Covid-19, Kate, Lexi, William

Covid-19 Week 3

My three munchkins,

Week 1 of distance learning in the books! I mentioned this last week, but the Governor officially closed schools through May 4th, which means teachers and schools are figuring out how to teach kids at home over the next 4 weeks, but likely through the end of the year.

This really only applies to Lexi as Pre-K has paused for William. On Sunday, Miss. Schwartz sent out a guide for the week of the things you will be doing and then each morning uploads the daily assignments into SeeSaw. She records videos of herself providing the instruction or teaching the lesson and then gives you an assignment to do. SeeSaw allows you to write (handwrite or type), draw pictures, upload photos, and even record yourself asking a question as a way to interact with Miss Schwartz. We’re also using a site called class-kick for Math and BenchMark for reading.

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Monday was rough. The SeeSaw app was overloaded with many of the schools using it, I didn’t know the difference between any of these sites or understand the direction to help Lexi know what she was supposed to do. Things took a really long time. She spent over 2 hours doing math problems!

Fortunately, each day got a little easier and by Thursday we were done with assignments a little after lunch time. We’re also learning what works and what doesn’t work. It is really hard to have all three of you working and doing assignments in the same room together. You each need direction and get distracted by each other pretty quickly. Half way through Wednesday, Lexi came into our room and sat at my desk to get some of her work done. I let her listen to some music and it really helped her focus and get through her work faster. It also helped that I was providing her the direction for her assignments verses Daddy. It’s not that Daddy wasn’t being a good teacher, but Daddy hadn’t been going through all of the different apps and schedules and reading all of the emails to figure out what was going on, where I had. So I didn’t have to try and teach daddy who then needed to teach Lexi.

In fact, Daddy has been a great teacher to William. Last week, you were working on the letter ‘T” and the number 9. This week, you were working on the letter ‘R’ and learned almost all of the tricky-teen numbers and is pretty close to having Daddy’s phone number memorized. William, you are LOVING Sampson School. You are eager to learn each day and never complains about your ‘assignments’ for the day and are turning into quite the little artist.

Kate, you are the sweetest tornado you could ever meet. You are constantly snuggling, giving hugs, kisses and tells me ‘I love you mommy’ BUT turns into tornado mode in a flash as she climbs onto the counter and sneaks food, demands to get her way, throws some epic tantrums and can get pretty aggressive (hitting, biting) your two big siblings.

Overall, the week was decent. We had some nice weather that allowed us to get outside. Grammy came over to play with pipe-cleaners with you. She read some stories and you have a snack outside (you all sat in lawn chairs outside at a socially acceptable distance). You kids don’t seem to mind or even notice that you’re not really going anywhere or seeing people and are perfectly content playing at home with each other. There have been very few times where I hear you complain about being ‘bored’. Wednesday was April 1st, which was also the first day of the 30-Day Lego Challenge. Day 1 was build an amusement park.

Lexi definitely gets what’s going on. You have used the analogy of the virus spreading, like the way ink does on paper when you hold it down. The Dot keeps getting bigger and bigger and that is like more and more people getting the virus. But overall, you seem pretty unfazed about the whole thing.

For me, things got a little better at work. It wasn’t as crazy as the last two weeks have been and am learning how to be more productive. Our stores continue to stay closed and we are paying our retail employees another two weeks, but after that we’ll see what happens. There were also some hints about some things changing at corporate temporarily to help manage cash flow, so praying that mine and my team’s jobs won’t be impacted.

Similar to Mom, Dad is adjusting to everyone being home. He had gotten into a good rhythm of figuring out how to get his work done while Lexi and William were at school/ in the evenings and now he has to get everything done at night–which is a lot harder and mentally taxing. But hopefully with Mom teaching Lexi and Dad teaching William that will reduce some of the chaos and noise and make things a little more manageable

Next week is officially ‘spring break’ so we’re switching back into Sampson school for the week. Look forward to another riveting update of Covid-19 Week 4.

Love,

Mama

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

 

William

William’s First Day of Pre-K Preschool

Dear Oats,

As we were getting ready to drop you off this morning, I expected tears, nervous and you to be very clingy to my legs. You shocked us and were confident, at ease and seemed like you had done this many times. You found your locker, put your backpack in and had to remind you to give us a hug goodbye–you just went straight in and started to find some toys to play with.

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You switched schools this year from Bright Beginnings to St. Vincent’s. You are there all day–so from 7:30 – 1:30, the same time that Lexi is there, which makes it one less drop off and pick up for Daddy. Originally, we had signed you up to just go Tuesday and Thursday but felt that you could really benefit from another day of exposure to really help you learn your letters, numbers and exposure to more social elements with kids. Since you are there all day, you eat breakfast, lunch and take a little nap too.

Prior to your first day, we did have a little orientation day where Mom and Dad had a little meeting with Mrs. Winn, your teacher and you got to learn about the classroom and all the fun toys and activities for you.

The 6:30 am wake up call was a bit of a shock for you. You groaned and pulled your blankets over your head.

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After reminding you of your breakfast of choice, pigs in a blanket–you hopped down the stairs cheerfully. Like most mornings, it was chaos, getting out the door. Similar to Lexi, Daddy made you this awesome sign about all things William. We snapped a bunch of pictures and headed to drop off.

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After you got home, you were so excited about your day. You proudly told us you had lots of fun and were excited to go back.

I am excited to see how much you have grown and how much more confident you’ve become and all that you are going to learn this year. Have a great last year of preschool buddy cause next year, its Kindergarten!

Love,

Mama

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

family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2019 Florida Vacation–Day 2 Animal Kingdom

Today started bright and early for all of us. Daddy and I woke up around 5:30 am to get ready, and pack the car before we woke you kiddos up around 6. Daddy brought all of our stuff to the car, we quickly got changed and headed down to get in the bus line around 6:30 am. The first bus was supposed to start to pick up people around 7, but it arrived around 6:45 and we arrived to Animal Kingdom around 7.

While waiting in line for the part to open (@8), we learned what we are doing is called gate crashing :). Around 7:30, they opened the gates and people RAN in a mad dash for Flight of Passage. Never have I seen so many adults running towards something that wasn’t an organized race. If you would have been watching from a drone, you would have thought they put a million dollars out and people were racing to get to it first. We got to the ride (in a much slower but still walking in a fast manner) and weaved our way through the line. Daddy, Lexi, Papa and Mama went on the ride while Grammy hung back with William and Kate. World of Avatar (where the ride is located) is AMAZING! There are beautiful plants everywhere, huge unexplainable boulders that appear to be floating in the air. Waterfalls all over the place.

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I wish we weren’t rushing to get on the ride so we could have observed it more. The ride itself was pretty cool. You were strapped into something to made it feel like you were riding a horse-like-creature. You put on glasses and watched a screen as you dove through forests and jungles and saw whales jumping before your eyes. They created a full sensory experience changing the sents as you went throughout the ride, sprayed water in your face or felt the mist and humidity of the jungle. Lexi was pretty nervous throughout the ride and screamed a couple times but I was proud of her for giving it a try.

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Following this ride, we high-tailed it up to the Kilimanjaro Safari to see the animals while they were still active. We saw lots of giraffes, white rhinos, elephants, gazelles, hippos, cheetas, crocodiles, antelope, kudo, ankole-watusi and much more. Highlight of this was having a giraffe pass our truck about 6 feet away.

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Once this was over, it was about 9:00, when the park opened to the public and became a little busier. We were all pretty hungry as we hadn’t eaten any breakfast. Unfortunately, that was the same thing on everyone else’s mind as all breakfast places were packed. We explored Gorilla Falls and saw lots of birds, fish and gorillas and went to find food.

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On our way to find food, we passed the bug’s life showing in the Tree of Life and decied to watch this as there wasn’t a line. I forgot how cool the tree of life is and all the animals that are carved into it all the way through the roots and the base of the trunk that we walked passed on our way into the ride.

Initially, the 3D show was a big hit with William and Lexi. They thought it was very funny. Kate was half laughing/half crying the entire show. Then, the spider appeard from the ceiling and scared the daylight out of William and Kate. Both were screaming (along with every other small child). I was about to take them out of the show when it ended.

It was about 10:30 around this time. We got a quick bite to eat and saw this cool looking bird.

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Then made our way to Dino land. First, we went to meet Scrouge McDuck (a rare character sighting).

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Then William went to play in the Dino Park and Lexi went to meet Daisy Duck–which was the only character we didn’t meet in Disneyland, so she was pretty excited.

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Lexi then joined William at the park and they had so much fun exploring, climbing up all the ropes and exploring the hidden slides, while Kate slept

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We then made our way to the triceritops ride–which was also a big hit. We grabbed some lunch (ordered all of our food on the app–so convienent to not have to wait in lines!) before heading over to the Dinosaur ride. I thought this was going to be a quite leisurly ride like A Small World. I was very wrong. It was scary and frightening and never have I ever seen William so scared in his life. He was screaming like he was about to be eaten by a dinosaur. Bill pulled him into his chest so he wouldn’t see anything and hopefully not have nightmares. #MomFail

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I did redeem myself by finding Pluto upon exisiting the ride and William thought he was pretty silly.

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After getting some pictures with Pluto we wandered around a little bit before heading to the 2:30 show of Finding Nemo. The kids thought it was OK, but weren’t as excited about it as they were about Frozen in Disneyland.

After the show, I had promised the Birthday Boy an icecream treat and there was no way he was forgetting about it.

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Next, we headed over to the area of India to see some Tigers and other Indian animals. Kate feel asleep again while we walked. While exploring one of the bird zones, I said, Oats–look at that bird right there (about 3 feet away) to which he screamed like a little girl and made me giggle a little.

We had about an hour to kill before our fastpass on the rollarcoster Mt. Everest was available and the line to meet Mickey and Minnie wasn’t too long. To our advantage–we were able to somehow use a fastpass and get to the front of the line. Lexi and William were pretty excited to meet Mickey and Minnie together and in their jungle attire.

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After that, we headed over to redeem our fastpasses for Everest. Originally, I told Lexi that I thought this was too scary for her but she was insistant upon going. It was one of the craziest rollar coasters I have ever been on. (no spoiler alerts here). While going down one of the big drops, I the force of gravity had gotten Lexi and sucked her to the outside of her seat. I pulled her back in but I think that was a little too much for her. She said she liked it and it was fun, but didn’t want to go again. So Daddy and I used the rider switches to go one more time.

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By this time, it was around 5:30ish and everyone was spent. We made a quick pit-stop in the store to look at souviners before heading to the bus.

Upon our arrival back to the hotel, we packed up the cars and began our 6.5 hour drive back to PCB. In hindsight, we should have stayed another night to enjoy the hotel a bit more, swim etc… but we all made it back to the condo by 1:30 am or so to begin our next phase of vacation.

Love,

Mama