Thoughts on Life During Coronavirus Pandemic

Thoughts on Life During Coronavirus Pandemic

I know the pandemic isn’t over while I’m writing this.

I know we’re facing a “new normal” that we’re all hoping is a temporary normal and not a forever one.

I know that life is still very far removed from what we’re all used to our lives being like.

I know we’ll all continue to be impacted in various ways by this pandemic.

Some in our day to day lives, some big picture, some smaller picture, some impacts may not affect us until the future.

But.

Our state, Georgia, began reopening on April 30th. And Zach was able to start working again yesterday.

So our daily lives are slowly resembling more like they were in March and less like they were in April and I want to share my thoughts and feelings and the things I want to learn from this experience while it’s all still fresh.

I worry if I wait to write it that I won’t remember and that as time goes by I will feel more normal and less able to remember how I felt during the time when it was affecting our family on a bigger level.

This post is not a personal opinion about the state of our country or some political stance on anything that’s going on.

I’m not saying how others should feel, or even offering any sort of advice or recommendations on how to handle things.

I’m also not looking for advice nor am I looking for opinions on how I’ve handled things either.

I’m not looking to make light of the seriousness of these times or in any way looking for any sort of sympathy or in anyway trying to say that our experience is somehow worse than someone else’s.

Everyone has their own hardships in this time.

We’re ALL learning as we go in this and I just want to be reflective for myself and my family.

Maybe it’s reliable to you, maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re nodding your head in agreement, maybe you’re rolling your eyes.

Sometimes blogging is about others, sometimes it’s about myself. This is one of those posts that’s meant for a journal more than anything else.

We’re living in historic times and I think it’s important for my children and grandchildren to have this perspective, my perspective, someday to read about.

Maybe it’ll align with the history books, maybe it won’t. Maybe it’ll be the same thing I tell them when they ask about the experience, maybe it won’t.

It will be interesting to see how time, space and distance from the “now” affects our perspectives on it.

I want to thank AJ Jenkins Photography for the Front Porch Project photos she took of our family during this crazy time! I really wanted to make sure they were a reflection of our time spent at home together and I think they nail it 😉

Feelings as a Mom During Pandemic

When everything first started happening it seemed unreal and it kinda jumped from this far off idea to BAM a legit thing.

I remember telling my hair dresser during my appointment on March 11th that I’d only feel like it was a legit serious situation when Disney closed.

Well. Here were are on May 19th and Disney is STILL closed. C-RAZY.

Our first concern was about Zach’s health and I was so thankful he had his appointment at such a perfect time to have some insight about those concerns. (Multiple Sclerosis falls under the “immunocompromised” umbrella).

Then we naturally started talking about our trips.

April was supposed to be an INSANE month for us. The girls and I were supposed to be on our first Disney Cruise (their big present for Christmas). We were then supposed to leave the ship and meet Zach, Kye, Spear and Mrs Charlotte at Disney for Spring Break to celebrate Kye’s 11th Birthday.

THEN Zach and I were supposed to fly out a week later for New York City with Aflac.

THEN we also had a Jamaica Aflac trip on the table that was up in the air about us possibly going the last week of April.

Obviously none of those things happened. But when everything first started those were valid concerns we had.

It’s laughable now that even when Aflac canceled the NYC trip that Zach and I said we’d just stick to the plan and go anyway.

It’s also laughable that when Disney canceled our cruise I went ahead and booked two others in April. I kept thinking any day they’d open back up the cruising and I wanted us to cruise as quickly as possible.

Navigating Kids Emotions

I felt overwhelmed by the cancellations for the kids. I felt like I had to keep giving them bad news over and over and over and over.

The Disney Cruise was a big break down moment for me. I kept holding onto this hope that I could make it better. Fix it. Have the magical trip they’d been counting down for for so long.

Something I really struggle with is worrying that my kids know how much I love them and that they will love me in return.

Having to let them down over and over really messed with my fears and worries. It was hard to be constantly breaking my children’s hearts without any sort of way to “fix it” or promise a better situation in the future.

