• Uncategorized

    Days 3-5

    On Thursday I came down with a bug that Rev G had likely brought home from a trip to the supermarket several days earlier.

    Rev G seldom gets sick, and when he does, he goes into this exasperating ‘deer-in-headlights/not really with the programme’ mode. He doesn’t seem sick as he’s not feverish or coughing or anything of the sort. He just sits there complaining about being tired and being unable to think. I always get irritated by this behaviour.

    What always happens next, is that I come down with it and get it badly. We then realise that Rev G wasn’t just being vacuous mess, he was actually sick.

    After this happening for what feels like the hundredth time in our marriage, we have come to an accord. The minute he starts acting like a brainless ditz, I am sending him off to bed!

    Anyway, this time I came down with a bug that left me a bit sniffly, a bit chesty and extremely tired. We don’t think it’s the ‘rona, but Rev G gets himself tested anyway. The Healthline staff don’t think it’s COVID-19, neither do the medical centre staff, and nor do the testing staff. But they are testing anyone with even one of the symptoms of COVID-19. It is better to be safe than sorry. We should hear the results on Monday.

    Given that we have not had close contact with anyone outside our bubble for six weeks, know no one who is a confirmed case, plus there are zero cases of community transmission currently in Wellington, the chances are this is just a typical winter bug.

    By Saturday I had recovered enough to have a job interview via Zoom, for a part-time role at one of our local churches. I’m quite excited about the role – a lot of it involves writing and using social media, so it is right up my alley. I will hear soon if I’ve been successful or not.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 32

    Despite yesterday’s walk up a steep hill, my knee is none the worse for wear. In fact, I am able to walk on it today with very little pain, hooray! I won’t dance for joy in case that jinxes it, but I certainly am relieved to see improvement.

    Online church is well attended. We’ve been getting different families to videos themselves doing the actions to some of the children’s songs, with adorable results. It brings a smile to all.

    I have a quick chat with my cousin who is a social worker at a hospital. She says her work was initially crazy, dropping off groceries and other things to her vulnerable clients (she works with the elderly). Work is less busy now as they are getting few referrals from GPs. No one wants to go to the doctor right now.

    She is part of the COVID-19 response team at the hospital, donning PPE ech day. She is in good spirits – they have not been overrun thanks to our swift lockdown.

    I wonder how this pandemic will change us. Will we see any lasting benefits or will we quickly return to ‘normal’? Will our generation be like my grandmother’s, who went through the Great Depression? When she died, we found used wrapping paper, countless rubber bands and string, a huge stash of plastic bags. All remnants of a generation who never let anything go to waste.

    In the future will we have stashes of pantry staples, hand sanitiser and face masks in case of another pandemic? I expect for many of us the answer will be yes.

    Miss E wonders when she can go back to school. She is desperate for some time away from her brother, so Rev G and I plan to take each child out for some one-on-one time once we move to level three as our recreation options will open up a bit more.

    Tonight is Master D’s turn to run family night. We watch both Frozen movies. Fortunately for me, watching movies never gets old. But I worry about Master D, he is rather listless. Lockdown has been hard for him, and he is not himself. The lack of stimulation from other kids is affecting him, and I hope we can get back to school in a couple of weeks.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 31

    An early start for the day, getting up for the ANZAC dawn service. I have seldom missed it over the course of my life, even attending them when I lived in London.

    A ‘Stand at your Letterbox at Dawn’ campaign was launched by the Returned Services Association, and many of our neigbours have decorated their front yards and fences with poppies.

    At 6am the service begins. There are 6 people out on our street, not a great number as our street is quite long, but I see lights on in other houses and I suspect many people are listening on their radios inside.

    The day is cool and windy, but fine. We head to a nearby reserve that I’ve read about but never visited before. Online I am told it has a family friendly circular track. It is a stunning walk.

    The path leads up through bush, going up hill for about 30 minutes, and you are rewarded by expansive views of Wellington and the harbour.

