Lil Lemon Drop

Lil Lemon Drop
Happy Clothes for Happy Kids
posts in category Covid 19

Friday, July 3, 2020

Lesson Learned-Thanks Covid!

First of all, after an exhausting day, week, month, I just have to say-Covid 19 has been a real eye-opener. Most of the year, we go to work-I am usually gone before the family is up, because I like to get in and have everything lined out for the day, socialize a bit, and drink all the coffee.  After work I get home around the time my daughter brings my toddler/preschooler back and await the kids arrival from the bus. The big kids play out with the neighbor boys and there is screen time and inside play. I am usually very tired, and lament all the work I have to do, especially if my daughter watches my son (along with hers) at my house, because then I usually have to clean up from the day as well. 
Let's just say, being at home sounds like a dream. 

And it sort of was. Working at home was pretty good for me, because my daughter picked up all three kids for the morning while I did my work and then I picked them up around noon and we relaxed most of the afternoon. The bad part was, we could hardly get the kids to do schoolwork. It was a fight for my daughter and a fight for me on days I let them stay home. You would think even asking them to do 30 minutes of Dreambox (math) and Lexia (reading) was asking them to walk over hot coals for the duration of the time. It was miserable. 

When I got an online summer school job, it was more of the same. When I found out I would have two online jobs, I had to leave them at their sister's longer, but their schoolwork issues remained. They were becoming antintellectual. Working all day at home was MUCH harder than working three morning hours. I still had all the housework. I had all the driving. When I tried letting them stay home all the promises to not interrupt during my class meetings disappeared and suddenly they were bored and attention seeking right as I was trying to explain how to do the four operations on fractions. The worst was during my afternoon class when I was screensharing Tynker with a student and my son climbed on the easel. As I picked him up to get him down, the thin metallic whiteboard side of the easel literally ripped the top layer of skin back on his foot. There were bloodcurdling (sp??) screams and oh blood and grossness. I had to end my meeting (who knows what that poor kid thought) and tend a nasty cut (it's much better, but going to scar). 

On top of all this is lawless kids and way too much screen time. It's been bad. When sweet Gabe loses it, he loses it. Liam is always a challenge and 24/7 Liam would try a saint. Alec can be a messy little terror who delights in smearing peanut butter or toothpaste or even worse things all over everything. It's been hard. I am 46, guys. I am not the sweet patient momma of my twenties. 

So what's my point? 
I don't think I want to homeschool. All the times I thought I wanted to be at home homeschooling. Nope. At least not if I also have to work on top of it. It is too much. I don't want to homeschool unless my days were otherwise free and I have a firm grip on the time usage of electronics in my home. I can't. I just can't.

Now, if my kids were in school and I could just tend the house and just Alec alone. Fine. That's nothing. But this three kids, trying to educate, teach house, work, all of the above is just a whole heck of a lot. 

If we do have to return to online schooling, I want clear attendance hours required by the teachers. Make class meeting mandatory and take attendance. Be the bad guys so we tired mommas don't have to. 

That's all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Traveling During Covid-19: How We Chose to Safely Roadtrip


My Idea of a Vacation

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to leave this state and go "on vacation." Now my vacations tend to be short and sweet and busy. While lying on a tropical beach with a cool drink in my hand and just napping to the sound of the waves sounds incredible, when I bring three boys with me, that isn't going to happen.
Image may contain: sky, cloud, grass, outdoor and nature

How to Travel with Children

Note: I absolutely recommend inexpensive handheld gaming systems which run on batteries. They aren't fancy pants systems, but if your child isn't too into the world of more sophisticateds systems, they will eat away at some of that boring ride time.
This affiliate link is similar to what my boys get to play with on car trips:


South Dakota or BustImage may contain: 2 people, child, outdoor, nature and closeup

So on a whim, because time was passing quickly and I needed to keep spending to a minimum, one of my daughters and I took my boys up to South Dakota to sightsee. This was THE perfect social distancing vacation. For one thing, there aren't that many people in South Dakota! The only time we ran into crowds was at Mt. Rushmore and even there, everyone clumped in their own little groups.
Driving through the Black Hills and Custer State Park was a pretty solitary adventure, as was the Badlands.

