A year ago, wearing a mask in public would’ve raised some eyebrows. The pandemic has changed almost every aspect of life: how people shop, how people go to work, how people go to school. Now, mask-wearing has become as mundane as morning coffee. These experiences have held constant for families in our neighborhood.

THE PANDEMIC BROUGHT all the Wiegands back to the house. Luke, 7, missed the excitement of finishing up his basketball season and had to complete the school year at home. Philip, who works in commercial real estate, had to stop going to the office for a while.

Activities the Wiegand family did together came to a halt when they couldn’t make it to services at Northway Church on Sundays. Philip and his wife, Melissa, tried to preserve some elements of normalcy by moving home groups outside. Those didn’t last.

Though virtually connecting with other people works sometimes, Melissa says, it’s not always easy.

“There’s a little bit more of an awkwardness to it, I feel like, for me at least, not knowing where to look for the camera, and you know, if the computer’s at a funny angle, or my dog’s barking,” she says.

At home, Philip and Melissa carried his desk out of the office space and upstairs to a room with doors so he could muffle some of the background noise. That space lost a computer, but it gained blocks their younger children – Davis, 4, and Emma, 2 – played with while Luke did his schoolwork at the kitchen table.

“I think figuring out how to do school, with him [Philip] working and with two younger kids was very challenging, I’d say the first few months, until we kind of found our new rhythm,” Melissa says.

The Wiegand family. Photography by Julia Newman.

Part of that new rhythm was discovering activities to do at their home in Preston Hollow, where they’ve lived since December 2019. Davis and Emma spent much of their time playing outside to let Luke focus on his schoolwork.

“We just got a little bounce house, and that has really been used every day, and we bought a little zip line off Amazon, which has been a hit,” Melissa says.

And Melissa, who has been leading the kids in gymnastics classes in their yard, didn’t forget to make time for herself. She decided to learn to play piano, something she’s wanted to do since she was a child.

Using a computer and the keyboard her husband gave her as an anniversary gift during the pandemic, Melissa practices learning songs like “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

“I feel like it’s such a good way to get out maybe feelings you can’t express in words, like a catharsis,” Melissa says, as Charlie, the Wiegands’ dog, barks in the background.

The Wiegands have learned to appreciate their time together as a family, Melissa says, and she’s thankful her children have each other’s company.

“I think the family time has been great, and learning that we have what we need here in our house together,” Melissa says.

With Luke back at school and Philip back at the office, the Wiegands are experiencing a snippet of what life was like a year ago. But the family is waiting to do more, like visiting Disney World, where they had planned a trip last spring. Until they can, the Wiegands will be happy
to go somewhere closer to home: inside Chick-fil-A.

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