What a memorable time we're living through! The COVID-19 virus has affected so many areas of life this spring and summer. The girls began distance learning from home after their spring break in March, and continued to stay at home through the rest of the academic year. As a result, I worked exclusively from home so I could help them juggle their lecture videos, class meetings, and schoolwork. I'm not going to lie, I thanked God every day that he only blessed us with two kids!! StoneBridge School stayed open to essential staff members, so Dan went to work each day and managed major projects, such as a gym renovation, re-roofing the building, and replacing ceilings and carpets.
Many restaurants were either closed completely or only offered takeout. Some stores had to close or provide only curbside delivery. Online grocery shopping and Amazon Prime suddenly became essential to millions of people who were avoiding in-person shopping. Amusement parks, zoos, museums, gyms, playgrounds, and public swimming pools had to close since they couldn't comply with the 6-foot social distance mandate. So we've had to think outside the box to keep the girls entertained!
One of the most fun things we've done is take the girls to our local lakes, streams, the ocean, and Dan's parents' backyard swimming pool. They love playing near any body of water, and as the weather got warmer, we did a lot of swimming. Some of the local farms with petting zoos remained open, and we visited them a couple of times. We went on evening walks as a family, and had lots of movie nights. Once a week, we'd pick up Chick-Fil-A for lunch and eat in the car or at school with Dan. We've very rarely taken the girls inside a store, and I've tried to do all our grocery shopping once a week. We haven't avoided seeing our immediate family members, but we've limited our gatherings with other friends. Virginia has recently loosened some of its restrictions, and hopefully we're helping the cause.
Some of our summer highlights are below.
Dan and I celebrated our 17th anniversary in May! My parents babysat the girls so we could pick up Jack Brown's burgers and fried Oreos for lunch and enjoy a long bike ride along the Elizabeth River Trail in Norfolk. It was a wonderful day, and I love how much we've always enjoyed being together.
We celebrated Mother's Day by sharing a meal with each of our moms. We had lunch with Dan's mom.
And dinner with my mom. We love these ladies with all our hearts!
The girls (with Dan's help) brought me breakfast in bed on Mother's Day, which was the sweetest thing in the world! Then they sat in bed with me and helped me eat it. Ha ha!
Grandpa designed and built a bird feeder for Emma's 7th birthday, and she got to go to his woodworking shop and assemble it with him.
The finishing touches.
A beautiful bird feeder isn't all that Emma's gotten from her Grandpa. They also share the slightly disturbing ability to lick their own noses. Heh!
While Emma and Grandpa were busy in the shop, Dan was giving his parents the gift of light. He installed a new light and fan in his parents' living room as a belated birthday gift to them. He's installed several of the same kind at our house, so he was well-qualified for the job.
We had a playdate with Emma's classmate, Elisha, at Bergey's Farm & Petting Zoo. There were so many adorable baby animals like these sweet goat kids!
Hallie butting heads with a goat.
They had tiny piglets at the farm, and we were allowed to go in their pen and hold them. They'd curl right up on your lap and fall asleep.
Once the weather warmed up enough to swim, Elisha joined us at Grandpa and Grandma's pool one day, too.
We finally completed the school year! Now I really appreciate how exhausted and relieved teachers feel at the end of each year! But I have to say, the girls handled their distance learning beautifully. They enjoyed staying at home with me, and the only times they seemed to realize they missed their teacher and friends were when they saw them in person. Being at home day after day allowed them to re-discover all the toys we have, and they had a blast pulling out all the things that they'd forgotten we even owned (our house was a disaster most of the time). Emma had about an hour of schoolwork to complete each day, but she willingly sat down to do her assignments when I asked her to. She also loved being a "teacher," and helping Hallie read the instructions for her preschool assignments and navigate the preschool web site to watch Hallie's class videos. She says she wants to be a teacher and a mom when she grows up, and I have no doubt she'll be great in both roles!
Emma completed 1st grade, and she received a classroom character award for "Loyalty". Her final project at the end of the year was to create a timeline of her life and a share video presentation of it with her class. She did a great job, and I'm glad she's growing comfortable with presenting at such a young age.
Hallie completed grade K-3, and received a classroom character award for "Responsibility".
Her final project was to independently draw a self-portrait. It was perfect.
To celebrate the end of school, we bought them each a toy of their choice! Emma chose a Rescue Runt stuffed animal, and Hallie chose a Scruff-a-Luv stuffed animal.
Following the end of school, Emma was invited to a girls-only birthday party for one of her classmates, Lalie. They made crafts, went out for ice cream, and had pizza and games.
At the end of May, Emma got the first urinary tract infection she's had in over two years. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic she's taken in the past, but she developed a spotty rash on her chest and back from it after a week. After another doctor's visit, she was prescribed a different antibiotic that, again, she'd taken several times before, but she broke out in a rash on both legs after a few days of it. So we visited her urologist, who confirmed that the infection was completely gone and did an ultrasound to make sure that there was nothing wrong internally to cause the infection. Praise God, her kidneys, bladder, and ureters looked great in her ultrasound, and her urologist said she doesn't need to see Emma again unless we have concerns in the future! Such awesome news!
In June, we celebrated Dan on Father's Day! He's our superhero and there are a million reasons he deserves to be celebrated every single day!
My mom's birthday fell on Father's Day and we celebrated with my parents and the Jester family together in Williamsburg that day.
At the end of June, the Virginia governor moved us into "Phase 3" of the COVID-19 plan, which allowed many businesses to re-open if they could limit the number of people inside their buildings and practice social distancing. Our church was allowed to meet in-person, and the girls' gymnastics classes resumed at the gym on Saturdays. Dan's ice hockey league once again scheduled games on Wednesdays and Sundays, although no spectators were allowed. And since StoneBridge School's summer camp has less than 20 kids, they were able to start camp in June. The girls have been attending camp three days a week and I've been going back into the office on my workdays. So our lives have slowly become more normal over the past month.
When Phase 3 started, we took my parents to Jack Brown's for lunch and a walk along the Norfolk waterway, as a belated birthday celebration for my mom. It was our first time to eat indoors at a restaurant since March!
Our families gathered again to celebrate the 4th of July at Dan's parents' house. Most of the public fireworks displays had been cancelled, which meant that the neighborhood fireworks were bigger than usual that night!
The kids swam in the pool all day long.
Hallie soaked in the love from two of her favorite guys.
We brought sparklers for the kids to enjoy. Everyone listened to instructions and no one got burned this year, so that's a victory.
Our family photo on the 4th
The girls and I wore our red again to church the next morning. Dan was playing bass with the worship team at the outdoor church service.
Our beautiful girls during our evening walks this summer. They're a gift to us and we're thankful for the precious time we got to spend with them when the world slowed down.