I spent $27 on gas in March. That’s an interesting and unprecedented accomplishment. It proves that we’re taking the stay-home order seriously. And so does the additional hundreds of dollars spent on food and booze, I guess? My grocery bill has never been higher, but our dining-out expenditures have never been lower. I did order takeout once, but for me it wasn’t worth the money or the stress about who had touched the packaging.

wine bottles
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Since my last post, the Maryland governor has issued the closure of all non-essential businesses and, as of March 30, a stay-at-home order. (There was a semi-comical debate on NextDoor about why liquor stores are considered an essential business.) In a way, this didn’t change much for us, since we were already pretty much staying at home. But the FEELING of being at home changed once it was made mandatory.

I could observe this playing out online, as neighbors debated technicalities on NextDoor. People got into (more) heated debates about whether biking was still OK or if we shouldn’t even step outside our doors. The governor’s office clarified these questions, stating that solo exercise outside was fine as long as you maintained social distance, but this didn’t stop people from fighting about it online.

Over and over again I’ve seen reassurances that people will feel all different ways right now, and that’s OK. We’re certainly seeing that play out. Some people are bored and frustrated. Some are anxious and depressed. Some are making endless “social distancing” jokes and circulating quarantine memes nonstop.(Uhh, guilty.)

Some people are giddy with the novelty of having free time, possibly for the first time in their adult lives. Some people are going into uber-productive mode, cleaning out closets and making elaborate recipes. Some are channeling all their energy into being helpful, organizing food drives and sewing face masks.

My feelings change by the hour, but overall I mostly feel a sense of calm and safety. (Except for sometimes at 3a.m.) In a way, it’s like I’ve been training for this for years. All my meditation and yoga and breathing exercises and self-help books and podcasts are serving me well.

I am bingeing* on online yoga classes, walks outside, Instagram Live, and Hulu. “Little Fires Everywhere” and “High Fidelity” are really good. And I am amazed at how many people are creating (free!) content right now, like Brene Brown’s new podcast, “Unlocking Us,” Oprah’s new Apple TV+ show where she talks to people about COVID-19, which I watch on the app on my phone, and “Shine On at Home” with @ReeseWitherspoon on IGTV.

(*A friend once remarked, “Your binges are so much healthier than mine. I’m inhaling Oreos and wine on the couch.” I’ve been known to do that from time to time, too.)

blossoming cherry tree

Another thing that is serving me well (for the time being) is resisting a strict schedule for my kids. I feel like the odd mom out here, but I’m OK with that. I think there is no one right way to parent during a pandemic. I think it depends on so many factors, including how many parents you have in your home, the ages of your kids, and all of your emotional states.

Some people thrive with routines. Other people, like me and my kids, are driven more by their moods and energy levels on any given day. We are prioritizing sleep and healthy family dinners. I do force them to get exercise, preferably outside. Other than that, the schoolwork will get done when it gets done.

Our county is just starting “official” online learning tomorrow, so we’ll see how that goes. I’ve heard some schools have had to specify that students must get out of bed before joining Zoom calls. Always the pot-stirrer, my 13yo said, “How would they even enforce that?”

Stay safe and sane, everybody.

LINK O’ THE DAY: If you are not following Upworthy on Instagram, go do so immediately.

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Fitness for Cringey Moms and Grumpy Teens

by Abby on March 26, 2020

Man, what a rollercoaster, huh? One minute we’re all, “This is an adventure! We’ll make waffles and watch movies!” And the next we’re wailing into our weighted blankets about how we’ll pay the bills or force our teens to do algebra for the next 2 months. Yep, as of yesterday, they’ve closed schools here in MD through the end of April. 

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We’ve all cycled through our individual meltdowns in my house over the past several days. No sooner did I decide to start this blog back up than I broke it. Something about incompatible PHP code, outdated plugins, blah, blah, blah. Hours and hours of back and forth with tech support in another time zone and it’s finally fixed. And, honestly, chatting with the web hosting guys is the only support and adult interaction I’ve had in days – I’ll take it!