Kye did awesome with his Disney trip for his birthday being postponed. I was very thankful that he had his amazing ski trip with Zach in February as well as our fun Atlanta weekend away as I know having those memories for him softened that blow.

At first they announced that school would be canceled for two weeks. I looked at it like a YOLO time.

Let the kids HAVE ALL THE FUN.

I very quickly felt this intense need to stock up on stuff. I think my mind naturally went to prep mode like it does when we have a hurricane, I know the two things aren’t the same AT ALL but the only real crisis like this I can compare to is when we’re getting potentially dangerous weather.

I truly believe it’s why a LOT of people stocked up on supplies. We feel like we “need to” and like it’s one thing we CAN control for our families in chaos.

So I loaded us UP on tons of SNACKS and I was like THE coolest mom EVER for those couple of weeks.

The kids had WAAAAAY more screen time than normal, wayyyyy more treats than normal, stayed up later than normal, and I was on a mission to make memories that would somehow magically erase the loses they were facing.

I thought if I just made EVERYTHING HAPPY that they’d be happy and not feel any of the impacts of the crazy world around them.

But then school got canceled for the rest of the year. And I realized we’d be having an almost 6 month long summer and we couldn’t spend that whole time in a constant state of YOLO.

I quickly got us back on routine. Cut out treats. Went back to early bedtime. Got structure during nap time. Started saying “no” again.

A couple weeks of living it up was great, but I realized this was going to be a longer term thing and I knew our entire family thrives best with structure and routine and heck I couldn’t keep eating my feelings either!

Around the same time as school canceling other blows kept coming for the kids, especially Britt.

In all of this I feel like she’s been hit the hardest. She was the only one sad about not returning to school. The only one who misses friends.

She’s the only one involved in extracurricular activities and had a lot of tough feelings about missing out on gymnastics. Then to only have her gym completely shut down for good which has been an added hurt.

Plus the cruise. She had some envy about Kye’s ski trip and for her not to get her trip really broke my heart for her.

She’s struggled. She didn’t sleep well. She wouldn’t be able to fall asleep and had some middle of the night wakings too. Some bad dreams.

I was so, so thankful when our shelter in place was nearing an end as I knew SHE more than any of us NEEDED it.

She needed other people. She needed LIFE beyond our little core family. I’ve always known that about Britt but it got to a point where I knew as her mama that her need for socialization was more important than the concern over her contracting the virus.

Mental health matters.

At that point I decided to go ahead and stop being away from everyone all the time. We were very hardcore about all of the orders for a solid month.

The kids didn’t go anywhere. Didn’t see other people.

Zach and I were extremely cautious when running errands and also avoided close contact with others and did the whole 6 feet apart thing.

We stopped having those limitations regarding distancing from Zach’s parents mid-April when we went fishing.

We still continued to stay away from anyone else until we went camping on April 30th.

Even now as I’m writing this on May 19th, the kids have only had contact with a handful of people in two months.

I have no regrets about deciding to allow the kids to be near family and close friends, and the way our hearts all felt after the night we ate dinner with Zach’s parents was a sign that I’d made the right call on that decision. It was time.

(Again, not saying it’s time for everyone – just reflecting on the decisions we made for our family).

Britt has been back to BRITT after we began having some contact with others, it’s been so so good that she’s sleeping better and is, overall, happier. I think we all feel a bit lighter!

I’ve asked the kids frequently how they are feeling.

Kye has been the saddest when Georgia Bible Camp was canceled and when he found out he wasn’t able to give his Wax Museum Presentation.

Overall he’s enjoyed the slower pace of things, of being home so much, of not having to attend school. He wasn’t sad about being done with elementary school and it made me sadder than it did him!

Tess has loved the time together. She is the child that will have the happiest memories of this time because she doesn’t understand the losses, and has had very few of them.

If Tess takes a nap she still wakes up afterwards thinking it’s time for breakfast so her sense of time isn’t quite developed yet and she’s not impacted at all by any of this.

Her biggest concern in school being canceled is that she’s dreading having to go back and be a first grader because she doesn’t want to grow up and wants to be 5 forever.

