Warming up

Alright. Now that I’ve chronicled our spring break travels, it won’t be long until I’ll catch up to the where we actually are in time. I’m looking forward to writing in the more present tense.

That being said, this is a strange time, and one in which we all are needing to slow down and appreciate the moments. So I’m not going to sum up or rush to catch up. Here’s what happened next.

This is the new face of a nearly decade-long tradition of us Novaks all gathering together once a week for Family Dinner.

We took a hiatus and even tried out a Zoom Dinner. With the realization that six feet is so much nicer than a screen, we tried out a social-distance walk. Jim has dubbed them “Pop Up Walks,” since the location and time have to be more flexible. Also, it’s a more fun term that doesn’t involve the term ‘social-distancing.’ Look at us doing so well staying apart while together! As the weather warms and more people venture out, this is getting more complicated, but aren’t we all getting so good at being flexible these days?!

I know at the beginning of April there was (and still is) a lot of boredom happening in the world, but I am grateful that it is not happening in my house. If anything, my “free time” has dwindled to next to nothing. And again, I say, I am grateful. Here is a quick little 3-image montage of how my days were filled during my third week after leaving student teaching.

There was a lot of Legos, a lot of doing projects around the house to help with my own mental health (and productive!), and some really lovely togetherness. Adjusting to being all together all the time was pretty seamless. We all had moments of deep emotion, and it’s not like we flipped and switch and are all fine now. But the perspective of just enjoying now has been helpful. Especially since we have no idea what later will look like.

Distance-learning officially began for Minneapolis Public Schools on April 6.

It’s fascinating to do this with a kindergartner and a third-grader simultaneously. Most of Henry’s schoolwork either starts as or turns into delightful play that he conducts himself. It’s wonderful, and also deeply sad that he cannot have this time to do the real work of kindergarten, which is socializing with his peers.

Third-Grade is much more straightforward. Charlie does his assignments and turns them in through Google Classroom. That first week, he liked to do all of his work back-to-back to finish school before moving on with his day.

His teacher also scheduled a virtual class meetup. The students loooove that chat feature!

Both of their teachers have been incredible, and I am impressed at how they have adapted content for this new setup. The real work is figuring out the best mode of delivery at home. We’re still working on that, but so far it has been a success, if not a smashing one.

The best thing that has happened is that Charlie is now enjoying doodling and coloring again! We have Mo Willems to thank for that. We have been fans of his books for awhile, and even saw a live stage adaptation of one at the Children’s Theater Company. Now we hang out with him for 20 minutes a day, while he guides us through doodling and creative exercises. We love it.

I now realize that photo is of them filling out COVID-19 time capsules, and not, in fact, doodling at all. But you get the picture. ALL OF THE MARKERS!

We took a field trip that first week, because…yeah.


This is at a sculpture park in St Paul.


Can you find the Charlie?


Heading back in a western direction towards home, we stopped at the Mississippi River Lock and Dam no. 1. I had been promising Charlie that we would go during spring break, and that obviously didn’t happen. So he really wanted this to be included in our field trip.


Aaaaaaaaand….it was a wee bit of a disappointment. Henry’s phrase of the month, wherever we go, has been, “when all of this is over, we need to come back to this place!”


I am SO happy that Charlie got over the hump of two-wheeling last summer. It would be a hard and frustrating time to work on that skill. Now we can all bike together and have grand adventures this summer. We took our warm-up ride of the season at the cemetery across the street. It felt so nice!


See you soon!

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