Our Experience Being A Firefighter Family Living In Arizona During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Thanks for stopping by the blog today and reading. This has been a post I have been wanting to write for the last several weeks. The last time I wrote on this topic was back in March. My husband Josh is a firefighter and has been on the department for over 12 years. I hope this gives you some insight on what our family has been experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local fire departments are starting to report more COVID positive test results among it’s members. Phoenix Fire is reporting 62 positive COVID-19 cases among firefighters and another 100 currently quarantined during the testing process, awaiting their results.

Let me start by saying you could have 10 families within the fire department write their thoughts and experiences down and get 10 varying answers. This post is based on our own experience.

Our family has been a self contained unit since March. We have not spent time with extended family members other then quick driveway visits from the car. Same goes for any in person interaction with friends. For reference we have an 8, 6, 3, and 3 year old. Three of our kids have had birthdays during this time. We celebrated their birthday’s at home. No friends, no extended family over, just the six of us.

We have been ordering our groceries online and picking them up curbside. Not any different from how we were doing things pre-pandemic to be honest. With 4 kids I am so thankful for curbside pickup! We haven’t eaten at any restaurants since February. This feels super crazy typing out because it is the longest period of time we have ever done this in our almost 13 years of marriage. 

The 4th quarter of school was done at home. Our kids missed their teachers and friends so much but we made the best of the situation and I feel like we did it fairly well.

Church is being done in our living room. Our church has been doing a great job at providing resources for us and our kids during this time to worship at home. 

But while we have been doing everything possible to limit our footprint outside our home so many others are not. Our state has more cases currently daily then we did during our stay at home order.

When Your Child Realizes What Dad Does For Work…

We always knew our kids would one day realize that Dad’s job is dangerous. He doesn’t just get to ride in a really cool fire truck but he actually fights fires. Fire burns. In this moment we knew part of their innocence would be chipped away as they realized Dad could get hurt at work. 

When Josh was a few months graduated out of the fire academy and in his first rotation, we went to a Christmas party with the crew he was working with. We had been married a year at this point, and I was super excited to meet the other wives. I listened to them talk about this exact topic and filed it away for later. I knew when the time came I would have the best speech planned for this conversation with our own kids. 

My breath caught in my throat one night two months ago when we were putting our oldest to bed. After saying prayers Josh told him he would be going to work in the morning. 

In the moment something clicked and Caden realized that Dad would be around other people who might be sick. It was heartbreaking. I always thought we would have this conversation in regards to fire. I had a great speech prepared, thanks to listening to that conversation years ago, about how daddy trains to be careful during fires and why we are so thankful he works with a crew that truly has each other’s best interest at heart. 

And while that last part remains true about his crew, no fire department has been trained for how to operate during a pandemic. Firefighters fight fires, run medical calls, and are there for the community in any and all emergencies. Everyone is learning as they go and trying to implement the best known practices to keep crews and patients safe. 

We are beyond grateful for this job that Josh wanted for so long and that pays our bills. But for the first time in Josh’s career, his job has concerned me. There are so many unknowns. At least with a fire you have protocol to follow. You train for fire. Firefighters don’t train for a pandemic. I don’t want my husband, family, or his coworkers to get burned by this.

We let our son know Dad is taking every precaution he can at work. And honestly that is all we could say.

Limiting Exposure To COVID-19 At Work & Home

My husband comes into contact with numerous people at work and because of that interaction we are doing several things at home to limit any virus exposure to our family. 

Our house gets disinfected several times a week. Josh isn’t sharing any of his food or drink with myself or the kids, though he will still eat any remaining food on our plates ;). He immediately showers and changes his clothes when he arrives home from shift. Shoes are left in the garage and sprayed down before they are brought into the house. He is wearing a mask at work and physically distancing in the station (this is now part of the standard operating procedure). Cell phone, keys, and steering wheel are wiped off also. 

COVID-19 Testing

University of Arizona is currently doing a wide scale study of COVID-19 with first responders and Josh was able to get the antibody test through the study. He had the test in May and tested negative. The tests results came with two pages of information basically saying that he could still be a COVID-19 carrier even with the negative result.

Fast forward to the end of June and he had a known contact with a positive case at work. While he has had known contact with COVID patients at work before, this time the exposure was from another firefighter. Thankfully Josh was able to get a test and two days later the negative results came back. Again the negative results came with information saying that even though he tested negative it might not mean he is actually negative. Only that at the time of testing, if he was infected, he didn’t have enough viral load to confirm.

Not everyone is having a two day turn around time like Josh did. One of our family members was tested on the same day as Josh but it took him just shy of two weeks to get his negative result back. Two weeks! That is such a long time. 

The downside to all this is that it took Josh several days to be informed about the exposure. Time that we as a family could have also been exposed as well. And had we been out and about in the community we very easily could have given it to others. It is great that more people are able to be tested in Arizona but the results are taking so long. And due to various HIPAA laws some organizations have their hands tied in exactly how much information they can share. It is just all really frustrating.

We can only control what our family is doing to keep everyone in our household healthy. Beyond that, it is up to others in our community to help keep my husband and other essential workers safe. At this point in time it doesn’t seem like that is happening. Driving around town you would never know that our hospitals are almost at capacity due to COVID-19. 

How Many People Do We Know With COVID-19

In the last two weeks we can count 10 people that we know who have COVID. Thankfully the majority have had mild cases so far, but a few are still feeling the effects even after being deemed “recovered”. They are still suffering from breathing issues and fatigue. Currently one of those is prone on a vent and fighting for his life. 

