Friday, April 03, 2020

Wrapping Up COVID-19 Week 3

We are finishing up our third week of managing during COVID-19 and our first week with all six kids doing distance learning.  The weather has felt much more spring-like since Wednesday and that is wonderful!

Here are a few highlights from the week:
 Carrigan's perler bead project she designed for me.

 Mali and her friends surprising another friend with "Happy Birthday" signs

 Carrigan offering me a mug of "tea" on April 1st.  (It was really water with food coloring!)

 The box from our new washing machine quickly became a play house!  The "mailbox" on the top corner is actually a delivery chute for LaCroix, according to Grant!

 Delaney's sweet teacher sent a package of what she always calls "test tubes" aka life savers.

I didn't get a picture, but Brinnly made a fantastic meal this week:

Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 Week Three Kick-Off

We had a cold, rainy weekend here.  It was tough to get through without having as many choices of things to do outside.  We did come up with a few fun things to pass the time.  On Friday night we did a 'happy hour walk" with Mali's best friend's family who lives about a mile away from us.  We maintained social distancing but walked and rode bikes through Elm Grove for about an hour.  It felt great to connect with people that we are used to seeing almost daily.

On Saturday we treated ourselves to take out from our favorite taco place, Bel-Air Cantina and had fun chatting (and Zoom meeting) with our families in Michigan and Indiana.

Sunday morning we gathered in the family room for the live-stream of our church service.  You can find Elm Grove Lutheran's YouTube channel here and the service is posted every Sunday by 10 am.  It was a beautiful service!  I have been working a lot on our school and church website in the past week--check out the updates here

Other than that, we've been running outside as the weather allows, watching movies, and doing lots of reading.  The twins have been assigned to take pictures each week of things growing in our yard so we can watch the progress.  And it was "Superhero Day" for the virtual dress-up day at school today!

Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Diaries--The First Two Weeks

I keep hearing the suggestions to make sure we document current times to reflect back on after we are past the COVID-19 crisis.  Laura Vanderkam's post today sums it up well:

Our family is really two weeks into managing this new reality.  On Thursday, March 12, it was a normal school day although I was home with the stomach flu.  We had heard growing concerns that the COVID-19 virus was spreading quickly in places like Seattle.  Several families we knew were reconsidering their upcoming spring break plans and orders were coming in quickly that gatherings of over 250 people should be cancelled.  When Jonathan picked up the twins from PreK, he asked if the World Fair would be still be held.  The teacher said yes, of's not like they could close down everything...what about places like Disney World.  The thought seemed outrageous at the time.  By Sunday, however, Disney World was indeed shut-down.

On Friday, March 13, the older girls officially started spring break Mali had a wonderful outing of lunch and shopping with a few friends. They tried on dresses to wear to their 8th grade graduation.  Only one of her friends was not allowed to attend due to her parents' concerns about the virus.  Later that night, Mali and Brinnly had their much-anticipated basketball sleepover at the coach's house.  As is the tradition, they went late out to "TP" the houses of the members of the boys' basketball team.  However, TP was already in short-supply!

Early Saturday morning we went to Michigan to see all of our family there and to celebrate the twins' birthday.  We had hoped to go ice-skating at a local rink but decided to avoid any potential crowds and we played at our church school gym instead.  We had a lovely time catching up with everyone!  We went to church Sunday morning and it was clear from Pastor's announcements that it would be the last service or church activity we would attend for a while. The numbers of people infected with the virus were pretty low in both MI and WI at that point, but we were nervous already about driving between the two states and tried to avoid stopping at places like big rest areas.

Monday, March 16 began spring break for the EGL kids and the first week of distance learning for the BCS girls.  We had picked up their school work and checked out a Chromebook for each of them previous (we don't enough devices to go around here!) and things started quickly.  They soon learned how to Zoom with their teachers, work through Google classroom assignments, and even how to play trivia games and similar activities with their friends.  We stated each morning with devotions and the opening video from their principal, and then they would tackle the approximately 7 hours of school work each day.  They'd take breaks for lunch and outside time.  Meanwhile, the younger kids had fun relaxing, being outside, making more of Carrigan's sangria, and enjoying a bit more screen time than normal  We finished the read-aloud 'Wayside School is Getting a Little Stranger" and started "Pippi  in the South Seas".  Overall, the kids did really well this week.  The news about the pandemic was growing worse by the day, however,  Each day more things were closing and for longer periods of time.  We learned new terms such as "social distancing" and "self-quarantine".  Our doctor's office recommended to limiting playdates to one friend visiting at a time.  By the end of the week, even this was not allowed.  We may the hard decision to not allow any of the kids' friends inside our house and they were only allowed to play outside or go on walks/bike rides with them.  We slowly began to realize that this was going to last a lot longer than we expected.  It was especially tough for Mali to grasp that she may not be able to finish her 8th grade year at her school that she loves so much and with her friends that she will most likely not attend high school with.