Cleaniness in the time of Covid-19


Although using public restrooms is a necessity when traveling some thorough handwashing and hand-sanitizing had us car ready. Keep a box of disinfectant wipes in the car, and you can wipe down handles, steering wheels, and oft-touched surfaces on a regular basis and keep it safe and as germ-free as possible. Now, I didn't have the wipes and periodically poured hand sanitizer on a napkin and wiped down surfaces. It is also recommended to wipe surfaces in your hotel upon arrival.
I definitely recommended stocking up on spray hand-sanitizer to keep in your car!
This affiliate link will have you stocked for months!



Making Memories


We spent three and a half days in the car. While I wouldn't call having three young boys in the back of a sedan relaxing (or quiet-they fight!), we saw some amazing sights and in the end, that is what we will remember.

I will remember the fresh pine and the towering rocks along Needles Highway in the Black Forest. Custer National Park was worth the $20 per car entrance fee to see the wildlife and wide open spaces. My boys were SO excited to see buffalo and they chased prairie dogs across a section of the park.
Image may contain: sky, tree, grass, outdoor and nature
The Badlands were simply spectacular. As the quiet warm wind whipped around us, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the early pioneers traveling by ox and wagon across that desolate landscape. What did they think and feel? Were they in awe or overwhelmed? We went to the Badlands on Memorial Day and the $30 fee was waived, I assume due to the holiday. But how amazing! We spent 3 hours in the park driving, hiking a little, climbing some simple hills. It would absolutely have been worth the money.

Image may contain: 1 person, child, tree, outdoor, nature and closeup
One of the scariest parts of the trip was when we were two hours outside of Rapid City on our way there. A huge thunderstorm had been lighting up the sky for awhile and we drove right into. Lights flashed all around us, nickel (and up to quarter) sized hail fell around us, and we slowed down but kept driving. We saw very few people on this stretch of the highway on a Saturday night. Strangely, we didn't hear any thunder. Eventually we got through the storm and arrived late to our hotel in Hill City.
Image may contain: 2 people, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, including Taryn Hessee, people standing, sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor

The worst part of the trip was an encounter with bedbugs at the dive hotel we stayed in a barely there town in Northwest Missouri on our way home. I felt too tired to continue driving so I stopped at questionable Super 8, and unfortunately, after a couple of hours, my daughter awoke me with bites across her face and back. Thankfully, we hadn't brought much inside and just shook out what we wore and hit the road. Everything was quickly washed and dried once we got home a few hours later.

If I had to do it over again, I would add one day of planning in and get a cooler full of fresh foods. Even kids burn out on McDonald's and gas station food after awhile. Also, we learned my 3 year old gets carsick, and Benadryl does appear to help some with that. I would stock up on the medicine before we hit the hills next time.

Self-Quarantine after the Trip


Overall, though I felt it was the refreshment my soul needed before starting the online classes I am teaching this summer. Seeing new places (well, I had been there before, but it had been 15 years), and just breathing in the air of "elsewhere" was soul-lifting. While we are now 9 days of mostly isolation, and I know the boys are dying to play with the neighbors after the next six days, it was well worth it.


Just Do It!

Depending on which area of the country you live, it is likely there is somewhere beautiful within a day's drive from you. If you can swing a short mini-vacay (or even just a day trip), I highly recommended getting out and doing it, especially those of you who are still working from home like me. With a few precautions you can remain safe and still make some memories!

What about you?

Are you planning a trip this summer? How do you plan to keep safe if so, and if not, what are your plans for beating those summer blues? I would love it if you'd drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Tip:

I always pack a jacket or sweater when I travel because you never know what surprises Mother Nature will throw at you. While I wore a hunter green light field jacket, this cute vest would be perfect for chilly mountainside memories in the mid-summer!

This is an affiliate link.





