Monday, 30 March 2020

Day 14

2 weeks. A was very excited about this, thinking that meant only 10 to go. I had to break it to her that we don't know this, that we may have much longer to wait, and that no one can give her an exact time frame for potentially quite a long time. This did not go down terribly well; my girl needs numbers, facts and figures. I think we all do.

Meanwhile my boy was not impressed that the garden has become an arctic wasteland; bitingly cold wind along with freezing rain interfering with his circuits of bouncing climbing sliding. Meanie Mummy wasn't willing to stand outside and push the swing either; a process which involves tipping the entire swing frame onto its side, in order to give a little extra clearance for his feet. Baby swings are not intended for leggy three year olds with Piers. We've a larger SN swing coming at some point this week; my next mission is to persuade the apple tree to let us have a branch for it. Could be interesting.

Some schoolwork for A this morning; her set tasks whilst school is closed involve doing a load of laundry, drying and ironing it, planning a meal or light snack, or working out a weekly grocery shop, then entering it into two online supermarkets and doing a price comparison. So far, her weekly necessities include Diet Coke, biscuits, chocolate spread, and bread. It's a work in progress.

Ridiculously, our carers have all been ordered to work from home. I'm not entirely sure how this is supposed to work, however our best carer did WhatsApp A this morning in order to check in with her. Perhaps I should negotiate for her to join us over WhatsApp as I attempt to wrestle A through her shower next time; at least I'd have a witness to agree that the murder was justified.

Today in addition to being our own carer I was attempting to be our own cleaner. I did achieve hoovering the cobwebs off the ceiling. I did not achieve actually hoovering the floor; madam sensory refuses to allow the hoover anywhere near her and also refuses to move out of the room so she is away from it. Not sure how this will work with another of her Learning Objectives (and I promise, these have come from school, I have not set them myself), to clean and tidy a room. Incidentally, why clean and tidy? Doesn't it make more sense to tidy first and then clean? Or is this where I am going wrong. D enjoys the hoover nearly as much as A hates it. Or, he enjoys turning it on and running away when I take a break, and turning it off then running away when I try to use it.

Tomorrow we have a supermarket delivery. The anticipation. The wonder. What will be in stock, and what not? Exciting times.

I realised I have completely stopped looking at my calendar. There are appointments on it, but all cancelled. Now, the only fixed things we have going on during the week are Sunday's online church services. The rest of the week is fluid. If it takes us until 11 to get up and through the shower, then so be it. If we are all enthusiastically demanding breakfast at 7, then breakfast at 7 it is. There's nowhere we have to be, ever. No one we need to be ready for, ever. A message from podiatry made me realise we should have been there this afternoon (except it was cancelled). Helpful tips from the podiatry team until they can see clients again. "You should keep your feet clean and dry. You should avoid infections." Thanks, guys, I'll get right on that. No survival guide from NHS Coronavirus today. Disconcerting. Perhaps podiatry were stepping up instead?

So, another day done. Crossed off the calendar; meaningless though without an end date in sight. Just another day done.

Day 13

Church today. Last week, broadcast from an empty church, with worship team and clergy carefully two meters apart. This week, broadcast from assorted houses across the town. Church together, apart. Subtitles for the music though, so much easier to sing along to, hurray! Thinking about Noah and his family on the Ark, and interesting theme.

And of course, a birthday in captivity! Pizza delivered to the doorstep, presents somehow assembled, and untold wealth appearing in cards and e vouchers. Much virtual shopping and making of lists. Maths practice, although she doesn’t realise that.

A quieter small boy today. Cuddly and less screechy than usual. A nice respite, but always the worry, is he coming down with something? And if so, what?

And sadness. Opposite our house is a beautiful deep, thick, impenetrable hedge. Dark green, and alive with birdsong. At least 30 small birds call it home. This afternoon for some reason, my neighbours cut it back so thoroughly that it is now see-through and 2/3rds the height it used to be. And the birds are huddled forlornly on one of the few remaining branches, wondering what has happened to the nests they were so busy constructing.

Windy today ; our trampoline took a trip across the garden and landed on its side, whilst our precious trellis increased the angle of its lean to dangerous levels. I have weighed the trampoline down, but the trellis will have to take its own survival measures; now is not the time to be shopping for new fence posts.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Day 12

It's Saturday today. My children decided to mark the occasion in traditional style, waking up alternately every hour of the night so they could both fully appreciate my extra company. Reader, I did not kill either of them. Long day.

