Covid-19, Kate, Lexi, William

Covid-19 Week 2

My three little munchkins,

All the days and events are just starting to blur together. The virus, society, the government  and work continue to change at morph speed and you can’t keep up with what is what. Our Best Buy stores closed for customers to enter them on Sunday and we transformed to a curbside only pick-up. Considering I support the mobile business and almost all of our sales are done in store, we had some pretty big changes to make as we modify to helping customers navigate the idea of buying a cell phone online, which is uncomfortable for a lot of people.

Then on Friday–Minnesota officially when to ‘shelter-in-place’, which basically means all non-essential businesses/services are closed. Grocery, gas, connivence, liquor, and hardware stores, daycare and take-out restaurants are open. Everything else is closed and people are encouraged to stay home. The governor also announced that schools will be closed until May 4th, at the earliest. So starting on Monday, we will officially transition to distance learning.

From a ‘Sampson schooling perspective’ I felt like we were starting to get into a decent rhythm. Kids got paint by sticker and do a dot daubers and have been super excited to use them all week. They are fantastic for Kate as she can do little worksheets in her activity book, while the kids are doing their activities. Things we are working on this week: learning our address, memorizing dad’s phone number, learning to write Sampson, telling time, lots of read-out-loud, tons of coloring, spelling words, journaling, each morning, verbs, nouns, prefixes and suffixes, exploding snowman science project, the letter ‘T’ and the number 9, and some good old outside play time.

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Kate’s world has been turned upside down and inside out and she just doesn’t know how to process it all. She is getting the least amount of attention as Daddy and I are focused on learning activities for Lexi and William and she doesn’t understand why she can’t sit on my lap at any given moment throughout the day.  Kate, you have become very attached to Momma and want demand to be carried everywhere. With everything going on, it is hard to stop and remind myself what this looks like from a 2-year-old’s perspective. You’re used to quiet Daddy-time 3 days a week for 6+ hours. To suddenly have everyone home and stealing the attention you used to get can be some tough cookies.

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To sum everything up, things could definitely be worse. I feel good we’ve been keeping you on a good schedule and you haven’t been watching a TON of TV–but it is hard to keep you focused and all of you pre-occupied at the same time. It is mentally exhausting to balance working and participating on conference calls, making sure Daddy can work, and you guys do some stuff and don’t watch TV all day.

But, we are healthy, have lots of food to eat, plenty of toilet paper, a roof over our heads and jobs to pay our bills and our faith, which is a lot more than many other people can say. So I’m choosing to be grateful for everything we do have, including the three of you.

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Love,

Mama

 

Covid-19, Kate, Lexi, William

Covid-19 Week 1

Dear kiddos,

Check Mark. We survived the first official week of social/distancing–which has really turning into social isolation for Covid-19.

Although SVDP, technically had school on Monday–we kept you guys home. It sounded like it was mostly for people who needed to figure out childcare, get assignments/technology or medicine and since we didn’t have to worry about any of that, we kept you home. I went to work for a half day to get a few things and then came home and got things set up.

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Over the weekend, I explained to you and William there is a virus going around and we can’t go to school for awhile because we need to help slow down the rate at which people get it. BUT, that means we’re going to have Sampson school each day. We will do our best to make it fun, have play time, but we’re also going to have learning time and we need them to be good cooperators with it.

Monday night, I looked through all of the items that were sent home and was completely overwhelmed trying to figure out what your day should actually look like and what work we should be giving you. Thankfully, someone I follow on Instagram has a first grader and is a former teacher, so followed a similar approach to how she was structuring her day. For William, I just guessed on a whole bunch of stuff.

I also worked on setting up and organizing each of your work spaces to make it a little bit more exciting. You each have your rack of activities, a cup of pencils, colored pencils and markers.

Tuesday was filled with a lot of excitement and equal parts groaning and complaining from all parties. Nobody wanted to get dressed, brush their hair or teeth, but were excited about their work spaces and the worksheets. Go figure. I did my best to work, but there was lots of interruptions, distractions etc… and I really didn’t get any work done, respond to any emails, was just on a few conference calls. By the end of the day, I felt so exhausted and defeated. I felt guilty for not being very productive at work and discouraged that this school thing was going to be even harder than I had originally thought. BUT, Daddy did manage to help you decorate and build leprechaun traps.

That evening my leader at work sent an email to everyone sharing her Day 1 experiences and talked about how she wasn’t very productive with all the distractions and it was hard and is going to take time for all of us to adjust to this. I’m so grateful to be working for leaders that are so supportive and understanding in hard times like this. It makes the hard things a million times easier.

After the kids went to bed, I went through the school materials again and put together another schedule, that was similar, but tried to mix up activities and what not.

Wednesday morning was met with some pushback on the usual getting dressed and brushing of teeth and hair, but it was a tiny bit better. Overall, the school part of the day went better. I was a little more productive at work and I could see the kids were actually learning. It also helped that you went on a field trip to Great Grandma’s house to visit and brighten her day.

Wednesday night I prepped again and was feeling more confident in the schedule, how to break the day up how much time it takes for things to be done.

Overall, Thursday was pretty good. There was less push-back from you kids, Kate was wanting to learn, Daddy was doing an awesome time keeping you guys focused and helping you through your assignments. I had a lot of conference calls, which made things tough to stay focused in my chair that long and that I wasn’t able to help out as much with some of the school stuff.

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By Thursday evening as I was lesson planning, I felt like I was in a good rhythm. I was understanding the packets of info better and was getting ideas on how I could start to build different schedules out for each day of the week so it requires less planning on my behalf each night. Work that day went a little better too. We started to leverage the web-cam, which felt awkward at first, but made it so much easier to connect with people. We even had a virtual happy hour together.

As I was lesson planning for the Friday, was reflecting on how much easier things got as the week went on. I also felt like I was spending more quality time with the kids, was actually making decent meals, was decently caught up on laundry and the house wasn’t a complete disaster. So despite all of the really hard and challenging things happening, I’m also seeing some great benefits too. It is forcing us to slow down. We aren’t even half or a quarter as busy as a lot of other families, but the fact that I’m not rushing home to quickly make dinner and run to an activity or get baths done is really nice. If the kids go to bed a little later, that is OK because they don’t have to wake up at a certain time, and if we don’t get bathed tonight, we can easily do it tomorrow. I love having the time to play Sorry! together as a family after dinner or time the kids riding their bikes up and down the sidewalk. I’m hoping these aren’t novelty moments and continue as the weeks unfold.

Finally, Friday was not the smoothest. Daddy took you to Great Grandma’s and Aggies for a visit and a few of you were pretty naughty. Work was also pretty crazy. On Wednesday, they announced store hours were being reduced and starting on Monday, they would limit the amount of customers in store. They were also modifying how Geek Squad, Delivery/Install and In Home Advisors reduce their face-to-face interactions with customers. Then today, some governments decided the products we sell are no longer deemed as ‘essential’ and our stores must close. As a result, starting on Sunday, all of our stores will be closed and only available for customers to pick up products at curbside. I spent the afternoon developing new messaging to support this change as well as reviewing all the existing messages we have in place that need to be updated.

Hopefully the work craziness will subside a little next week and we’ll get into a good rhythm of Sampson school.

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Love,

Mama

Kate, Lexi, William

Covid-19 unfolds

Lexi, William and Kate,

I know you’re pretty young to remember some of this, but this is a moment that will be written into history books and talked about for many years to come. The only other moment in my life that is somewhat comparable to this is 9/11. That was sad and scary–but this one just feels surreal and crazy, at least at this moment (1 weeks in)

We’ll start with the basics of what the heck is going on and then get into how we survived week 1.

First, Covid-19 (also known as Coronavirus) is a virus similar to the flu, but is much more contagious and can have some respiratory challenges. It is most dangerous to the elderly 70+ population. It was first identified in China in January of 2020 and turned their world upside down. Then in late February, early March a few cases were identified in the US, but nobody thought too much of it–at least from my perspective. As the days rolled on, more and more cases were popping up–with the first one in Minnesota in early March. Queue some initial discussion and lots of warnings about washing your hands, not touching your face etc…which basically cleared out hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes from stores. Don’t travel if you don’t have to etc…But for the most part, business was as normal.

Then, on the day we flew home from Florida (March 11), things started to get crazy. This was identified as a pandemic–which is a world-wide crisis (verses just a regional one). The cases in Minnesota grew. Each day hour things got a little crazier. Universities started canceling in-person classes and going to virtual only. Major sporting events were canceled (NBA, NHL, MLB, March Madness) DisneyWorld closed (we barely squeaked that one in!) and concerts and conferences were canceled.

On Thursday, my work declared that Tuesday, the 17th, would be a mandatory work from home day to test things out, if we needed to go that direction.

On Friday, March 13th, Lexi came home with a folder of school work to do, in the event that schools close. On my way home from work, I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things since our house was empty from vacation. There was very little pasta and pretty much no bread in the stores.

Things kept getting crazier and crazier. The phrase ‘social-distancing’ was introduced, which means they don’t want people within 6 feet of each other and shouldn’t be in groups larger than 25-50 people. With the West Coast schools closing, I had a gut feeling of where things were going, so I headed to Costco 45 min before it opened on Sunday, thinking it might open early and sure enough it did. Outside of chicken and organic ground beef, they had pretty much everything in stock. Toilet paper, paper towels, milk, bread etc…(these items had become scare over the last few days). While there, Auntie Shelia texted saying the Minnesota Governor closed public schools for two weeks, so I added a few more things to the over-flowing cart to make sure we were stocked up. Then, I headed over to Target. The medicine isle was completely empty, no bread, very little pasta and canned goods. I stocked up the best I could, even getting Easter treats in case the stores closed.

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On Monday, I went into work for a video meeting, got my monitor, other supplies and then headed home. I stopped by school to pick up a packet of work for William and we began our time at home, together.

To further explain some of these drastic measures.

This virus is extremely contagious and has a 2% mortality rate, officials are worried terrified if we don’t take these measures and slow the rate down that people interact with one another and therefore, spread this virus, that too many people will get sick all at the same time and we won’t have enough medical staff, beds, or equipment to take care of people. This exact scenario is happening in Italy, Spain and other European countries. Medical officials are literally having to choose who lives and who dies. It is terrible. Medical and government officials are trying to prevent that from happening here. The challenge is, everyone has an opinion. Many of these people are credentialed or at least sound like it and it is really hard to decipher what is going on. You can find a credentialed person to support whatever you want, which makes it challenging to know what the right thing to do is.

Stay tuned for our weekly survival update.

Love,

Mama

 

family vacations, florida, Kate, Lexi, William

Panama City 2020

Lexi, Badger and Kate,

Following our whirlwind trip to DisneyWorld that you can read about here, here, here and here, we rented an car to begin phase 2 of our vacation: visiting Grammy and Papa in Panama City Beach.

Daddy took an Uber to the car rental location on Thursday morning and we got upgraded to a TaHoe (we had rented a mini van) and barely squeezed our 2 strollers and luggage in, even though we didn’t bring a lot of stuff.

The ride was about 5 – 6 hours from Orlando to PBC and I was thinking it was going to be pretty brutal. But you guys were awesome and needed very little screen time. You actually didn’t get out of the car for the entire trip. I can’t believe that nobody had to go to the bathroom.

Upon arrival, Papa was of course downstairs waving both arms high up in the air to welcome all of us. We headed up to their beautiful wrap condo and got settled in and shared all sorts of fun stories about Disney.

Overall, this part of the trip was just about relaxing and enjoying the sunshine, the beach, the pool and the golf course. Daddy golfed everyday, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Four rounds at Signal Hills and one round at Windswept dunes. I joined him for 2 1/2 rounds.

William came down with some kind of little bug that had him feeling a warm, pretty tired and just not himself. After about two days of being under the weather, he woke up and complained of not being able to walk, which went on for about 2-3 hours. We were about to head to the Emergency room and he started walking, but had a very funny wobble, almost as if we was trying to walk while sitting on a pole. Dr. Google didn’t have good things to suggest on what this could mean, so around 3:00 we headed to urgent care. The first one we went to wasn’t opened (it was a Sunday) and the second one sent us straight to the ER; which was not a good few hours for your worry-wart mama. After about 2-3 hours they, William started feeling better and even ran down the hallway–so we headed home, un-diagnosed and he has been fine ever since. Very great full it wasn’t something serious and now, looking back makes me wonder if it wasn’t related to corona virus.

Other highlights of the trip were lots of time playing with second cousins Ruby and Pearl, who were just down the hallway from us, Survivor-type challenges on the beach, jumping the waves, feeling the warm sunshine, playing cards, mini-golfing, swimming, sunsets and spending lots of good quality time with Grammy and Papa.

After 5 wonderful days, our week and a half vacation was coming to an end. We left Wednesday morning at 6:00 in the morning, headed to Atlanta and then back to MSP around 1:30 in the afternoon. By this time, things with Covid-19 were just starting to get interesting. My trip to CA had gotten canceled while and most business travel was canceled. The airports were busy, but we were much more cautious than normal about wiping things down, using hand sanitizer.

DisneyWorld, family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

Disney World Day 1

We are here! It was VERY touch-and-go leading up to this moment. All 5 of us had influenza within the last 7 days and I wasn’t sure we were going to make it and were very close to canceling but we are here in the warm sunshine and it is divine!

Our flight took off around 6:30 pm and landed around 10:30. Flight was smooth and so nice to have a direct flight. Fun fact, we flew on leap day, so Sun Country was selling beer for $2.29, which is a steal anywhere but even more so on a flight. So Daddy and I each enjoyed a Fulton.

By the time we got to the our bags, rode the Magical Express and arrived at Pop Century (our hotel for the next 3 day), it was past midnight (Magical Express is the bus that takes you from the airport to your hotel). Badgie and Kate both feel asleep on the Magical Express and Lexi was pretty tired, so getting off the bus and then getting all of our things to get to our room was a little challenging, but we made it, got the three of you into a bed and then I unpacked and got us situated a bit.

Kate was the final one to get sick and although she was fever free, she still didn’t feel good. She had a rough night of sleeping and was up whining for mama several times, but thankfully didn’t wake Lexi and William up.

This morning, Kate, William and I explored the hotel grounds a bit. We checked out the SkyLiner, the cafeteria and got our drinking mugs. Around 9:15 or so,  we all walked over to the SkyLiner to head over to the Boardwalk for the Bon Voyage Breakfast with Rapunzel, Flynn Ryder, Ariel and Prince Eric. The SkyLiner is a gondola type system that connects a few hotels to Epcot and HollyWood Studios. It just opened in September and it is awesome and they need it at every hotel and park. It is so fast, comfortable and easy to ride. No waiting in lines, it was just slick! We took it right to Epcot, and walked over to the Boardwalk for our reservation at 10:15.

We had to wait a bit at the restaurant, but had a wonderful breakfast and met several characters we hadn’t seen before. This is one of the few character dining options that isn’t a buffet. The characters walk around one-by-one to each of the tables and really play the characters. Ariel even commented that Kate must have done her hair with a dingle-hopper that morning as it was a bit all over the place. They even have a little parade for the kids to dance around the restaurant. Kate was a total grouch the whole time because she still wasn’t feeling well, but Lexi and William loved it.

After that, we walked around the lake to check out the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts before heading back on the SkyLiner. We checked out the Art of Animation hotel before heading back to Pop. The Art of Animation and Pop Century are right across the pond from each other. The theming at Art of Animations is fantastic and is really geared towards young families with decor from The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Cars. The kids loved looking at the scotches from the Movies and the detail the use to make it feel like you are in the movie.

Kate and Daddy stayed back in the room and napped (or at least attempted to) while Lexi, William and I went swimming in the bowling pool. The weather was a little cooler (70 degrees), but the kids had lots of fun diving for rings and just playing around in the water.

Around 4:00 we hopped on a bus to Disney Springs for our dinner reservation at 5:15. Disney Springs is a big shopping and restaurant area. The whole restaurant was themed in different kinds of dinosaurs figures and environments. We ate in the cave and you guys thought it was pretty cool. This was Lexi’s favorite food Lexi ate while in Disney as she loved the spaghetti. Of course, we had to stop in the Lego store and what I imagine is the worlds largest Disney store. It was so big I just couldn’t get over it.

We hit the sack around 8:00 knowing we had an early and big day following.

Love,

Mama

Lexi

Lexi’s First Day of 1st Grade

Lexi,

It is amazing how different one can feel about relatively the same experience a year apart. This time last year, everyone was a ball of emotions: excited, nervous, emotional. This year, it felt like we have been through this a bazillion times already.

We tried to keep plans on Sunday and Monday pretty minimal so we could get the house back in order and start the year off on a good and organized note. My to-do list is always longer than what is reasonable but we did get many things done.

On Monday evening, we continued our tradition of ‘last day of summer ice cream’ at the ice cream factory. Over the summer you have branched out a bit and explored some new flavors: Lexi–Birthday Cake, William–After Dinner Mint, Kate–Watermelon Sherbet.

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We took baths, read books and were all in bed by 8:30, which is pretty remarkable considering your summer bedtime was often 10:00. Daddy made you a super awesome sign describing all things Lexi 🙂

The morning went fairly smooth. Lexi requested cinnamon rolls for breakfast and ate 3 and was requesting more!

After a few quick pics, we hopped into the Van, headed over to school to get there just as the bell was ringing.

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Lexi, you are going to have an amazing year. I’m so excited to watch your grow, learn and continue to mature into a smart 7-year-old/2nd grader over these next few years.

Love,

Mom

Kate, Lexi, William

Summer Dreams

Tonight was one of those nights that will be impressed into my memory forever. I would call it a top 10 weather day. It was sunny and about 80 degrees with no humidity or wind. It was perfect. Daddy grilled while you three kiddos rode bikes up and down the sidewalk and played on the swing set. There were lots of squeals and giggles and almost no arguing, whining or tattling.

Lexi optimistically suggested going to the Ice Cream Factory for dessert and requested we ride bikes. Initially, the plan was to have William ride in the trailer with Kate, but he insisted on riding his green bike. We gave it a go, but figured he would get tired and need to ride in the trailer and throw his bike on it.

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Oats, you rocked it. Your little legs were petaling a million times a minute but you rode all the way there AND back!

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You each enjoyed your ice cream and even switched it up from the usual:

  • Lexi: Birthday Cake
  • William: Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Kate: Watermelon Sherbet

So grateful for this weather, these memories and most importantly these sweet peeps that make us a family

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Love,

Mama