Monday, April 27, 2020

Nice in the time of Coronavirus

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

What if, for a just a little while, we stopped the nastiness?
I know, I know, how idealistic of me.

When all this first started and items started to disappear from the shelves people began to worry. A local citizen started up a facebook group to spread information , help people locate necessary goods, and find out when their stores were operating. Everything was changing rapidly and this group did a fantastic job of providing community members with the information they needed.

After a couple of weeks, however, it started to get a little nasty. People started posting opinions and politics and eventually it became a place I didn't want to hang out anymore. As time has gone on, the supply of most items I want has balanced out anyway. I even managed to score a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer last week!

Life goes on, even during a pandemic, and it wasn't long before the memes started. They were funny and clever and at first, poked fun at this weird situation and all the ironies we were being faced with. But they slowly began to change. Suddenly all the friendship and comraderies started to disippate, and people began moving back to their corners. Instead of honest discussions about the repercussions real people were feeling, people started name calling. It didn't seem to matter which side you were on, you were wrong in someone else's eyes. 

Worried about getting your job back or paying your bills or not losing your business? Someone had something to say about that.

Scared of being forced to work as an essential worker. Someone was mad.

Scared of getting a disease that could be deadly? Geez. Obviously the left mainstream media had you fooled.

Worried about the government using this to limit your freedom (now or in the future)? Well, you are just a dumb trumper.

Boy, this will show those dumb anti-vaxxers!

Buy an extra bag or two of flour and rice because you are worried about your next paycheck? How selfish!

I think the very, very worst I have seen is people stating, "No medical care if you go to a rally. Let all the Trump-lovers get what they deserve." And believe me, I am no Trump lover. 

The truth is, many of us fall into more than one of those categories. Some people may put all their trust in the government and feel very secure with shutdowns. Others may remember governments of the past centuries and be very scared. The truth is, there can be unintended consequences and fallouts from ANYTHING, and we still don't have all the answers. 

And no matter which side you fall on and who you believe, your feelings are valid, and your thoughts  might be very real. We don't know how this will play out. We don't know know how long it will last, how severe it will be if it returns, if they will find a vaccine which works effectively. We don't know if governments and private corporations will take advantage of this to gather more control.

On top of all of these unknowns, everything in life has shifted. The smiling face at Walgreens is now behind a plastic partition and ugly blue mask. Every one in the store looks warily at everyone else, and people move away from others. I greeted a fellow teacher as we passed outside the school building a month ago, and while he smiled, he also moved a few steps away from me. It is hard not to take it personally when a person steps away as if you are diseased or dangerous. The Karen in me isn't used to this! I'll reach to grab a can of corn, and someone turns to look, and I think, "Oh my God, I am in their space." Yesterday, I witnessed one older gentleman reach out to another other man, knowing he was of the same political persuasion and say, "I am not afraid to shake your hand." As we stared in horror, the second gentleman smiled and said, "That's okay, I was just about to wash my hands, anyway."


This is not normal. None of this is normal. And to have every little aspect of life turned upside down and for how long, we don't know, is really hard. And to start splitting it into partisan ideals is just too distressing.

And I just wish, we could all listen a little harder. I wish we could listen to the scientists, consider the politicians, and accept our neighbor. I wish we didn't need to prove a point, by being gleeful at the thought of protesters getting sick, and I wish we would not reach out and shake a 74-year-old man's hand right now to prove a political point.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Quarantine Fashionista

My day job consists of going out to work every day dressed in some form of apparel. Every few years the boss will share some tips to help us dress in appropriate clothing. Usually there is something funny like shoes with bows or Mary Janes. But overall, what I take away from it, is no jeans except for Friday and "special" days, and probably no sneakers. I have noticed a lot of people wearing sneakers anyway, and I sort of get it (I do it, too). I mean we are walking all over the place, standing up a lot, comfort matters.

For me this could be anything from dress pants and skirts with a blouse or sweater to leggings and a tunic top and a pair of boots. If I wear a blazer, I try to save it for dress-down jeans Friday because who wants to look too stuffy?

