COVID-19 diaries: Toni Friedly

March 28, 2020: We played some board games today. I dominated Monopoly! It was quite hysterical down to the very last property.

Vivienne kept finding herself in jail and she cried a lot. We all teased her that she was a “trouble maker” and she wasn’t taking it well. Ryan and Vivienne both quit early and Zoey hung on for her life. Everyone knows now who the Monopoly queen is around here.

Ryan’s mother loaned us a gigantic box full of board games. Until we hear officially if we are homeschooling or not, board games is our school. If this is any indication of how I’m going to be as a teacher, let’s just say I’m going to be hands on.

The house is starting to fall apart around me. I think I’m slightly allowing it to just so that I have something to do. Ha! I never thought I’d hear those words come out of my mouth. But I even turned my robo-vac off. Like “No Housekeeper, I want to vacuum.” (I call my rob-vac "Housekeeper." I’ve recently noticed a lot of my normal rules flying out the window. For instance what my kids eat for 2 of their 3 main meals. “You want Oreos for breakfast? Here, at least have some milk with them.” Eh. I can’t be the only mother happy to let them eat Oreos so that I have one less dish to wash, can I?

I am totally looking forward to the weather warming up even more. But I know that spring is here. My female turkey laid her first egg! The kids want to incubate it and I think after she lays a few more, we will. That’s the best kind of science project I can think if for “homeschooling”! And for P.E. I think we will simply take morning walks. Wake up their brains, and then dominate whatever the school district throws at us.

I think after this all passes, teachers deserve major bonuses. All of the teachers. That’s me too. Vacation out of the house!!!

Speaking of vacations, have you seen the price of flights? Unreal. Now would definitely be an ideal time to book that vacation. Just make sure you book WAY out. And don’t be afraid to make those plans. Because I know that if we all just do our parts this, too, shall pass.

March 27, 2020: I love Facebook for so many reasons. Being able to connect with people worldwide has been such an awesome blessing.

Years ago, we bought my grandmother a iPad so that she could keep connected with her family here in Wyoming while she was in Florida. That was the BEST gift ever. Even though at times it frustrated us — “Hit the HOME button, Baba! The HOME BUTTON!” “What's the ‘home button’ again?” It was LITERALLY the ONLY button on the front of the iPad. HA! Good times.

I don’t know what my grandmother would think of this COVID-19. But with her COPD you could guarantee that she wouldn’t leave her house and I would wake up to 5 million Facebook notifications.

Facebook was created to be used as a tool for connection. I love to share funny memes and stories. I was cry-laughing over a meme that said, “Feels like we’re 3-4 weeks away from learning everyone’s real hair color.” I’m reading all the comments my friends are leaving under this meme and one of my girlfriends says, “All the men are going to be walking around looking like Jesus!” HA! Oh my … I almost started rolling around on the ground in laughter.

And that's a good thing. Laughter is medicine. My kids have been sleeping in until almost noon every day. And truth is, I don’t even care. It’s been a nice and quiet morning each day hanging with Ryan in our sunroom, bird watching. So when those wild animals emerge from their rooms around noon, we’ve had two cups of coffee and we’re ready. I think we’re pretty fortunate that our kids are homebodies.

My mom bought them some SERIOUS Legos to build. Tough ones. And that's kept our middle-little, Zoey, busy for hours a day. She’s building a Technic mobile crane with 1,292 pieces for my dad. He owns a crane inspection company and he told Zoey she needs to get this built for his next job. Ha!

My husband also owns his own company. It’s an electrical company that services the oil field, commercial and some residential. We talk a lot about what we can expect as small business owners during the pandemic. We can prepare for the times to come, but ultimately we know we are never really in control. But God. So we have peace that we will be taken care of. We just have to be smart about what we spend our money on.

It’s a great reminder of the things that are truly important, the things we need, versus the things we thought we needed. Guess Yankee Candle won’t be getting my continued business for a while. The house smelling like the fragrance of the month is definitely one of those things that we don’t need.

Have you noticed all the sales happening online? It’s like Black Friday times 1,000. I could do some serious stalking up on Yankee Candle. Ha!

I continue to pray for our community, its people and this country. I’m fairly certain that if we all simply do our parts, this too shall pass. Stay kind and love your neighbor. But don’t touch them. :)

March 26, 2020: There’s a white bear in our window. A friend of mine saw that some cities were putting stuffed bears in their windows as a fun way to “go on a bear hunt” with the kids.

My kids spotted a pink bear in a window of a home this afternoon. I told them that once word started spreading about the “Bear Hunt,” we would go on a kids-out-of-the-house adventure and I’m seriously looking forward to going on a bear hunt!

