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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A good chicken recipe is all you need, right?

Week three of the kids doing remote school and week two of Dan working from home is going well.  I'm just trying to stay out of everyone's way and praying that the wi-fi doesn't go out.

The weather was sunny and in the 80s all weekend and it was glorious.  I always feel like "we can make it" when the weather is nice.  But today it's cloudy and cool and my mind is like "we will not survive".  But we will.  We will survive.

Last night I made more bread.

Basis white bread.  Basic is good.

For dinner last night I tried a new recipe and everyone loved it.  It was Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce from Recipe Shoebox. It was yummy and I will definitely be making it again.

I went to Aldi and Wal-Mart yesterday and was able to find everything I needed.  Both stores seemed to be fairly well stocked (not on TP or paper towels.  Aldi had TP but no paper towels and as I was walking through Walmart I saw TP and paper towels in people's carts but the shelves were empty.  I guess you need to get there early for those items. Aldi had antibacterial wipes but no one has hand sanitizer.) 

It was nice to get out of the house for a little bit.  I brought my own wipes and wiped down the carts and used hand sanitizer as well.  Aldi had tape lines on the floor at the register to encourage social distancing and Walmart had someone wiping down carts and pulling them apart and putting them in front of the door.  So all you had to do was grab one by the door (no fighting to separate it from another cart).  I wiped mine down again anyway.

Neither store was very busy.  They had about the normal amount of Monday morning shoppers that I always encounter. 

After school was over, Sarah and I went for our 1.5-mile walk.  It's nice to get a little exercise but I'm still feeling like when this is all said and done, I'm going to be toting around the COVID 19 - which is similar to the Freshman 15 I gained when I went away to college. 

 We have to keep laughing right?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The dream.

The sun came out yesterday afternoon so Sarah and I went for a long walk.  It was 65 degrees with a little breeze blowing - perfect for a 40-minute walk! (I did that instead of an online workout.  You all knew I wasn't going to do an online workout, right?  I think I'm scarred from all those years of doing Jillian Michael's 30 Minute Shred.  I was in the best shape of my life though while doing that program.)

I had a strange dream last night.  The kids and I were in the car on our way somewhere we've never been so I wasn't exactly sure how to get where we were going.  Everything was fine until it immediately turned pitch black and started raining and the wind was blowing.  (If you know me then you know one of the things I hate most in life is driving in the dark and in the rain to someplace I've never been before.  For me, this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.)

As soon as the darkness and the rain and wind came, I could not stop the car or slow it down.  All I could do was turn the steering wheel to keep it on the road. It was almost like being on a horrible roller coaster the car was going so fast.  I had zero control.  All I could do was hang on to the steering wheel and try to keep the car on the road.

The whole time, I was praying out loud "God, save us!  God, save us!"  I repeated this prayer over and over until almost as quickly as the darkness, the rain, and the wind started, it stopped.  It was daylight again, I could see where I was going and I could control the car and we were all fine.

My prayers turned to praise and thanksgiving and then I woke up.

I laid in bed thinking that this nightmare was actually my current reality thanks to the Coronavirus.  Everything was fine one minute and then out of the blue the world turned upside down and I no longer had control over anything. (Or perceived control, anyway.)

Just like in my dream, all I can do is pray and beg God to save us (our country, the sick, the economy, Dan's job, my sanity...) and just try to keep the car on the road.  I'm hoping that just like in the dream the darkness, rain, and wind will leave us quickly and things will get back to normal.  Wishful thinking, maybe?  But miracles do happen!

And now on a lighter note, I made the kids banana chocolate chip muffins this morning and they turned out great.  Aren't they pretty?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

More closures, more tulips, and tacos!

The governor announced on Monday that public schools will be out until May 15th and the catholic schools are following suit.  UGH!!!!!  I get it but UGH!!!!!

In addition to that, by 5:00 PM today, all salons (hair and nail), movie theatres, gyms, pools, masage parlors, tattoo parlors, skating rinks, gaming parlors, etc.  are all to be closed until further notice. 