Suddenly now though, I find myself in this new and exciting world of working at home (and I sort of love it!). So I thought I would share a few of my favorite pieces which get me through the week:
This post contains affiliate links.

Pajama Chic!

Photo by Chase Fade on Unsplash

Pajama chic is PERFECT for the morning after an anxiety-induced sleepless night worrying over bills, whether your job will survive, loss of FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOMMMMM (thank you, Mel), and you know, whether you and your kids are going to end up "living in a van down by the river" picking grubworms to eat for lunch.
If there is a chance a neighbor will knock or an older child might drop by, you might want to go ahead and throw your favorite sports bra on, because these tops tend to be very thin.
Something like this should be just about right...





Joggers!

Photo by Andrei Mike on Unsplash
When you are feeling a little better about things and think you might even get a little laundry folding in between online assignments and report writing, these are the pants. You can even make that panic trip to Walgreen's in them, if you find you are out of a staple like milk or bread.



Zoom Meeting Dress Shirt:

Time for your weekly Zoom meeting? Dress it up, girl! This shirt has you covered from the waist up (just don't forget and stand up to yell at your kids to GO Watch TV NOW! unless you take the time to at least throw a pair of jeans on, too (I kid, I have a 9 year old, no more pantless days for me).



Photo by Bibarys Ibatolla on Unsplash



Evening Time
Finally get those rascals in bed? Or maybe you just gave up and handed them a tablet and sent them to their rooms?
It's wine time, pretty momma! Relax in style in a simple flowy tank dress like this:
 

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Not only slouchy and sexy, but it hides that Covid 19 y'all better be putting on, too, so I am the not the only one who emerges from this with a greater resemblance to Jabba the Hut! Solidarity Sisters!




Now you have some simple styles to get you through these long weeks in style! Stay tuned for hairstyles next week!


Enjoy dressing,

Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Handling it, but not as well as I could

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
It has been about a month since our Disney trip was cancelled/postponed and stores began slowly closing. A month of uncertainty, a little fear, a lot of anxiety, and the ever-encroaching boredom gnawing at my brain.

The thing is, I love to work. As much lip service as  I pay to being home, I like to be actively doing something with my head, working on something, finishing something, creating something. And here I am feeling like this big "SUCK" has latched onto my brain, and is sucking out the light and blowing in the darkness. The idea of not going back to work until August is really hard to hold on to.

Just lots of disappointment all around. And it's not just me, I know. The fact that everyone else is feeling the stress brings a feeling of solidarity. The extreme sleepiness bothers me, but I apparently this is a much larger stress to our mind than we might realize.

So what to do?
Well, I am still working on the 50-walk challenge. It's a little hard to get motivated when day after day is dreary and chill, but once I head out the door and walk, I never regret it. I am well on track with that goal.

I am slowly working on a much needed cupboard and cabinet cleanout. The struggle with that sort of cleaning is there is always a crazy mess right in the middle. But I am getting there. I want to paint, but I am embarrassed about getting paint. I feel like someone is going to stop, point me out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, and scream, "NOT AN ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" But my keeping myself emotionally healthy and busy is essential, too. So maybe I will grab a daughter for moral support and head up and get paint. Are they still mixing paint? I guess I could call.

If I, as an ultra-introvert, am suffering, how are the extraverts handling this? How many people are REALLY following the guidelines and how many are pretending, too, but breaking little rules here and there? I am curious.

Anyway, goals are important, so I plan to get from 10 books read on my reading challenge to 15 books by the end of April. I plan to paint my three-year- old's room. I plan to organize all the kitchen cupboards. I do have some paperwork for work which will take up a chunk of time. Maybe I will just go through it r e a l l y  s l o w l y to stretch out the time it takes. If I am working a lot, I will appreciate the downtime more.

The jury is out on gardening. If I don't have summer school, I will have enough time to do a great vegetable garden, but I am sort of sick of the mess. I am leaning towards just throwing out grass seed and having a green lawn.

Eventually, I will pretty these thoughts up, put a lovely filter over them, adjust the lens, and make them into something else. But for a little while longer, I am just going to feel the reality.


