The New Normal?

The New Normal

Well, it's been eight weeks since the quarantine regulations were put in place.  Gradually, the resort has closed, leaving only a few staff left.  Our Covid-19 family has dwindled as people have found rare opportunities to travel back to their homes.  In some ways, it feels like just yesterday when all this started.  In other ways, it feels like it's been decades.
The focus for me has been to maintain routine and a realistic perspective during such global upheaval.  It feels weird, though, to continue living life as usual when so much of the world around us is changing and is anything but usual.  I try to take it one day at a time.  What can I do today to boost morale and maintain momentum?  Here are some of the ways we fight the boredom/blues bug amid the monotony...

Playing

Monopoly Marathon!
Our onboard game cabinet hasn’t seen this much action since our 20-day Pacific Ocean crossing.  Some old favorites have made a reappearance, especially those that take longer than twenty minutes, like Monopoly and Catan.  Michael and I had a 4-hour Monopoly battle one afternoon.  When else could this happen?  

One of our favorite games, learned back in our Caribbean cruising.
The few staff left at the nearby resort have made our game times much more fun.  After teaching them our version of Mexican Train Dominoes, we all meet up at a table in the bar nearly every afternoon for a round or two, and the competition is getting serious!  On the other hand, our Heads Up phone app is anything but serious.  I laugh so hard each time we play that I nearly wet my pants!  It’s the perfect way to blow off steam and get us all cracking up.  The app has the added feature of video recording each team’s charades, to be used either as blackmail or endless comedic entertainment! 
Back on board, the four of us have used the ipad and Apple pencil along with an app called Game Words to play a version of Pictionary after dinner.  The app provides words at an easy, medium, hard, and really hard level.  Gradually, we’ve moved up to the medium level with words like ‘colored pencil’ and ‘sword’.  We tried the really hard level, but when the word ‘ironic’ popped up, we knew we were way out of our league.  Back to medium we go.

 Learning (outside of boat schooling)     

This app is highly motivational!  She could spend hours practicing!
Elizabeth has been working through her Simply Piano app, using the keyboard she got from Santa this year.  Just this morning, she popped up from her room declaring, “I’ve completed Pop Chords!”    I’m not sure exactly what that means, but she’s thrilled and progressing.  My ukulele playing isn’t progressing so quickly, however.  After I brought it to shore to let the resort staff have a try, they have latched onto it and adopted it as their own.  To see them finding songs to learn and downloading tutorials, I’ll gladly put my playing on pause.  They are having way too much fun.
They’ve taught us some of their hobbies, too.  Elizabeth brought in all her beading and bracelet supplies, and the gals taught us each a new friendship bracelet knotting pattern.  As we’ve completed them, they’ve been gifted to the remaining crew here as Covid-19 souvenirs.  
Another afternoon, we took over the resort kitchen and asked the ladies to teach us how to cook a few Philippino dishes.  We gathered up the ingredients and made quite the feast!  Grilled eggplant omelettes, Chicken Adobo, and homemade lumpia (Filipino spring rolls).  The kitchen was a flurry of flour and fun.  Adele blasted over the speakers as we rolled out dough and learned a few tricks.  Did you know that you can make super thin tortillas by stacking up a few blobs of dough, with oil and flour between, and rolling them out together?  This little tidbit will be a game-changer next time we have to make our own tortillas!  Thinner and faster.   And, if you don’t want to make an entire dish spicy, just add in the chilis whole instead of cutting them up.  Then, those who want the spice can include it in their portion when the time comes to serve it up.  Perfect for our family, with various tolerances for heat.

Rolling up our handmade Spring Rolls


Creating

Michael in animation mode
Cooking and bracelet-making weren’t exactly Mark’s thing, so he’s enjoyed the quiet time aboard to watch photo/video editing tutorials.  Learning, in this case, has led to a boost in motivation to get caught up on our Field Trip video journals.  His momentum has been contagious, prompting me to get busy writing blogs that document the past few months.  I’d gotten a bit behind, too. 
Michael has found a renewed interest in creating with some of his digital animation programs: Scratch, Blender, iMovie, and Sticknodes.  He and his buddy even started collaborating to create animations together.  He’s learning more about programming and digital effects everyday.  I think I need to take a few lessons from him!  Recently, we finished reading Lord of the Flies for school.  He created a digital presentation using iMovie and Procreate.  I was blown away.  
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is snapping photos of every single nudibranch she sees underwater.  She is learning how to use different elements of Photos (Apple’s photo editing app) to compensate for the underwater hues and lighting.  She is also having fun messing around with digital art on Procreate.  

Co's Chromodoris
As a family, in fact, we’ve watched a few Procreate tutorials together and decided to have a contest.  Each of us had a week to create a fruit-themed piece of artwork which included a banana, mangosteen, dragonfruit, and calamansi.  (if you’ve never tried any of the last three fruits I named, you are missing out.  Get to your nearest Asian supermarket and buy one of each to try!  Mangosteens are our family’s favorite!)  At the beginning of the week, there was some major smack-talking going on, but as people realized how much time others were spending on their projects, humble silence set in.  Ultimately, Elizabeth blew us all out of the water with her attention to detail.     

The winner! Let's just say it wasn't a close competition at all.  
I'll spare you the runners up :)


Entertaining

At least one night a week, we’ve brought a movie ashore with the screen and projector.  A few of the staff had never seen The Hunger Games, so we opted to watch all three in order.   It’s strange how the news on tv is starting to sound a lot like the dystopia portrayed in Panem - government issued drones monitoring civilians, “The Capitol” censoring social media, and people being forced into compliance.  It all hit a bit too close to home.      

'The Reaping'
Usually, we reserve movies for long passages and Friday Family Nights, but lately we’ve needed more entertaining to lighten the mood and distract us from the monotony.  By the time the sun goes down, we’re all wiped, so a two-hour movie just seems like too much.  Some nights, it’s a throwback to Duck Dynasty, other nights it’s watching a few Dude Perfect videos on Youtube, and on rare occasions we’ll catch up on the endless news stories to find out what’s happening in the rest of the world.   These quick snipits of entertainment are just the thing to bring us all together at the end of another Groundhog Day and provide relaxation before bed (well, all except the news, that is).

The Great Unknown

Storms becoming more frequent as we enter into typhoon season here in the Philippines.  Time to get moving!

There are certainly those days when the enormity of this situation threatens to infect me with a case of the blues.  Those days when the kids are at each other's throats, and Mom and Dad aren't really doing much better.  When the boat is 98º inside and I just can't anymore.  Just can't.  No one really has any answers right now and much of our next steps consist of questions, so many questions.  No amount of domino-playing can suppress those feelings, and I don't want to invalidate them.  Those struggles are real.    
But we press on.  We count our blessings, find ways to brighten these days, focus on the good, and set our hopes on God’s faithfulness.  Lately in the news, there's been a catch phrase - "the new normal".  Everyone is talking about how these distancing, zoom-calling, online schooling, glove and mask-wearing social precautions will be what life looks like for who-knows-how-long.  I like to think about other social effects of this lockdown, though.  Family dinners together, cooking together, playing together, reaching out, finding value in life's simple pleasures, slowing down, realizing our need for relationships and interactions, holding our loved ones closer when we can.  It has all reminded me of what's truly important.  
Would I love for life to go back to the way it was before?  In some ways, yes, but in many ways I'm so grateful for the new normal that this experience has spurred, how we've grown, and the memories we've created in this past eight weeks.  

       
      
   





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