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quarantine togetherness

by Shawni

I’m trying to figure out how to ever catch up in this space! A space to record what is happening in our family. It seems strange to go on recording every-day events when the world is in such turmoil. I have also wondered if it is taking too much time away from what is right in front of me, so I have taken a good break from documenting day-to-day life here. But I feel compelled to keep searching for a balance. I do love having this place to share…to record family life that is precious and ever changing. This is a place my kids come all the time to remember. And remembering is such a beautiful part of life. But I also love this place as a spot to learn so much from others. A place to reach outside of the bubble where I live. Thank you, dear readers, for making that happen in so many ways over the years!

For today I am going to tackle what happened here during the depths of the quarantine. Because although we are still very much in the thick of this pandemic right now, numbers spiking all around, masks now the status quo, still so many of the same questions that swirled around months ago, along with racial upheaval looming up in the world around us, everyone searching their hearts to figure it all out, along with earthquakes and floods, and never-ending questions.

But there were weeks right smack dab in the middle of it all where we didn’t leave our house except in brief emergency excursions to try to keep the fridge supplied. All nine of us were here for probably a month all together (with little breaks here and there) and to me it was a hallowed moment in time I never want to let slip into the fray of my memory. A time I will probably never get everyone I love very most in the world under my roof for that long ever again. It was a time or upheaval and sorrow in the world, but it was also a time when I fell more in love with my family than ever before, all of us pressed in close, and was so filled with gratitude for this home that provided shelter and safety.

I started writing all about the beginning of the quarantine back HERE, but figure I better get my act together to write down the rest of it before it gets hazy in my memory!

A lot can be done together in a month, even when on lock-down, so beware, there are a LOT of pictures in this post! And they can’t even begin to cover it all, I have no pictures of the late-night discussions which were my favorite, but here’s a try at documenting those weeks!

We did random things like an afternoon of painting:

I became the resident haircutter:

We made birthday banners for friends and family we couldn’t hug:

We had endless hours of entertainment with Bo Jangles:

(apparently a good distraction when you’re supposed to be doing dishes…)

We tried our hand at pickle-ball (Dave’s beloved favorite sport these days), which I wrote about yesterday HERE

And speaking of loving Bo Jangles:

The lake was open, then closed, then open again, and so we didn’t take it for granted when we got the green light to go boating one day, all seven of us.

We were all SO HAPPY to be there!

We tried our hands at LOTS of new recipes.

My brother taught us about the stars and constellations with a little ASTRONOMY NIGHT.

I could swear I had a whole post about this night, but I cannot find it anywhere. So sorry if this is redundant but I LOVE MY BROTHER. He quarantined with us much of the time and we loved that he brought his telescope over one night and showed us so much beauty out there in the universe.

Somehow it made all the issues going on in the world seem so minuscule and trite as we examined all the craters covering the moon and inspected “globular clusters” of stars blinking at us from light years away.

Elle GOT MARRIED (!!!!!)

…all about that back HERE, pre-and post wedding stuff HERE, and the film pictures are HERE.

…and also graduated from college:

(All about that back HERE.)

Yeah, things didn’t really slow down much around here I tell you that!

DATES

I reveled in the fact that we got TIME with everyone. Especially our married kids.

We had time to talk through so many things. Time is such a beautiful thing and is an incredibly precious gift. Max and Abby had wanted to have some guidance for budgeting and I loved this little huddle that formed to figure things out…

…as well as others too. Of course, each filled up to the brim with the importance of the 10-20-70 principle 🙂 (Talked a little about that back HERE, and more in detail HERE.)

Some other dates (among the many) captured:

Nothing like that one-on-one time.

HIKES

We hiked as much as we could…the weather during the thick of the quarantine was so incredibly gorgeous.

GAME NIGHTS

Whoa, we had a LOT of those suckers. The most famous and memorable of which was our Casino Night:

…which I talked about back HERE, but there were oh so many other games played around this table of ours:

SUNSETS

Pretty much every night we ran out with all or part of us to grab the sunset.

