Five weeks at home and counting. Sigh. The days have undoubtedly been long ever since we started social distancing, but this past week felt especially difficult. Everyone in the house was short on sleep, the weather was cold and life was just plain hard. Nothing was easy, but somehow we made it to the weekend, everyone is properly rested (at last), and spring came back. Even though this was a week that I wanted to forget while we were going through it, I’m glad I kept my camera nearby to document the good moments we experienced along the way.
I’ll take you along for a recap, but first let me remind you that this is just the highlight reel. There were a lot of really tough moments from an overtired, cranky, cooped up toddler; a baby who hadn’t slept through the night in weeks; and a mommy at her wit’s end from the loss of time to herself and the chance to sit and do the work she loves. Rob was in the background through all of it, trying his best to juggle work while locked away in what basically amounts to a large closet and help keep the peace when I just needed a break.
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Let’s just jump in with this week’s recap with all the Easter excitement. Rob and I stayed up way too late the night before Easter. We put the kids to bed, worked on a few necessary projects, got things all set up for Easter morning and sat down to eat an exhausted dinner-for-two in front of the TV around 11:00 pm that night. I’m telling you, it was a long day.
We finally rolled into bed around midnight, only to be greeted by a wide-awake Dessa around 5:30 am the next morning. She woke up an hour earlier than usual and refused to go back to bed. The funny thing was that she completely forgot it was Easter. She just happened to be wide awake. We waited for Harvey to wake up and have his morning bottle, before reminding Dessa that it was Easter Sunday. Her eyes lit up and she raced up the stairs to see what the Easter bunny had brought.
The kids’ Easter baskets were very simple. Dessa received a set of Duplo blocks with instruction cards to build four animals (her set is retired, but I found a similar one on Amazon), a big bottle of Fubbles, her first-ever candy bar (non-dairy, of course) a pack of toothbrushes that may or may not have also been present in her Christmas stocking, and a pair of real children’s scissors that I will be brave enough to let her use with careful supervision one day. Harvey’s basket contained a small bottle of Fubbles, a few jars of carrot baby food (because the Easter Bunny loves eating carrots), and a silicone Zippee teether.
Once Harvey had his new toy, he was good to go and just sat and chewed while he quietly observed all the craziness happening around him. You’ll see a lot of his Zippee teether in this week’s photos. It was worth every penny.
Dessa was pretty much all over the place. She hunted for eggs, which each contained a single mini marshmallow. Then she got distracted and played with her Duplo blocks for a few minutes, went back to hunting eggs, made a huge mess with the Easter grass, and ultimately ended up blowing bubbles.
At last it was time for breakfast. I made bunny pancakes for the occasion and they were a hit!
Once breakfast was over, we headed upstairs to watch Easter Mass. All I wanted to do was sit down, relax, and enjoy the Mass without many distractions, but Dessa had other plans. There was a lot of whining and she did everything she could to keep our attention off the TV.
Eventually, Mass ended and it was back to play!
Followed by more whining, crying, and a whole host of other undesirable behaviors.
Dessa and Harvey eventually settled for a nap. When they woke up, their moods were lightened, but nothing about the day was easy. We rallied for a quick family photo before eating Easter dinner. Don’t let the happy photos fool you: Rob’s expression in the top left photo pretty much sums up how we were both feeling by the end of the day.
With the family photo complete, we headed back downstairs to enjoy dinner as a family. I usually handle the menu planning for special occasions in our house, but the quarantine had taken a toll, and I wasn’t motivated at all about planning or preparing Easter dinner. Thankfully, Rob stepped up big time! He made a turkey dinner for our family to enjoy, complete with gravy, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce. Most of the sides were from a box or a can, but he did great for having limited resources during the pandemic.
The longest Easter ever finally came to an end and after the kids went to bed that night, you better believe that Rob and I each enjoyed with peace and quiet with an adult beverage.
The Rest of the Week
Easter may have been behind us, but the rest of the week continued to be an all-out roller coaster. Rob and I have had issues with our basement drain backing up ever since we started social distancing. Things got really bad Easter night and we knew we couldn’t postpone doing something about it any longer. Our home has been our shelter and oasis through all the craziness of the outside world and we work hard to keep all the scary germs out of the house. We knew we had to do something about the drain quickly and for it to be done right, so we decided to bring a professional in. We wanted a company that could use a video camera to get a good look inside the drain and do whatever was necessary to remedy the problem once and for all. Luckily, Rob found a local plumber that could take care of everything and took lots of precautions to prevent any possible spread of germs. The workers showed up wearing gloves and masks and didn’t even touch the doorknob to come inside. Instead, they called and waited for one of us to answer the door. From there it was a straight shot down the back steps to get into the basement and they never stepped foot on the main floor of our home.
