Is 2020 Over Yet?

Is it over yet? I was blogging daily while our state was under a stay at home order. Right after that ended, teachers were called back to work. We had to complete all of the IEP meetings that had come due during the stay at home order. We then had to go back into the schools to clean up our rooms, and gather students’ personal items for parents to pick up. After that, we got to officially start summer.

My summer started with my mom going to the hospital emergency room with a blood pressure/heart rate/breathing emergency. The hospital did a lot of tests, and only found that she was a little dehydrated. They sent her home with an oxygen tank. With no answer, I went to our health department for a Covid-19 test. I am the only one who goes out right now, so if my mom had it, I would have been the vector. My test came back negative. The follow up doctors think that it was an accidental overdose of blood pressure medication. Upon inspection, I discovered that she had two different bottles of the same medication, from different companies (so they looked different). I have now started managing my mom’s medication as well as my dad’s.

A week later, my aunt fell at her nursing home, and broke her hip. She doesn’t self advocate well (cerebral palsy and limited cognitive functioning). I spent much of five days at the hospital with her. She ended up needing surgery. She will most likely not walk again, but she may be able to move enough to assist in her care.

Aside from health emergencies, I decided to use this home time to clean out and reorganize our storage sheds. This has been a daunting task, but I am almost done! I have been gathering boxes of my mom’s, putting them in a wagon, and bringing them to her to go through. She ends up keeping quite a lot. I think she may have finally realized and accepted that her lifetime of collections won’t fit in her room!

Black Lives Matter! This is the event held in my community. It was peaceful and unifying. In the last year or so, our county churches have been doing a great job trying to create ONE COMMUNITY. As the grandmother to a beautiful biracial granddaughter, I have hope that her generation will be the change they want to see in the world.

Topping everything off with our pandemic….that isn’t going away. While it hasn’t stricken my household, there are at least two cases in my aunt’s nursing home, at least one case in the nursing home where my daughter works, and there has been a case at our local high school (summer football practice). Very few people here are wearing masks or following CDC guidelines. Our local leaders are divided- the county mayor is telling everyone to go back to our old normal because it isn’t that bad here (we have gone from 1-2 cases a day to 8-10 cases a day and the hospital is fine). Our city mayor is encouraging more caution. Regardless, my household is using caution.

One thing that hasn’t gotten back on track are supervised visits for my kids and the dad. The visit center had to close in the stay at home order. We tried to do phone supervised visits three times, but the kids freaked out. Now the center has lost their location, and only do supervised visits in a public place like a park or restaurant. My teen is not able to do visits right now, but Little AoA is. The dad has now refused to have any visits with only Little AoA. The week after he refused visits, he contacted his attorney to complain that the kids weren’t coming to visits! I predicted that he would do this, so I kept pretty meticulous documentation and put it in the faithful hands of my attorney all along the way. It has been almost a full 8 years since we parted ways. My heart just aches for the kids who have not been able to live without fear of the dad.

I will end here by sharing a picture of our favorite little Chinese restaurant. It is just a couple miles from our house. They were closed during our stay at home order, and then revamped how they serve once everything opened back up. They converted their door to a walk up take out window. I haven’t seen anything else like this.

What changes are in your world? I would love to hear about them!

Everyone take care, love your neighbor, and be the change you want to see in the world!

~AoA

They Emerged

The people where I live emerged from their places of quarantine by the middle of May. The teachers at the school where I have my classroom, returned to work to clean out classrooms and do a drive by pick up for students to retrieve their things. We were all wearing masks and gloves, and practicing physical distancing as much as possible.

Here we are, two weeks later, and in our county, it is “every man for himself”. The mayor has sent a clear directive to the citizens that there will be no “new normal”. Everyone is free to do whatever they want, with no regard for others. Those who are “scared” are told to just stay home. I suppose that is one way to open back up.

We had a medical scare in our home last week. My mom fainted, and her vitals all dropped really, really low. We got her to the hospital by ambulance. They ruled out a heart attack and a stroke. She was a little dehydrated. They kept her overnight, and sent her home the next day with an oxygen tank. This week will be follow up appointments for her. Everyone in our home was afraid that she may have contracted COVID-19. I sterilized everything in my dad’s living space, and he started wearing a mask in the house. The hospital did not rule out COVID-19, as they just didn’t think she had it. A few days after my mom came home, I braved the dentist office to get a root canal. After being there a while, the dentist and assistant started talking about how the air conditioner there had been broken for the last five days, and wasn’t expected to be fixed for another five days! So……my fears become reality. I trust no one on these matters, so I took it upon myself to get tested, as I would have been the one to bring it home. What a relief when my test was negative…. The not knowing can be worrisome, and it left me planning for how I will return to work at the end of July. Will I need to isolate in my own home as long as I am going into public schools? Will I need to get tested once a week? I just don’t know, but I will not be surprised at much of anything!