    We spend over an hour in the bush; it is just what I needed. The walk is too steep for my knee right now, but I pushed myself and am still very glad we went. I will wait a bit longer before attempting it again, I did spend several sections of the walk having to hobble around like I was 80.

    Miss E and Master D are in their element, flitting about the bush like sprites. They find cicada casings, they claim a hollowed out section of bank as their ‘palace’, they climb trees and make up games.

    I catch up with family online and they seem in good spirits today. Most of my parents’ street turned up for the Dawn Service after my mother made everyone a poppy invitation.

    By the end of the day, the wheels fall off. I have just noticed that Master D has scratched something in the house quite badly – which is bad because we are renting, and bad because, well, we don’t use scissors to deface property ever.

    He goes to bed in disgrace. Miss E gets upset because I am cross that she watched her brother do it and said nothing. She too goes off to bed.

    Rev G’s sermon has vanished and he cannot find it on his computer anywhere, so he spends much of the day rewriting it. It is not for nought, he thinks the new version is better anyway.

    I spend my time doing exciting things like online grocery shopping and cleaning and perusing Pinterest for craft ideas using the limited resources we have. I got rid of loads of craft stuff before we moved – now I wish I had things like scrap pieces of fabric and embroidery floss. I rarely get remorse about things I’ve cleaned out, but this year, boy, so many things would have made a difference to my lockdown experience if I’d hung onto them!

    Hindsight huh.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 30

    Are you feeling this way too? Perhaps sans hat and vintage case.
    Image via Pexels

    It is hard to get going this morning.

    Despite attending their morning school zoom call, and knowing their work assignments for the day, the kids don’t do any schoolwork. Today is maths day, and they are supposed to be solidifying their work on the water cycle by completing tasks on their daily walk.

    Only a few feet down the road the children dissolve into squabbling, so they are turned around and taken back home. Master D continues to be beyond tired, with red eyes and dark circles under them. Instead of schoolwork, the children play for most of it, and they make crafts. Seriously, we will need another room for all of the damn crafts. We end the day watch curled up on the couch watching Trolls: World Tour (honestly, what a load of cr@p that is, don’t bother).

    Rev G and I talk about how tired we are, and how everyone with kids is saying their kids are going nuts this week. Week Four has definitely been the hardest. We wonder why people aren’t talking about it. Are people afraid of being seen as weak? Afraid of being seen as disloyal?

    Rev G posts on Facebook about the exhaustion he is feeling, and the post blows up with others chiming in to say they are feeling the same way. A friend even calls up, concerned for Rev G! A mutual friend, emboldened by Rev G’s post, does something similar on her own page, and a very quickly someone responds with how grateful he is to see anyone acknowledge that lockdown is hard.

    I’d encourage you readers, to do the same. It’s okay to talk about it.

    Feeling exhausted during the time of pandemic is totally normal.

    There are many reasons for the exhaustion we are all feeling, even if not much has changed for you (you haven’t lost your job, or gotten sick or lost a loved one):

    *routines aren’t quite the same and this can really throw people

    *we’ve had to adapt to extraordinary circumstances

    *many people have faced job or food insecurity for the first time in their lives

    *we are dealing with a dangerous situation that changes on a daily basis

    *we are bombarded daily with negative messages

    *many of us aren’t getting outside like we would for daily commutes to work which means less sunlight

    *we’re not getting the mental stimulation from the people we interact with at work or when out and about…the list goes on.

    My main problem at the moment is overwhelm from dealing with ratty children all day, every day, while feeling bored out of my skull because many the things I love to do aren’t available right now. I’m choosing to deal with it through prayer, listening to my favourite Christian radio station (I love Radio Rhema, nothing but encouragement on there throughout this pandemic!), reading light entertainment, exercising daily, trying a new recipe or doing a crossword, spending as much time outside as possible, and watching murder mysteries (can you tell my mind likes puzzles?).

