What’s making me smile right now

30 March 2020

Hello, friends! I missed you last week! Like many of you, I’ve found myself much busier than usual since our kiddos’ school closed. We’ve had our babysitter over several mornings a week, but there’s still a lot of creative scheduling (mornings, evenings, etc.) needed to fit in an almost-full work day on my part. John has also been working far longer hours than normal, as his industry is currently roiling. Unfortunately, that’s meant less time here.

I find it so interesting that this virus has impacted people in such opposite ways, particularly in terms of time — some people are attempting to work full-time, parent full-time, and homeschool full-time, while others are out of work, have seen all their commitments snatched from them, and have suddenly found themselves with hours to fill. Both are challenging in their own way.

Similarly, John and I were talking yesterday about how different this experience would be if our kids were any other age – particularly high school age. In high school, families are usually scattered by sports, friends, and activities – plus, you can’t pay some teens to spend free time with their parents :) While I’m sure there are many difficulties to having older kids in this crisis, I hope so much that those parents are also able to soak up the fleeting sweetness of having their big kids suddenly and unexpectedly held so close (especially knowing that they’ll soon go off to college or perhaps move states away…) From my seat as a mama who currently always has my kiddos close by and tears up thinking about when it will be different, that sounds breathlessly dear. (On that note, I’ve recently read two interesting pieces on the silver linings of this pandemic for families: here and here.)

Aside from the work and childcare chaos, our life remains much the same. We’re used to spending much of our time together, and our kids are too young to have many cancelled activities. As introverts, we’re used to staying in most nights; living far from our families, we’re used to connecting virtually.

While of course I’m incredibly grateful that we haven’t experienced more upheaval, in a strange way this has niggled me a bit. This pandemic is a landmark event, one that we’ll be telling stories about and feeling the effects of for years. At the end of it, I don’t want to remember it as just a few months when I was grumpier and more anxious than usual. I’d like to be able to say that despite the difficulties, the extra stressors, and the uncertainties, we were intentional about squeezing love, sweetness, and joy from a truly awful time. I’d like to be able to say that we did everything we could to help the world heal and to be more generous than felt comfortable. I’d like to be able to say that we used the new pockets of time – like John’s former commute – to enjoy each other’s company. I want there to be plenty of good to remember.

So that’s where I am right now. I hope you’ve had a little time to sit with your thoughts and feelings in the last few days, too, whatever they might be. I hope you’ve been able to squeeze whatever good is possible from the last few days, whatever that might be. And if Em for Marvelous is part of what you look forward to, I have some happy news for you. I spent a little time this weekend brainstorming what I’d like to share with you in the months to come – how I might be able to help you in this strange season in a unique way – and I’m looking forward to chatting more as time allows. A few of the things in store: a series of micro posts about meal planning improvements we’ve recently made, our Easter plans (basket talk coming tomorrow!), a massive photo organization how-to (!!), and a COVID-19-themed Marvelous Money entry – and that’s just what I hope to cover in April :)

For today, I’ll leave you with a few things that have been brightening our days these last few weeks. In the comments, I’d really love to hear a few of yours! Here are mine:

— listening to worship music almost constantly at home (mostly this playlist)
— a Marco Polo group with John’s extended family
— virtual game nights with my family (Scattergories Categories is a winner)
— daily walks in our neighborhood
— all of the gorgeous flowering trees – dogwood, cherry, Kwanzan cherry (my favorite!), redbud, tulip magnolia, and more
— warm chocolate chip cookies most nights
— watching happy movies like The Parent Trap (both versions), The Sound of Music, and The Holiday while working on puzzles
— fun free drawing printables from Camp Castle (sign up at the top here)
— family hikes and bike rides (though I love our stationary bike, it feels so good to be back outside!)
— the Georgia Aquarium live feeds (in honor of our canceled vacation)
— planting our vegetable garden and adding a few more bushes to our back bed

Finally, for my working friends grateful to still be in a stable job, a small suggestion: take a vacation day now, if you can. I know it might seem strange to take vacation when you already feel like you’re not getting enough work done, or when your employer needs your best more than ever, or when you can’t do anything particularly exciting with your time. On Friday, however, did just that. I had scheduled this day of vacation weeks before our current crisis hit, and last week I considered canceling it – but I’m so glad I didn’t. I hadn’t quite realized the weight of wearing the “employee” and “mama” hat simultaneously in a way that I almost never do, for myself and for my children, and it was glorious to just wear one for the day. We splashed in a creek, we had a picnic in the back of my car, I read many more chapters of my current book, we took a walk… I felt buoyant all day. So if you can, don’t wait to use all of your vacation days “when this gets better.” Take some now. You will be so glad you did.