This one night in particular, because it was nearing the end of all our togetherness, I made everyone pose for a picture.

FAMILY CHURCH

Probably my favorite thing about the whole quarantine was church. I missed gathering as a congregation at the church building, of course, but Family Church has become pretty sacred each Sunday.

This back porch turned into a holy place for our family, gathered there each week, a different person in charge each week.

We followed the Come Follow Me manual for lessons and everyone prepared pretty well I must say, and gave good input…some weeks more than other but I’ll take it.

(Those pictures up there were from Easter Sunday, right after Elle and Carson got married so they weren’t there for that one…

I love this picture of Lucy, always so beautifully pensive about spiritual things.

The thing she was very most disappointed in about the stay-at-home order was that she was assigned to be in charge of the lesson for her church group on Easter. She had really looked forward to that. For some reason she really didn’t want to give it to our family, I guess we’re not as fun as her church group, but she did share a few thoughts.

Here she is preparing a lesson a couple weeks later…

FOOD & COOKING:

For a good while there, this table was filled up solid every night:

This meant I spent a good portion of my waking hours standing in that kitchen, usually surrounded by helpers. Everyone took turns We cooked and cleaned together every day.

I love cooking together so this was a big treat for me…Abby is a pretty awesome kitchen companion, always willing to try out new recipes:

Lu learned to make her beloved Apricot Chicken (HERE), and I don’t know why I have this picture, but this is one night when I accidentally dumped the rice out on the way to the table (right below)…yikes!

One night we made tinfoil dinners…everyone’s favorite when we go to California so we gave them a try in the oven…

…which actually worked perfectly.

We sat outside to eat every chance we got.

Tried all kinds of new recipes:

These ones were peanut butter muffins with no sugar (Grace and Lucy have been doing the no sugar thing and they are rocking it).

Max and Abby made the BEST vegan tacos…the inside made with cauliflower and chick peas…seriously SO GOOD!

(Recipe is HERE.)

And of course, we had to make our favorite lentil tacos one night (recipe HERE):

This is one of our favorite salads we whipped up one night too…

HOUSE PROJECTS

It felt so good to work on some home projects together. The girls and i refinished this shelf thing for Claire’s room, and replanted the pots on our patio that had all rusted out.

We did a bunch of work on Claire and Lucy’s bedrooms since they had never been “done.”

…and they still aren’t…I’ll have to post before and after pictures as soon as we get those suckers done!

We deep-cleaned and dusted, cleaned out closets, scrubbed walls and doors, Max dug up a problematic water line and sanded and re-stained a whole slew of things.

We had some serious clean-out days too, and kept up on Saturday Jobs…so grateful for these charts (that I wrote about back HERE) to help us keep on track!

I loved, loved, loved the one-on-one and small group interactions.

These things don’t happen in our quick-paced life.

There is magic in things slowing down.

Love this duo.

We marveled at the weather and took bike rides as much as we could to revel in it all.

Bo gets pretty protective when we get in the pool and watches over us closely.

We marveled in this monsoon storm one day:

EXERCISE

This was another one of my favorite things during quarantine. Having all these kids working their hearts out with me with willing hearts and loud music pumping? I don’t want to ever forget that.

Outside sprints:

We took advantage of that awesome weather while it lasted…then it stretched out into HOTness.

We redid Elle’s wedding announcements like forty-five times I swear:

Lucy finished the whole Harry Potter series. She listens when she reads alone, but we both so love when we get to read together, especially when we find old notes that Elle wrote when she read this series (that she STILL loves so much):

We got to volunteer at the local food pantry “storehouse:”

Spent more evenings than I can count out here:

Lucy amazed us with her basketball skills when Carson got her going one night.

I know she couldn’t see that basket in the dim light, but she swished ball after ball. We need to keep her going on that!

Max and Abby had the idea to watch Survivor which none of us jumped on at first…we’ve never watched it and it didn’t seem that appealing. But once we started we couldn’t stop!

We watched two full seasons and it was pretty interesting to discuss it all together.

My mom had a birthday…this is one of the many extended family Zoom calls we had:

LOVE these sisters:

More family church:

More baking:

More exercise…all these kids huffing and puffing at my side during runs…why do I LOVE that so much? Something about it just made me so happy.

We stuffed the final product of Elle and Carson’s wedding announcements as we watched some Survivor.

Felt good to get those in the mail.

PHEW! Lots of things. But I’m so glad to have all that recorded in one spot.

Some of these I already mentioned, but I want to have these links of things that happened during that quarantine all together…we celebrated Easter (HERE), learned and were edified through General Conference (HERE), Elle went ahead and graduated from college (HERE), we re-worked wedding plans over and over again (HERE), and found a plan that worked (HERE).

In other gigantic news, as the lockdown started to loosen slightly, Grace got her mission call (HERE).

And Lucy got extensive back surgery (HERE).

These days were not slow ones. They were filled with life. With worry and sadness but also with beauty and goodness.

The world is still heaving, and we are all still grappling and learning. I was so worried I wouldn’t learn as much as I wanted to learn when we were finally safe to emerge from our cocoons of quarantine safety, but I guess with numbers still spiking, there’s still lots more to learn! Praying for all the leaders and healthcare workers and parents and businesses and all of us as we seek to figure things out in the middle of all of this.

xoxo

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22 comments

Jessica June 30, 2020 - 9:48 am

I agree as much as this time has been hard having kids come home is also such a wondeful opportunity. I did have a question about something. I have always been interested in your faith. Maybe I misunderstood but I thought your church garments had to be worn at all times unless you were swimming or being intimate. I noticed that you & Abbey just wore tank tops when hanging out in your house. Do you not have to wear them in your home? Also I just have to say, I think Elle & Larson’s wedding may have been the most beautiful wedding I have seen.

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Kristine June 30, 2020 - 2:10 pm

They don’t have to wear garments for all athletics. Not just swimming. They are in their home gym. If you look at the BYU athletic teams besides swimming you will see that they are garment friendly uniforms either. Proof that other active activities don’t require them.

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:06 pm

Thank you Jessica for the kind words, and also the good question! And thanks for the clarification, Kristine! We don’t wear garments when exercising. More about garments if you’re interested over here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/garments?lang=eng

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Lauren June 30, 2020 - 11:52 am

We need an update! Are all the married kids still with you guys? I loved the mission announcement, I hope she’s going to get a chance to go!

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:09 pm

I hope so too! We are betting she’ll be delayed in getting out there with everything going on in the world, and will probably have to do the MTC at home, but she’s ready for the adventure. As far as the married kids, they had to go back to their “real life.” Max and Abby headed back up to Provo when their jobs opened up again, and Elle and Carson headed back to Hawaii for spring semester. Even though it was online, they both had jobs and boy, they sure love it over there! They just came back for the summer since they are encouraging students not to be there if they don’t have to be, but are planning to go back in the Fall for jobs and school. Having them gone makes all this togetherness even more precious, so grateful we got to have everyone home for as long as we did!

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Jill June 30, 2020 - 1:31 pm

Love these updates! Wondering if the family reunion at Bear Lake is still on for this summer or are you taking a year off?

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:10 pm

We are sure hoping we can make it happen! All kinds of ideas are floating around, getting tested, which masks could help the most, how do we manage the social distancing…but sure hoping it will work out for the majority of us to be there.

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Andrea in Illinois July 1, 2020 - 5:36 am

I too enjoyed this weird time in our lives. I realized early on that this was precious time with my children (college) that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten to enjoy. I cherished every minute. I am so happy to hear other parents felt the same. I would love to see more about the shelf for Claire’s room. It looks like a fun and pretty project!

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:11 pm

That HAS been quite a project, along with the rest of her room. I’ll post on it as soon as we finish it all, but man, it’s sure taking forever!

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Tracy July 1, 2020 - 6:30 am

What precious time with all your kids! I love how Abby & Lar fit so well with your family. I hope to have relationships like that some day when my kids get married.

Would love to see a post about your home gym and your fitness routine (and diet).