    I hope to have some brain power to do some crafts as the weeks go on, but right now I just don’t. I think this is because crafts aren’t my usual way of relaxing and winding down. I’ve noticed my knitting friends are knitting up a storm as their way of coping because it’s what they do to pass the time anyway. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t taken up knitting, or Spanish, or macrame or boat building. It’s okay to focus only on getting sleep, good food and sunlight.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 27

    I have a dreadful night’s sleep. No particular reason. I drag myself to my prayer meeting. I hope I am not asked to pray out loud because I can barely string a sentence together. It takes me a very long time to wake up properly.

    School is tricky today as Master D just refuses to do it. He’s over it. He is a sensation-seeker, and Zoom calls just don’t cut it. He gets into his art assignment which is based on an Eric Carle book, and he does some printing, but that’s it. He has lots of tantrums throughout the day. He is tired, and I don’t push him to do any of his schoolwork.

    The kids go for a scooter, and then help me with weeding the garden. It is a gorgeous day, warm and still. I say a prayer of thanks for this unseasonable weather we are continuing to have. Once we are back in Level One, it can rain all it likes! I promise not to complain. These sunny days make parenting in lockdown so much easier.

    Master D’s day is made when he receives some mail from his friend Z. They both love Thunderbirds are Go! Z’s dad has made a poster with Z and Master D’s faces photoshopped onto two of the Thunderbirds – so funny.

    Miss E has a good day. She does all her work, and then some – making art where ever she goes. She is keen to get back to school; she had settled in well to her new school and has made several friends.

    I catch up with my MiL. She would like to increase her ‘bubble’ in Level Three, but all of her besties have other people in their bubbles. The irony that we moved back to the North Island to be closer to our parents is not lost one me. They are so close, yet so far away.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 26

    We get woken up by Master D at 6:20am. Rev G and I are trying to ensure we practice good self care, so Rev G goes for a walk up the very steep hill/reverse at the end of our street. I shower and am fully dressed and ready for my prayer meeting at 7am – usually we attend in our PJs. Master D does his morning jobs.

    Schooling is frustrating today. The app/website the school uses has different notifications for the app versus the website. I try to avoid downloading apps onto my phone if I don’t absolutely need them, but it means I don’t get the message about the day’s schoolwork.

    Fortunately we have some worksheets left over from our ‘holiday’ work, that I found on Pinterest. This sheet has the children rolling a dice to create monsters. They love it, and produce some crazy creations.

    There are online petitions from teachers begging the government to keep children at home during stage 3. I don’t blame them. I think the government will be damned if they do move us to stage 3 and damned if they don’t.

    I do Tai Chi; it is my daily replacement for not being able to go out for walks, as my knee is still not up for a walk. I was gratified to read recently a Harvard study on the benefits of Tai Chi, as the movements engage your core.

    I spend an hour on the phone catching up with a friend. She is in a similar ‘boat’ to me – at home with three boys. They had colds in March, and they have all been at home as long as Miss E and I. We laugh about all the ‘odd’ things we are letting our children do: play on devices, watch lots of TV, eat 50 million snacks. My friend wonders how long it will take to undo this. She is normally very strict about device time, sugar, too much TV etc but as she says, we are in strange times indeed, and anything goes if it makes for a ‘happy bubble’.

    My children have a Zoom catch up with one of the teenagers from church. She is one of the nicest young people I have ever met, and I’m so grateful for the love and patience and time she gives to my kids, who she has only known for a few months. C is a dancer, like at a very serious level, and she and the kids spend time dancing together but apart.

    Dancing with C

    We listen to the government announcement. It is as we expect, we will move to level three in a week’s time. Many people are angry, but from my armchair expert’s opinion (meaning I know nothing), I think it is a good decision as the infection rate is now extremely low and there has only been a handful of community-spread cases in NZ throughout this whole time. Some of New Zealand’s (and indeed, the world’s) best minds have been crunching the numbers. I trust them. Unfortunately the government must now handle the perception of risk, and that is a tricky beast.