I am hoping and praying that all of this works but in the meantime, I am just feeling a little defeated BUT I'm trying to stay positive by remembering that we all have our health, Dan still thankfully has his job, the kids haven't killed each other yet - although they almost did yesterday, we have plenty of food, the weather for the weekend is looking really good and that ultimately, THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

How was that for a really long sentence?

I made tacos out of ground chicken meat last night.  They were pretty good but give me ground beef any day.  The recipe called for heating the shells, then filling the shells with meat and cheese and then putting them back in the oven for 10  minutes for the shells to get really crispy.  I've never done that before and y'all - they were SO good!  That one extra step made a world of difference!

Our outdoor tulips are starting to bloom:

Also, I've been trying to coax spring-like weather by making our front porch a little more springy:

And my indoor tulips look really nice as well.  Here's a picture from this morning:

Someone I follow on Instagram mentioned that tulips continue to grow after they are cut (how is that possible?) and that she trims the stems every couple of days when she is changing out the water.  She also recommends putting them outside in the cool air in the morning to keep them looking fresh.  Similar to how florists keep their flowers in refrigerators.  I've followed those tips and I must say that this round of tulips is looking really nice and they aren't opening as fast which means I will be able to enjoy them longer!

I really need to get my butt in gear - literally.  Every day I proclaim "today's the day I'm going to do an online workout" and then I never do it. But I really do need to do something. I had just started to get into a good routine at the gym and now I feel like all that progress has been lost.  So maybe today is the day I will do an online workout....  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Cheesecake, bowls, flowers.

Dan is home today because we were supposed to be in Knoxville touring the University of Tennessee campus.  He is currently setting up an old desk in the guest room so he can start working from home later this week.

The school has changed the plan from two full days a week doing online school to four half-days of online school in the mornings and teachers holding "office hours" in the afternoon and a day off to catch up on homework and projects.  I think the kids will like this because it will mean they get to "see" friends and be a part of a class more days of the week and then they can do homework each afternoon. 

I'm proud of how quickly our school has put all of this online school together.  They started the online school last Tuesday after the governor announced the shutdown on Saturday evening.   That's an awesome turnaround time.  And the fact that all students have school-issued MacBooks helps.

It's cold and rainy here today but it was such a nice weekend - sunny and warm and it felt like everything was going to be right with the world soon.  But the rain and cold make me question that. Plus I just saw an article saying it would be 18 months until everything is normal again.  I immediately clicked away from that and didn't bother to open it up.  Just trying to take things one day at a time. 

I made a delicious cheesecake this weekend:

Here's the recipe I used in case you are interested:  The Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake.

I got some tulips to cheer this place up.  Well, I don't know if it cheers anyone else in the family up but fresh tulips always cheer ME up!

And look at this bowl Sarah made in pottery class:

Didn't she do a great job?  She's had so much fun in pottery and has brought home quite a few bowls and mugs.  She's pretty sad that she's missing the last quarter of pottery class because she has learned so much and has gotten really good at centering her clay and making things that we can actually use around the house.

That's it for now.  I'm going to go avoid the news and try to stay positive.  Oh - and wash my hands - again!  :)

Friday, March 20, 2020

It's the pits!

Yesterday after school, Sarah and I made banana bread.  She wanted to use a recipe she found on TikTok.  We decided to add chocolate chips to it to make it even more delicious.  However, I think we put in too many because all the chocolate chips went to the bottom and made like a thick chocolate syrup almost.  Even though it had to be scooped out sort of, it was still delicious.

Today things feel almost normal around here.  The sun is SHINING and it's going to be 80 degrees today.  I've opened all the windows and it feels like spring.  So even though Kohls and Marshalls have closed for two weeks, I'm trying to remain positive because this will not last forever.

Once I opened the windows, I discovered this:

Look at all that dirt and grime!  Gross.  So I got an old tooth brush, some all purpose cleaner, some Q tips and a microfiber cloth and got to work. And look at the results:

Not perfect but so much better.  I did this to four windows and called it quits.  I can only do so much in one day.  :)

The kids are eating their lunch right now.  That's the hardest part of this virtual learning - figureing out what to have for lunch!

I think Sarah and I are going out for a walk when she's done to burn off that chocolate banana bread.  It's too pretty not to be outside.  And we need to enjoy it because it sounds like it's going to be cold and cloudy for a week starting tomorrow.