She did have a few nights of waking (even slept walked once!) but I think it was more due to too many later bedtimes than anything else!

Spear is much like Tess but I actually think he’s benefitted from this time at home. It’s been an opportunity to focus on him and give him a lot more attention than we’re usually able to give in the rush-rush-rush of normal life.

He has exploded in his speech and I know having all the kids at home as helped big time!

He is also FULLY potty trained (I need to write a post on it but ughhh I just hate potty training and even talking about it haha) which has been awesome! He made all the connections with having more time at home to focus on it without distraction.

He has LOVED Daddy being home and has been Daddy’s “helper” with all the house projects.

I feel like this time together has allowed me to ENJOY each of my children in a great way and it’s been nice to just have that slower pace and be able to truly soak them in.

How Coronavirus Has Impacted Our Family

From the kids perspective life has been different because so many things have been canceled.

It’s been different because we’ve been at home a lot.

It’s been different because Disney is closed and school is closed and we’ve been washing our hands more often.

I’m thankful they don’t truly know the stresses Zach and I have been facing through it.

During this pandemic I think most people fall into one of two categories (and many may fall into both).

Either you’re mainly worried about health or you’re mainly worried about finances.

We’re VERY blessed to not have health concerns. When everything started I thought that WOULD be our concern!

Instead ours has been financial.

Zach offers health benefits to employees at businesses. He is self employed and makes his living from going into businesses to help employees choose their benefits.

Guess what happens when businesses are closed? Zach can’t work.

Literally. Cannot. Work.

I am soooo thankful that we’re Dave Ramsey people and that we have a solid budget.

Since Zach is paid off commissions we live off the money he earns a month prior. So what he earns in January, we spend in February. When we first started budgeting we set it up this way and it’s been great!

I kept telling Zach through all of this that I was SO eager for it to be OVER so I could then focus on all the blessings in it that I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate until we were on the other side.

A big thing my counselor told me to do when I was flooded and overwhelmed with stress and worry was to write out truths on note cards to refer back to when I felt those anxious feelings.

I wrote out ONE note card. I have it on my desk to read over and over again.

It breaks down our finances in a clear way to remind myself that we’d be okay financially for a few months if Zach wasn’t able to be back working.

We were blessed that everything happened mid-March as Zach had an awesome month that month and earned enough money in working half a month to cover our April expenses.

We were further blessed that Zach had his largest monthly check (he gets paid renewals on past business he’s written and that comes in the form of a monthly deposit) EVER that was able to cover our living for May, especially since we were hardcore about limiting spending in March and April 😉

Part of living the Dave Ramsey life means that we have a cushion savings for living expenses in case anything were to happen that would put Zach in a position where he’d be unable to work.

The downside? We have a LOT of that money invested in the stock market.

The double downside? Even though a pandemic is happening, it doesn’t mean that other things in life aren’t still happening too.

Just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean Zach doesn’t still have MS. It doesn’t mean we don’t still need that cushion established in case he were to get sick or something were to happen to his medicine or our ability to afford his medicine (I can’t even discuss the cost of his treatments yall it terrifies me to think about it).

So the bit of money we could access in the bank (that wasn’t wrapped up in stocks) I was still scared to spend.

I also didn’t know when he’d be able to go back to work. How long could that money last? What if he’s not able to be working? What if this thing lasts for a year? What if businesses never let him back in the door?

We all have lived in a lot of “what ifs” lately and whew they can drive you insane.

On my notecard, I have written out “Bills covered for April. Bills covered for May. Savings to cover June if not working by mid-May.”

I knew if Zach was able to start working mid-May that we’d be able to get through without touching the emergency savings. And here we are mid-May and he’s had a great couple of first days back to working. God is SO good.

On top of Zach’s job struggles we also have our rental house.

This one is still a pretty hefty current stress as Disney remains closed and technically we aren’t even legally allowed to rent out the house right now.

It’s ironic that we had debated buying a rental home at the beach or at Disney and chose Disney because “it’s always open” and here we are – people flocking to the beach and Disney is closed!

It’s not just the added mortgage payment with owning the rental house, it’s also the cancellations.