The next thing I know, my teen woke me up in the middle of the night to show me the protesting and rioting that was being streamed on YouTube. This was before it was on the news everyday. It seemed so surreal. We all watched the events unfold over the next week.

This is the “Unity Rally” in my town.

The county I live in is home to several cultures. We have three small rural schools, each housing kindergarten through high school; many schools within the city limits which are falling apart; and several in the wealthier part of town, which look like castles compared to the city schools. I have had the experience of working in all of our county’s schools. I have also seen the faces of kids from the city schools, when they have first seen one of the fancy schools. It breaks my heart.

When I watch the protestors, and notice the ages of the majority of them, I think about their generation. They have found their voice. May they make the world a better place.

This picture reminds me of my parents, who have shared stories of protests during integration.

With all of this extra time at home, I have been doing some crafting. Little AoA has started the pen pal journey, and we made some little doll dresses for her new friends…

I have also made a few rag wreaths. This one was made for my aunt, who lives in a local nursing home. I used her old magnets to decorate it.

The truth is…… I MISS PEOPLE!! I love my family dearly, but I miss regular interactions with others.

Stay well and show kindness to others….

~AoA

Quarantine Day 55

Day 55…… Tomorrow I venture back into my school building to pack up my classroom for the summer. My room is mostly cluttered with books that I inherited from a retired teacher. Every year when I try to get rid of some, I get interested in them, and they stay in my room. Maybe this will be the year that I let some go.

Our town just opened up non-essential businesses and restaurants about a week ago. Enough time has not passed yet, to see the effects of this. I had to go to Lowe’s today, to get some roof shingle for repairs of damage done by last week’s storms. The store was packed, and very few people were wearing masks. I took a picture of this vehicle at the local Walmart….

I will go ahead and make a guess that the people who use this vehicle do not feel like they need to participate in stopping the spread of COVID-19. Of course, everyone is free to choose here. We have all been nicely asked to follow the recommendations of the CDC, and follow the “Tennessee Pledge” for opening up in phases.

We recognized Mother’s Day today. I made breakfast for my mom and dad (and myself). After breakfast, I decided to detail my mom’s van. It was a beautiful day, and I really wanted to be outside! I enjoy doing the cars because I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish. I just hardly ever find an uninterrupted block of time in which to do it. At the end of the day, my older two kids called to say “happy Mother’s Day” and for our regular conversations. The younger two thought to acknowledge it too. I even got a text from the older kids’ father.

Here are some things that made me smile….

Stay well, and show kindness to another….

~AoA

Quarantine Day 53

Day 53…… I missed writing the last couple of days. I had spread myself too thin. I had signed up for a group book study with some other teachers. The schedule was fine when I signed up for it several weeks ago. It was to meet on four different mornings for two to three hours each time. That wasn’t going to be difficult…until special education teachers got word that we would need to hold ALL of our meetings virtually, preferably during the first week of May. I had twelve meetings to squeeze in. I was working into the nights on the computer, while still fitting in basic parenting. Today was my last day of meetings!

The last two days I have had a sore throat and headache. This is not a good time to get sick. We have had strange weather this week, from nice and warm to cold and damp. I am thinking that has made me ill, but there is that question in the back of my mind. I am suppose to go into the school building in three days. We were all told to stay home if we have any of the COVID-19 symptoms. The thing is, I don’t have a fever, and I wouldn’t normally stay home with these symptoms. Wrapping my mind around this new normal is challenging around every corner.

Here are some things that have made me smile over the past couple days…

Nurse Appreciation Week

My school people put this bitmoji sign together. Everyone sent in their bitmoji. I guess it’s our “virtual school” reminder!

Here is the Dear Heart flower for today…

Stay well, find joy, and show kindness!

~AoA

Quarantine Day 50

Day 50….. we are getting back on track after our powerless stretch of time Sunday night. Today we tried to do a supervised phone visit between the kids and their dad. Both kids were very upset about it. The supervisor called me first, and heard me pleading with the kids to participate. In the end, I told her I would have the kids write notes for her to give their dad. We are going to try again next week, and hope that the kids were just overwhelmed from the storms. Honestly, the 14 year old wants nothing to do with the dad. I was worried this might happen when the dad interfered in teen’s therapy.