Pancakes for breakfast is our Saturday tradition, even more important now that every day keeps a similar shape. So pancakes, one girl locked into zoom chat with her friend, one boy bouncing and climbing and checking all the stones for flavour. One mother feeling particularly torn today as both children reacted to my tiredness by needing me more. It's not a great cycle.

But great joy, with the arrival of the body shop's most excellent hemp and almond hand creams. My hands are currently so shredded from all the washing that my technology no longer recognises my thumbprint, meaning that my rusty brain has to remember multiple passwords instead. But eight bastings of hand cream later, the backs of my hands are merely bloodied sandpaper, not craters and canyons. Long may this last.

My boy has a new talker on trial as of yesterday. A NovaChat 8, for those in the know. Thank you Liberator for the longer loan than originally agreed. We'd just switched it on yesterday when A started her zoom chat. D looked up at the screen, saw his friend from so far away, and hit Like Like Like Like Like on the talker. Until she started blowing raspberries, at which point Like moved to. No No. Smart boy. Current mission, prevent him from eating the straps as we need to be able to return it in good condition.

No major accomplishments today. But we all had three meals, no one injured themselves throwing themselves off the top of the slide, no one fell ill, and the house is a tiny bit tidier than it was yesterday. That'll do.

NHS coronavirus helpfully texted to suggest we play sudoku, read a book, watch TV and make a plan for the day and for the week. Thanks.

This is probably tedious to read. Read it or don't; we are all in a similar boat at the moment I think. I find it useful to write, and so, for now, I shall. but if you're reading, and I disappear, don't assume the worst has happened. Assume life just got a bit busy again.

Stay well. xx

Day 11.

More fun with Zoon. From the girls who first invented Zoom hide-and-seek, today comes Zoom tandem baking. A screen in both kitchens, and two girls happily occupied stirring and measuring and generally chatting to each other. Meanwhile two mummies, from opposite ends of the country, got to drop in and out of each other’s kitchens inbetween doing other things, each of us sharing the familiar soundtrack of the other’s daily life. Very very lovely.

Multiple phone calls today in very quick succession. I must suggest to some of our professionals that they start working their list from Z-A to break it up a bit. But whilst we remain without carers for now - and we are ok - we are pulling together a plan for Later, as and when we are not ok. So that’s good. D’s adoption records having been restricted and shut away within social services, there is nothing on A’s file to indicate she had a younger sibling also with disabilities and medical needs. This has now been rectified. Partially. But it’s a start.

A really wonderfully lovely emergency rescue package from the Rainbow Trust. Hearing that all of A’s birthday plans had been put on hold, they delivered a fabulous birthday hamper with some wrapped gifts squirrelled away safely, and some fresh doughnuts to enjoy immediately. And a very fetching worry monster. Thank you, Rainbow Trust!

And, after four days of trying, finally success in contacting Sainsbury’s to arrange deliveries. Well, partial success. We are registered, but their systems (and staff) are overloaded, so it may take 48 hours before we can actually try to book any slots. There is hope though, which is great. We have amazing friends shopping for us, but it will be great to be able to just order what we need and know that it should be coming on a certain date. And without friends realising quite how much junk we eat!

Meanwhile, thankfully, thecweather remains gloriously mild and sunny. We are all enjoying the garden (I lie. Two of us are enjoying it. The third merely tolerated it today). Slowly I am rediscovering forgotten corners of the house - we are amassing a giant pile for the charity shops once they reopen.

One day at a time. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. It is enough.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Day 10

Friends, are you bored of seeing just your own four walls? Today I bring you a new game, courtesy of A and her sadly way too distant friend. Zoom hide and seek (also works with FaceTime, Skype, or any other video call on a portable device of some kind). Obscure your webcam, retreat to a random corner of your house, and get your friend to guess your location based on the three square inches of ceiling or wall visible past your very close up face. Much giggling! This works best when you are as familiar with your friend's house as you are your own. And provides tantalising half images of siblings and parents who are also currently so very very far apart.

Two Zooms today; the second, a family chat to wish Granddad a happy birthday. Much planned, much anticipated, and all wider family members involved managed more or less to sort the technology out in advance. Go us! A now has plans for her own birthday, having seen that up to forty people can join in any one zoom conference at a time. Hmm. We may need extra friends.