Our youngest son has asthma and is on 4 different medications to help monitor his breathing. We don’t know what COVID would do to him. Maybe he would have a mild case, but that is a gamble we don’t want to take. We aren’t living in fear but we are living cautiously. We have read up on all the best ways to protect our home and keep Josh safe at work and are putting those things into the practice, the rest we know is in the Lord’s hands. 

This time period has been especially eye opening in regards to friendships. We hear and read the opinions of our friends and peers on this topic. People who we might have normally reached out to for support are approaching this as a hoax or think it is a complete over reaction. It is hard. It hurts at times. Not really sure there is much more to say on that. It just sucks. 

I am hopeful this will get better and I believe it will at some point. But until it does we will be staying home.

The kids and I miss going to see Josh at work, eating Deena-balls (a yummy treat with oreos and cream cheese that his crew member makes), and sitting in the truck pretending to go on a call. The fire department is one big extended family and we are so thankful our kids get to grow up with these experiences and we are looking forward to the day they can happen again. I love my husband and I am so proud of the work he, and his crew, and department are doing right now.

On The Sunny Side of Things…(And It is Really Sunny & Hot In Arizona Right Now)

On a positive note, we have spent so much time with our kids! And I really do mean that in the best way. I was spending an average of 4 hours a day in the car driving kids to and from school and it has been amazing to have more time at home. We have been potty training our littlest ones. Yay for potty training when you don’t have to drive anywhere! And all the mama’s said, AMEN! And we have been playing so many board and card games. 

Even though we haven’t spent time with family in person we have been using technology to our advantage. We have played board games with our family via zoom and been able to see each other for birthdays. 

We are eating healthier because we aren’t eating out. So yay! I have been able to workout consistently since April and we completed our garage gym, I will share details on that soon. Josh did an amazing job organizing all our equipment in one central location.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to write and how much to share especially on this topic. Thank you all so much for reading! I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read what our family has been experiencing.

xo, Tamara

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Cardio Interval Workout

Last week I completed my third week of a 6 week virtual challenge with This Time Fitness. Monday’s workout was cardio intervals and left me dripping in sweat and feeling so accomplished.

Here is the workout…

Most of these exercises don’t need any explanation. For the super squats perform a squat jump into a jumping lunge on each leg and back into a squat. It is a burner for sure. I was dripping with sweat at the end.

The first round you perform 40 seconds of super squats followed by 90 seconds of jumping rope. The next round perform 40 seconds of super squats, 40 seconds of pike pushups, and 90 seconds of jumping rope. You continue adding on an exercise each round.

I am loving all these workouts from Kindal and Dan. If you are interested in their live streaming classes you can reach out to her at [email protected]

This upcoming week I am doing something new to me and taking two virtual cooking classes online! I am so excited!

It is also our last week of virtual schooling for our oldest. What a crazy and sad end to the school year. I have so many feelings about it. When I think I am doing ok a new wave of emotions hit and it is the silliest things that make my have all the feelings. Our three littles got to pick up all their preschool end of the year books and packets and seeing all the teachers was just…I don’t even have a word for it. We love our preschool so much.

Our 3 year olds had made little pom pom chicks at our last class and they had them in their bags. Those silly little yellow pom poms made me cry. The boys were so happy to see the chicks they had made and I just lost it. Our family has been so blessed by all the teachers at our preschool who have loved on all our babies. Jesse kept saying “My baby chicky” over and over again and hugging it.

I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Thanks for reading! Have a great rest of your day :).

xo, Tamara

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Pita Jungle Lentil Burger Recipe

Today I am sharing a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants. Pita Jungle began emailing recipes off their menu several weeks ago. And I was so happy! So far I have three recipes from them in my inbox. And they are all recipes I have ordered multiple times off the menu. I was pretty happy to be able to have the chance to now recreate them at home.

I figured Mother’s Day would be a great day to make the lentil burgers. And they turned out so well! Even Josh who loves “real” hamburgers said these tasted good. That pretty much seals the deal right there if you are looking for an endorsement to make these. My husband loves hamburgers and if it is his turn to cook at the fire station one of the meals is likely to be burgers.

Lentil Burger Recipe

You don’t need much to make these vegan and vegetarian friendly burgers. They are simple and can by made easily especially if you have an Instant Pot.

The recipe that was emailed said that it would make 1-2 burgers. I am not sure what happened but we ended up with 6 full size patties. Here is how we made them! Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice 
  • 1/4 cup diced radish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh mint (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse for 3 seconds 3-4 times. Or…I don’t have a food processor anymore because mine broke a year ago and I haven’t purchased another one. Here is what I did. I cooked the lentils and brown rice in my Instant Pot with 2.5 cups of water for 22 minutes. When cooked I used a potato masher for a few minutes until it was at a ground beef consistency.
  2. Remove the mixture and form into 6 burger patties.
  3. In a pan brown the patty with a little bit of olive oil.
  4. Select buns (or a leafy salad as a base) of your choice and garnish with your favorite toppings. Pita Jungle suggests thinly sliced radishes, sprinkles of sumac, mint leaves, and a couple drops of pomegranate molasses. I used radishes, mint, and lettuce from our garden and also topped it off with Famous Daves pickles.

This burger was so good! It was the perfect lunch on Mother’s Day. We spent the day swimming, playing in the backyard, and ended the night watching the Disney Family Sing Along.

While I am deeply sadden by the devastation of the coronavirus I am thankful for the extra time our family has been able to spend together at home. Time truly does fly by and these extra memories made will be ones that I hold close for years to come.

To all the mom’s out there I hope you had a special day even if you couldn’t be with your loved ones due to social distancing. If you are a foster or bio mom please know you hold a special place in my heart. Our family will forever be grateful for our youngest son’s mom for giving him the gift of life.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have a great rest of your day! Let me know what you think if you make the burger.

xo, Tamara

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