In March, there were rumors of something called the “Corona Virus”.  It was really bad in China, and moved on to several different places.  Italy was struck extremely hard, and killed a ton of people, so Italy enforced a “quarantine” for all of its citizens — where they had to stay in their homes, without leaving for anything but essential outings.  A few other countries followed, and we knew that the United States would soon follow, as our numbers were climbing rapidly with infected people.  New York was the main offender of cases, but California was in the third in highest reported cases in the U.S.  So like we predicted, the United States started to take action.  California, in particular, shut down schools and eventually closed all non-essential businesses (such as nail/hair salons, dine-in restaurants, malls, etc.).  Hospitals, drug stores, and grocery stores stayed open — but everyone was very careful to only venture out when the time called.  Corona AKA Covid 19 was especially brutal to elderly people , and those who have any sort of pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable.  That being said, we as a family were particularly concerned for Nonnie, Papa, Great Grandma, and Bryan.  We as a family were diligent in staying home, and only venturing out with hand sanitizer and face masks in tow.  We spent three months like this.  It may not seem rough (and in comparison to many other things, it wasn’t), but I would not classify it as easy either.  In the blink of an eye, I personally became a teacher to four children, a cook of three meals a day, a task-master to keep everything tidy, a camp counselor to keep the house fun and light, the church leader, the incentivizer on many fronts, and the mom who had four kids who wanted to live life normally.  It was just a HUGE change in the blink of an eye.  Everything was actually great for the first month.  I actually looked at quarantine as a gift, where I got to spend a lot of time with my family doing fun and family-oriented things. Everything was running quite nicely, with a board that gave the to-do list every morning.  The kids thrived, and were great sports considering the crazy circumstances.  But about a month in, my father unexpectantly passed away from a heart attack.  Since everything was closed, there was no funeral, or traveling to him.  Although I was grateful my dad didn’t have to suffer, it is still a huge loss.  I think my dad dying was the straw that broke the camel’s back….and quarantine just became pretty rough.  Basically…I wanted out and about, and a normal life.  Luckily Tristen’s family invited us up to a quarantine vacation in Utah…and things started to get much better just doing something “normal”.  MUCH BETTER!
And although it ended up being something I hope to never have to repeat….we actually did have some great times in Quarantine.
See for yourself:
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We puzzled.
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Played together a bunch.
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Visited important places — like Nonnie’s childhood home.
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We picked wildflowers — and when the wild Sweet Peas came up, our house smelled like heaven.
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Shout out to our fifth child Seth, who happened to be at the house when we decided to lock down for quarantine, so stayed a week!  He was awesome and helpful and a great addition!  We were sad to see him go.
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Some people got quarantined in quarantine!
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The kids learned lessons on empathy.  When they were giving Dash a hard time about “not doing anything”, I casted their arms, so they could see what it felt like to do life with one arm that couldn’t do anything — and couldn’t get wet. (They were happy when their casts came off!)
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Sometimes our casted boy defied the odds — and “only kind of got in the pool” and “took a really careful bath”!
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Our centerpiece bowl looked a little different!
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We looked like orphans.  Dash sported this same mustache for days!
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We spent more time making new things — like smoothie bowls with homemade granola.
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We also visited some of our all-time favorites…like homemade Thai pizza.
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A leprechaun stopped by, named “Nout” (Scout and Navy combined!).
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I took the opportunity to teach the kids lessons outside of the “school box”.  I taught Scout how to cut Navy’s hair.  And then Navy how to cut Pippi’s hair.  Both turned out great.
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Micah taught us how to stop bees from coming into the house by taping up the bottom of our hood.  (We ended up calling a bee man, who had to exterminate them from their second stop — our roof!)  Good thing Micah moved fast on this, because we almost had our own hive!
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We did a lot of long scooter rides and walks.
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We created challenges for the kids all the time!  This was where they had to scooter between the cones, and kick each down in one try.
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The kids also created challenges.  Pippi said they all had to stay in a tent, with NO BREAKS!  NO FOOD, BATHROOM — NOTHING!  After an hour, Pippi got out “to make it more interesting”.  Then an hour later, Dash said he had to go to the bathroom too badly!  Then …. 23 hours later, Scout and Navy were both dying, because they both had to go to the bathroom, and were both starving.  I knew about both of their struggles, but neither of them knew about the other’s struggles.  Both were holding on by a thread…but both were determined!  The prize for the winner was $30.  So Pippi went up to both of them and said, “If someone wants to get out, I will give you $25 of my own money.”  Scout yelled, “I do!” and ran his fastest to the bathroom.  When Navy finally knew what was happening, she hopped out and yelled “I WIN!” So she got $30, and Scout got $25.  And yes…Pippi did pay her portion!
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Navy mastered the Chicken and Broccoli casserole.
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She also mastered the special effects makeup.
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I counted Dash’s freckles.
It was 818 to be exact!
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The kids created the “back backyard”, where they set up swings and zip lines and hammocks in the common area.  It was actually amazing — like a kid’s dream!
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The kids slept in every day like it was their job!
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Navy and I painted a lot.  She is much more talented — but my egg (bottom) won first place.  Micah’s (not pictured) was atrocious.
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Navy found a rainbow…and we were out in nature a ton.
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Scout held a socially distanced “weapons competition” for his buddies.
It was so fun to see familiar faces, even if it was from 6 feet away!
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Micah and Pippi (and Navy) created some sweet chalk art.
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We had a quarantined Easter.
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And the Clifford girls made sure we were having fun — and dropped off sugar cookies for us to decorate.  Dash’s was repulsive!
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Dash and Pippi created another room in the house, where they went each afternoon to hang out.
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We hiked Patriot Hill, until we found two rattlesnakes on the hike — that freaked us out!
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Dash had to get his cast off at home.
He was so excited to finally get to swim!
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Pippi FINALLY earned enough money to get her desk for her classroom!  It was a much anticipated day!  And she showed us her very favorite student she has — Rocky.  She loves him because they have the same teeth.
HAHAHA
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We searched for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe.
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Navy, Dash, Scout and I challenged ourselves to ride up Stonehill without stopping to walk the bike.
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Micah turned the back room into Lazyville.
I unturned that back room, as soon as fights broke out too often.
It took about three weeks.
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When Megan was sad and stuck in Big Bear while Bryan was in the hospital during a really tough clinical trial, we made a delivery to her that was full of homemade food, magazines, and treats.  Then we slept in our car, and got up to play in the fresh snow.
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We learned the art of making bagels.
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My kids got quite the education on cleaning.
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The tide pools were amazing while the beaches were still open.
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Toys that haven’t come out in a while, came back into popularity.
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The kids were assigned to make a comic book by their amazing teacher!
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Navy decided that four straws was better than four cups!
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Micah tried teaching bubble blowing to Pips.
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My personal favorite part of Quarantine, was “deliveries”.
We would drive by people’s houses and show them some love with treats or signs.
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We took rainy walks — or rainy scooter rides with Dash in his undies and Pippi in her robe!
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We marked a few more off on our scripture chart.
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We visited the Brockbanks on Sundays for home church.  Then got treated to milkshakes — B’s specialty!
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Scout went out in the mornings to hunt and check his animal traps for bunnies!  He eventually got one!!
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Dash found the only pet we will ever let him have — a dead bird.  He and Pippi held a proper burial for the poor thing.
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Our local beaches were having red tide, so we went to check out the most amazing bio-luminescent waves at night!  It was so cool!
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Bry and Meegs stopped by our house for a front yard chat, while Pippi hosted them like a champ.
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Micah made us go get the free lunch from our school district.  It was repulsive!  So guess who was trying to eat it all before I chucked it?
Micah!
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I cleaned out the garages with Micah and came across some gems — like this!
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Scout learned all about OfferUp, and cashed in $300 when he sold this 10 year old bike!
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Pippi learned how to ride the electric scooter — and made sure she has the great outfit to go with it!
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Scout became a teenager!
The kids have been on sugar deal, so Navy and I both made him a watermelon cake!  Navy also created the greatest “fair” for him on his birthday.  It was so creative and sweet!  And Scout got everything his heart desired — especially some cash from Nonnie!  And Dash — who gave Scout a bunch of his own money!  It was darling!
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Scout got to have a PG-13 movie night with his buddies who were socially distanced.
It was great — especially when Royal showed up with this amazing get up he created for Scout!
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The kids wrote and missed their cousins terrible!
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Pippi was over our household a few times, and resorted to her homemade “shanty”.
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Dash caught his first butterfly!
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Scout FaceTimed Paul…his buddy from school who is DARLING!
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I got creative with cleaning.  I would snap a picture of something in the room that had to be cleaned up, and whomever cleaned that item at the end of the job got a reward — extra minutes before bed, a couple bucks, first pick of a television show, etc.
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As you can tell, quarantine was not all bad.  There were plenty of great days — and even more great moments.  At first I saw it as a gift.  But by the end, I was over it…
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…because when face masks are your new normal….is anything really all that normal?