Hello again, outside world! How are you doing? We are . . . Hang on, let me push aside these coats and move my desk closer to this pile of blankets . . . now I can shut the door . . . . There. We’re fine, thanks for asking. Here are a few snippets of life at the Jones Home.

***

We’ve continued our daily poll for the neighbors, and we know a little more about trending opinions. For instance, Harry Potter vs. Star Wars came out exactly equal (6 votes each), but the neighborhood vastly prefers platypuses* to narwhals (12-9). A vast majority would like to live near the ocean instead of on a mountain, but only a narrow margin thought black jellybeans are “yuck” instead of “yum.”

This poll is a good way to connect with neighbors; but it’s also an ideal opportunity to compile the results, graph them, and have Gamerboy evaluate probability.

Not that we’ve done any of that, but it sure is a good opportunity.

*“Platypuses” is the generally-accepted plural of platypus, despite our instinct to Latinize it as “platypi.”

***

These days, the girls and I take long drives, listening to Imagine Dragons and Carbon Leaf. Other times, the boys and I—and now Bookgirl—sit in the living room and play Wizard 101, an online multiplayer game that lets us battle enemies and complete quests together. In the evenings, Darren reads aloud from All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot.

It sounds like a pretty good time of family togetherness, and we do enjoy it. But these are also ways to escape from the anxiety and uncertainty that hangs over everything. Battling a cyclops means you don’t have to think about businesses closing, people getting sick, and whether the drama production or Boy Scout camp will really happen this summer.

***

For most of the month, our local grocery store was completely out of paper products, pasta, rice, and most canned goods. It makes me realize how much more work it is for my friends who need specialty foods, or foods that are usually less readily available. The last time Darren and I went shopping, the shelves had some pasta and rice, and the meat was plentiful. Still no toilet paper, but my expectations have been adjusted. I came home and wrote a letter to the grocery store staff thanking them for their hard work.

***

Sparkler just reminded me of an outing that never got done. We’d wanted to take Sparkler out to eat and talk through our expectations for dating and relationships, something we did with Bookgirl and Gamerboy several years ago. Now, with all the restaurants closed, Sparkler suggested that we get takeout and have a driving-date. “And that way if I say something embarrassing, the association won’t ruin the restaurant for me.” Because she’s thirteen.

***

It looks as though we still have to submit standardized tests at the end of the year. We find this annoying. Standardized tests can be good practice for students, and a way to judge which areas need more focus. The tests are not, however, a good measure of education. They’re also tedious for everyone involved. But just as sheltering-at-home didn’t derail our school year, it doesn’t pose a significant obstacle to getting the testing done. Maybe we’ll send along a sanitized box of chocolates with the results.

***

Nobody knows what day it is. Other than a couple of online lessons, we don’t have our usual markers of “Tuesday means drama rehearsal” or “Thursday is co-op.” A favorite meme of mine announces, “Today is Blursday the forty-third of Maprilay.” That resonates with me.

***

So that’s how we’re doing during this time of shared isolation. Oh, and sorry about the coats and blankets and stuff. I’m, um . . . well, I think this describes it best:

Extroverts: I’m visiting friends all over the place via video chat and phone calls! It’s hard but we’re getting through this together!

Introverts: Hey, if I move my desk and laptop into the closet and close the door, I can’t hear anybody else in the house and nobody can talk to me without warning.

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Let me know in the comments how y’all are doing!

—Sara

Photo credit: First image, iStock. Following image courtesy of author.