Having to give refund for trips that couldn’t be taken. Having to work with people on finding future dates.

I struggled emotionally because I’d constantly be getting emails from concerned renters. I couldn’t put it out of my mind because it was a constant flow of needing to help people rework their vacation plans!

We don’t regret owning the home, but we need Disney to get back open and to be allowed to rent it out again soon!

Last year was our first full year owning it and it completely paid for itself. The rentals covered all of the expenses as well as the mortgage and we were set to do the same this year too! It’s been great and has not been an added stress or financial strain until now.

We feel confident that people will WANT to travel as soon as they’re able and that even if Disney isn’t opened that people will still want to enjoy the home since it’s close to the beach and so many other things to do and we’re offering a hefty discount for the remainder of the year too (you can see that here) but it’s one of those stresses that is CURRENT so I can’t have that sigh of relief yet and it’s still a worry I’m carrying.

Navigating Adult Emotions

The way I often feel about myself rang true during this pandemic too.

I look back and am proud of how I parented through it. I feel like I rocked it pretty solid. I feel like my kids will walk away from this experience with mostly happy memories. I did the best I could and they know that!

But I struggled personally. And Zach and I as a unit also struggled.

I typically feel pretty confident about myself as mama. But man I struggle to always feel like I’m on my A-game as a wife!

We often hear about how people go through something traumatic and deal with it in their own ways and sometimes they deal with it in similar ways and it draws them closer but sometimes they deal with it in different ways that can push them apart.

We were a push apart dealing with it couple. Turns out we aren’t rockstars in our marriage during a pandemic.

Stress and lack of sleep never help any situation and we were both feeling stressed and both sleeping horrible.

Zach is pretty used to functioning on little sleep as it’s been his only real side effect of his MS diagnosis – sleep sucks for Zach.

But man I have been a ROCK SOLID sleeper my ENTIRE life. And not sleeping well was REALLY tough for me.

I wasn’t able to fall asleep and would wake frequently in the night. (Much like Britt).

Our stress levels were very high due to the financial concerns.

And we dealt with them very differently.

We’ve been watching Ozark on Netflix and I really relate to Jason Bateman’s character. My mind is ALWAYS working. Always going through options and scenarios.

Zach is more of a “I can’t do anything about it why focus on it” person.

I cope by talking through it, brainstorming, trying to take action.

He copes by focusing on other things that he can control rather than those he can’t.

Basically we had a circle of both of us worrying and being stressed, me wanting to share all my brainstorming thoughts and my sharing making him have to focus on the things he was intentionally trying NOT to think about. Over and over.

He didn’t want to talk about his feelings or his concerns or his worries. And my talking about it came across like I didn’t trust him to handle it.

My tears and fears and concerns only made him feel WORSE. He already couldn’t do anything but on top of him unable to do anything to fix things, he felt like I was unhappy and he was unable to do anything to fix it.

It’s kinda like when I gave birth and he felt helpless while watching me in pain. But with this he felt like HE was letting me down even though it wasn’t his fault at all.

We coped VERY differently and needed different things in order to get through it.

I needed to vent my feelings. He needed to ignore his (pretty standard woman vs man way of coping am I right?).

I felt very alone in my feelings and it was made more difficult by being so isolated with them too. I couldn’t have a girls night. Couldn’t go to my happy place at Disney to feel better. Just kinda STUCK feeling those feelings over and over.

Stuck trying to make sure my kids don’t feel stressed and overwhelmed and scared while I’m walking around stressed and overwhelmed and scared.

I know MANY mamas can relate to my feelings through it all.

Zach joked that this situation was kinda like my kryptonite and in many ways he was right.

I live for PLANS. Most of the conversations I have with my kids are either anticipation about upcoming plans or looking back on past experiences with fond memories.

I love planning. I’m THE planner amongst friends. I have plans made welllll into the future for our family.

Having all of that fall apart was hard.

I realized my sleep struggles were directly related. When I go to sleep at night my “counting sheep” is planning. Thinking through outfits for our next Disney trip, plotting for ways to make our next travel experience extra special.