When I went out to gather food and medication today, I noticed only about 10% of people are now wearing masks. It looks like some are attempting to social distance, but more like three feet than six feet. I took a picture of a parking lot that is usually empty…

I’ve never seen so many cars in this shopping center.

Our county has had a total of 50 COVID-19 cases. The citizens are ready to sacrifice the elderly and immune compromised, in order to bring the economy back to life. The leaders here are promoting free choice as to whether individuals choose to follow cdc guidelines. I love our freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. It seems people want the freedom without taking responsibility.

I have one thing to share, Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs. I based my personal educational philosophy on this…

Stay well, and show kindness to others….

~AoA

Quarantine Day 48

Day 48…… well, actually today is day 49, but last night we lost power, and I wasn’t able to post anything. The day was like any other day during our pandemic. We knew that there were thunderstorms coming in the evening, which is not uncommon. Once it hit 4:30 pm, the wind started picking up at a wild pace! We watched as everything on our back deck started spinning! Little AoA always keeps an emergency storm bag in the hallway, which definitely comes in handy! The power went off….the whole family went to the hallway to wait until the sound of wind stopped. There had been no tornado warnings or high wind warnings.

As time passed into the evening, the power still wasn’t back on. A quick look at local Facebook pages, and I saw that much of our town was without power. My teenager freaked out a bit, because they needed to be online at 6:00 to moderate a discord site that was hosting an interview with Tyler Joseph of 21 Pilots!

We needed a plan! With COVID-19, not much is open right now, so I really did some searching. I called a deli where people can sit and work while eating, to see if they had power and an open dining room. They did! I packed up my laptops, face masks, and Clorox wipes, and headed to town with my teen. It seemed that there were some issues leading up to the interview. One of the site managers had lost internet connection, and one besides us, had lost power. Everyone went to plan B, and the server was running well. They only let people know one hour ahead of time about the interview, and that was enough to lead 1000 people to a single server that usually has about 50 or fewer people on it! They also streamed live to Facebook, which is what I had running, as my teen sat across from me, moderating the server. That was a very cool experience!

We went home after that….still no power. I set the teen up with the car, so they could sit in the car and use a device. Little AoA and I went to bed and tried our best to sleep. When morning came, still no power. I went with my teen to pick up breakfast for everyone. When we got home, we made plans to drive around for a while rather than sit in our powerless house. Luckily, the minute we left, power was restored! We did better staying home with COVID-19 than without power. I am more thankful for power than I realized.

As news started coming out, it revealed that straight line winds around 70mph is what hit our Middle Tennessee area. In Nashville, 130,000 people were without power, and some may be without it for up to five days! To put it into perspective, when the devastating tornados hit about a month ago, power was lost at 50,000 homes. There are trees uprooted, and power lines down everywhere. This picture is from a neighborhood just up the road from me…

I did manage to find some things that made me smile….

Stay well, stay safe, and show kindness to another!

~AoA

Quarantine Day 47

Day 47…… our bird nest is now empty. It was quite a day. It started with picking up my truck from the shop after being fixed. After that, I did some computer work with my dad. While I was finishing up the computer work, my mom started stumbling over her own feet while walking. My dad yelled in fear and frustration. She fell two days ago, and I fear that she may have an illness. She refuses to go to the doctor. I made her an appointment, and she called behind me and cancelled it. My mom was insulted, and went to her bed, staying there sulking for a solid nine hours! She said she wanted to just give up. Thankfully, before I turned in for the night, she was returning to normal. I am trying to do my work from home, and it is going well. However, when I am focusing on my work at home, I am not taking care of the little household tasks that come up. I seek to find a balance.

Little AoA and I went for a drive today, just to get out of the house. We picked up a snack, and drove to the mall, where we just sat in the parking lot. Most of the stores in our mall are still closed. We played our new COVID-19 hunt, where we count people with and without masks on. There are more without than with.

The people are restless. Our state opened up this past week, and by the middle of this coming week, beauty shops and nail salons will open back up. There are guidelines in place, which seems to mostly consist of businesses putting up signs recommending six foot distancing and masks. Nothing I have seen was being enforced. I have seen people from my state posting on social media, pictures of them meeting with older family members and commenting how nice it is to see them again. My head spins in wonder at this. The pandemic is not over. Our at-risk citizens are at no less risk. They are, actually, more at risk now that everyone has relaxed mitigation measures. Nursing homes are still closed to visitors, for the safety of the residents. All of the educating that has been being done to encourage safe behaviors until the pandemic has run its course and come to an end one way or another, and people still choose to ignore.