After a make-shift weekend (pancakes on Saturday morning!  Live-streaming church on Sunday!).  we started a new week on Monday, March 23rd.  BCS was officially on spring break so the older girls did not have school,  EGL had a professional development day so I spent all day with the other staff members brainstorming on how to teach and serve students through distance learning.  I am SO impressed by both of our schools and how they respond to this crisis!  On Tuesday, the younger kids all started distance learning and they also did very well.  We have been using paper packets from teachers, Zoom conferences and lots of other learning platforms.  Much of their schoolwork gets done in the morning and then we eat lunch together and have a more relaxed afternoon.  And evening.  Jonathan and I both stated working from home this week which has pros and cons.  It is nice to be all is NOT nice to try to get work done when we are all together.  But we fit in walks and other exercise and lots of eating together.  The older girls make a sweet treat of some sort each day...and it's usually gone by the end of the day!  We have enjoyed dinners like roasted chicken, salmon with cream sauce, and grilled burgers.  We really appreciate not having to work meals around various activities although we do miss those activities.  A big milestone this week is that Governor Evers formalized the list of "essential services" that were allowed to stay open now and that construction sites were considered "essential".  That is encouraging for Jonathan's company which is already facing the threat of the recession.  There is much unsettling news for all of this time but we are clinging to God's promises to provide for us and that he will give us peace during this time. 
Recess time!

Grant never wears a shirt these day. Also, Mali and Brinn are wonderful PreK teachers!

Comfy distance leaning

How preschoolers dress for a Zoom class meeting

Keeping track of the days with their new calendars

Weekend Accomplishment:  LEGO Castle!  It was Jonathan's from when he was a kid.

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

World Fair

EGL hosted a World Fair again this year when each family chose a country to learn more about and then to create a display for the presentation. Carrigan was the lead for our family and she chose Spain. We had a lot of fun looking through pictures from when Jonathan studied in Barcelona during college and researching the country in general.  Carrigan put a lot of effort into analyzing the best non-alcoholic Sangria recipes and perfecting her own.  She put together a large batch of it for the big night and everyone at the fair enjoyed it.  It was a great opportunity to work on a family project together!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Basketball & Ballet

Look who started activities of their own!  Our Y has lots of fun class options for preschoolers and we were able to sign Everly up for ballet at the same time Grant that could go to basketball.  They were beyond excited for their first class!

EGL's Music Informance

It was the time of year for performances!  EGL had their annual infomance and it was the twins' first time on stage.  The classes worked so hard in the weeks leading up to it and it was great to hear them sing and play instruments.  The theme was the "Seven Days of Creation" and it was such a blessing to hear them use their musical talents while praising God. 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

The Music Man

Amalia and Brinnly had a wonderful time participating in their school's middle school production of "The Music Man".   Mali played "Gracie", the mayor's daughter, and Brinnly was the "Farmer's Wife" and a 'Pick-A-Little Lady".  They also had parts in the main chorus and were able to learn fun choreography to go along with it.   It was a fantastic show!  The Music Man is a great show overall and Brookfield Christian School middle schoolers were a joy to watch in it.  Our family will be singing "The Wells Fargo Wagon" for quite some time now!

Lots more pictures can be found in this album here

(Plus...a video clip including Mali's solo!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Fun Days in February

February actually had some great winter weather and lots of opportunities to play outside in the beautiful snow.  We also had "Spirit Week" at each school and the kids had fun dressing up for days like "Decades Day", "Hat Day" and "Flannel Day".  And happy birthday to our sweet niece Julia!  We had a blast ice-skating at her birthday party and then watching her dress up like Elsa with her cousins!