April 9, 2020

Schaefer Family Adventures: March 2020

March 2020.  It began very, very different than it ended.  When I was editing and blogging this month, I was struck once again by how dramatic of a month this really was.

We started this month in Rochester, NY visiting my family.  There was snow on the ground when we arrived and John was absolutely thrilled. We barely had any snow this year in Steubenville, Ohio and Matthew proudly states that he never once had to shovel this winter. So when we arrived at Nonna and Papa’s house in snowy New York, John was PUMPED! He went sledding with his aunts and uncles, rolled down snowy hills, and licked icicles.

We visited my family for a little over a week while Matthew was in New Mexico on a mission trip.  Normally we would have gone with him but I was just starting to hear about the coronavirus during the week leading up to the mission trip and I made the decision to not travel with them this year to keep our kids healthy and safe. We didn’t know much at the time, but I wanted to play it safe and stay back.  In New York the weather quickly warmed up over the course of the week and we went on many hikes in the trails behind my parent’s house.  It was a wonderful week for us to spend time with family.

By mid week, the coronavirus situation was declared a pandemic and I worried about Matthew and the mission team’s ability to travel home safely. Things began to escalate quickly in New York, stores were starting to run out of supplies, shelves were empty and schools began to close.  We celebrated my birthday that week and I remember being struck with how bizarre everything seemed: we couldn’t go to any restaurants to celebrate, life as we knew it seemed to be shutting down.

I returned to Ohio the same day as Matthew and thankfully no one on the mission team got sick.  Life in Ohio was in a very similar situation that I had experienced in New York.  New guidelines and executive orders each day, places closing down and life coming to a halt.  We came home to an empty fridge because we had been away for 12 days so Matthew went out to the grocery stores to see what he could find.  There were many bare shelves but thankfully there was still food and we were able to buy what we needed. One of the biggest changes for us was the suspension of Mass in Ohio until after Easter.  We started to watch Mass on the TV each day, live streaming it from Franciscan University.  John would join the friars, virtually, as they said Mass, using his beautiful Mass kit.

The university moved all of it classes online for the remainder of the semester and the employees started working from home.  I cried a good amount as I began to realize what this meant for the seniors.  There were so many students who we have had the privilege of getting to know over the years. They watched our children grow up, they would babysit for us and we loved sharing life with them.  I thought that I had at least two more months with them, to be able to say my thank you’s and good byes.  No one thought it would end this way.  No one anticipated leaving for spring break and not returning. It was a shock to the system that I needed to process over the remainder of the month.

Every aspect of our lives had changed. John asked almost daily about going to his school which he loved dearly.  I explained to him that there are tiny bugs that are everywhere right now and if they get in your body, they make you very sick.  So that’s why we couldn’t go to school, to the park, to Mass.  It was the best explanation I could come up with at the time, but I’m fairly certain that he thinks our world in dealing with a bug infestation.

We took advantage of all the beautiful weather at the end of March by playing outdoors, going for hikes as a family (or bear hunts as John has affectionately termed them) and making obstacle courses for the kids both indoors and in our backyard. Each day seemed so similar to the previous, almost like we were living in our own version of Groundhog Day.  I began to watch the daily press conferences with the Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton (who I feel is our state mom!) They both have been incredible in their response and leadership during this pandemic.  I am so incredibly thankful to live in Ohio.

So here are the snapshots of our life from last month: from traveling to NY to life in quarantine and everything in between.

See more monthly family adventures here

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