We've got this, right?
Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

lillemondrop.net

Sunday, April 5, 2020

8 things I Do To Make Myself Happier

Listen! We are living in some crazy times. If you are anything like me, or say, the other 7. whatever billion people on this planet, your whole life has been turned upside down in just a few weeks. Although most of us are holding on the hope that things will eventually (and hopefully soon) get back to to normal, we are still going through a huge amount of uncertainty, upheaval, and resulting stress.

To get through these times without losing my mind, I find it helpful to keep a stash of little things in my back pocket to lift my spirits, so I can continue to be the strong and mighty queen the world needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Rehydrate every morning
I find it hard to drink water, especially upon waking, EVEN IF my throat is dry. One thing that helps is having a quick 8 ounces before I start my coffee brewing (seriously it almost makes me gag, I don't know where this aversion comes from),  and then sip another warm cup with fresh squeezed lemon. Somehow when I warm up the mug of water, and splash a little zesty lemon it becomes a palatable treat!

I've got to get this happy cup!



2. Caffeinate
I like my coffee. Dark, rich, and hot, just holding that steaming cup in my hands in a fantastic morning pleasure. If coffee isn't your um, cup of tea, perhaps trying a cup of tea will give you a lift. There are so many varieties of coffee and teas, both caffeinated and decaf, you can easily find the right brew to lift your morning mood. Anything that becomes part of a quiet morning ritual will enhance your day and bring a feeling of wellness. When it comes to favorite brews, I swear I love the Walmart Great Value French Roast K-cups. To increase the value of that minute or so waiting for the Keurig to heat up and brew, I do between 20-30 various squats to tone my legs.

Go crazy and consider this coffee:




3. Morning Meditation
I am not going to lie. I am not a super-meditator who can sit for 45 minutes visualizing world peace (although if you are, you go!). But I like to sit and listen to a short meditative lecture on the Simple Habit app, while doing slow stretching exercises to warm my body up and loosen for the day. After that, I will listen to some white noise or meditative music and practice true meditation and visualization for oh, an average of around 6 minutes.
If the Simple Habit app isn't for you, here are links to several other similar sites you can try

4. Hiking

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

While not my picture, and apparently that photo was taken in Chile, I love hiking. I don't do it nearly as often as I should, because the hump I have to get over to pack enough for the kids and get all the stuff ready seems to outweigh my perceived benefit of pushing through, but when I do push through I always am delighted I did. I love the outdoors, the scenery, the exercise, and even the confidence I feel when I manage rocky terrain surefootedly. Nothing as of yet has compared with our short family hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, however, I have explored Ozark hills, quiet wooded paths,  emerald green paths atop the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and I plan to see how the Alps compare to the Rockies as soon as fate allows!

While not technically hiking boots, these were my go-to boots on rainy walks in Ireland:




I swear I love these things. I get so excited on work days when it is wet and rainy. A perfect excuse to wear my two-year-old boots!


5. Favorite Movies
A little media can be good for the soul. Watching a tear-wrenching film is often the carthartic release I need to look at the world through new eyes. Most of us are getting more than enough screen time. Let's just make sure it is something worth our time which enriches our lives. For you it might be a silly comedy, an action film, or a light-bright rom-com. You do you. You deserve it.

Or watch something fun, like the movie we got my youngest child, Alec's name from (I am totally the dorky blonde girl)





6. Reading
I will never have enough time to read. From fabulous fiction which takes me away to a better place, to informative and inspiring nonfiction which helps me discover who I was meant to be and encourages me to become that person, there are so many amazing books out there! Now that my life is so busy I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. It is just so much easier to skim and drop off and pick up a nonfiction book. But every now and then a fiction book will grab ahold of me and won't let me go until we come to that shaky, sleep-deprived ending. Heaven!
I'll be posting on my current reading soon.