The pandemic erased all plans AND made it impossible to make any new ones. I’d lay down and try to sleep and naturally think about plans and be met with disappointment and concern rather than excitement and joy.

I am also pretty extroverted and am a “goer” type. I like to be doing things. I don’t do well with being at home for too long and being isolated from others.

Hello sheltering in place struggles!

I’m thankful for the many friendships I have that continued to blossom during this crazy time. We did some social distance hang outs and it made a world of difference in my sanity for sure!

Having Zach home was HARD for me because it was a constant reminder he wasn’t able to work.

When he wasn’t at home I felt more normal. It felt like summertime. All the kids home, Daddy at work.

I’m so thankful we were able to communicate our needs and figure out a game plan that worked best for us through the trenches of it!

We traded off a good bit, taking mornings where I’d keep the kids while he did projects around the house and then swapping where he’d take the kids in the morning time and I’d get some work stuff done.

We found a balance that worked and were in a MUCH better spot together once we understood each other’s perspective! Per usual…communication is always key 😉

Zach and I also traded off taking some time down at the Disney House since it was vacant anyway we figured we might as well use it.

I really didn’t WANT to go when it was my turn. I hit my lowest point emotionally the day I left.

It honestly scared me the way I was feeling. A lot of my fears and emotional baggage I’ve spent the last 18 months working through in therapy was coming to the surface and overwhelming me.

I was struggling hard and taking that time to get away and focus on ME was very, very valuable and allowed me to hit the reset.

I spent time in prayer, journaling, working out, drinking water, relaxing, and SLEEPING. I came home a new person.

I’m thankful the Lord blessed me during that time. I can see now how it all worked together so perfectly that I went away exactly when I did.

I was even able to spend time with a good friend during that time period in Florida and that bond is so special to me and helped me also to reconnect with MYSELF and helped to ground me amongst the chaos.

Blessings in the Pandemic

I kept saying that I was eager to get through it all so I’d be able to truly look back and see the blessings in it.

We were blessed beyond measure. We always all! We ALL are y’all.

God is GOOD ALL THE TIME. Always in all ways.

Sometimes it’s just harder for us to see those blessings.

I’ve already mentioned the ways in which He blessed us financially.

He prepared us for this! He put it on my heart YEARS ago to get serious about Dave Ramsey budgeting, but more recently I had a tug on my heart to buckle down on spending and really focus this year on spending smarter and saving more.

He knew what was ahead. And I feel like He put that on my heart not just to help prepare our family for the financial strains but also this financial strain is a continuation of His reminder at the importance of spending wisely and SAVING.

He blessed us with health in such a huge way.

Zach’s health could be in jeopardy. But He blessed us with an incredible team who keeps Zach healthy and who helped us to feel confident in Zach’s continued health during a time where health is crucial!

He blessed us with timing. We’d been able to celebrate Kye’s birthday and don’t have another birthday until Tess in July.

He blessed us with INCREDIBLE weather.

I can’t remember us EVER having such beautiful weather so early in the year. It’s THE earliest we’ve ever opened our pool to swim, a good month or so earlier than usual. And that’s been huge for the kids as well as for my own mental health.

Good weather is GOOD for the soul!

He blessed our extended family as well. Zach has many high risk family members and they have all continued to be healthy through this and none of our family have yet to be impacted by the virus.

He blessed us with our home. I’m so thankful that we LOVE our home like we do. I’m so thankful for our yard. Our pool. The many years I went overboard at Christmas time so the kids had a plethora of things to stay busy with 😉

He blessed us with each other.

While having a toddler is no joke at any time…especially during a time when stuck at home (no quarantine house projects or deep cleaning happening for me haha) our children are SUCH a gift and a BLESSING in our lives.

I loved getting to see them bond closer together. I have loved spending so much extra time together as a family. It’s such a gift. These are the BEST days of my life and what a blessing to have bonus time with my babies at home with me!

I’m so thankful for the hard work I’ve put into personal growth the last few years, I’m such a different person now than I was a couple years ago and if THIS version of me struggled…THAT version of me would have REALLY struggled.