And while I've got you all here - Does anyone have a good natural aluminum-free deodorant they would recommend.  Sarah heard that aluminum (which is the active ingredient in most antiperspirant/deodorants) can cause breast cancer and asked for something different.

So we switched to Tom's.  I thought it was fine but I think it still has some aluminum in it.  I found an Equate brand which I think also works fine but she didn't like that one either.  She is now trying an aluminum-free deodorant from Dove and she's not impressed.  So if anyone has one they swear by, let me know so I can run that one past her smelly armpits. :)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Update on life....

The kids are on Day 3 of virtual learning.  I guess it's going well.  They prefer the days where they check in with each class and have to be at their computer the whole day to the days where they are just working on assignments.  I think it makes them feel more connected to their classes and to their friends when they are Google Hangout and Zoom so they can actually interact as a class. 

Currently, they are doing class all day on Tuesday and Thursday but I'm wondering if this goes longer than two weeks (as I'm sure it will) if they will switch to that more often during the week.  I guess we will see how it goes. I am thankful that our school was basically prepared to move to this type of learning environment.  All the students have MacBooks and this seems to be going fairly well so far.  I'm praying that they are continuing to learn everything they need to learn. 

Dan's trip to Seattle was officially canceled/postponed yesterday so that's a relief.  And as of now, he is still going into the office but he said that could change.  He said there is one guy that spends his whole day wiping down surfaces.  He comes by multiple times a day to wipe the door handle to Dan's cubicle.

Dan is concerned about our wifi bandwidth if he works from home all day with the kids doing school all day.  It could be interesting.

I went out yesterday to see if I could find toilet paper and I was successful!

However, in the process, I bought more groceries which we didn't need because seeing all the shelves so bare freaked me out.  I know we aren't going to run out of food but my brain kept saying - "But what if we do?  Protect your family.  Buy all the things!"

The governor has ordered that restaurants switch to take-out only and I'm wondering how long that's going to last.  I would not be surprised if they switched to no restaurant food at all.  A local Chick-Fil-A has closed for the time being because one of their staff members has tested positive.  :(

There is no mass here (weekend or weekday) until further notice but our sanctuary will remain open.

All the YMCAs here have closed but the gym that we go to has not.  I  am not going  because I think on a good day, the gym is full of disgusting regular germs.  Even with everyone "wiping down" the machines, there are so many opportunities to pass on germs unknowingly.  And I figure if I'm advising my mom not to go, then I need to take my own advice.

My Keurig has been sputtering and making noises and not giving out full cups of coffee and occasionally not even brewing any coffee even though I just descaled it in January.  So while I was out yesterday I ran into  Kohls and put my 30% off coupon to good use and got a new one.  Isn't she pretty?

I cleaned out the guest bedroom closet which housed all of our craft supplies, school supplies, random oversized kitchen appliances, cleaning products, etc.  I did not do a before and after of the closet but it looks really good in there now. 

Yesterday I cleaned out the fridge and sorted out the pantry items and moved some excess into space I created in the garage.  I typically have quite a few canned goods on hand but two weeks ago our parish participated in a canned food drive and I basically emptied out my pantry of all canned goods knowing I could get any whenever I needed.  So I kind of freaked out a little bit when I went to the store last week and there were NONE!  So I probably bought a few too many (although I followed the guidelines posted at the store) when I went this week. 

My mom reminded me this morning that it is Spring today!  Spring?  Are you sure it isn't the middle of the longest darkest winter night in Alaska?  That's sort of what it feels like in my brain but it's going to be 77 today and 80 tomorrow so I guess spring is coming outside whether or not it feels like it in my mind. 

I pulled out the breadmaker the other day and made a nice loaf of fresh bread.  It was yummy.

Today after school, Sarah wants to make banana bread so I'm sure this will be me very soon:


Monday, March 16, 2020


Well, things are going to hell in a handbasket, aren't they?

I am trying to remain positive but it's a lot to take in. 