In other, equally exciting news, we finally managed to complete the new climbing frame and slide. I say we, I mean I. I did this! I built an entire climbing frame (ok, one which arrived in kit form). Two people, two hours it said. One rather harassed Mummy, two electronic screwdrivers, a bit of unofficial lump hammering, and the better part of a week. Oh, and unfortunately some duct tape doing a slide repair before we'd even begun. But. I built it! And my son climbs it triumphantly, does a victory spin on the deck, and then slides his way down, over and over again, before racing off to do circuits of the rest of the garden and a quick bounce on the trampoline. He has even learned how to side shuffle from the climbing wall over onto the deck to come down the slide. I tell myself this skill is positive physiotherapy, and will definitely counteract the damage done by bouncing for ages in a W-sit. I'm not convinced. But, for now, it is survival. He is busy. Running, climbing, crawling, spinning, bouncing, spinning, generally wearing himself outside and no longer haunting the front door begging to be let out.

New improved advice from NHS England arrived today, with "The Letter", containing more impractical advice on how to keep A alive during this time. And some helpful tips I might not otherwise have thought of, such as keep eating and drinking well, and think about how you will get your food and medicines whilst you cannot leave the house. Thanks, guys. But, usefully, the original advice "You must stay inside. You must not leave your house. You may sit by an open window" has been expanded to include "You may go out in your garden" so we made her. And she enjoyed it.

Grolly is not enjoying the peaceful empty streets. Her crowd of worshippers have vanished, and she is not impressed with having to make do with us. Always, she is there waiting to greet our carers in the carpark - and yet now the carpark remains empty. She is there to wrap her body around the children racing to school in the mornings, and those coming home in the afternoons. And they are also absent. Those few who do come past our door cannot stop to fuss her. Strange times. She has decided it is best to watch the children's antics in the back garden from the safety of inside, not being a fan of the small one's enthusiastic grabs. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Day 9

New screwdriver arrived today, so after a crazily long charge, I could finally get on with sorting the climbing frame. Just in time; D has learned how to climb up the wall but can't get back down again. Alas, the screwdriver ran out before I could fasten the slide in for him, but at least the rest of it isa little more stable for him.
Crazy that I have been able to leave the boxes out in the back garden with instructions and everything else, for nearly a week now and no rain or anything else to turn it into a soggy mess. 

A has kept herself very busy looking through her ASDAN home learning options and ignoring them all in favour of downloaded colouring sheets and maths problems. 

And much much happiness this evening, D's toddler group page posted a video of his favourite singing lady complete with her real guitar and ability to play real tunes properly. Much applause (his new skill) and jumping up and down, and utter delight that as his world seems to have shrunk beyond measure, some things in it are still out there, even if he has to stare through a screen to reach them. 

He keeps bringing me his coat and wellies with an Oliver Twist expression in his face; never in his life have we spent so long at home. Going for a walk at least once a day has been essential for him. I think I find that harder than other things really; he trusts me, he is so very good at communicating what he wants, and I am so completely unable to explain to him why he can't have it. He finds new ways of telling us, and we still say no or fail to understand. 

A pause this afternoon, and a virtual coffee with a friend. An hour, she with her peaceful adults only house and uninterrupted chat, me with my toddler begging for a walk and teen grumping if I moved into earshot but shouting for attention if I moved away. Still, it was very good to be able to see her face. To have a conversation where facial expressions play a part, rather than relying on tone over the phone or via messages. Connection. But one which emphasises the difference now as well as the similarities. 

Outside, silence. Yesterday we had planes and helicopters buzzing but today, just clear empty blue sky. Tonight the helicopters appear to be back. This world, paused. It is disconcerting. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Day 8

More texts from the NHS today, detailing what we should be doing. Apparently A should not only be keeping a 2m distance, but eating from separate plates, at separate times, using a separate bathroom, and generally shutting herself away from any kind of human contact for the next twelve weeks minimum. Family members should not touch her, but essential carers could come in from outside to provide essential care tasks then leave.

This, we are ignoring. Family, i.e. me, will be providing care. Not much point us all shutting ourselves away only to have someone bring this plague in with them. A decision made easier by the fact that our carers have pulled out anyway.

Armed with my shiny new screwdriver and a beautifully sunny day, D and I went outside to continue building his new climbing frame. Hampered somewhat by his determination to climb it unbuilt, and fascination with the screws slotting neatly into place, I was nevertheless making decent progress until screwing into a piece of harder wood proved too much for my lovely new screwdriver, and it died a death.

We have a stronger new screwdriver on the way, but will now have to pause work until Thursday. Still, it filled a piece of time.

Meanwhile, inside, A finally decided to make contact with one of her school friends, also at home. Hurray for some normality, although as they have decided to create a rap together (part of the ASDAN curriculum and one of the school's home learning options), D and I took refuge in our newly polished playroom, where he found my old guitar and handed it to me with a pleading look in his eye.

I think it's been ten years since I picked it up last. Still, it tuned ok, and we managed a couple of choruses of Jesus love is very wonderful. He's been missing our toddler group at church. I was a hit! Much clapping and nearly as enthusiastic dancing as he does on Wednesday mornings. I started playing remembering just three chords, and by the end of the twelfth verse, another eight had floated back into my finger memory. This is not terribly compatible with all the hand washing we have been doing - fiery bleeding lizard skin pain on the back of my hands now combined with interesting finger cramps and numb fingernails. But my boy thinks I'm nearly as clever as Jill the lovely Link music lady, so it was worth the sacrifice. I might even find him a shaker next time.

It's so silent outside. No one passed our front door today. And from the back garden, the gentle hum of traffic has gone. Birdsong. No shouts, no children playing, no bottle bank crashes from the pub, no roadwork drilling. Sirens, a helicopter, but this little corner of town seems to have shut down completely. I have not seen my neighbours at all for a week now.

Phone calls cancelling all our upcoming outpatients appointments. Not a great surprise. Offers of help. And finally, A's drugs delivered. And all in stock. Breathe again for the next couple of weeks at least.

I'm thankful tonight. Thankful that we are able to isolate ourselves, that I don't have to try to go out to work or balance childcare on top of this current craziness. Thankful for everyone, professional and friend, helping us out and making sure we are not abandoned as we lock ourselves away. Thankful for beautiful beautiful Spring weather; ok so normally I'd be keen to be walking and getting out into the wider world, but our own little garden is so beautifully full of new life and hope. Thankful for A's cheerful matter of fact acceptance of the situation, and for D's ability to enjoy the tiny things in life - this morning he dropped down onto his tummy and gently, gently, played with a daisy in the grass.

Isaiah 26:20 "Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut your doors behind you. Take cover, for in a little while the fury will be over."

Monday, 23 March 2020

Day 7

A very special day today. Turns out A is in fact one of the 1.5 million people who absolutely must be protected from catching the virus. And so therefore, for her own protection, she must stay in her own room, 2m away from everyone else in the house. None of us must touch her.

Clearly, that can’t happen. She’s also supposed to stay in the house, but may open a window,  and for a minimum of 12 weeks.

Meanwhile the rest of the country prepares for 3 weeks of staying inside, minimal shops, minimal contact. Gatherings of more than 2 people will be banned.

So that’s going to be fun...

We are now registered with the government as vulnerable, but having access to food and meds through the kindness of friends. I have a page to revisit should we run out of friends.

All our home carers have pulled out; we will have on one across our doorstep until some unknown date in the future. Mr. Wild Man is now confined to the house or back garden, and I have stocked up on curry for the freezer in anticipation of takeaways closing.

Strange times.

We did at least have sufficient warning that McDonald’s would be closing; A was very very pleased to have one last doorstep delivery.

Verse of the day : I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 

No song today; YouTube is not playing ball. 

Day 6 (and a half)

A nicely relaxed day yesterday.

The first day since we came home that we saw no one except for the three of us, spoke to no one except the three of us, went no further out of the front door than to empty the recycling bin.

And yet, a more connected day than any in the past week.

Church, live-streamed. So very very strange to see an empty church, but of course not empty; full of the presence of God (and a tortoise called Mike). A service we could all join in with, and a developing facebook community chatting about it afterwards.

A child focused "families together" video stream later in the afternoon. A map of our parish, with lights shining on every point where a church family have a child under 11. We can all shine our lights, even in these dark times. Shining without leaving the house might be a challenge, but we can pray. We can communicate. We have plans for our windows when supplies arrive.

WhatsApp with the wider family, the aim being to wish Mum a happy Mother's Day, however she remained rudely absent from the conversation. Still very good to check in with each other though and have a spot of silliness in a fairly silent day.

And then a national wave of prayer at 7, and a candle in our window until bed time. So our verse for the day, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Day 5

Another gloriously sunny, day. No photos today. My mission: build a climbing frame. Reality, open two boxes, count out 134 screws and multiple pieces of untreated and only partially pre-drilled wood. Screw in the first three screws. Abandon project, order electronic screwdriver. Forget the flatpack; A and I make flapjacks instead.

One boy supremely happy to be bouncing in the garden and pottering in and out of the house most of the day. One girl willing to leave the house for a quick health walk, swapping dusty inside for ring road traffic fumes, but a wide footpath with few fellow travellers. This works.

One nappy delivery in our absence and another shortly after our return. We may now officially have a nappy stock pile. Does it count if it is as a result of the kindness of friends?

We are living in strange times indeed. I’m reminded of my Grannie, who had a correct and appropriate behaviour for every single social situation. Mostly, I was thinking that I’m glad she is no longer sitting in a nursing home where we would be unable to visit. But then I was wondering what she’d make of this current situation. And I realised she had already taught us exactly what we should do. Her two pieces of advice gleaned from boarding school. No, not “bend from the hips not the waist when drinking soup” but, if you see an acquaintance in the street, your brother and boarder at the boy’s school in town maybe, Smile, Bow, and Pass Along.” Thanks, Grannie.

No photos tonight as they’ve all vanished.

Verse of the day, from a different friend, Matthew 6:34  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

And our hymn for today: one of Imi’s favourites for a change of pace. 

We actually have a timetable for tomorrow, with two planned and structured events, both happening at set times. Strange again to think of Sunday as our more structured day. Not complaining though, very much looking forwards to it. 


Friday, 20 March 2020

Day 4.

Day four and I'm pleased to say we are no longer short of nappies. It's the little things which become important.

We have a large freezer, a large 'fridge, and several cupboards full of food. We have online deliveries booked to begin in a couple of weeks (by which time, surely this mad run on the shops will seriously have slowed down?), and we have friends who are willing and able to haunt the shops for us. We shan't starve.

Nevertheless, it is different. We have a freezer full of food, but only 1/3 of it is full of food A would choose to eat. Broccoli has disappeared from the shops. I find myself eating different meals to A, choosing to extend the food she likes by eating the food she is currently rejecting. Calculating how much milk I should put into my hot drinks, or whether I should switch to black coffee, to preserve the milk for D's bottles? None of us are going without, but I have a new appreciation of the value of just being able to head up to the shops should we fancy something different to eat that night. The luxury of being able to ignore the food in the 'fridge and send A to pick up a jar of her favourite pasta sauce. The freedom of being able to eat sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, knowing we can pick up a fresh loaf in the afternoon. It's been four days. I hope that after four months that's a freedom I never forget to appreciate.

It is humbling, to be reliant on the kindness of others. When Imi was so ill at home, I knew I could rely on my friends, but I could reciprocate on days she had nurses at home. Now the whole world seems to be in the same position, and there is no way to reciprocate.

To our hand washing station, we have added a cupboard for outdoor clothing and bags. We are assessing visitors. If carers are allowed to come in, then is there a greater risk in allowing others in?

And our outdoor transformation has begun. Two adults two hours, said the instructions on this trampoline. One adult, one teen passing pieces, and one boy climbing on at every available opportunity. A long pause for lunch, but we did it! So that's an indoor swing and an outdoor trampoline; the climbing frame will need to wait for another day until I am brave enough to tackle it.

But there will be another day. And another, and another. Our world has shrunk, and our time expanded. People don't need to ask if we will be in for deliveries; the assumption is we will be here. The rest of the world seems to be getting busier. Endless queues for food, emergency meetings, whether in person or virtual. People stacking up their homeschooling timetables, planning their days hour by hour. And we potter on. Building a trampoline becomes our education for today. School say they have learning packs on their website, but we can't find them yet. A downloads maths sheets from assorted websites, enjoys tackling them, then uses Siri to check her answers. D uses his talker to tell her to take a break. I check a few emails, and suddenly it is time for another meal and meds and beds, and I'm not sure where the day has gone. I'm not complaining. I'd rather the days slipped away from us than that we were counting every minute. The thought that this might be us for a year or more is both desperately desolate and also strangely ok; we will find a way.

Song for the day as I stretched springs and snapped locking pins, surrounded by birdsong and a strange lack of traffic.

Verse for the day courtesy of my friend Alesha: "The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come..." Song of Solomon 2:12


Thursday, 19 March 2020

The Distancing Diaries: Day 3

The rain in Spain may fall mainly on the plain, but the rain in Abingdon falls mainly on the madwoman watching her boy splash around in puddles outside once he can no longer be contained within four walls.

We are waiting for some garden play equipment, but in the meantime Captain Sensory needed some serious stimulation to stop him exploding. Office chair spinning, peanut ball rolling, head squeezing, joint compressions, and he was nearly purring by the time we reached his little fingers. And then we found the best New Thing; tucked away and waiting for a collection which never came, a swing we could sling onto the hoist. One happy bouncy swinging spinning boy and then quietly, one calm and snoozy baby boy. 

We have nappies! Assorted friends and church people have been scouring the shops, and I'm pleased to say we are fully stocked, tick item one of the reasons to lose sleep list. We also have chocolate spread and ketchup, so my girl's world will keep turning. 

And we have a new social worker. When we will meet, who knows? But a name. And not a new social worker, a social worker who was, briefly, responsible for my beautiful golden girl, many years ago. 

And we have the beginnings I think of more formal back up plans. Or at least, we have recognition that plans will be needed. Official recognition from both health and social services that if I am ill myself, there are two very vulnerable children who will need full support very quickly. No idea what that will look like yet but I'm feeling a lot less stressed now that the official bods have acknowledged the fact they are aware of the situation. It's a decent start. Plan A does of course remain stay well and don't break anything, plan B being just don't get too ill. 

It's been a long day. One boy partying from 1-4AM; we attempt to refuse his invitation to join him but he's quite insistent. It's a good job he's cute. One girl who is upset to learn that her school will be remaining open without her, whilst other schools close. And who is determined to have the biggest folder of work completed before she goes back. Which is a good aim, except when it means she gets panicky at the thought of being away from her work station, not only between the hours of 9 and 3 but also up until bedtime, because the others will of course be working so hard at school. I'm hoping they might start sending some work out to her fairly soon, so that she can see what the others are doing rather than simply trying to do All of The Things in an attempt not to miss out. 

The world has shrunk considerably. I haven't seen most of my neighbours for a few days now. If we are out, they are safely behind their shuttered windows. Fewer cars are coming and going. Our delivery drivers are dropping parcels at the door, knocking loudly then running down the drive as quickly as they can. The meter man came to call today; as he moved up our hallway so we retreated to the kitchen, and then back down to shut the door once he was down the driveway. Echoes of some stylised country dance perhaps? Shrinking, but feeling more normal today. 

Verse of the day: Proverbs 18:10 The name of The Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved (earworm, anyone?) 

And song for the moment:

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

The Distancing Diaries: Day 2

More phone calls and messages today from assorted health professionals making sure we are officially distancing ourselves.

One girl increasingly reluctant to go out at all, and white faced and terrified at the thought of entering Grannie and Granddad's house because that's inside and she's not allowed. And keen to impose her school routine on the whole household. We now break for 15 minutes at 10.30. Lunch, hot, must be on the table for 12. The dining table becomes her schoolroom, but as soon as the end of the school day happens, she retreats to her bedroom, growling if either of us attempt to join her.

No nappies in Sainsbury's. We have a kitchen full of food (for which I am incredibly grateful), but without nappies this will get rather too interesting.

A letter from the hospice explaining they will be closed except for end of life care for the foreseeable future. A phone call to our respite provider, Amana will also not be going there for the next few months. Contact with our home carers - they will continue to provide care for now but may withdraw at any point. Respite nurses will be busy elsewhere. It's starting to look very lonely in here.

We walk, still. People look at us with suspicion. Are we plague carriers? Are they?

In the evening, a news briefing. Schools will close from Friday. Finally. All exams cancelled. But children with EHCPs will still be able to attend, along with children of key workers. Schools will close to protect the vulnerable. But the most vulnerable children will still attend school. Key workers include not just front line medical staff but delivery drivers and supermarket workers. But not teachers, who will need to be in school providing care and education for those children who need to be there, whilst somehow finding alternative non-grandparent based care for their own children. Bizarre.