He blessed me with an incredible therapist who I already had a well established relationship with to help me work through all of my fears and emotions throughout this entire phase of life.

Every mom I’ve talked to has felt this rollercoaster of emotion. One day I feel like I’m KILLING IT and the next I feel like I can’t function. I’m thankful God blesses me with GRACE. For myself. For others. I’m thankful He loves me even when I struggle and that He is there to help us through all the tougher moments in life!

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Lessons Learned During Coronavirus

I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment Zach told me he finally had a group set up to work.

I felt flooded with so much relief and told him I never, ever, EVER want to feel the way I’d felt the last couple of months again.

I struggled a lot with fear. I knew that fear was from Satan and that it was not of the Lord.

I knew I was struggling with my FAITH because I was letting fear win. Many times it won. Many times I walked in fear rather than faith.

I’d have a moment where things looked positive and then immediately it’s like Satan attacked that joy. We’d have good financial news immediately followed by a financial blow.

I knew I needed to get through those ups and downs in order to see it all clearer and needed that rearview mirror perspective to be able to really look at myself and see ways in which I need to grow for the future.

The more physical side of things: I want us to have financial freedom. Pay off both houses. Build up our savings to cover 6 months living expenses and don’t put ANY of that savings in the stock market this time! (We will continue to invest our retirement into stocks though…being self-employed we have to save for retirement!)

I want to save more, spend less. Continue focusing on those financial goals once we are through this financial hardship. Make changes where needed to put those goals at the forefront.

Which is a BIG shift from my normal perspective. I’m usually less conservative and a little more risky regarding investing…when things first started happening I was thinking “we should buy stock while it’s low” but once our financial reality sunk in I was much more “hoard every dime we have.”

I think a lot of people will feel the same way moving forward and it’ll be a situation where people will save more and be less likely to invest as much!

Along with that physical part I realized too how crucial it is for me to take care of me physically.

I had gotten away from practicing a lot of the Rachel Hollis ideas of journaling and drinking water and exercising and getting outside and taking that time for myself at the Disney House helped to refocus on those daily practices.

Moving forward I need to KEEP that routine in place. My mental health benefits greatly from those practices!

The faith side of things: I envy the girl I was through our adoption journey.

I trusted God SO MUCH in EVERY step of the path and I am disappointed with myself that I didn’t have that same faith and trust in this.

This situation proved to me that we have to be DILIGENT in building up our faith. We can’t just assume it’ll stay strong.

Mine was weak during a time where I needed to be stronger in it. I need to use good times in life to build up that armor of God to be prepared for battle when Satan strikes again. Because he will!

I always think of what a preacher of ours used to say – you’re either going through a valley now or will be soon.

I hated that way of thinking. But it’s true. We gotta use the hilltop times to be preparing for the valleys in life.

I’m focusing on my prayer life. My Bible time. Putting HIM first and focusing our family on HIM. In order to be the best me, I need to be giving my best to my savior.

In having the opportunity to take a hard look at myself through this crazy time, I was bothered by how much losing our lifestyle scared me. And it bothers me a lot that THAT bothered me.

When I sat down and wrote about our honeymoon I was really struck by the fact that Zach and I went to a resort for a solid week and were so frugal that we didn’t even BUY A SODA until the last day. We considered that a BIG treat.

I keep thinking about 2007 Zach and Emily.

And I know it’s natural for 13 years later to be different. I know with more income we all naturally adjust our quality of life and start to spend closer to our means.

Four kids shifts things too! We aren’t who we were when we were two broke college kid newlyweds.

While I’ve always been proud that we live far below ours and that we do spend smart and save so much, it REALLY bugs me that when I worried about our finances it wasn’t just worrying about food and shelter and about being able to provide experiences for our children (yall know I value experiences over pretty much everything else for our kids!) but it was also a desire to continue living a lifestyle we’ve become used to.

No I’m not fancy by any means but I like taking care of my skin and using nice skin products. I like being able to buy a cute top that’s on sale. Zach likes being able to have his golf membership. We like being able to pay a sitter to go out on a date. I like for my kids to have cute outfits at Disney…I like having our annual passes!