My kids are currently doing remote school as the Governor of North Carolina called for all schools to close for two weeks.  But honestly, I feel like it's going to be longer.  I would not be surprised if they remained closed until after Easter/Spring Break.

And when the governor closed schools he also said that there should be no gatherings of 100 or more people which meant our Bishop then canceled all weekend masses until this ban has been lifted.

We were supposed to go visit the University of Tennesse next Monday but that was canceled.  As of now, Peter's spring break trip to visit 4 colleges with his friends is still on.  I am hoping that things have calmed down by mid-April and that they actually happen.

My kids are not excited about doing remote school.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they will be having classes all day long at their regular times using various virtual learning platforms like Google Hangouts, discussion boards, etc.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday students will be doing class assignments, virtual gatherings, virtual group assignments, and other work assigned by their teachers. We are a little stressed out about how all of that is going to work.

Several area school systems canceled their SATs on Saturday but the county where Peter was signed up did not.  So, he got to take that on Saturday morning which I guess is a good thing.  That's one less thing to reschedule.

This is all weighing pretty heavily on the kids.  And not just the weird school piece of it but the whole thing.  They are worried about my mom getting sick.  They are worried about having enough food.  They are upset about not being able to see their friends. They are worried about the end of the school year and worried about grades.

I am trying not to alarm them unnecessarily but they can read so they know what's going on.  Everything feels heavy and weird and just because they are kids, doesn't mean they are immune to it.

Monday is my normal grocery day so I went this morning.  Aldi had a little beef, no chicken, no TP, no paper towels, no canned food, no milk, and no eggs.  Walmart had no TP or paper towels but a little bit of everything else.  Both stores were in process of restocking the food sections so I imagine going later today would have been better but who knows.

We have food for now and I have TP and paper towels from my regular shopping trip two weeks ago.  I bought way more than I normally would on a regular shopping trip.  I did mean to do it but seeing those empty shelves sent me into a mild panic even though I could also see the shelves being restocked. 

Dan still has a trip to Seattle scheduled in two weeks and his company is still working at the office.  (They are a manufacturing facility so there's really no way to "work from home".  Technically Dan could do it, but as long as the office is open and they aren't mandating the office workers to work from home, he will go in. AT this point, I am not expecting him to go to Seattle, and he hasn't made his travel arrangements bu ti hasn't officially been canceled.

I know everyone is in the same boat and that does make me feel a little bit better I guess but y'all know I prefer ordinary time and this is certainly far from ordinary time. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020


Since it's been a week and a half since my last post, how about a good old fashioned bullet post?

*We survived the time change.  I am hoping that some day, we can stop this non-sense and just let nature do it's thing.  Wouldn't that be nice not to have to worry about springing forward or falling backward and feeling like crap for a week until your body gets adjusted?

*It's been sunny, rainy, cool, warm.  Sounds like spring, right?  It's going to be 71 degrees today but I just heard the weather announcer say that this weekend is going to be wet and cold.  Boo.

*This past Sunday was Girl Scout Sunday and Sarah's troop provided a meal for the church members.  Each GS family provided soup and a dessert.  There was a great variety of soup and I think the congregation really enjoyed the food and fellowship.  And here are the girls before church and ready to serve up their soup:

*We had briefly discussed going to Italy over spring break.  But I was never able to get anything planned and the thought of trying to figure it all out (where to go, where to stay, what to see, how long to stay.etc.) made me sick to my stomach.  So we decided to just go to Charleston for a couple of days.  And BOY am I glad it worked out that way.  I would be heart broken if we had to cancel our trip because of the virus. 

*And speaking of the virus - did any of you ever watch the TV show  Last Man on Earth?  Dan and I loved it and were disappointed when it was cancelled after four seasons.  If you've never seen it, the premise is that there was a virus that wiped out the entire population of the earth and there was only one man left.  He eventually found a few other survivors and many antics ensued.  Watching it, I always thought that it was ridiculous that a virus could wipe out an entire population in this day and age and now I'm thinking, hmmmmm.....maybe that's not so far-fetched.

*I was very disappointed when I went to Costco on Friday and discovered that in addition to wiping down your cart at the door, they had stopped giving away samples.  What's the point of Costco without samples? 