I’m trying to keep my spirits up with daily exercise. Much like meditation, it’s become a habit for me and I feel out of sorts if I don’t do it for a few days. Pre-quarantine, I was used to going to the gym at least 5 times a week for a yoga class, a strength-training session, or a run on the treadmill. Now, walking up and down the stairs to the laundry room is about the only cardio I get. 

Thankfully, there’s a ton of free fitness videos online. My gym sent out a link to Les Mills group exercise classes on demand. So far I’ve done barre with a couple of statuesque beauties on a surfboard (?) in the middle of a fjord (??) in New Zealand. (“Hey Siri, do they have fjords in New Zealand?” They do! Now it’s a workout AND a homeschooling lesson!)

Les Mills barre workout

This is my 11yo son’s idea of a workout:

That balance board was a good purchase. You can also do planks on it. I have a pic of my 13yo doing one but I am FORBIDDEN to post it. Now you know one of the reasons I stopped blogging. Teens ruin everything. J/K! LOL. 

Speaking of teens, I took my kids out for a hike when the sun came out the other day. And by took I mean forced. And by forced I mean threatened. Literally the only power I have over the teen is threatening to take his phone away. #ParentingConfessions

So there we were, on our forced march through the wilderness, silently cursing each other’s existence. We didn’t see another soul. Or any interesting animals. But we did find a weird-looking plant that looked like coronavirus spores. Anyone know what this is? 

weird plant that looks like coronavirus spores

By the time we got home I needed some virtual yoga on the beach in Costa Rica. 

I’ve also tried the Les Mills SH’BAM dance-type class, which my 11yo declared “Cringey.” It’s super-empowering to model a healthy lifestyle for your children. 

What are you all doing to keep moving during this stressful time? 

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Thoughts on Anxiety at 3 a.m.

March 22, 2020

Two nights in a row now, I’ve woken up at 3 a.m. Why is it always 3 a.m.? It’s like my body has its own internal anxiety alarm clock. Time to wake up and obsess over every bad thing that could possibly happen!  This is particularly distressing to me because I am a big sleeper. […]

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How to Make Jell-O, and other Life Skills

March 19, 2020

So here we are, Day … oh, who knows? With schools closed and everything shut down, the days are all blurring together and each 24-hour period feels like 3 days. In some ways, though, our new reality is not that different for me. There are lots of jokes flying around the freelance/work-at-home community like this:  […]

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Parenting in the Time of Coronavirus

March 16, 2020

Hello readers, old and new! I haven’t been writing regularly on this blog for a few years, for a variety of reasons. But I’ve decided to start again, at least for the next little while. This is a historic time we’re living through, and it feels important to document it in my own words.  In […]

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Revisiting the Nutcracker

December 3, 2019

Here’s a look back at one of my favorite holiday posts. Ah, memories! Fritz could be my kid! I was thrilled to have this realization during one of my many, many viewings of The Nutcracker. I love The Nutcracker—the music, the dancing, the costumes. I am lucky enough to have seen it performed professionally several […]

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The Homeless Man at Breakfast

December 7, 2017

“Enough with the homeless man! Sit down and eat your yogurt parfait!” You know your parenting has gone awry if you find yourself hissing these words at your 8yo son in Panera, as I did one recent Saturday morning. Let me explain. Our family had decided to go out to breakfast. A rare occurrence, since […]

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Playing with Dolphins

October 20, 2017

It’s not every day I find myself on a standup paddleboard in warm, turquoise waters. But one morning last week, that’s exactly where I was, three days into a girls’ trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida. The trip could not have been better timed, stress-wise or weather-wise. I pushed for the paddleboards, having done […]

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Tweet Me, Text Me, Teach Me: Back-to-School in 2017

September 15, 2017

Back-to-school time is more stressful than the holidays, a mammogram, and an extended visit with the in-laws COMBINED for most moms I know. My September breakdowns have been well-documented here. The unfortunate fundraiser meltdown of 2011. The carpool catastrophes. The scavenger-hunt supply lists, the endless forms to fill out. I was hoping to breeze through […]

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Back-to-School Reflections

September 6, 2017

I am not the mom who cried at preschool graduation, or on the first day of kindergarten. Most years I greet the start of the school year with relief and celebration. (Whew! The summer ran me ragged. Let the teachers take over!) This year was different. This morning I dropped off a third-grader and a […]

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