Of course, Dessa insisted on using her play dough 10 feet away from our back door right around the time we heard that the plumbers were on their way. As soon as I saw the truck pull up, we cleaned up the play dough and relocated to the dining room.
Every time Dessa plays with her playdough, she ends up with a ton of it all over her fingernails. The easiest way to get her nails clean is simply to let her play with water. I grabbed a small container from the kitchen, a few kitchen gadgets and a water-friendly baby doll so Dessa could give her baby a bath. It was the perfect solution and Dessa was strapped into her booster chair to help keep her contained during the excitement. (Harvey happily napped during the whole ordeal.)
I sent Rob into the basement with the workers with the instructions to get some photos. They pulled out two huge masses of tree roots from our sewer line (which definitely solved the issue we were experiencing). In all the excitement, Rob forgot to get a photo of the roots they pulled out, but he did take this picture as they started working.
As much as we hated having someone who doesn’t live here come into our home while we are social distancing, Rob and I both breathed a little easier knowing we didn’t have a major plumbing issue on our hands.
The rest of the day was full of ups and downs, but we did get some really good news before bed that night: our good family friends welcomed a baby boy into their family! A little over a year ago, I happened to meet another like-minded, recent mom at church on a Wednesday afternoon. Her daughter is just three months younger than Dessa and they live within walking distance from our house. We quickly became friends, often describe our daughters as best friends, and couldn’t wait for their son to be born so Harvey could finally meet his new best bud, Wesley.
We won’t be able to snuggle and hold Wesley for quite some time, but that wasn’t going to stop us from celebrating his arrival. Dessa and I worked on a special project Tuesday morning to welcome Wesley home from the hospital. We cut a long sheet of white paper off the roll I bought just for big art projects and Dessa’s favorite Do-A-Dot markers, then proceeded to make a banner to hang inside our friends’ storm door.
This project was so incredibly easy. I will never be able to do fancy artistic lettering, but even I can’t go wrong with simple letters on a banner with a dot marker.
We made a smaller sign for Wesley’s big sister and then took a walk to hang the signs on our friends’ door before they arrived home from the hospital. Right now, our options are so limited to show support for the people we love and this was an easy way to welcome them home and involve Dessa in the process.
And a quick PSA for anyone frantically trying to make an upcoming birthday special. Get yourself a pack of Do-A-Dot markers and a big roll of white paper from Amazon. It’s a cheap, easy way to make a sign or banner for any special event.
That wasn’t our only dot marker experience. Dessa used the Do-A-Dot markers to work on recognizing Harvey’s name and used them to decorate a few other pictures this week.
She also stole Harvey’s Zippee to “get it ready for him.”
And discovered the vintage Dick & Jane book Rob received as a gift from a client after Dessa was born. It was tucked into our mantle bookcases. She insists that we read it to her at least once a day.
We had lots of dance parties upstairs and sometimes Dessa’s bear joined in the fun.
I had heard about the idea of letting toddlers get cutting practice with cooked spaghetti a few months ago and thought it was genius. Dessa has loved cutting paper ever since I gave her a pair of plastic safety scissors (included with this scissor skill book) at the beginning of our quarantine. I finally had a chance to cook a little spaghetti for her this week and even dyed it pink by putting a few drops food coloring in the water while it cooked. As it turns out, her plastic scissors weren’t any match for the spaghetti and it was very difficult to cut. Dessa didn’t care! She had fun playing in the pasta and used the opportunity to help herself to an all-you-can eat snack time.
The bubbles and Zippee toy were undoubtedly the highlight from this year’s Easter baskets. So many bubbles all over the house and I don’t care one bit because they don’t spill if the container tips over. Plus, both kids are equally entertained by the presence of bubbles in their own way. Harvey stares at them mesmerized and Dessa tries to pop them all.
Dessa has always enjoyed being helpful, but lately she has insisted on “helping” Rob and I walk down the steps. She stands at the very bottom with her arms outstretched and reassuringly says, “Come on, I’m helping you.” As soon as we get within reach, Dessa gently grabs our legs and guides us down the steps. As you can imagine, her actions aren’t helpful at all, but she sure is sweet to try.
Remember how I said at the beginning of this post that it was a highlight reel of our week at home? There was a lot of cuteness, but there was also a lot of screaming, crying, and all-out wailing. Harvey hadn’t slept through the night in weeks and there were a few days in a row that both kids took turns refusing to nap. On our worst day, the only nap that happened was a 40-minute nap from Harvey in the morning. At one point, Dessa was begging to watch Daniel Tiger, so I let her curl up on the couch with the iPad and enjoyed 30 minutes of peace and quiet.
The look on her face reflects how she and I were both feeling throughout much of the week.
Thankfully, things began to improve.
On Wednesday night, I decided to give in to Harvey’s schedule and put myself to bed at 9pm so I could just wake up with him super early on Thursday morning, give him a bottle, put him back to bed and get some work accomplished in the early morning hours the house was still quiet. As luck would have it, Harvey slept through the night for the first time in weeks and I got nearly 9 hours of sleep that night.
I did the same thing again on Thursday night because I figured his first good night of sleep was just a fluke. Wouldn’t you know, Harvey slept through the night again. Last night I went to bed after 10 and he slept like a champ once again.
It’s amazing how the world can change once a person finally starts to feel well-rested. And I wasn’t the only person to finally catch up on sleep. Rob also enjoyed uninterrupted slumber through the night and the kids got back on track with their nap schedule. Praise the Lord!
At one point this week when I was feeling particularly desperate for anything to keep Dessa occupied, I pulled out the pink princess castle play tent that she had received as a Christmas gift from her grandparents. It’s kind of big and not my favorite thing to stare at so I only save the castle for desperate times (like when Dessa had a cold and I put in the living room for her to play with since I wouldn’t let her go anywhere near Harvey).
Dessa doesn’t really know what a princess is, so she calls it her “sandcastle.” She was thrilled to see the castle assembled in the playroom. All that she wanted was for Harvey to go inside and play with her. I’m honestly not sure which child loved playing with it more.
After a particularly cold week in April, winter weather made a return to Michigan and it snowed all day long. Snow was the very last thing I wanted to see, but Dessa was thrilled so we went outside to play during Harvey’s morning nap.
From there, things kept getting better. After Harvey woke up, we went upstairs to play.
These sweet moments between Dessa and Harvey happen all the time (even on our very worst days) but it was a lot easier to slow down and appreciate them when everything else around us was finally going well.
Later on we had lunch and both kids took great afternoon naps. When Dessa woke up, we Facetimed with my Mom so she could read Dessa a story during her post-nap snack.
Then we went upstairs and played with the camera tripod in between songs for our little dance party. The photos didn’t turn out great, but you can tell we were having lots of fun.
After what felt like the longest week ever, Saturday finally rolled around. We started the day with the usual craziness of having two small children in the house. Harvey makes a beeline in his walker for the dishwasher every time he sees it open and it’s all hands on deck to keep him away.
Once Harvey was down for his morning nap, I took Dessa for a walk. It was a cold morning, but it was gorgeous, and Dessa was in a great mood. We headed downtown and I planned to walk past our church. As we walked by, I noticed that the door to the main entrance was slightly ajar and remembered hearing the building would remain open during the day so people could stop by to worship quietly.
On a whim, I decided to take Dessa inside. I didn’t want her to touch anything, so she stayed in the stroller and I took her for a lap inside. The church was empty except for one woman praying and an organist. As I pushed Dessa down the empty aisles, I realized it was the first time she had entered any building other than our house for over a month. I think the moment was every bit as much of a treat for her as it was for me.
The fun continued after we arrived home. With Dessa out of the house and Harvey napping, Rob used the opportunity to finally assemble the playhouse we purchased for Dessa a few weeks back. The playhouse was a complete surprise to her and she was so excited to see it. She was even more excited to grab her tools and “help” Rob put it together.
Dessa only had a few minutes to play in her new house today, but she loved it and I’m sure there will be many, many more photos to share in the coming weeks.
If you happen to be in the market for a playhouse, I highly recommend this one! I have spent months looking for an attractive playhouse and I have plans to personalize it with paint and accessories one day. I love this one because it has light colored cedar and a black roof that looks like actual shingles (rather than blue, pink or some other crazy color). I bought ours from Zulily but saw that this same model is currently on Overstock.com for a great price.
This week was a huge struggle and I’m so thankful that it turned around and ended on a positive note. I know this time at home isn’t easy for anyone. If you’re struggling, please know that you are not alone and we are all in this together.
Here’s wishing you health, peace, and plentiful moments of joy as we prepare for another week at home.