I know we’ll never be 2007 Zach and Emily. And I know 2007 Zach and Emily would LOVE to be 2020 Zach and Emily instead of living off Ramen Noodles. I also know we all look back on times with rose colored glasses and like it was “the good days” and it’s natural to do that.

And I know we’re not in any debt or trying to keep up with the Joneses or being crazy with our spending, but it just BUGS ME that I care about those worldly type things and I want to take that lesson into the future to keep myself in check.

Of course if needed we’d obviously cut back in all of those areas. We could stop traveling. Stop any extras. We’d figure it out as a family and we’d have what matters most – our faith and each other.

And God promises to provide for our NEEDS so we know those would be met. It’s the wants that we’d be giving up and it’d been a reality check of just how much I do enjoy those “wants” and how much I do appreciate our ability to provide those “wants” for our children and our family (so thankful for how hard Zach works to provide and how wise we aim to be in our financial decisions).

For my future self I want us to keep 2007 Zach and Emily in mind when making decisions on what to spend money on. Is this a Zach and Emily 2007 purchase or a Zach and Emily 2020 purchase? It’s an opportunity to have some self-reflection and adjust our lifestyle a bit.

When Zach was first diagnosed with MS I felt similar to this feeling. If he ends up disabled someday (praying that never happens) I don’t want to look back and think “we were so dumb with our spending” and that’s how I feel about this now too. I want to make sure we’re being WISE and making decisions that are fruitful for the future and not just the “now” (and I mean avoiding wrinkles with good skincare IS an investment in the future, right? 😉 )

Another great lesson in this is how beautiful it’s been to SLOW DOWN.

I’ve always been pretty hardcore about managing my plate. I’ve heard it said that some people can handle more or less on their plates but then I heard it said that some people have different sized plates.

Mine is small. I can’t put a lot on it without being overwhelmed. I’ve always known that about myself and am mindful of it when making plans and such.

And this time at home, this time with NO plans, it’s been a beautiful chance to take a lot off of that plate and to see how having LESS is really, in some ways, giving our family MORE.

A chance to make conscious decisions of what to keep OFF the plate as we start to slowly add things back on it.

We’ve had wonderful family moments together. LOTS of family meals. SO many memories with just our core six. I know both Zach and I have said that we want to really carry that into the future and be more PRESENT and say “no” to more to allow our family to thrive together!

What We Want to Remember

Zach

Zach wants to remember the golf cart rides after dinner and just spending time outside together as a family.

His big goal moving forward is to take time when he gets home from work to make sure he’s having these family moments and experiences.

Emily

The memory that makes me smile the most is the day we visited the strawberry patch. It’s a tradition we do every year and it’s not even one I really enjoy all that much and one the older kids aren’t really into at all but we keep doing it anyway and this year? We just felt SO MUCH JOY to be OUT of the house and I LOVED experiencing it together as a family.

It was a moment where we all just had so much appreciation for a small activity that would normally not be even a blip on our radar when mixed in with tons of other more fun things. It was a lesson to me that little moments are special too!

I want to remember those little moments. All the baking and feast mode corona mode meals. Our morning walks. Watching Tiger King with Zach. Social distance hangouts with Katie and Tiffany. Golf cart rides around the neighborhood. Worshipping together as a family on Sundays. All the little things! Just together time!

Kye

Kye is really excited about Tess’s new room and the office makeover outside of her room. He is excited to have Tess upstairs with him and Britt (he and Tess have REALLY bonded over this time!).

Camping has been Kye’s favorite memory! He LOVED backyard camping and then getting to go legit camping with friends was by far his favorite activity.

At first Kye felt like it was super cool that school was canceled but they didn’t know it’d be for this long and now that he’s missed out on so many fun things he is annoyed but also still happy that he got to miss school too.

He is excited for middle school but sad he missed all the fun parts of the end of the school year and the perks of being a 5th grader.

He has also loved all the extra screen time and discovering his love for a new Harry Potty game. And is thankful for all our many blessings.

Britt

Britt has loved our new pet turtle and she has loved finding joy in yoga.