    We are fortunate that we are able to keep on homeschooling during level three. I’m looking forward to going to the beach – there is one not far away, but too far for us to venture out to during level four as we need the car to get there. My brother will join my parent’s bubble, and my MiL will join bubbles with a friend. She lives alone and is desperate for a hug.

    I’m grateful that New Zealand moved swiftly and early to respond to the virus. We will be able to get to normality faster than countries that were slow to lock down. I feel for my friends in America, the end is not in sight there yet.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 25

    I get a good night’s rest. I am still suffering from the effects of gluten, but it lessens as the day goes on.

    I can only liken it to an LED bulb that gets brighter and brighter as time goes on. In the morning I am forcing myself to move and shower and parent, but by mid-afternoon I have vacuumed the house and tidied up and prepared the veggies for tonight’s dinner.

    We have online church. Rev G puts an incredible amount of time and effort into those 40 or 50 minutes each Sunday. Despite being an IT genius, every Sunday since we’ve moved online something invariably goes wrong at some point with the technology. We are used to it; no one demands perfection. I notice the number of attendees is regular (and high for the church) – they too, need this point of connection and worship.

    In the evening I have arranged for a Netflix Party with friends, who were ‘keen’. But no one shows up. I’m not gonna lie, it made me feel really stink.

    The kids have had a normal day. I too, feel as if life is almost ‘normal’. It’s funny how quickly we can adjust. I wonder how long it will take us to stop social distancing and treating everyone we meet outside as a possible carrier of contagion.

    image credit

    I’m awaiting the government’s announcement tomorrow with baited breath. Will lockdown go on? Will we ease into stage 3? I think it would be wise to continue lockdown for another two weeks, but I am not in possession of all the facts, and I trust our leaders to make the right decision. They have been exemplary so far.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 21

    First day ‘back’ at school.

    It went ridiculously well.

    The children started off with a class Zoom call, which is equivalent to herding cats, but the teacher managed it. The children were set work. Because it’s Montessori, and is a mixed age class (5-8 year olds), they are given the same core tasks, but depending on ability, the tasks get harder.

    Master D was given the task of creating a picture of what he’d been up to during the school holidays, so naturally he drew a picture of himself and Pikachu rescuing a mummy and baby crocodile.

    Miss E also had to do the same assignment, but also had to write about it. She did that in five seconds, and then got on with what she really wanted to do: composing a poem about Easter. Here it is.


    Easter is near

    so do a dance

    because the Easter bunny

    is near.

    And finally Easter is here

    You walk past a bush

    and you realise

    an Easter Egg is there!

    Brilliant stuff.

    The children are surprisingly good about doing schoolwork, and only Master D complains. “I don’t want to do schoolwork!”, he whines, before settling down to actually do his schoolwork for 40 minutes with little input from me.

    They had to do some printing, and we had a good look at the ‘virtual shelves’ created by their teacher, for ideas of what to explore next.

    The Government has created a home school TV network, with some seriously great content and fantastic presenters. Suzy Cato, Karen O’Leary, Nathan Wallis. So cool. Despite saying it is on demand, it isn’t, only the live stream. Rev G works out a way to record it as most of the shows (covering a range of topics, like literacy, history, Te Reo Maori, art, P.E. etc) aimed at younger children are on during the time we do school work.

    TVNZ, if you had shows of this calibre on during ‘normal times’, we might actually watch it!

    After lunch the children have free play time, watch a bit of TV and run around on the trampoline like lunatics playing a new game with Rev G.

    Rev G and I heave a sigh of relief that schooling went well.

