10 Things I Learned This Month During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Well, I guess it’s taken this past month of CRAZINESS to finally write in this blog again.

I used to write a monthly post called “10 Things I Learned Last Month” – you can search for past posts in the search bar.

Here is the latest addition of 10 Things I Learned, summing up March 2020 (which seriously felt like an entire year). This past month, we faced the global pandemic of Covid-19, with the U.S. going into a nation-wide sabbatical. Most people, aside from essential workers, are currently working from home, schooling from home, and trying to adjust to this weird limbo life for the unforeseen future. In our home, our family is still figuring out new rhythms that work for us.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month.

1. I am under more stress than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

There are many things about the current season that are inherently stressful. Global crisis, sickness and death, economic downturn, of course. And also personal things, like worrying about my older friends and family members’ health, helping my kids adjust to lots of uncertainty, and tending to the needs within our church community. And in the midst of stress, I observe interesting ebbs and flows in me that have been unpredictable at times. Some moments I feel certain and secure, armed with a we-got-this attitude. And then other moments I’m crying, stress eating ice cream, and can’t fall asleep because I’m anxious.

2. I need my tribe of people right now.

This is the time to tighten those relational connections with the people that matter most. And I am so grateful I have my people, and ways to deepen those connections. Phone calls and texts with friends have become lifelines. Family conference calls on Zoom and video messages on Marco Polo are keeping us afloat. Thank God for technology that allows us to reach out to others right now.

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3. We are all facing loss and disappointment.

Every single one of us is dealing with losses of some kind. My kids can’t see their friends, and that’s hard. Some of our extended family members and friends cannot work right now, and that’s hard. One big loss for our family is that we were scheduled to officially adopt our foster son this week, but now that’s on hold because the court system in Hawaii is essentially shut down right now. And that’s hard. Really hard. I’ve cried several times from all the loss I’m feeling.

(Since I haven’t written anything here about fostering, this may be news to you. It has been an adventure and joy for our family, and I hope to write a longer post about that at some point.)

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4. I love discovering unexpected beauty around me.

Though life in our home is more chaotic than normal, there are many joys worth celebrating. My kids are so resilient and healthy. Of course there are conflicts, but overall my kids have been really kind with each other. I love seeing their friendships and sweet moments together. There is a lot of fun and laughter in our family.

I also love the beautiful, creative ways people around us are reaching out, connecting with others, and offering what they have to bless others. Humans are so wonderfully compassionate and innovative!

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5. I need to pay attention to my inner world when engaging with social media.

RIght now social media feels like both a wonderful gift and a potential minefield, depending on the moment. On the good end, it’s a way to maintain social connections, read funny things that help me have a healthy level of humor, get parenting tips, and of course, learn about the gloriousness that is Tiger King on Netflix. But if I linger too long on social media, I start to get overwhelmed with news that worries me, posts that make me question whether I’m doing enough, and other things that do more harm than good. So I’m learning how to intentionally pay attention to how my heart and soul are doing while I’m on things like Facebook or Instagram. And at the point when I feel fear or anxiety rising up, it’s probably a wise time to shut it off and find other things to do.

6. More time at home means more time to cook, read, and write.

I am enjoying all this time to slow down and do things that I love, such as baking bread and reading books. Here are a few foods I’ve been making at home:

Feel free to check out my Recipe Archives for more food.

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7. When you know it’s a marathon, and not a sprint, your strategy changes.

At first it seemed like this stay-at-home thing was for two weeks, and our family went into a certain mode. It felt new and exciting, we had a long list of fun things to do, and I had lots of romantic ideas of what schooling at home would be. It was like a Quarantine Honeymoon. Now, with schools seemingly being closed for a significantly longer time, and no clear end date to staying-at-home and physical distancing, we’ve shifted into creating more sustainable rhythms. We have some structure to our day, but also a lot of fluidity, depending on the needs of our family. Here’s a resource list I created called Things to Do at Home With Kids. Some days we do a few organized activities, other days we do none. We’ve set up some longer term work spaces in our house for all the school and Zoom meetings. I think we’re still adapting to seeing this as a longer reality than when it first started, but that’s where our family of six is at.

8. Speaking of Zoom, I’ve been enjoying leading virtual Enneagram workshops.

Since becoming a certified Enneagram coach, I’ve been finding ways to educate and equip people with the Enneagram for personal, professional, and relational growth. And thanks to Zoom, I can continue leading group workshops. They have been so much fun! If you want to know more about the Enneagram and the training I offer for groups and teams, go here.

9. Thank goodness for TV (and other wonderful things).

Seriously, there is so much to be grateful for. I am thankful that we have things like a stable home, jobs, food, our sweet baby boy who is thriving, Netflix, audiobooks, coffee, a front yard and driveway where my kids can play, friends who check in with us, my kids’ teachers who are freaking amazing, a healthy family, toilet paper and hand sanitizer, moments of solitude on my front patio, yoga, my husband finally deciding he’s ready to watch Game of Thrones with me, virtual happy hour, Shipt grocery delivery, my older kids’ ability to be helpful and self-sufficient, pizza, a large stock of wine, and so much more.