And now friends, please add what’s making you smile to the comments. I can’t wait to hear, and am sending you love!

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March 30, 2020 8:56 am

A few things making me smile…virtual small group, slower mornings (before the multitasking chaos ensues :)), and making homemade Easter cards to send to family. Looking forward to April’s posts!

March 30, 2020 8:14 pm
Reply to  Maria

Homemade Easter cards are a great idea!!

March 30, 2020 9:27 am

Loving your perspective, and I’m glad you are back posting friend!
Some things making me smile: Breakfast & bird feeder watching, zoom classes with my students, afternoon snack & game time, Spring!, more FaceTimes, personal craft time, and my ap art group chat!
Stay safe, healthy, and enjoy your week :)

March 30, 2020 9:43 am

I’m looking forward to your micro-posts! Things that are making me smile lately include my husband working from home (which means family walks in the morning and getting to eat lunch together daily!), jigsaw puzzles, and more intentionally connecting with loved ones. We’re far away from family and friends, so I am making a more concentrated effort to reach out!

March 30, 2020 9:44 am

Climbing into bed with my son in the morning once he wakes up for snuggle time instead of commuting. Watching him grow and advance every day in person. Decorating our daughter’s nursery with love. Taking some time alone each morning to restore with 10 minutes of yoga and a devotional. Soaking up maybe a bit more sleep. Spending every day with my family. Walking outside as the weather warms up!

I’ve said it before Emily, but I feel like we are kindred spirits and I’m so glad that you share your perspective! Love reading this blog!

March 30, 2020 10:11 am

This was such a wonderful post, Em! I love your perspective and echo your hope that looking back on this time we will see blessings and beauty over fear and worry. Things that are making me smile these days are finally designing a wedding photo album with Artifact Uprising, reading recipes and having fun in the kitchen, introducing my husband to The Sound of Music, all of the walks with our sweet pup, Scrabble, phone calls with parents over texting, reading and crafting. What a gift to be able to savor that the whole world is slowing down right now, not just us.

March 30, 2020 12:00 pm

Loving your perspective, as always! I am looking forward to the COVID-19-themed Marvelous Money post!

March 30, 2020 2:36 pm

Add this post to the list of things making me smile :) along with making homemade biscuits, helping out a neighbor in need and working from home with my dog snuggled up on my lap all day!

March 30, 2020 2:55 pm

“More generous than comfortable” is going to be rolling around in my brain for a long time. Grateful for you, friend ❤️

March 30, 2020 8:13 pm

Love this! A few of mine are: actually enjoying homeschooling (we have kept it really chill), baking new recipes, stovetop popcorn dates with my husband, daily walks/playing outside, lots of coloring/drawing, texting friends, a new daily scripture routine, and lots of puzzles and board games!

March 31, 2020 9:54 am

Wow, all of this resonated so much with me. I am now working two full-time jobs as employee and mom and I was begging for Saturday so that I could be home and NOT work…lol. I realized that I was putting too much pressure on myself to do it all and do it all well, which we know is not possible. So, moving forward I am not going to try as hard to hit my 40 hours every week. Because in order to do that I have to work outside of 8-5, which leads to burnout by literally the next day! There’s no way that I could manage all of this for weeks on end if I try to do it all. I’m glad I learned that lesson quickly!
I am currently enjoying Virgin River on Netflix! It’s like a California version of Dowton Abby: a bunch of people standing around talking about things that are a bit far-fetched, lol!! But that slowness is just the thing I need at night.
Thanks for writing and I hope your day is great!

April 1, 2020 9:13 am

So many thoughts and emotions… In an uncertain world, we are trying to find the joy and the hope.
Our country is in full lockdown for 21 days so we are soaking up the uninterrupted family time together, slow morning cuddles in bed, family games, deep conversation, dance parties, fun activities, baking and crafting, movie nights and sneaky moments of self care x