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:13 pm

We feel so so lucky to have those two added to the family, love them so much!
We have been doing mostly online workouts from the bootcamp gym Dave and I go to. As far as diet goes, we have all been in various stages of cutting out sugar. Lucy is still doing no desserts or candy for all of 2020 and she is rocking it!

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Stephanie M July 1, 2020 - 10:32 am

Even when the world is in turmoil, I turn to your blog to get away from all of the negativity surrounding my little corner. It’s a breath of fresh air. As a non-religious person who has followed your blog for YEARS, I love watching how your family interacts, is dedicated to your religion, is dedicated to bettering yourselves at all times. It energizes me to be better. To be kind. To help others. (I could go on). Please know that even though our world is a little crazy right now, every day things still go on. They have to. Thanks!

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Shawni July 1, 2020 - 10:14 pm

Oh Stephanie, that totally makes my whole day. I so appreciate those kind words more than you can know! Thank you, and sending some love right on back over!
xoxo

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mike ahuja July 5, 2020 - 2:03 am

seeing this what ppl need to see in order to understand that quarantine doesnt have to be so bad…ppl need to look at the important things in life and this post shows that perfectly. thank you.

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Lisa July 9, 2020 - 8:30 pm

I live in NYC and we were able to bend the curve here. You guys can do it but you have to be all i…masks, social distancing, and no travel. It’s hard but it is worth it and it save lives. If you give excuses for yourself and your family it has a snowball effect and people base their behavior on what they see others doing. I think to myself if I got the virus today and a contact tracer asked me how many people I had contact with in the last week, what would my answer be? That is what we all have to ask ourselves. 800 people a day died in NYC, day after day for weeks. There were refrigerator trucks outside the hospital for the bodies. the sirens blared day and night. Now most days less that 1 percent of the 50 or 60,000 tests a day are coming back positive and I see the rest of the map of the US on fire with the virus. There is no way out of this buy hunkering down. This is never going to end if people keep coming up with reasons to hang out with friends, travel, split up all over and regroup. It is sad to miss a reunion, it is boring to stay home, but this will never end unless everyone remains committed. Remember who is effected most by this virus…people of color, essential workers, people living on less…if we all committed to making this a more just world then we must do the hard thing.

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Laura July 10, 2020 - 6:34 pm

Everybody needs to stop judging Shawni! . All she wants is the freedom to spread the virus and for her family to have fun. Let’s all cut her some slack and stop being contentious over the deaths of 136,000 people. Can’t you just love one another and choose brotherhood?

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Maria July 10, 2020 - 7:28 pm

You can run… but you can’t hide! Response respectfully requested!
Hard… oh so hard….

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rebecca July 11, 2020 - 7:26 am

why do you refuse to answer the question if you were traveling or staying put july 4 weekend?

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Kristine July 11, 2020 - 2:32 pm

I think some people need to put a mask on, leave their basement and take a nice long walk.

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Gordana July 12, 2020 - 8:53 am

Hi Shawni, I do not live in the USA and I am not religious. I come to your blog because I like your positivity. I am not sure if it stems from your personal character or your (religious) upbringing (or both), but I doesn’t matter. I love reading about your can-do and the glass-half-full approach to life. I am sorry to see that some people are bitter enough to not appreciate what you have to offer. I do. When much of the world is suffering right now or / are being anxious about their future, coming to your site gives a breath of fresh air. Your stories (and photos) and your general attitude always make me feel better about myself and about the future. I want to thank you for that. Please know that there are people (around the world) who appreciate your opinions, thoughts and your willingness to share your life with others. Best wishes!

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Shawni July 17, 2020 - 8:07 am

Thank you so much for this kind comment, Gordana! Sending love and best wishes right back!
xoxo

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Flmomof5 July 17, 2020 - 9:22 pm

Shawni,
I have been reading your blog since the early days. Your pictures and posts have always made me so happy and they still do. I’m a mom of 5 too and I relate to much of what you say and post about. Stay healthy and joyful and thanks for sharing your beautiful light. Xxoo

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