She is thankful for the blessing of having a trampoline during this time period at home. She is thankful that we were able to celebrate Kye’s birthday before this all happened and that it is ending before Tess’s birthday.

Britt loved going camping and making slime. She’s so glad she learned how to ride a bike!

At first Britt says she felt happy but also scared and now as time as past she feels like everything is alright and it’s all just ridiculous (she said ridiculous about 10 times haha) and is frustrated that so many things got canceled especially the cruise and gymnastics.

She is so glad we got to all be together with our family and have each other.

Tess

Tess has loved all the swimming, especially tonight when she jumped in the pool with her clothes on. (Tess is at that age where whatever she did most recently was her favorite thing).

She is SO excited for all the progress on her new room that Daddy is making. She has loved spending time with Kye and Britt.

Tessie loved our special Easter celebration and says it’s a blessing that we have our pet turtle and our toys.

She also loved all the camping! And is ALL about ALL the treats!

She said it’s a blessing that we have each other and all of our family like Big Papa, G-Mama, Carter and others.

Spear

If I was able to ask Spear he’d FOR SURE say his favorite things have been: riding golf cart with Daddy, going on a bear hunt around the neighborhood, building with Daddy with the tools, and hunting for bugs on our walks!

The Future after Covid-19

Right now our state is reopening. Businesses are starting to open back up, Zach is able to work, life is starting to feel more normal.

Masks are a big hot topic right now. It seems like it’s quickly turned into a huge political topic and one that is really dividing people.

Personally I’ve never been big into politics (Zach has LOVED that I’ve been much more in tune to all of that thanks to corona haha) and I hate feeling like it’s impossible to be “in the middle” on this right now.

I want the future to be back to normal but I don’t know when, or even if, that will happen.

I’m eager for Disney to announce plans to reopen. Interested to see what that will include. Disney Springs opens tomorrow and they will be doing temperature checks and requiring masks and social distancing.

I’m interested to see how long these types of measures stay in place.

Will we be a country where people wear masks forever? Will school start back up in the fall like normal? Will the kids have to wear masks? Will digital learning continue?

Will more plans in the future be canceled? So far Georgia Bible Camp is a no-go, the Alanis concert Katie and I have tickets for is postponed, and we’ve yet to hear if my FOURTH try at a Disney Cruise will sail or not (July 31st sail date…right now they’ve canceled all cruises through July 27).

We’re trying to navigate the new norms and make plans around them. It’s officially summer and I want to make sure it’s FUN for the kids, even if it looks like different fun than we’re used to!

I do hope some of the new things in our lives will continue even as life slowly goes back to normal.

Britt has discovered a love of yoga and I think it’s a WONDERFUL practice for her and I want to keep encouraging it as an outlet for her to enjoy.

Kye has really found enjoyment in fishing and I want to make sure we take him out there to fish again soon! I told him we may even let him just get dropped off to fish solo and he’d love that.

Tess has been such a spot of joy, as she always has been since she was born! She’s so sweet and helps keeps us all grounded and offers up endless snuggles and cuddles. She is the glue that holds Kye and Britt together and keeps them from bickering non-stop 😉

It’s been so good for Spear and I that I’ve poured more into him and really taken TIME with him like I haven’t done before. I want to be more mindful of that. As the fourth kid he’s often having to go with everyone else agendas and I want to make sure I’m enjoying my last baby!

I struggled a lot with the blog during my tough emotional time period. I couldn’t write, couldn’t focus. And while it was frustrating…it was also a blessing too.

I have struggled for awhile with that balance and have said that this year I wanted to focus on doing LESS with the blog and focusing LESS on my #sidehustle life.

This forced me to do that. And I’m not mad about it!

Moving forward I want to keep that going. I’ve ENJOYED blogging SO MUCH MORE these last few weeks (after getting over the emotional hump) and I want to keep that JOY in it.

I want to keep posting less and prioritizing time with the kids as a family over blog stuff. It’s a balance I’m loving and want to continue.

As a family, I really want to continue being more present in the now. Not just talking about past experiences or future plans. Living in the moment. For the moment. Together.

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