The girls' elementary school held a teacher parade today. The teachers made signs and put them on their cars and waved as they drove through neighborhoods. It was kind of emotional, but the girls had fun seeing their teachers drive by. These will be memories that this generation of young people will share, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Last night we held movie night in our living room. We rented "Onward" and made popcorn.

Before this virus, I was taking the kids to the theaters most Tuesdays, so it was fun to be able to make our living room the theater. I sent them each a text and told them that their tickets cost them a kiss for their Mom and Dad.

Zoey ran up the stairs and immediately kissed Ryan and I, but Vivienne wasn’t quite so excited about the payment plan. Ha! She did, however begrudgingly, earn her movie ticket.

When I asked her why she had such a issue with our request, she replied, “Because, you know, coronavirus.” Like duh. Straight out of the mouths of babes.

We have six more days until her birthday. And if you don’t believe me, just ask her. We decided to have a fun day baking cupcakes, making cookies and painting fingernails. Vivienne took the news of her birthday party delay very well. She knows that we all have to do our parts, so this can pass. She’s a pretty smart almost-8-year-old. :)

March 25, 2020: The sky is a beautiful blue today. The weather is warm and I’m feeling mostly like myself again after yesterday’s outing.

I told Ryan that I didn’t want to leave my house for another month, if I can help it. Spring is definitely in the air, just ask my male turkeys.

Today Ryan and I sat out back and watched these two hotheads feather it out trying to impress the ladies. We only have ONE lady, Grace, and she seems to be more concerned with her safety than these boys puffed up feathers. Ha!

The pond behind our house is thawed and the geese that return every year have found their way home again. In a few weeks we will have the joy of watching this pair of geese teach their young to swim. And that’s something we look forward to every year.

Yesterday, our mail delivery guy came to the house with our packages from Amazon. It was the first time in my life I wondered if I should quarantine the boxes for a few days before opening them. But after a couple of hours on the front porch, I finally opened them, emptied them and then sanitized everything that came out of them.

And I thought to myself, “Have I lost my mind?” That trip to the store really screwed with my psyche.

I want to enter something fun and funny into my diary, but I’m having a hard time thinking of anything. Except, my mom calling me about homeschooling the kids and her CLEAR concern for my ability to do so. LOL She knows me too well.

It’s not that I’m incapable. It’s that, well, frankly, I’m SUPER unorganized. However, with that being said, I once heard that unorganized people were genius. And so, I’m hanging onto that hope. HA!

Move over Benjamin Franklin, I might not have it all in order, but I’m going to be teaching my young the same methods to my madness!!!! (I am dying over here ... I certainly hope my kids teachers’ phones are turned on because Lord knows I’m going to be calling.)

My middle-little has been asking me for years to homeschool. I think after this last month or two, she’s going to understand real quick why I’ve always said “no.” :)

Prayers to all you Mamas out there!!!! Put on your Catniss outfit and take homeschooling by the horns! Remember, if we all just do our parts, this too shall pass. And hopefully our kids pass too. wink wink

March 24, 2020: I went to the grocery store today. I haven’t been to the store physically for almost two years. I always order from Sam's Club or use Instacart.

When I left my house I joked with my spouse about my “apocalypse” outfit. I always imagined I’d dress like Catniss from "The Hunger Games" in times like these, not Toni from Wyoming with my plaid shirt, Converse shoes and down vest. I look more like I’m running a Girl Scout troop and less like I’m in survival mode.

When I got to the store my heart literally stopped. I wasn’t prepared. I haven’t personally seen what others were talking about until today. And I was grateful that I’ve always kept a fairly full pantry. I am by nature a positive and joyful person, but when I got home today I wept. That trip into town literally stole my joy.

I gathered my family and showed them pictures of the store that I had taken, and we talked about this community and its love for one another. And then we counted our blessings and thanked Jesus for preparing us before we ever knew we needed to prepare.

I called my mother and she mentioned that someone had dropped off hand sanitizer and two rolls of toilet paper to the senior apartments by the hospital. My grandmother lives there. It’s such a reminder of what a great community that we we call home.

I know that no matter what, Gillette will remain strong and united. Continuing to care for and respect one another, I can sense that blessings are about to get real around here. And today, more than any other day, I am looking forward to when we are done with this and can stand (less than 6 feet apart) and say WE DID IT.

And I reminded myself, if we all just do our part, this too shall pass.

March 23, 2020: I went to get gas the other day. It’s weird to use hand sanitizer before pumping and after. And I seriously wondered if I would catch on fire. Ha! Forget the fear of using your cell phone while pumping. A new fear is in town.

I’m sure I’m safe, it’s just a thought. But ever since the COVID19 has come around, I can’t help but become more aware of all of the things that we ALL touch. Like gas pumps, store doors, shopping carts and so much more. I’m grateful that we live in Wyoming and I can use my hand sanitizer in public without the fear of being jumped. And also grateful that my little-middle never used any of the hand sanitizer we’ve bought her for her backpack over the years. So we have plenty. Not sure if that’s a positive thing or not.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. My littles played outside for the majority of the day. Talk about counting blessings. We had a foreign exchange student last year from Madrid, Spain and she and her family are in total “lockdown.” They can’t leave their home for 15 days or they will be fined. I feel for those who live so closely to one another that their kids aren’t able to go play outside.

The kids are doing well with entertaining themselves. I know they are grateful to have one another. I’m an only child and I can’t imagine how I would have felt as a kid during these times. I’m sure I would have read 500 books and told my parents continually how “bored” I was. We are so blessed to have the schools that we have. Our school has posted a lot of online things for the kids to do from home. And we have a cool app called Seesaw that the girls' teachers have shared projects in too.

I know that a lot of the country is homeschooling their kids for the rest of the year and I am wondering if that's the direction we’re heading too. I hope not. I am not a teacher. I can’t even keep myself focused, much less try and keep these wild beasts focused. God bless our teachers. I read a post the other day that said “ Homeschool day 1: Wondering how I can get this kid transferred out of my class.” I laughed out loud. Too funny!

The kids miss their school. It’s their social outlet. But Ryan and I keep reminding them that if we all just do our part, this too shall pass. And also to wash their hands ;)

March 22, 2020: I feel like I’ve been self quarantined and practicing “social distancing” since Jan. 28. That was the day my husband was in a head-on accident involving a semi-truck on Highway 50.

We spent 12 days in the hospital and every day since then at home. Well, mostly at home, aside from Ryan’s physical therapy and a few school activities for our three daughters, Jay, Zoey and Vivienne.

But being home doesn’t bother me. I’ve been a “Domestic Engineer” since Vivienne was born. So, almost 8 years. Vivienne is the youngest and will be 8 on the first of April. She’s been counting down the days, and each morning I’m met with, “Guess how many days until my birthday?!!”

She’s had her party planned out for months and cannot stop talking about it. I haven’t had the heart to tell her that her party will likely be postponed because of this crazy COVID-19.

Speaking of COVID-19, I have to tell you a quick joke. Do you know why I stopped shaking hands with people? It wasn’t because of the coronavirus, it’s actually because of the toilet paper shortage.

HA! Oh. Hi. My name is Toni and I am definitely NOT politically correct. Ask anyone who knows me. And I LOVE to laugh. So I’m hoping to help you do that when you read my “journal entries.”

We go through some pretty ridiculous and hysterical things here on our funny farm. We live on 20 acres, and some might say I’m a crazy bird lady. We have chickens and ducks and turkeys ... and a cockatiel and parakeet. But really, I think I’m just crazy and love ALL animals. We also have 3 dogs, 3 cats, a tortoise and some fish. Our fluffy Angora rabbit, Big Papa, went to heaven a couple of months ago.

I feel grateful and blessed to be able to stay home regularly ... and collect animals. HA! Just kidding (kind of).

My husband keeps joking that we unknowingly became doomsday preppers when we collected this herd and should be able to “live off all these animals for some time.”

Smack my forehead.

We just became vegan in December.

But with the mass hysteria in the grocery stores and having to shop every 3 days for fresh veggies, I’m beginning to think that our newfound lifestyle won’t be able to survive much longer. But I will NOT be eating my pets. Do not send animal rescuers my way. LOL

We are pretty lucky to live in Wyoming. Ryan and I were both born here, and our families have remained here for the most part.

I was listening to the news today and heard our president mention that he will not be declaring a nationwide shutdown. He mentioned that the Midwest wasn’t seeing the kind of virus spread as the rest of the nation.

Fun fact … Wyoming is referred to as the Interior West. However, for my whole entire life until recently, I’ve always thought we were considered Midwest. Thank you Census Bureau for the clarification. It’s only taken me 37 years to figure out where exactly I live.

And thank you, Jesus, for placing me here. Wyoming is a wonderful place and Gillette holds my heart. We have a pretty awesome community.

I pray that we continue to be helpful, caring and considerate of others during this COVID-19 pandemic. I’m fairly certain that if we all simply do our parts, this too shall pass.

Then we can get back to the things that matter, like hugging your friends. Or, if you’re like me, hugging that stranger in line at Walmart. :)

Toni Friedly is a married, self-employed mother of three daughters.

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