It has been five weeks since the beginning of social distancing around here. Schools are closed for the rest of the school year. Shaun and I are working from home for the foreseeable future. Grocery shopping is online, and ordered at least two days in advance of delivery. Morning and bedtime routines have been reinvented. The pups don’t know what to think about it. They never have a quiet house anymore.

This is a list we came up with when Coen first learned that school would be canceled for “a couple of weeks”.

But really… we are enjoying our extra time at home with the boys, and the pups! It is tricky sometimes to get my office work done, help Coen with his schoolwork (and the technical issues that come along with a virtual classroom!) and find activities to keep Arlo interested and learning… but I do feel very fortunate to be able to be home with them.

Some things we have been enjoying these past few weeks…

We have tried to go at least three times a week on walks with the pups. Rosco and Sara are really liking this new arrangement. I think it makes up for them not ever having the house to themselves lately. Our normal length is between two and three miles, but we’ve done a couple of four-milers! We have to go early in the morning, otherwise there could be so many people out in the neighborhood that we feel like we are on an obstacle course.

Walks with Coen and the pups

Arlo begs to do science experiments at least once a day! For Christmas, one of his favorite gifts was an experiment set with test tubes, beakers, and a slick white lab coat. After I ran through all of the simple homemade experiments we had on hand (mostly based on food coloring or baking soda), I came across a MEL Chemistry kit ad on Facebook. We decided to try out, and we weren’t disappointed! Our first box came with a starter box of “real” scientist equipment and a cardboard Virtual Reality headset, which has been a big hit outside of the chemistry experiments. The first experiments were labeled “Chemistry of Monsters”. Both boys were instantly intrigued. The Sugar Snake experiment even had fire involved, but in a contained “pocket stove” which was included in the starter box. We are already looking forward to what we will find in next month’s box!

Science Experiments

One of our best motivators lately has been nightly hide and seek games. When the afternoon witching hour begins, we dangle the game like a carrot (more like a full size Hershey’s bar!). Its amazing how just the mention of the game can ease any building tension between us and them. We play in teams of two, and we change the teams up often which keeps it fun. We’ve discovered that two rounds is enough in one night, sometimes a third is okay. Beyond that, there’s going to be tears. The pups have no idea what this game is about. They usually are the ones to out us first.

Hide and Seek Games

We’ve done lots of drawings and paintings to send to family, friends, and even first-responders. We’ve covered our backyard deck with sidewalk chalk and homemade paint (cornstarch + water+ food coloring).

Art!

I found some packets left over from the color run we did a few years ago with Coen. He was five at the time and he refused to run through the color clouds. At the finish line, he came out the cleanest runner of all! He didn’t shy away from the powdered color this time. I poured the packets from our upper deck in the backyard and both boys danced underneath. I took a few mental clips to store away forever in my mind… their joyous laughter billowing upwards as I looked down on their smiling faces, shimmering in gold and pink powdered dust.

Color FUN!

We’ve also started a weekly schedule for our evenings that I label “TAN” time on my calendar – for Targeted Attention Nights. At the beginning of the year, Shaun came up with a plan to give each boy one-on-one time with each parent every week. Since we are now home every night, we’ve expanded on this idea to also include a “Brother” night (which gives Shaun and I some quiet time to hang out) and a “Do Your Own Thing” night which gives us all some space for creativity, but also just space! We start our TAN time just after dinner Mondays through Thursdays, and wrap up just before bed. Its been nice to have this routine going when all other routines we had were suddenly halted. I do hope we will continue it!

The “Mansion Fort” built (with every blanket , pillow and dish towel we own!) on Brother Night

I feel as if we are in a time wrap… the world, our old routines, and everything we have known to be seems to be standing still. And, yet, everything happening right now seems to be fluttering away. I am anxious to capture it. I know these days, as fearful as we may be, offer so much.

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami