Fifteen Years: A Poem

Apr 29, 2020

Mike and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary yesterday. Since we were not able to go on a trip or get tickets to a concert, I decided to take the sentimental route and write a poem (which was especially out of the ordinary since Mike has always been the poet in our relationship, not me). It ended up being fairly epic because I wrote one stanza for each year of marriage, and, it turns out, fifteen years is longer than I realized.

I decided to publish it here for safekeeping and easy finding and also on the off chance that you'd like to read a lengthy poem about a rather ordinary life.

Fifteen Years

April 28, 2005
Fifteen years ago today
A boy and girl were wed, hooray!
Low on cash but rich in love,
Heaven smiled from above
When those two, in joyful bliss,
Shared their first devoted kiss.

In a house not even theirs,
They passed the summer without cares.
But one thing they did not suppose,
A dishwasher they’d never close
Again, in all their married life,
For now they’d wash each plate and knife.

In Year Two, they were divided:
The Y and U, now collided.
But Provo still remained their home,
And to the duck pond they would roam
On weekends and on summer nights,
A book and blanket seemed just right.

Next spring brought a graduation—
Cap and gown and adulation.
They packed their stuff into a car,
Headed north, but not too far.
Their new place had two bedrooms, sweet!
And bright orange carpet for their feet.

After many months of maybe,
They found out they’d have a baby!
Born on a hot day in July,
A little boy who didn’t cry—
At least not much, that is until
A brick flew past their window sill.

Another place was called for quick.
They thought Salt Lake might do the trick:
Commute was faster on a bike,
And there were parks for little tykes.
But just when they were used to three,
Max joined the little family.

They took a break from work and school
To see Niagara, wet and cool.
But Max was not the least impressed;
He closed his eyes and took a rest.
Aaron, too, thought it a bore
But could be bribed with fruit snacks more.

Another year, another boy:
This pattern seemed to bring them joy.
Now outnumbered, two to three,
Their home was full of mess and glee.
They tried a van that wasn’t right;
The duplex started feeling tight.

The PhD was getting long.
“Just one more year”—their constant song.
They came up with a desperate plan
To help him end what he began:
A week or three of isolation
To write the dreaded dissertation.

But at last he got it done
And found a real job, which was fun.
The longed for time had come at last
To put a shared wall in their past.
They found the perfect home to buy
And kissed their rental house goodbye.

They didn’t have much time to spare.
Boy number four arrived with flair.
A fussy baby, he worked hard
To be the thrilling wild card.
An Aussie trip redeemed him some
When he slept ev’ry hour but one.

Their life was filled with much to do:
Soccer games, two kids in school,
Church and work, a new roof (cool!)
And don’t forget their local pool.
They started Pie Day for a treat
So all their neighbors they could greet.

The next year all their dreams came true:
A trip to France and Norway, too.
Eiffel Tower, River Rhine,
A hundred tunnels in a line.
And when they were back home and done,
They thought they’d plan another one.

Still they felt someone was missing—
One more boy who needed kissing.
They all adored him from the start.
He captured ev’ry person’s heart
And took each treat and ice cream cone
From his royal baby throne.

Their home was such a busy hive
With two adults and children five.
They thought they knew just what to do
To beat the cold and winter blues.
They packed the van and left the house
And said hello to Mickey Mouse.

But all their smiles turned to frowns
When Aaron’s blood counts dropped way down.
The hospital became their home
And many nights were spent alone.
But even with this toil and strife,
They still were quite fond of their life.

April 28, 2020
Now we’re back up to the present.
Fifteen years, and each one pleasant,
Have flown past with lightning speed,
But still on this they’re both agreed:
They’d do it all again today.
“I love you,” they will always say.

What is My Errand?

Apr 19, 2020

Quarantine life has been good to us so far.

Mike has been working exclusively from home for over a month. It was a struggle at first, and he will still be grateful when he finally gets to be back in a real work environment, but we've fallen into a certain rhythm where it's perfectly normal to have him come up the stairs mid-morning, and I've taken advantage of his close proximity to ask him questions or have him help with potty training. 

The boys are doing well with their schoolwork. They know what is expected of them each day, and they do it. For the most part, I am pretty hands off, except for Clark. Their teachers have been involved and organized, and although we sincerely hope they will all (even Aaron) get to go back to school in the fall, we are making this work.

Our home is a safe, happy place. We are able to do almost all of our favorite activities. We love reading aloud in the mornings before school, rollerblading down the street in the evenings, watching movies, doing puzzles, singing songs around the piano, playing games, worshiping together, baking (and eating), and going on walks. Home has become the haven I always wanted it to be.

Our experience, although not unique, has not been the reality for many people. The immense suffering around the world is vast and agonizing. It is emotional, physical, financial, spiritual, and mental. Some of it is related to the current pandemic, but much of it was already there. The heartache created by this virus has not given the world a free pass on other suffering. It has simply added another layer--the straw that just might break the proverbial camel's back. 

During the first few days, as the virus spread across the nation with alarming speed, I inhaled the news at a feverish pace. I held my breath as things I had never even considered became a stark new reality. I watched the security of everyday life crumble around me. The pain and suffering of others was brought to the forefront of my mind. It was suffocating and unbearable. 

I did not know how I, in my very small sphere, could help with problems that seemed insurmountable.  I felt myself pulling inward because I couldn't handle all of this pain that I couldn't do anything about.

But one day I was reading the Book of Enos, and I was struck by the progression of Enos' prayer. First, he cried in "mighty prayer and supplication for [his] own soul." Following this, he "began to feel a desire for the welfare of [his] brethren." And finally after this, he prayed "with many long strugglings" for his enemies, the Lamanites. 

Applied to my own life, this model of concern for others might look like this: attention to myself and my family, followed by friends, neighbors, and extended family, and finally strangers around the world. The circle begins small but is able to expand outward organically as immediate needs are seen and met.

I had been frozen in indecision because I didn't know where to expend my energies or resources when there were limitless options; and what I could do seemed so small and inconsequential anyway that it seemed rather futile. Although this blueprint didn't do anything to change the collective and individual suffering all around me, it lifted my own paralyzation so I could once more move forward with purpose and genuine intent.

At this same time, a question came into my mind that has since become my daily mantra: What is my errand? It is based on something the prophet Jacob said when he began his ministry to his people: "Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord."

I decided that I would try to be like Jacob and obtain my errand from the Lord every day. Once again, this narrowed my focus to a single day, even a single hour, which made it so much more manageable for me.

When I wake up and begin my day, I ask, "What is my errand?" And then I listen. I pay attention to the thoughts that come into my head. Interestingly, they are most often about someone in my family or neighborhood, thus following the pattern set forth by Enos. Once I have one or two impressions, I work on accomplishing those before I ask the question again. It feels very much like I am reporting to my commanding officer for duty each day, asking for my orders, and then returning after they are completed.

These errands are small things, easily accomplished in a day. For example, one day I had the thought that I should do something for my sister, Angela. She is currently serving a mission in Pennsylvania. The work has ground to a halt because she and her companion have to stay inside all of the time. They have found creative ways to serve and teach and share their message, but for a very social person like my sister, the confinement is taking a serious toll on her morale. I wondered what I could do for her. I got the idea to cut up strips of paper, write inspirational quotes on them, and then mail them to her. Each day she could pull out one piece of paper, read the quote, and then loop it through the previous one, forming a paper chain.

Another day, I sat down to order some sheet music. I went to Amazon as usual, but then I had the impression, Why don't you order from Day Murray Music [my local music store] instead? It ended up costing me more, but the service was excellent, and it arrived at my house in two days.

When we participated in the worldwide fast on Good Friday last week, I felt like I should pay a fast offering, even though I had just done so a couple of weeks before. I realized that the Church can do things with its resources that I can't do alone with mine.

One morning I approached the Lord with my question, and my sweet elderly neighbor's name came into my mind. I knew I needed to call and check in with her that day.

This is just a sampling of some of the things Heavenly Father has asked me to do in the last few weeks. I feel almost silly writing them down because I know they sound small and insignificant. But I feel strongly that as we each do our small bit in our individual spheres, great things can happen.

I want to tell you about one other small thing I've added to my days. This one is also inspired by Enos. Like me, Enos realized that there were some things beyond his scope of influence. About the Lamanites, he said, "For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith." In fact, at that point, the Lamanites were threatening to destroy the records and traditions of Enos and his people if they got the chance.

There was only one thing Enos could do for them, and so he did that one thing: he prayed. And the Lord said, "I will grant unto thee according to they desires." That simple prayer of faith made a difference.

Like Enos, there are many things right now outside of my control. I don't have the medical skills to answer the call for help in the NYC hospitals; I don't have the connections to organize big drives for supplies; I don't have the knowledge to study this virus and develop a vaccine against it.

Instead, I have to do exactly what Enos did: see a need and pray for it.

I have made it a habit to pay attention to the seemingly random thoughts I have throughout the day. If a person pops into my memory, even if I haven't had any contact with them for years, I say a prayer for them right then. This is one way I'm expanding my circle. I have found that as my thoughts turn outward to others, my generosity and love expands as well.

I hope this quarantine won't last forever. In fact, I hope it's over before too long. But I also hope to take this simpler, slower pace with me and continue this daily habit of asking the Lord how He can use me. As I narrow my focus on these small things, my love for others is actually widening in a most miraculous way.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a World of Specialization by David Epstein

Apr 11, 2020

My father-in-law and I were swapping book recommendations one evening a few months ago. Although we both read quite a bit, it isn't too often that our book tastes cross paths. (We both love history, but he wants it dense with facts while I prefer it laced with emotion and drama.)

But one of the books he mentioned caught my attention. He said it was about why the world needs people who haven't limited themselves to one area but have developed broadly across a wide range of disciplines. As a parent who is always wondering if it's "too late" for one of my kids to try something or if we've made a lifetime commitment to something just because we've done it for six months, I was totally intrigued by this idea.

I also knew immediately, without even reading it, why my father-in-law loved it.

Because he raised nine generalists.

Mike and each of his eight siblings grew up trying a variety of sports, instruments, clubs, and activities. Their parents pushed them very little. If they wanted to try something, it was up to them to figure out a way to get there and sometimes they were responsible for paying for it too. If they wanted to quit and move onto something else, that was seen as both acceptable and normal.

Although some of Mike's siblings have been to known to complain about the lack of visible support or encouragement, it cannot be denied that every single one of them is talented, diverse, and not in the least afraid to try new things. Because of that, I would want any of them on my team, no matter the subject. There is not a better representation of a well-rounded individual than Mike and his brothers and sisters.

While I was in the middle of this book, Mike heard about a problem that one of my friends was having with the diapers for her daughter. Mike said, "The engineer in me says someone needs to design a better diaper." Before I even knew what was happening, boxes of diaper-making supplies started showing up on our porch.

I laughed and teased Mike for thinking he could design something that people who have diaper design as their job had failed at.

But then I read about InnoCentive, an organization that "facilitates entities in any field acting as 'seekers,' paying to post challenges, and rewards for outside 'solvers.'" Basically the idea is that if you have an unsolvable problem, you can post the challenge to this website, and then solvers across all disciplines and demographics can bring their own expertise to the table to come up with solutions.

The company was founded by Alph Bingham, a chemist who used to work for Eli Lilly. In 2001, as VP of research and development strategy, he "collected twenty-one problems that had stymied Eli Lilly scientists." He asked if he could post them on a website for anyone to see. Some of the scientists thought the problems were too confidential and also wondered at Bingham's audacity in proposing that just your average Joe could solve a problem that had evaded the most highly-trained and highly-specialized chemists. And yet, after Bingham launched the problems, answers started rolling in: "Strangers were creating substances that had befuddled Eli Lilly chemists. As Bingham had guessed, outside knowledge was the key." He said, "It validated the hypothesis we had going in, but it still surprised me how these knowledge pockets were hidden under other degrees. I wasn't really expecting submissions from attorneys."

I found this chapter, "The Outsider Advantage," so fascinating. And after reading it, I went to Mike and said, "You know what, on second thought, you might be the perfect person for fixing this diaper conundrum. You go for it."

The author made a point that I've thought about again and again since finishing this book. He said, "The bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution. Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly."  In other words, if we put all of our time and energy into becoming highly specialized, then robots are going to put us out of a job. We can develop a machine to analyze data and solve problems with a narrow focus. It is our ability to gather and integrate information and think outside the box that makes us valuable. Gary Marcus (a psychology and neuroscience professor) said, "In narrow enough worlds, humans may not have much to contribute much longer."

One of the things I really loved about this book was the way that David Epstein approached this topic from many different angles. The book began with two prominent sports figures (Tiger Woods and Roger Federer), who represented opposite sides of the specialist to generalist spectrum. Knowing that David Epstein was a sports writer, I was a little worried that with an opening like that, this book would have a high concentration of sports examples.

But that was not the case at all. Epstein brought in stories from all walks of life (chess, music, science, sports, academics, medicine) and across cultures and history (18th-century Venice to Japan at the turn of the 21st century to Hungary right after World War II). It felt like Epstein took his own advice and didn't limit his analyzation of this topic to his own area of interest and expertise.

I had to laugh when I was at book club talking about this book. First of all, I was one of only two people who had finished it. Everyone said it was a little slow or too technical. They were interested in the general premise, but when it came right down to actually reading it, they preferred a summary. (This was not my "serious" book club, in case you were wondering.) I didn't feel that way about this book at all, but maybe that's because I listened to it (and at double speed, too).

Anyway, one of the women (the one who had actually read the whole thing) said, "It was interesting, but . . . it's just that he kept talking about chess. And I don't care anything about chess!" I maybe shouldn't have, but I actually retorted, "Isn't that the whole point of the book? That we don't limit ourselves to just our pet interests but read and learn about other areas? That we have range?" In fact, the author quoted someone who said that exact thing--that every day we should challenge ourselves to read about or explore a topic that isn't in our preferred genre. I found my book club to be an interesting social experiment. Much as we might like the idea of developing a broad range of skills, it is challenging to actually break out of our comfort zones. I will be the first to admit that I like what I like and would often like to just continue what I'm doing and not rock the boat.

That said, I felt somewhat empowered after reading this book. I often feel guilty that I got my bachelor's degree in something that I don't feel particularly passionate about. I mean, I thought I was passionate about it at the time, but I realized pretty quickly into it that my interest level did not match those of my peers. Maybe I should have switched majors at that point. But I actually quite enjoyed my time . . . I just wouldn't go back into the same field. This book validated and normalized those feelings. I am not tethered to that area just because I chose it once, and those skills will go with me in whatever  I want to try next.

The author quoted psychologist Dan Gilbert, who said, "We are works in progress claiming to be finished." This book helped me realize that who I am now doesn't have to be who I am tomorrow. I am a fluid being, a work in progress, taking in information and transforming it into something else.

When Maxwell was in third grade, I was complaining because I had a little cold. I said something like, "Why do I have to have this cold?" And Max, taking my question seriously, said, "I don't know. I haven't studied biology very much." I replied, "Maybe someday you'll want to be a doctor and help with these kinds of things." Max quickly said, "Oh I don't think so. You see, I've already devoted a lot of time to becoming an entomologist."

At eight years old, Max had already decided that he was well on the path to becoming an entomologist. But the beauty of life is that if he changes his mind at 12 or 21 or 35, he can do that. And you never know, maybe his knowledge of goliath beetles will help him find a cure for cancer.

Because that's what range can do.

A Little of This and That in March

Apr 5, 2020

March was a doozy, am I right? We began the month going to school, church, the library, and work, planning vacations, hanging out with family and friends, playing at the park, and shopping at the store. We ended the month in a very different state, not doing any of those things, which is something I hadn't even considered as a possibility a month ago. Life is strange, and the unpredictability of it sometimes makes me want to curl up and hide my head. But if we've learned anything in the past year, it is that life continues on, and there is still beauty and happiness to be found. We spent the month . . .

Celebrating . . . a decade of Maxwell. On his birthday, he stayed in bed reading before opening presents. He asked for salmon and asparagus for dinner instead of pizza. And he made his own birthday cake. All of these things made me realize that he's growing up before my very eyes. He still has a fiery temper and can give a steely glare like no one else I know, but when he's in a good mood, he's the best of the best.

Weaning . . . tacrolimus. Aaron reached Day +175, which meant it was time to begin weaning him off of the immunosuppressive drug he’s been on for the past six months. His dose will be decreased by half a milligram every two weeks. If all goes well and he doesn’t demonstrate any signs of GVHD, he should be completely off of it by the middle of June.

Loving...naps. At nearly three years old, Ian still loves to take an afternoon nap. He will often tell me, “I’m ready for my nap” after he eats lunch. Sometimes I will give him the choice of going down for his nap before or after I take Clark to school (back when I used to take Clark to school). He almost always chooses to have me put him to bed before, which I find highly unusual since most kids will do anything to prolong nap (or bed) time. He is just as easy to put down at night as he is in the afternoon. He just really seems to love curling up under his blankets with a book or a mountain of toys. He is so easy to put to bed that Aaron, Max, and Bradley can all do it if occasion requires, and even my mom commented on what a dream he is to put down for a nap. I’m not sure how much longer we can count on these amazing sleep habits, but I am soaking them up for all that they’re worth, and I don’t take them for granted in the least. (But potty training? Please don't ask about that.)

Canceling...a scientific trip to San Francisco. Mike’s dad and uncle are both diagnosed short sleepers, and so a group of scientists wanted to study any of their children who were willing to participate. Mike and his brother were planning to go the third week of March. They were going to be gone for five days, and they planned to have a fine time of it together (in between being forced to stay awake for 36 hours). But when Mike mentioned the upcoming trip to Aaron’s doctor, he was quite blunt in telling him that he shouldn’t go because of the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19. I believe his exact words were something like, “A free trip to California is like a free sky diving session into a dump.” So Mike canceled the trip, and then a week later, the entire country shut down in response to the pandemic, including the sleep study. So he wouldn’t have been able to go anyway. 

Going . . . to see our niece perform in her junior high's production of The Wizard of Oz. Clark and Bradley liked it so much, they actually saw it twice. (Look at that auditorium! And all of the people filing in! It feels surreal that such a thing was normal just a few weeks ago.)

Watching . . . our nephew open his mission call to the Baltic, Russian-speaking. It turned out to be the last real event we got to be a part of. Little did we know that in just a few short days, everything would be shutting down, and thousands of missionaries from around the world would be returning home. We didn't even take the time to be grateful for that joyous time with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. We didn't realize that those types of gatherings wouldn't be happening again for a long time.

Passing . . . the sacrament for the first time. In January, Aaron received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a deacon. One of the duties of a deacon is to pass the sacrament to members of the congregation. However, Aaron had not been able to serve in this way because of the amount of germs that a tray accumulates as it is passed from hand to hand. But then church meetings were canceled across the world, and suddenly we were holding church in our own home. Our bishop authorized all priesthood holders to bless and administer the sacrament in their own homes, which meant that Aaron was finally able to pass the sacrament. I loved that his first time was in his own home to his own family. He'll always remember it.

Holding . . . church at home. Speaking of church, it has been a joy to worship as a family. I didn't expect to love it so much. But everyone has stepped up to the responsibility of preparing talks and lessons, conducting music, saying prayers, and singing together. Bradley even decided to make a number holder for the hymns, just like we have in the chapel at church. It has been sweet to share testimony and gospel truths with each other. It is one of the silver linings in all of this.

Feeling . . . disappointed about something. This isn't meant to be vague so people will ask me about it. I'm simply mentioning it because these monthly posts are one of the ways I document the life of our family, and this something took up a lot of mental and emotional energy in March, so I want to remember it, even though it didn't work out.

Escaping . . . to the cabin. We decided to take a couple of days and get away to Mike's parents' cabin. The cabin is up in a canyon and has no cell service. It was glorious. The constant barrage of news and everyone's opinions had been taking a toll on all of us, and it was wonderful to shut it all out, even if for just a little bit. We played outside, sat around the fire, went on a hike, played games, and ate doughnuts. (And I spent a lot of time knitting, too.) I didn't want to come home. Now it's up to me to manage my intake of what's going on in the world, and I think I prefer not even having the option.

Waking . . . up to an earthquake. Actually, I was already awake and working in the living room when the house began to rumble and shake. I instantly knew what it was. I've felt one other earthquake before, and this one was similar to that except that it lasted significantly longer. The magnitude was 5.7, and we felt aftershocks throughout the day. There was quite a bit of damage in some parts of the state, but our neighborhood was fine. It was just a little unnerving to have an earthquake thrown on top of a pandemic and economic collapse. I think the only good thing about it was that people stopped talking about the virus for a day. 

Picking . . . up school supplies. Our elementary school closed down and moved to a digital platform mid-March. I had to go to the school to pick up the boys' books and computers. They didn't want anyone in the building, so instead we went to each teacher's window, and they handed the folders and books through it, almost like a drive-through. It was one of those experiences I had never even considered, and then I was doing it like it was the most normal thing in the world. So surreal.

Watching . . . LEGO Masters. Our whole family has been obsessed with this reality series. Each week, the contestants are given a challenge. This can range from building an amusement park ride, a bridge that can actually support weight, or a kid-created fairy tale. The creations that come out of these builders' heads are truly amazing. Although we kind of wish we could binge-watch the whole season, it gives us something to look forward to each week. Even Ian doesn't want to miss out on it. One evening he had a little stomach bug and so was watching a show in his room. The rest of us went downstairs to watch the latest episode, and when he heard it going, he called out, "Hey! I want to watch LEGO Masters!"

Adjusting . . . to doing school at home. Many people are referring to this as "home schooling," but I prefer to use my sister-in-law's term, "crisis schooling," instead because, as someone who was home schooled for ten years, I can tell you that what we're doing is not home schooling. But semantics aside, my kids are learning at home, and it's going really well--not because of anything I'm doing but because their teachers are absolutely amazing. They're extremely quick to respond to emails or messages. Both Bradley and Maxwell's teachers have really embraced the online platform and are putting out a lot of video content to help explain new concepts (Maxwell's teacher even continued with their class readaloud, which pretty much melted my heart). They're also doing virtual group meetings, so they're still getting to interact with their classmates quite a bit (Bradley's teacher has been doing optional bingo nights, which also melts my heart). I'm definitely noticing anew how different my kids are. Max is so much like me. He shuts himself in a room with his list of assignments and stays on task until everything is completely done. Bradley doesn't need much help from me. He likes a break every hour or so, but he gets right back to his work when he is done. Clark needs lots of help, of course, but doesn't complain. And Aaron . . . perhaps surprisingly, Aaron is the one who has the hardest time staying on task--and he should be the most used to this since we've been doing it the whole school year! The hardest part of this "crisis schooling" for me is that I am not the in-house teacher but the in-house problem solver, and I don't like solving problems all day.

Clearing . . . up my acne. A couple of months ago, I started breaking out more than I ever have before in my life. I had no idea what had brought it on since I hadn't made any changes to my diet or skin care, and my life wasn't unusually stressful (this was pre-pandemic, obviously). I asked a few of my friends for tips, as well as my sister. I started using a facial scrub, which made my skin feel nice but didn't actually help with the breakout. I finally decided I better go see a dermatologist. I found a clinic and checked to make sure it was in network for our insurance, but then the world fell apart, and there were more important things to worry about than zits on my face. I have never worn a ton of makeup, but once we were confined to our house and I wasn't seeing anyone, I just stopped wearing it entirely. And wouldn't you know it, but my acne completely cleared up.  I guess when this is all over I'll be looking for a new brand of makeup, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying going au natural.

Learning . . . from Mo Willems. You've probably already seen this, but Mo Willems (author of the Elephant and Piggie series) has been putting out daily Lunch Doodles--short videos where he shows kids around his studio, teaches them how to draw one of his characters, and encourages their creativity. We've watched a couple of them so far and found them quite enjoyable. 

Switching . . . to virtual piano lessons. As with everything else, social distancing put an abrupt end to my piano students coming over to my house. Now we meet over FaceTime. It's not ideal because there's almost always a slight delay or a break in the connection, and I can't easily demonstrate or point to things, but we're making it work. And I'm very grateful to get to keep this part of my weekly routine.

Learning . . . how to fold a fitted sheet. I have long felt frustrated that this supposedly "easy" domestic skill had somehow evaded me. I finally decided to make it a goal for 2020, and I was determined to keep trying for as long as necessary until I mastered it. Turns out . . . it didn't take that long at all. One of my friends offered to show me over Marco Polo, and within thirty seconds I could do it! In my defense, I had tried two other "tutorials" before this, and they both left me feeling so confused and disheartened. But then when my friend showed me, everything suddenly clicked. So now I can check off that goal, which of course makes me really happy.

Meeting . . . with my book club virtually. The pandemic hit Utah the week before my book club was scheduled to meet for the month. At first, we just canceled. But then we decided we might as well hold a virtual meeting over Zoom. It was my first time using (or even hearing about) that platform, but ever since then, we've used it multiple times a week. We discussed the book Nothing to See Here (which I thoroughly enjoyed reading but probably wouldn't recommend because of the excessive swearing). It was so good to see the faces of my fellow bookies even if there weren't yummy treats to go along with it.

Knitting . . . a couple of cute friends. As you might guess, knitting has proven to be a great comfort to me during this unsettling time. I've been spending most of my time on a sweater (it's fingering weight on small needles, so it's taking me a long time), but to break it up a little, I knitted a couple of toys for new babies in the family--a little rabbit and duckling. I enjoyed seeing them sitting together on my dresser for a couple of weeks before I gave them away.

Working . . . from home. Mike has been working exclusively from home since mid-March. I am so grateful that he has a job that allows him this kind of flexibility. It's been a sacrifice for him since the stuff that he can do at home is fairly boring and would probably be the things he would be avoiding if he were actually at work. He has to be closeted away in a little room in our basement most of the day, sitting in an uncomfortable chair. But it gives us all so much peace of mind to not have him in a work space with other people all day, and I realize that it's such a privilege to have this as an option.

Buying . . . six pairs of rollerblades. Yes, six--one for every member of the family except for Ian. Mike decided that as long as we didn't have anywhere to go or anything to do, we might as well learn how to rollerblade. The rollerblades arrived one by one over a period of about a week, and with each new arrival, another person learned to rollerblade until we all had a pair and did it together! It was great fun, and I'm sure it will provide many more hours of entertainment in the coming weeks. It's also probably going to be one of the things my kids remember the most from this scary time.

Managing . . . a busy virtual schedule. The first week of quarantine, our calendar was completely wiped out of all activities and events. But by the second week, it began to fill back up, but with virtual things instead--play dates, class meetings, book club, family hangouts, game nights, etc. It's kind of amazing that our lives can still feel somewhat busy, even while not leaving our house.

I have no expectations for April. We will take it one day at a time. That's all we can do, right? How are all of you doing, friends?

Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground