Our Year

What can I say? The year 2020 has been…different.

We started the year with our usual crazy schedule: school, work, after-school activities. Oscar tried out for and made intermediate band and was playing the clarinet. Aria was doing gymnastics. We got home most nights around 5:30 or later, with just enough time to make and eat dinner and do homework. It was busy, but normal.

In February, Oscar celebrated his 11th birthday with his first ever slumber party and his two favorite foods: donuts and pizza. Little did we know it would be our last in-person birthday of the year.

In Flagstaff, there was a big celebration for the 90th anniversary of the discovery of Pluto, which was discovered at our local observatory. We had a wonderful day at the observatory, and Oscar got to meet the son of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto and one of our family heroes (it’s a Flagstaff thing, ha ha).

Then, at the beginning of March we were invited to attend a movie with several families of Aria’s school friends. We almost didn’t go as it had been a busy month and it was our first weekend off in a long time. Looking back, I’m so glad we went and got a picture of Aria and her friends at the movie theater. This picture is so evocative of everything we lost in 2020 and our hope that we can soon go back to these kinds of outings.

Since March 11, 2020, we have been home with the kids almost 24/7. They have attended school virtually, and every day I sit with them at the kitchen table, guiding their learning and keeping them on task while doing my job remotely. Around the first week of September I had to return to campus to teach my classes in person and online simultaneously (via Zoom). I am so lucky that Darin has been home to take over for me and do so many of the household chores. I don’t know what I would have done if he wasn’t home with us.

Here are some pictures of our life at home during a pandemic.

Our son Oscar graduated from 5th grade and started middle school, which is so hard to believe. He loves his new school and teachers and can’t wait to meet them in person, but sad that he missed out on his 5th grade graduation and being with the kids he’s known since kindergarten.

Being home with the kids has been a mixed blessing. We are closer than ever, maybe too close, ha ha, but I’m ready for a return to normal.

It’s hard to describe the emotional toll this year has taken on us. Being parents of young children during a global pandemic means balancing our own worries with the needs of our children. At a time when I have less free time than ever, my workload at the university has doubled while my pay has been cut. No accommodations have been made for parents at all, even though all Flagstaff schools have been remote since March. While trying to juggle my workload and my children’s schooling, I have also worried about getting sick. When you are the parents of young children you wonder what will happen if you get Covid. Who will help you care for your kids while you’re sick? What if you’re that rare case that has to be hospitalized? How many risks can we afford to take? The kids want to see their friends and extended family members, vacations and visits have to be canceled, and each decision is agonizing. On the other hand, we are so, so lucky. We know people who have lost their jobs and their homes. Who have been hospitalized. Who have lost grandparents. Who have battled cancer.

Our life is good. We begin the new year with gratitude…and hope.

Journal of a Plague Year


Like so many people around the country, we are “self-isolating,” as they call it. Or as introverts like to say, “everyday life.” Our trip to Legoland for spring break has been cancelled, school is now online, and the CDC is advising “social distancing.” I figured this would be the perfect time to dust off the old blog.

Out of sheer coincidence, I picked up Isaac Newton by James Gleick at the library last week, because I love biographies. Turns out Newton left Cambridge University during the Great Plague of London and took shelter in his childhood home in the countryside. Gleick writes,

The plague year was his transfiguration. Solitary and almost incommunicado, he became the world’s paramount mathematician.

It was during this time that Newton made his famous observations of the apple tree, which lead to new theories of gravity.

Although I don’t think anyone will accomplish anything so grand this time around (after all, we still have the endless distraction of the internet), I do think this period will raise some interesting questions about things we take for granted, like the value of traditional face-to-face teaching and meetings (I hope stupid meetings go away forever, ha ha).

I will be spending the next week rethinking my teaching and how to best serve my students online, while also trying to make the best of being stuck at home with two small children who are disappointed that they don’t get to go to Legoland. Like all small children, they are surprisingly resilient and are enjoying lots of time spend playing video games and board games, and the temporary relaxing of my usual junk food rules.

I’ll use this blog to update you on what we’re doing to pass the time. Meanwhile, I hope you all stay safe and well and sane.