Well, we’re on the other side of March steeling ourselves for what is likely going to feel like the longest month of our lives. There are horror stories coming out of New York, currently the hardest-hit U.S. state in the COVID-19 pandemic. There is not enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for medical personnel rendering them defenseless to the virus as they tend to countless patients. I can’t help but think about how many of these heroes are parents. Aside from medical personnel, unsung heroes continue to show up at work every day to keep life going. People like Uncle Tim, who works at UPS, grocery store workers, farmers, postal service workers and pharmacists to name a few. As I write this there are over 1.41 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed worldwide with the US leading the number of cases at over 383,000. This past week the CDC issued guidance to wear face coverings while in public settings conducting essential errands. This, I’m sure you will have read, is to safeguard against the virus which can transmit from individuals that are asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic through just speaking and, of course, coughing and sneezing.
There’s a lot of talk about the “new normal” as we settle into new routines that continue to have extended end dates. Without a vaccine, I’m not sure when life will go back to the normal we know and miss. So how is this “new normal” impacting our lives on the day to day? For you, the biggest impact has been the complete halt of your routine. School is out and friends are only available on Facetime or Zoom. Maybe Dad and I will look back and realize we should have kept a more structured day to day routine for the both of you, but we’re honestly just going with the flow. Every day is different, we’re mixing it up. Yet at the same time, all the days continue to blur together. For Dad and I, when we go out to the grocery store, there’s tape on the floor at checkout lines in six feet intervals. There are also lines for entry to ensure the stores do not get overcrowded, making the environment as safe as possible for the customers and the employees. Gas prices have dropped to levels we haven’t seen in recent memory. Under three dollars! There’s no demand with no one going anywhere. Playgrounds are taped off, trails and beaches are closed leaving our neighborhood the only place we can get some air. Not sure if you’ll read about it, but there was a man paddleboarding in Malibu this week that actually got arrested for ignoring lifeguard orders to get out of the water.
Life continued for us as expected. Highlights mixed amongst the defiance, sibling rivalry and temper tantrums. Miles, you’re going through a particularly destructive stage which is only humorous to you. This week, you threw a book at my face giving me a fat lip. And then you followed it up the next day with throwing blocks onto my face as I laid on the floor hitting the same exact spot you injured the day before. Tess then kicked me accidentally in the same place the day after that. Each time, tears came to my eyes sprung from flashes of pain. Honestly, I cried a little more than I should have because I finally had an excuse to let out all the emotions I’ve been compelled to keep in. Dad and I later laughed about how I could be hit in the face three times, three days in the row in the exact same spot. What are the chances? Beyond this, Miles, you are challenging us. Also reminding us that we definitely don’t need a third little Hwanger. In just this week, you’ve grown out of your high chair and are now sitting, rather standing, in a regular chair not listening to our pleas for you to JUST SIT DOWN. This is like nothing we ever experienced with Tess.
And, Tess, you continue to be the queen of temper tantrums. Not to say there aren’t highlights. Your effervescent personality continues to show through, especially when we’re having impromptu dance parties or when you’re participating in my at-home workouts. It’s nice to have a partner! You said a particularly heartbreaking thing over the weekend inquiring, “What if my friends don’t like me anymore?” I think that this is your way of processing why you haven’t been back at school, making the news that you would not be returning to finish out your school year, all the more difficult. We are hopeful that by the time August comes around, we’ll still be able to send you off to Kinder in person.
Despite the bumps in the road, we had a pretty damn good week, guys. On a whim, I participated in an Instagram post Tanaka Farms hosted to give away a community care package of veggies, fruits and bread. I was randomly selected as one of the ten people for the day. So with truly nothing else to do, we drove all the way to Irvine (which I famously refer to as the edge of the Earth…because it is, you’ll see). They gifted us the most generous box of butter sweet bread, beets, an onion, potatoes, a lime, swiss chard, kale and strawberries. It has fed us all week long. Being the planner that I am, I knew we’d arrive in Irvine just in time for lunch. I packed us all a lunch to go with the intention of doing a picnic in the back of Daddy’s car which you kids loved! It was a hit. Tess, you said it was your favorite part of the week. Tuesday was another highlight because it was Picture Day! There is a #frontstepsproject movement happening across the U.S. started by a photographer named Cara Soulia. The idea was to take front step portraits to capture this historic moment in time. The photographer, of course, stays ten feet away the whole time, abiding with the social distancing guidelines. The fee for the photo is a donation to the local photographer’s charity of choice. Nadine from Sachiko Studio was offering these portraits locally and I couldn’t pass it up. So Tess, of course, you wanted to dress up as Elsa. You have not missed a chance to be extra during this quarantine. On Friday night, you showed up to dinner as Elena of Avalor, our fancy dinner guest. Miles, you were stuffing your face with food as the photos were being snapped. Pretty true to your personality as well. Portrait attire for the rest of us consisted of Dad and I in loungewear and Miles in PJs. Nadine was awesome, the session was super quick and now we have photos to document this time in our lives forever. We continued our neighborhood walks, made painfully slow with Miles frequently stopping. But we didn't have anywhere to go, did we? My personal highlights included running an incredibly slow 5k around the neighborhood and the socially distant visit we got from Auntie Isa, Uncle Jake and baby Sana. It was bittersweet, making my heart ache for the pre-COVID-19 days. Dad still managed to do a Chinese lesson with Tessa nearly daily and practical homeschooling continued with a baking lesson. On a grocery run I had done earlier in the week, I picked up toffee chips planning to make the Toffee Chocolate Chip cookies I haven’t made in years. That first bite into the warm, crispy but chewy cookie was blissful. And after my run on Friday, we cleaned the backyard of any poop surprises (thanks a lot Emma and Stewie). Since the parks are closed now, we’re going to be in the backyard a lot more. I cooked a fancy dinner that night. Ribeye steak, white rice, stir fried kale, roasted potatoes and beets. As much as I prefer not to be cooking, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see you kids fulfilled.
So we’re settling down for rain all the way through Thursday this week. It is, in fact, going to be a long week. Something tells me you guys are going to get a lot of screen time. In an alternate reality, I’d let myself feel a twinge of guilt for this. But not now. Over the weekend, Dad said to me, “Doesn’t our home feel so much homier now?” And it does. We’re settling into our unscripted daily routines. Every moment of the day isn’t perfect, but it’s perfectly imperfect to us. We love you so much! Until next week!