well, this is a weird chapter of life. there’s a lot to learn from this whole thing – a lot i hope we as a family and we as a human race learn. i’m trying to stay positive, see some good, relish the uniqueness, and practice a lot of gratitude.
we’ve just been hunkering down here in london. the first couple of weeks were pretty challenging – feeling trapped, isolated, uncertain; cancelling trips and plans; trying to figure out some kind of new normal. some other things unrelated but still affected by the pandemic also made that first bit difficult – including having no gas (no hot water, no oven, no heating) in our flat for five long days (on top of everything else, this felt like a nightmare!). but more recently we’ve gotten into a groove – chores and school time and crafts in the mornings, followed by exercise time in our garden square (soooo grateful for that outdoor space!!!), then lunch and moses has quiet time while gabriel naps, then usually lots of book reading in the afternoon until ian is done with work (he set up the most bizarre and pretty hilarious “home office” in the teensy tiny shower room connected to the boys’ bedroom). ian and i both get out most days in the evenings to exercise – a run or a bike ride – and sometimes i take moses and gabriel on walks around the city in the double buggy. we are incredibly thankful that despite the strict lockdown measures here in london, we are still allowed to go outside for exercise and the royal parks are still open – so we have been able to enjoy the incredible weather and bursting spring glory a little bit. and of course we are so, so grateful to be healthy and to have income right now.
in the beginning, i felt a little woe-is-me about this all happening when i’m in my current stage of life – with small kids living in a small space in a big city. but then i remembered that every single morning i start my day with two incredibly enthusiastic little boys that are barreling to go, thrilled to have another day to explore and experience … two adorable souls that make me smile and laugh by the hour, who giggle and play and give hugs and kisses freely, who provide tiny slices of pure joy regularly. and then i felt glad to be experiencing this pandemic as a frazzled, exhausted mom with small kids. this sure is an adventure.
some photos we’ve snapped while sheltering in place…
we have done so many crafts. moses is obsessed with creating with paint, glue, shapes, scissors, googly eyes, pom poms, markers, crayons, etc etc etc. this means gabriel (who always loves what his big bro loves) is also into it. the biggest hits have been “mirror paintings” (where we put squeezy paint on paper, fold it in half, then open it with big “woooow”s) – you’ll see lots of those on the photo of our craft wall below – and tracing the boys’ bodies on butcher paper on the ground and then letting them decorate themselves – i can’t believe i haven’t taken a picture of that! here’s mo’s artistic representation of anna and elsa (can you tell which is which? ;)) and some cool hand puppets he made. (yes, an obsession with frozen has also surfaced lately…)
on 21 march we had a big easter egg hunt planned with all of moses’s school friends – which we had to cancel. so on that same day we had our own little easter egg hunt in our garden with just us wrights. the boys were thrilled and it was a lot of fun.
here they are showing off their easter baskets pre-hunt…
… and then with their spoils when they’d collected all the eggs!
we have sooo many plastic eggs and things to put inside since we were planning on twenty six nursery schoolers joining us – and so we’ve had countless easter egg hunts around the flat, too. moses has thought of lots of random things to put inside the eggs and begs for a hunt multiple times a day.
during our quarantine, both boys have learned new skills. gabriel learned to scoot (!!! shhhh, he’s getting a scooter for his second birthday in a couple of weeks!!), and moses learned to climb trees (he’s so into it and dubs it his exercise activity every time we leave the flat 😉 ).
again, we are so grateful for our garden square. this green space is accessible only by people that live on our street. in the past we’ve hardly ever seen others there. now that everyone is home it’s a bit more used, but most days it’s very easy to stay very far away from our neighbours (so sad that we have to do that right now) – many times we are still the only ones there. oh man, i am sooo grateful for our garden. and it has been such a delight to spend time there as the sunshine has picked up and everything has burst into bloom!
one day moses decided to “build a ship like nephi” out of sticks. (nephi is a prophet in the book of mormon!)
a couple weeks ago i took a bike ride through hyde park and green park, past buckingham palace and down the mall to trafalgar square. i sped-walked down past big ben and westminster abbey and then biked home. it was eerie and exhilarating all at once. quite bizarre to see our city so empty.
pretty scenes from afternoon buggy walks (in which moses usually falls asleep):
my sweet friends surprised me with a delivery of couple boxes of amazing sweet pastries when i told them about our no-gas-in-the-flat situation and that i was having a tough time with that on top of the world situation and some personal stuff. i was incredibly touched by this kind gesture. they told me to close my eyes and imagine we were back in paris together eating sweet pastries. that was a welcome escape! // these days, i have gotten the act of taking a bath down to an art. i light a candle, turn on a show or podcast, put on a face mask, throw in a bath bomb (picture is of the beautiful set i recently got from amazon), and sink into the warm water. this self-care has been life-saving. i even bought a bath pillow so i can comfortably sit in there for a looong time. haha!
one afternoon the boys and i went on a walk to notting hill to visit my favourite spring trees in all of london. aren’t they spectacular?!
and later, gabriel tried his hand at climbing trees (yes, always wanting to do what mo is doing!):
i decided to start taping mo and gabe’s “projects” on the wall behind our table after throwing lots away (we’ve gone through a lot of paper around here…). after a few days the wall was stuffed and we had to take a photo, take it all down and start again (craft wall #2 is now half full). i have come to adore this colourful corner of our home.
moses decorated an easter bonnet (a big tradition here in the uk), and has been into wearing it a lot of the time. “oh! i need my easter bonnet!” he says 🙂
the boys have been very excited about the swings in the garden. they love to swing side-by-side and get the “biggest pushes ever.” now that gabriel is big enough to swing comfortably/safely it’s great!
most days when we go to the garden moses brings along a “collection bag.” here’s one day’s gathering. (yes, we have had a serious talk about not picking flowers … most of these had already fallen to the ground though!)
one afternoon our long walk was to battersea park on the south side of the river thames. check out these gorgeous flowers we found there!
a few things not pictured:
my sister saydi’s kids have been making episodes of “the shumway show” (shumway is their last name) for moses. they have a whole fancy trailer at the beginning of each episode, and then different segments like “story time with hazel” and “get strong with peter” and “drawing with hazel.” it is the awesomest and mo loves it so much.
i’ve had zoom calls with my siblings, my joy school mom friends, and my sisters and sisters-in-law. i’ve been very active on marco polo with my family and friends. we started a new marco polo group for ian’s family, and ian has a zoom call with his cohort from his phd every sunday. we are so grateful for the connections we can continue thanks to technology. it’s definitely not the same, and we miss our friends a lot. but it’s definitely something.
general conference was uplifting and inspiring. the boys were very excited about it. i acknowledge that this is 95% because they can earn an m&m every time they listen and hear the word “jesus,” but i like to think it’s also 5% because they can feel the spirit and love of god. we had a good (and occasionally very chaotic) time watching conference together.
and … here’s more blossom reveling in our garden … i didn’t tell moses to make that pose, he was just soooo excited to see all the pink flowers on that cherry tree!
more tree climbing…
a gorgeous little corner we happened upon on a walk:
we gave gabriel this animal book for christmas and the boys love to play “i spy” with it. daddy asks them, “where’s the panda,” “where’s the crocodile,” etc. recently moses has started “reading” this book to gabriel – sitting him down and then asking him, “where’s the elephant gabes?” it melts my heart. especially because very often there’s not so much sweetness exchanged from big brother to little brother these days…
from a saturday family exercise session in hyde park, climbing on logs and doing yoga on the grass…
… and climbing trees, of course! (ps either ian has been dressing the boys or they’ve been picking out their own clothes every day – hence the pajama pants, flood overalls with tye-died shirts, etc etc 😉 ) // i think mo realised i’ve been working hard to come up with all kinds of different activities to keep us busy at home, and one day he took matters into his own hands. he instructed gabriel that they were going to put all the toys from our toy baskets into ziploc bags and gather them on the couch, then dump them back in their baskets. this kept them busy for quite a while!
spring glory in the garden!! (can you spot the collection bag?)
at battersea park we found this chalk tribute to the nhs (national health service). the rainbow has become the sign of appreciation for our amazing health providers, and when we are out walking we always look for them in people’s windows (we have two in our own!) – they are fun to spot.
gabes has gotten excited lately about the camera moses got for christmas. he took maybe a hundred pictures of this tree. haha.
one morning for craft time we dyed easter eggs! it was very exciting. (mo mixed holidays by wearing his reindeer christmas pajamas to this event!)
we also painted some brown eggs (it’s hard to find white eggs here – but i did luck out in finding six white duck eggs!):
more smiles and blossoms in the garden:
one evening we borrowed our friends’ double jogger stroller and went on a family run. we went through the parks to picadilly circus, then down to westminster. it was even more empty and quiet than when i took my bike ride down there. when we got to our old neighbourhood (right by trafalgar square), i told ian to just listen for a minute. it was bizarre to let the near-silence settle in (we are really used to the sounds in that area after living there for 2.5 years!). wild.
deserted leicester square, trafalgar square and buckingham palace. wiiiiild.
it’s a crazy, uncertain, challenging time for us all … but yes, i am so glad i get to spend my quarantined days with these two joyful souls (and their dad, who is incredible):
stay safe, friends! the future is as bright as our faith.