7. Brainstorm Fun Ideas
From bucket lists, to do now dream lists, to planning imaginary virtual vacations, I love to think about the all the options in the world, and think about what it would be like to make it happen.
I have recently been inspired by my reading of How to do Everything and Be Happy, by Peter Jones. It's a simple book to help you feel brave enough to take back some time and has practical hints on how to organize the things you want to do and get them done.

This is one of the books that is cheaper in paperback than kindle...




8. Practice Letting Go
Letting go of past hurts and disappointments is never easy. But it is the KEY to a happy outlook. Give yourself the time to really dig in and feel the feels and then when you are ready, look for the lesson, and move on. Learning not to hold grudges and not to drown in self-pity has given me the power to control my own happiness, and I recommend giving it a try. This is a lesson which requires practice, because once forgiven, doesn't mean always forgiven. The stubborn heart when challenged will bring back those unpleasant memories, so it helps to think of forgiveness as an ongoing process you can practice again and again and again.

I am sorry. My good-girl-ness doesn't usually like bad words, but is just so right on. A good short affirmation for yourself!



As you can see, these are simple ideas. Not a one of them is too crazy-hard to implement to increase your daily happiness. While you would obviously want to switch out the ones which don't work for you and put in things that make you, personally, happy, the key is to add a little joy to your life Every. Single. Day.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Joy!

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning ...


Yesterday I was reading people's first and second hand accounts with Covid-19 and worked myself into a state of worry by bedtime. I just kept thinking how I could possibly be down for a week or two or three, lying in bed miserable in pain, and how on earth Karl would keep the kids away. Then I worried about my husband's health, because he is the one still going out to work in an office environment with other people. He is going to pick up germs and spread them all over our house. Then I thought of our boys and I couldn't imagine them in such discomfort over a period of time. 

I think it would be wise not to read accounts of the misery of the illness. Every pain, every bit of pressure has me wondering, is this it? Is this a symptom? Like an 8-month-pregnant woman reading into every twinge as a sign of labor, I wonder if everything is just the beginning of an unpleasant illness.

But then morning comes, and I am such a morning person, and the sunlight is beautiful, and online classes for my students begin today, and joy will not be suppressed.

I hope everyone is well. How are you keeping your thoughts safe and happy! I would love it if you would share.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Small



Image From Wikipedia
This is a time when I feel very small. We read and talk and posture and learn, always working to convince ourselves that we are bigger, we are strong, we are enough. And then something comes along and we realize we are just one wave in an enormous crashing ocean. All the answers , all the power seems to seep away and like a child dependent on an abusive parent, we hold our hand out to powers we don't really trust and drink in their words because what else can we do?

All my spiritual exercises and practices make me feel very silly. I read an article about not giving or taking ibuprofen with this illness and thus HAD TO GO BUY Acetaminophen (Tylenol). I was embarrassed about showing my frailty as a human, my dependence on these bits of information laid bare, but as I walked through the eerie night,  away from the clicking traffic lights (the streets were so quiet) into the drugstore, and back to the pain reliever aisle, I found just one lone bottle of  children's liquid acetaminophen left. I was not the only worried one. And I felt both justified and sheepish at the same time.

I picked up more coffee, because I know what is important, noted the lack of toilet paper and paper towels, and picked up the teensiest little box of Kleenex, because you never know. All the interactions were awkward between everyone, and I stepped back into the quiet night feeling so alone.

And I try to put a spin on it, and it is a little exciting. I know. I know! I am immature. I am not supposed to say that. It is horrible and my mother would berate me so, but if I step back for a minute I think, this is feeling we have been chasing for years. Chasing around with our dystopian novels and movies, wishing we could really touch and understand the depths of life. And here it stands, surreal, and I feel as if I am standing in molasses and my head is filled with thick, numbing syrup. I don't feel fear. Just anxiety. And confusion.

And I think eventually it will all go back to normal, because what else can I think? and I hope the casualties of life aren't so great. I hope unemployment is short and recovery is quick both in human cost and fiscally, because I worry.

And I can close my eyes as I type and pause for a minute, and in the eeriness of this quiet, quiet world, I can feel our pulse, shared and steady, and love how we are all in this together.

Whatever it is.

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