook
Friday: leftovers (I refused to make more food until the fridge was cleared out; we had so much food to eat that we had leftovers two nights in a row. It felt like a vacation, to be honest.)
Saturday: lunchmeat sandwiches
Other food-related bits:
-I made a big batch of chicken salad for lunches and ate it every single day this week. I could eat chicken salad with lots of celery and onions constantly and never tire of it. Just top it with a little TJ’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning, and I’ll eat it for every single meal.
-Ellie has been baking a lot. This week she kept us filled with brownies and smoothies.
April 25th marked 41 days of the Grahams staying home. Ellie and Harper have had a few car trips to do porch drop-offs, but otherwise they’ve not left the house in over a month. What a weird, wonderful world we live in.
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