    In the evening I am dismayed to re-hurt my knee by the simple act of standing up from sitting on a chair. I guess the tendons are not as healed as I thought. I will have to take it easy again, which is so frustrating.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 20

    I get up for my prayer group. Everyone is anxious about how they will juggle schooling demands with their paid work. Even though I am not currently working, I’m anxious about it too.

    The parents all have a Zoom meeting with the teacher, who explains what the day will look like. It’s pretty wonderful, low-key stuff with absolutely no pressure for those who are not able to keep up with it.

    I applaud the teacher for all the hard work she has put in to making the online resources. Montessori is structured quite differently to regular school. Tray of ‘work’ are put on shelves for the children to take as they are interested. The teacher has set up virtual shelves, with different areas of the curriculum.

    Each task has bullet points that get harder, depending on the level of the child e.g. a maths task is to identify numbers on letterboxes on your daily walk. Older children can try adding the numbers together.

    I spend much of the day turning our ‘sun room’ into a school room for the kids, making sure all our craft and paper materials are in one place. I am grateful for this space. The kids could work off our dining room table, but it’s a pain to keep moving things on and off it for meals. I also hope it might make a difference psychologically to have a ‘school room’.

    On our afternoon walk I have a hideous encounter with an elderly lady who swears at me because I didn’t give her enough space when I passed her. She was chatting to a friend (not at the recommended distance, I must add), in the middle of a narrow footpath. On one side is the busy road with cars, the other is a cliff face, so there is nowhere else to go. She didn’t hear us saying ‘excuse me’ as we tried to pass her, and got a fright – but I don’t think that warrants yelling at me and calling me a bitch in front of my kids.

    I am badly shaken, and am now anxious about running into her again on our walks. But she won’t stop me. It is becoming increasingly obvious that people – like her – are starting to crack under the strain of lockdown. An elderly friend of mine is tearful that she might be expected to stay home for months when we move out of lockdown. She feels this is inhumane, and would rather risk getting the virus than stay home for months and months. I can’t say I blame her.

  • Uncategorized

    Day 19

    I realised something the other day – which is a good thing. Over December and January I really struggled with continual tiredness, a feeling of to-the-bone weariness, that went on and on and on. At the time we put it down to my autoimmune disease, and indeed after a blood test my meds were tweaked a bit as I needed more.

    I felt better over February and some of March, but since lockdown I have struggled with it again. This time the reason is clear: my beautiful children are exhausting, and caring for them without a break (as we did between jobs over December and January) takes its toll on me. I marvel how I survived their infancy and toddlerhood. The kids are much easier to manage now, but they are still loud, boisterous extroverts who need a LOT of stimulation. It is no wonder I am weary at the moment. I’m actually pleased to know it wasn’t my AI disease after all!

    I am approaching the next few weeks of homeschooling with some dread. School starts back online this coming Wednesday, and I have no idea what the teacher has planned, and how much of my own headspace it will take up. How much preparation will I need to do? How can my two possibly sit still and learn from a video conference? My brain is full up and I am hoping that the teacher’s plan is low key. My children attend Montessori, so I am hopeful that it is.

    Rev G is his usual amazing self. He sees my exhaustion and tells me he will take care of the kids today. He has plans that involve them being outside for as much as possible.

    I go for a long walk. The forecast was for terrible weather, but it is sunny and warm – another miracle for this time of year. As is my habit, I photograph little pockets of beauty along the way.

    As I am walking I get a message from someone that blows my mind.

    This person has done a lot of thinking over the lockdown and realises that they need God. They have a need for a spiritual side of life and they’ve come to me for advice. This is an Eminem moment for me: His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…

    I worry I will say the wrong thing. I ask God to give me the right words for this person. I know that finding the right church will be crucial for them, and I pray that they find a church where they are accepted for who they are. Reaching out like that takes guts and a lot of insight, and I am honoured that this person chose me to talk to. I will be praying for them!

    I spend the afternoon chatting to my parents and brother; then soaking in the silence, pottering around, feeling quite content.