I like following our state COVID-19 site. It amazes me that the powers that be claim that our state has had a 14 day decline in new cases, as recommended by the federal COVID-19 task force. They claim that there are other measures considered, but this is the only thing the public sees, as far as I have seen. Here is today’s graph of new cases…

I didn’t find much funny today…I tend to get a little down when I am worried about others in my home. I did find one little thing….

Here is a sweet little flower truck that operates in my little town….

Stay well, and show kindness to others….

~AoA

Quarantine Day 46

Day 46 is in the books. Our county opened gyms today, retail two days ago, and dining in restaurants 5 days ago. Less than half the people are taking precautions of wearing masks and social distancing. My school system has called teachers in to work for one week, even though the guidelines still call for working from home if you can. That is a bit irritating for me, since I have been working from home scheduling meetings, writing reports, and holding virtual meetings. If I don’t return for the demanded week, I have to use the family medical leave act for COVID-19, which allows us to take up to 12 weeks off while reviving 2/3 of our regular pay. This can be used for my situation, because I care for my dad in my home, and he is extremely high risk. I have figured out a way to go into work for the upcoming wrongful demand week. I will save my family leave time for the fall, just in case they have school starting with COVID-19 cases still not under control.

I spent a good deal of my day worrying about this. I called some work friends, my immediate supervisor, and the state COVID-19 hotline. When I finished worrying, I helped my dad work on our lawnmower. I am really good at handing him tools.

Little AoA and I had our mom and daughter time in the evening. She worked on her doll rooms. Here is one she fixed up today with a “Depression Era” theme. She put pictures of Amelia Earhart in the doll’s room.

Something I saw today that made me smile, was little crochet couches for cats. It really made me want a cat…

Here is the Dear Heart flower for the day…

Stay well, think social safety, and show kindness….

~AoA

Quarantine Day 45

Day 45….. hair salons will open soon, and everyone can get fixed up. I don’t think I ever realized how much importance people put into hair and nail salons. I hardly ever get my nails done, and I only get my hair cut when it starts to get too long and hot. People are so excited.

I attended a large group online book study this morning. The comic relief came when a technologically impaired teacher friend showed up after the speaker was well into her opening. Everyone was muted, and my friend came on, unmuted. She couldn’t hear anybody, but we could all hear her. She was going on and on about how she couldn’t do this technology, unaware that we could all hear her!

I made a doctor appointment for my mom, since she fell last night, and has seemed to be having some issues with possibly her kidneys, or with dehydration. Within about 30 minutes of me making the appointment, she called the doctor’s office and cancelled. She is afraid to go out right now. This is probably my biggest worry right now; that my parents will need healthcare, and won’t go to a doctor or hospital.

Tonight, Little AoA had her first big breakdown over the quarantine. She really wants to go on a vacation and stay in a hotel. We had been planning a trip to Gatlinburg before the pandemic. She cried in my arms for a while, then I was able to help her get her mind on something else. We ended up coloring together, and then she decided to work on her LEGO creations. We all miss going places.

Here are some things I saw today that made me smile….

One fun thing that people are doing, is giving play by play reports of their pets. Here is the first one I ever watched…

Here is the Dear Heart flowers for today…

Stay well, wear your mask, and show kindness to a friend!

~AoA

Quarantine Day 44

Day 44…..I saw this sign on my journey to pick up my groceries curbside today. I had Little AoA with me for the ride, and we started a little game where we count the people with and without masks on, going into stores. We counted less than half with masks. Our state allowed dine in restaurants to open Monday, and today, non-essential stores could open. Just for curiosity, we drove be the Hobby Lobby.

It looked like the Christmas rush!

I had a very busy morning, doing zoom meetings and making phone calls. Then I did a little cleaning before it was time to go on the grocery pick up.

Little AoA and I had some fun playing around with a new Bluetooth camera switch. It was really cute when she discovered how it worked. She just laughed and laughed! Here is a picture of us she took…

Little AoA and I did a couple of brain teasing puzzles in the evening, and planned the next day. I was suppose to have read a book for a work book study that starts tomorrow. I only got through the first chapter. I tried to read many times, and I see that when I want to read, others want to talk. It will be ok, because the reading is not mandatory for the class.

Just when we turned out the lights to go to bed….

My mom fell and couldn’t get up! This is about the third time in a month that this has happened. She has no strength to position herself or pull herself up when holding onto something. My dad and I ended up having to lift her onto her bed. We put a walker next to her bed to aid her if she tries to walk anywhere. The thoughts that went through my mind were of having to take my mom to the hospital at this time. She would not do well with that.

On to a lighter subject…things that I may have laughed at today!

Here are the Dear Heart flowers for today…

Stay well, and show kindness to someone….

~AoA