One of our family’s biggest changes in 2020 is that Winnie finally left her job in February so as to spend more time with the kiddos. For almost half a year, Winnie had to help the newly hired manager in transition before she was comfortable that her team would be in good hands.
Then the pandemic hits Austin in the middle of March. Winnie only had two weeks of quiet time while all the kids were at school. She barely had the time to finish tax and other urgent tasks before the spring break. That’s when the city enforced the lock down and we were not able to travel during the spring break. School started virtual learning after the break so all the kids have been staying home for distance learning. Winnie became the coach, IT tech support, cook, maid, counselor and preschool teacher which can be concluded as a full time stay home mom with a modified homeschool program. We set up their computers on the second floor and then Winnie needed to go up and down the stairs countless times everyday between the school zoom and homework time. Her steps would reach more than 10,000 everyday, which is quite a work out. There has been a lot of hassle, but having the kids home is a great opportunity for them to bond. Kids played between breaks and Avery got to be hanging out with her siblings. She speaks better Cantonese and picks up some English from siblings and friends. We get to eat lunch on our back porch which never got utilized since we moved in 6 years ago. Fiber(our dog) probably wondered why his space got invaded. It’s fun getting to go for bike rides or hiking every day. We make bread and cookies every week and get to have freshly blended smoothies every day for snacks.
In the summer, the kids would go outdoors in the morning before it got hot, and went swimming 2 or 3 times a week in the afternoon. We decided to get a trampoline in our backyard for the kids (and adults). They enjoy jumping on it especially when it rains.
We started the kids’ very first camping experience this spring and went to Mother Neff State Park. It was raining in the morning when we woke up in the tent, but the kids seemed to enjoy the experience so we decided to go again during summer. We went to Garner State Park for two nights and loved the scenery so much. We went with our COVID buddy family which has been a great support during this pandemic. They were like sweet candy in these bitter times.
Early October, we made a very hard decision to have the kids back in person for school. There are around 10 in each class and everyone was asked to wear a mask and keep 6 feet distance at all times. The kids were so much happier to have their social lives in school. During the fall break, we decided to take a last minute trip to Big Bend National Park. It’s a blessing that we were able to find a campsite for 2 nights inside the park due to cancellation. The trip was wonderful and we all had a great time doing such a road trip with 0% indoor time. Mother nature wowed us all and made us forget about the bitter moments during the lockdown.
We planned earlier this year for a skiing trip to Purgatory Ski Resort, Colorado during the Thanksgiving week. Our plan was to tour around New Mexico’s national park while on the way back from skiing. But only a few days before the trip, New Mexico had announced a lock down. There was a struggle for all of us whether we should cancel the trip but we eventually decided to go on. We skied for 3 days yet there was not much snow with only one lift opened. However, as Avery’s first time skiing it serves the purpose well and Avery was able to go up the lift 10+ times. We had so much fun hanging out together and definitely had a good break during COVID times. Charlotte and Atticus enjoyed skiing with friends but got bored with only limited trails open. After skiing for 3 days, we changed our original plan and headed to Black Canyon National Park. It was so worth it. There was fresh snow on the trails and we were walking on fluffy snows the whole time. It was like in a wonderland. The tree branches were full of snow and we enjoyed the view of Black Canyon when walking down the trail. While on the way driving to Black Canyon National Park, we discovered a little sightseeing spot called Box Canyon. It’s a heavy and strong waterfall which can provide the whole town’s electricity throughout the year. This town is surrounded by mountains with snow. When we drove by, it sure felt like we were in a small European town.
Cliff’s company started mandatory WFH around spring break and it took some time to set up a place so that he could focus at work when all the kids were at home. Due to COVID19, he has to solve overwhelming problems at his work, in both technical and managerial aspects. It turns out that there are unexpected opportunities coming with the challenges, and he looks forward to the 2021 projects.
During the pandemics, kids were able to pick up other music instruments. They enjoy their Ukulele lessons from their daddy. They get to learn new songs and enjoy playing holiday songs, such as Feliz Navidad, during the holiday times.
Charlotte also started virtual violin lessons from her school. She loves reading her chapter books from the library and in her Kindle, while doing handstands between reading times!
Atticus gets along with Avery so well that they would play games together for a couple of hours every day! He is a sweet brother and always takes care of his sister. Atticus outgrew his 16’ bike and has upgraded to 20’ bike.
Avery started riding her 12’ bike without training wheels in the beginning of the year but she’s not confident enough and would stop for no reason. She didn’t make much progress during the summer. But in the last couple of weeks, she finally overcame the fear and she has been enjoying her bike ride in our cul-de-sac. She has been very curious and loves adventures. We called her steel fingers as she broke a lot of things with only one touch.
One of the hobbies that the kids picked up were inline skating, which we did almost every day in the summer to burn their energy. We are blessed to live near a cul-de-sac so kids can play safely. Overall, it has been a fruitful year for us even though we didn’t get to travel much.
We enjoyed all the holiday greetings from everyone. Looking forward to a safer and adventurous year in 2021. May everyone stay healthy and peaceful.
Cliff, Winnie, Charlotte, Atticus and Avery