*I feel like the media has hyped this thing and has caused everyone to be in a frenzy over a virus but then I am reading things out of Italy that talk about hospitals having to use gymnasiums as emergency rooms and how doctor's are ultimately going to have to decide who gets treatment and who doesn't due to limited resources.  That's pretty scary stuff.  I think we all need to be hitting our knees in prayer. 

*On a lighter note - do any of you watch the Bachelor?  Oh my goodness!  This season has been a train wreck and I'm not going to lie - I've enjoyed every minute of it.  But I will tell you what I did NOT enjoy:

Peter's mom, Barbara is a real piece of work.  YIKES!

*And against my better judgement, yesterday I watched the first episode of Season 1 of  Love Is Blind on Netflix.  I really enjoyed it and am hoping to watch another episode later today. 

*Dan and I have been watching Making of a Murderer and we are really enjoying that.  We are late to the party on that one, I know.  :)  I've also been listening to a bunch of true crime podcasts when I'm at the gym.  If anyone has any that they really enjoy, let me know. 

*Dan had a follow up appointment with the doctor on Monday and his blood pressure was good.  However, he took the monitor he uses to check his BP at home and it reads high.  Even accounting for that, his BP readings at home have been elevated and I think he's going to go back again for a recheck.  I imagine that he will have another medication added before it's all said and done because previously he was on two different meds.

That's all the news that's fit for printing around here.  Have a great rest of your week!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Not the boring weekend I had planned.

Saturday started out like any other normal Saturday.  Dan decided not to run because his knee which had been giving him problems was finally starting to feel better and he didn't want to hurt it again before it was fully healed.

We had breakfast, read the newspaper and got the kids up.  Dan and Peter headed to the Moravian church up the road to help my brother, who handles the yard work there, plant grass seed and do some other chores he needed extra help with.

I started vacuuming and threw a load of laundry in the machine and then Peter came in and said he brought Dan home because he wasn't feeling well.

I came downstairs to find Dan in the bathroom.  When he came out I asked what was wrong.  He had a strange look on his face and replied, "I don't know.  I don't feel right.  I'm confused."

I asked him if he was nauseous or if his stomach hurt and he said no to both.  He just kept saying he was confused and didn't know what was going on.

I told the kids I was taking Dad to the urgent care - our doctor who is minutes away has Saturday hours from 8:00 to 12:30 so we raced over there.  The whole way Dan kept saying he was confused.

I was trying to hold it together and the whole way to the doctor's office I was praying the Memorare.  (I have recently been praying Mother Theresa's Flying Novena and was very thankful that I had this prayer memorized! )  

We checked in and were seen pretty quickly once I told them what was going on with Dan.  His blood pressure was 186/120.  The normal is 120/80.

The PA did all the checks for a stroke and other than confusion, he showed no other signs for that.

She asked him a series of questions like what day is it, what's your name, what month is it, etc.  He answered them all correctly but all very slowly.  However, when she asked him who the president was and he paused and considered it for a bit and finally said, "Clinton?" and my heart dropped into my stomach.

She called 911 and an ambulance came and took him to the hospital.  The PA also called ahead to the emergency room and gave them all the information she had taken, his vitals, etc so that they would be expecting him.  I had questioned whether or not to take him straight to the hospital or not but I'm glad we stopped there first because we didn't have to deal with triage at the hospital.  (In hindsight, I probably should have just called 911 myself. I think if he had shown other signs of stroke-like paralysis or slurred speech I would have but since his only symptom was confusion I didn't know what to do.)

When I got to the hospital I had to wait about 10 minutes until I could see him.  They let me back once he had a room.  His blood pressure was 207/124.  This is not an exaggeration.  I wrote down every BP that I saw and this was what was on the monitor at 1:15.

At 1:45 his BP was 203/116 and they administered hydralazine which slowly started to bring it down.  They said there can be major issues if you bring it down too quickly so basically I just spent the rest of the day watching the monitor and taking notes on what his BP was.

He was taken back for a CT scan and an MRI.  Both, praise the Lord, came back normal.  They were checking for bleeding, tumors, etc.

We were waiting for the neurologist to come in to give us some answers and in the meantime talked to a nurse practitioner.  When she found out Dan had been in Germany from Feb 9th to Feb 13th and came home with a cough and cold, she freaked out.  She had his swabbed so he could be tested for coronavirus and next thing you know, they slapped a mask on Dan and everyone that came into the room from that point on was wearing a mask.  We continued to wait and finally, an MD came in and explained that they were worried that Dan had coronavirus.

He continued to explain that they didn't have a test for the COVID-19 which is the current strain that everyone is freaked out about.  They were going to have to send Dan's swab off to Raleigh to be tested and were going to admit him (they were going to do that anyway) and put him in a special room that is sealed in such a way that when the doors are opened and closed no germs can come in or out.  He also implied that Dan might be quarantined at the hospital until the tests came back.

I was getting a little pissed off at this point. I told this doctor that I was certain it wasn't COVID-19 because I had the exact same type of cold (congestion followed by a lingering cough) right before Dan left for Germany but I was concerned about the cause of his high blood pressure.  He assured me that they were working on that as well but had to take all precautions to protect the hospital in case he was infected with COVID-19.

Another hour or more passes and they finally come back in and say that the infectious control team at the hospital had a conference call with the state board of infectious disease (or something like that) and have finally determined that Dan is low risk since he is just (by one day) outside the 14-day quarantine window and Germany isn't on the list of countries to avoid.

After all of that craziness was passed us, it was determined that Dan's spike in blood pressure wasn't steeming from any neurological problem but was due to the fact that his  BP had been slowly increasing over the last few weeks.  (Dan was on meds for high BP a couple of years ago but then lost about 30 pounds.  After his weight loss, he continued taking the meds and started to get light-headed and almost fainted a couple of times while doing yard work so the doctor took him off the meds last spring.  Dan continued to check his BP at home and had noticed that over the last few of weeks it was getting high again. Which I think is due to two factors -he's gained about 8 or 9 pounds back and he is extremely stressed about work)

So his BP has been steadily rising over the last month or so.  He started taking a prescription NSAID for his knee pain.  This particular one can increase your blood pressure.  He woke up at 4:00 am on Saturday with a headache but went back to bed. At 8:00 when he got up he took FOUR Advil because he still had a headache.  Advil is also an NSAID that can react with the medication he is taking for his knee. And NSAIDs, in general, can cause an increase in blood pressure. Immediately after taking the 4 Advil he took the knee medication and that my friends is how he ended up in the hospital with a blood pressure of 207/124.

Moral of the story - if you have high blood pressure, don't take NSAIDs. And especially don't take them in high doses.

Dan spent the entire day very confused.  Even as his blood pressure was slowly coming down, he continued to question me. What are we doing here?  How did I get here?  I'm very confused.  You need to explain things to me.

He kept repeating these things over and over.  It was honestly breaking my heart.  I don't think I've ever prayed so hard in my life.  I had my family praying, Dan's family praying, Jennifer praying and my whole Care Group praying.  (And I had Mary and my sweet little Rebecca  praying!)

I'm not sure what I would have done without all that prayer.   I was terrified at the prospect of going through the rest of my life without Dan.

I left at 10:00 PM when we realized it was going to be after midnight until they could get him a room.
He finally got into his room around 1:45 AM.  He didn't get much sleep and neither did I.

I head back to the hospital early on Sunday and he was fine.  His blood pressure was normal in fact it seemed a little low to me but his confusion was gone.  He has very little memory of the events that occurred on Saturday.  He doesn't remember Peter bringing him home, he doesn't remember me taking him to urgent care, he doesn't remember the ride in the ambulance.

They were able to quickly discharge him and we were out of the hospital by Noon.  He was fine yesterday but very tired and a little sluggish.  He is taking a sick day today and is still asleep now. 

As I look back over our bizarre weekend, I am thankful for many things:

prayers of family and friends
caring and convenient medical professionals
Dan was home when this happened and not traveling or at work
it was the weekend and we were all at home
there were no underlying conditions or issues causing this other than our own ignorance about what medications can be taken together
Dan is alive and okay

I am praying that he has no long term effects from this and would appreciate any and all prayers from those who have made it this far in this too long post.