10. Easter is stripped down this year, and that’s sort of nice.

With life being simplified and decluttered, this holiday weekend that’s usually full of activities and gatherings is fundamentally different. This year we’ll have a quieter Easter celebration at home, and rest in the truth that Jesus is victorious, life emerges from death, God is good, and we have nothing to fear. Happy Easter, everyone.

What about you? What things have you learned recently?

 

 

Be Prepared With An Emergency Supplies Kit – What and How to Pack

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A few weeks ago, residents in Hawaii were alerted to a ballistic missile threat, and ordered to seek immediate shelter. Fortunately, it ended up being a false alarm. Whoops! Just kidding! Hooray!

Emerging from this experience caused me to confront the reality that our family needed to be better prepared for emergencies. Even if a ballistic missile never comes our way, we still live in a place where hurricanes and tsunami warnings are an annual seasonal occurrence. Based on those possible emergencies, I decided we needed to prepare to survive on our own with no electricity and running water for two weeks.

I made sure our house is stocked with water, food, and other supplies that will last us for at least 14 days. At one gallon of water per person per day, that is a lot of water! Thankfully we have a garage where we can store most of that stuff.

In terms of food, we have a variety of non-perishable food, including:

  • Canned goods
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars
  • Freeze dried meals – This stuff has a really long shelf life (20-30 years), is very portable, and just needs water to make a meal. We have meals from Mountain House and Augason Farms. I researched options for a while, and decided on these brands that were highly recommended.

Additionally, I put together two emergency kits – one large bin to keep in the garage, and one backpack to keep in our van.

I happened to post a photo of our emergency bin on Instagram and Facebook, and received a bunch of requests from friends to share my emergency supplies lists. Apparently I wasn’t the only one feeling underprepared for emergencies. So I decided to put together a post on how to pack an emergency kit of basic disaster supplies. This was a large task that took me hours of research and planning – but I’m sharing it with you so you can be prepared as well.

My list fits the needs of our family of five plus a dog living in Hawaii. You will need to consider your unique needs, and adjust your emergency supplies accordingly. Think about your family’s needs, and also the most likely emergency scenarios in your geographic area.

We had lots of these items stored in random places in our garage or drawers, but had to buy a few things. Now everything is in one easy-to-find place.

This list includes what I packed in the bin for home, what I packed in the grab-and-go backpack, and what other essential things to grab in an emergency, such as our wallets and cell phones.

Emergency Supplies Kit

Print this list

Store supplies in a plastic bin that is easy to carry, and won’t get water damaged, like these Sterlite bins. For a grab-and-go bag, use a sturdy backpack or duffle bag. Print out your inventory list, and keep a copy in your bin so you know what you packed, and date it with the date of when it was put together. Maintain your bin by replacing expired items as needed, such as food, medicine, and batteries. Assess your supplies once a year, and update your kit depending on your changing needs.

What’s in the bin:

What’s in the grab-and-go bag:

  • First-aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Cash in small denominations
  • Radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Multitool
  • Important documents in waterproof folder – identification, birth certificates, etc.
  • Food
  • Water
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sanitary wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Duct tape
  • Poncho
  • Carabiner clips
  • Mylar thermal blanket
  • Matches
  • Bungee cords and rope
  • Tarp
  • Travel towel
  • Pencil, pen, and notebook

Additional supplies to grab in emergency:

  • Wallets
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Keys for house and cars
  • Folder of important documents
  • Non-perishable food and water (in garage and storage closet)
  • Sleeping bag or blanket for each person
  • Prescription medication
  • Extra clothes and shoes
  • Pet food and dishes for dog
  • Grab-and-go bag (in car)
  • Camping stove, propane, and pot
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Wrench to turn off utilities

For more resources on emergency preparedness, visit ready.gov.

Let me know what else you’d add to your list!

Bacon Maple Glazed Cake Bites

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Oh hey there. It’s been quiet here on this blog for a while. Life has been quite full with a variety of things – settling into a new home on the West Side of Oahu, getting a spunky labrador named Pono, ministry adventures, somehow making life with three kids work out. Anyway, I’m still here.

I’ve been mostly cooking a lot of tried and true meals, so I haven’t had anything new to post. In fact, I often come back to my Recipe Archives when I need ideas of what to cook. But this past weekend I felt like trying something new, and came up with these bacon maple glazed cake bites. Do you like bacon? I hope so, because then I can trust you.

This recipe was born out of things I had around the kitchen. Pound cake from Costco. Thick cut bacon. An easy-to-make maple glaze. I like the combo of sweet and salty. For something extra, I added a touch of fresh rosemary. This was a simple appetizer that would fit into a holiday party or potluck gathering.

Okay, I miss you after my long blogging hiatus. Would you please drop into the comments and say hello? Bonus, tell me one fun fact about yourself.

Bacon Maple Glazed Cake Bites

Print this recipe
Yield: about 36 cake bites

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf pound cake, cut into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 6 strips of bacon, cooked, cooled, and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • Salt
  • Fresh rosemary (optional), chopped into very small pieces

Directions

To make the glaze: in a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar, a pinch of salt, and maple syrup. Glaze should be a spreadable consistency.

Spread glaze on each piece of cake. Top with bits of bacon. If using rosemary, sprinkle on top the bacon.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.