School ring to ask if we need a food parcel. Very kind. But no thank you. Some lesson plans maybe? But these are not offered at the moment.

After school we take a praise break. Song for today:

And verse for today, from my very good friend:

Because of The Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3 22-23.

And we are not alone. I have friends scouring the shops for D's nappies. People I can call on to shop, to help out, just to sit and have a virtual chat if we can't meet over a real cup of tea any more.

There is good happening in this world, and in this town. People in our community are coming together to see what they can do. People care. Plans are coming together for the what-ifs most likely to affect our family.

And I have plenty of tea, and sufficient milk to cool it.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The Distancing Diaries - Day 1

And a little reintroduction. Been a while, how are you all?

Life here has changed here in the past few years. Amana and I have been joined by the delightful little wild man Dylan.

Wild man very much enjoys washing machines, noisy toys, and anything he can flick or flap. 

Our lives are now lived with a backdrop of Peppa Pig or Charlie and Lola. No level surface is safe from being crawled on or cleared. Eggs belong on the floor, in pieces, not in the 'fridge. Cat food is the most delicious substance on the planet. No door can be locked against him, no night can be slept without him, and life is immensely richer, busier, smellier, and just generally wildly different than it has ever been before. Walking and running is fun! 

So, current update. One amazingly awesome teen, who has gathered numerous extra health complications in the past few years, but prefers to maintain her privacy online - all posts will be approved by her before posting. One very active, currently undiagnosed "but there's definitely something" three year old, who needs many hours running around outside in all weathers and unfettered access to the park and preschool in order to keep all of us sane. And one of me. A bit older than before, a bit more tired, but still essentially me. 

Enter Coronavirus. You knew it would take something dramatic to get me back here, right? Not don't worry, we don't have it. But as of today, we find ourselves out of step with the rest of the UK, having withdrawn both children from school in order to mostly stay home and avoid other people. Social distancing, here we come. 

For any of my non-Brit friends, current situation here is that the general population is advised to work from home if possible, avoid cinemas, theatres, pubs and large gatherings. The Church of England has said that churches should remain open, but not hold public services. All clubs, societies, activities have been paused. Universities have sent students home and many are switching to online lectures for the summer team. Schools, bizarrely, remain open. But students with underlying health conditions can stay home. Strange times. 

So - day one of social distancing. We are supposed to stay 2metres away from anyone else. Outdoor exercise is encouraged. Shopping is not. This morning, I attempted to book an online delivery slot. All delivery and click and collect options for all our local supermarkets are fully booked for the next three weeks. It's a good job we've got a large freezer. Crucially though, we only have 1/3 of a tub of Pringles, Wild Man's only acceptable substitute for cat food. Grolly will not be impressed if the Pringles run out. 

So we take a midday health walk. Picturing blue skies and birdsong? Think again. The boy likes traffic. The girl likes Scania Lorries. We walk around the ring road. It works - many lorries, few people. Every one we meet slithers away so we maintain our 2m distance. Are they ill and attempting to keep us safe? Or do they think we will be the ones to spread the plague? 

A has decided to follow her school timetable at home. More or less. I'm not sure where eating the donut with yellow sprinkles comes into the curriculum - perhaps I'll get her to estimate the number of bites beforehand next time. A bit of maths. A bit of English. A lot of colouring. 

Decisions everywhere. Some being made for us - it's easy to decide not to go to church when church won't be happening anyway. We rather enjoyed the church's first livestream on Sunday; I hope something like this can continue for us all as we stay home. Do we continue to welcome our carers, who will be moving from vulnerable child to vulnerable child, whilst also having their own non-vulnerable children in schools? Can we manage without them if we don't? Visiting therapists? Hospital appointments? Yesterday we cancelled our Easter holiday plans. It'll be the first time in many years we haven't been to Tenby; it'll also be the first time in many years we've spent so long not seeing the friends we were planning to go with. 

Our verse for today: Matthew 28:20b And I am with you always, to the very end of the age. 

Song for the season: 
20 seconds to the chorus. The perfect hand washing anthem for our times. 

So that's us. Day one nearly done. The homeschooling I said I'd never do being partially maintained. The smallest one very unimpressed at the lack of social activities. But so far, all dressed, all fed, all reasonably clean. See you tomorrow maybe. 


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