Julia Smith, 4, and Henry Smith, 8, both of Jay enjoy free pizza provided by My Dad’s Place in Jay on Friday, April 17.

JAY — Monday, April 20, marked the first day of what should have been spring break for most students in Maine.

“Typically, we go visit my family in Massachusetts but we are going to have to get creative this week,” Liz Smith of Jay said.

The first Maine coronavirus cases were announced in March. As schools closed to students and new remote learning was put into place, we reached out to readers to see how they are handling new routines and new concerns in these uncertain times.

The Smith family answered the query and agreed to share how they are coping with staying at home during the pandemic.

“We are hoping to enjoy the weather,” she said. “We want to check on our camper in Weld and have a picnic. We will probably hook up the hose in hopes of a really nice day to let the kids wash the cars. I do want to check out the Whistlestop Trail in Farmington, too.”

Liz’s husband Josh is a long-distance car hauler. He was granted a leave of absence from his job and has been home for the last two weeks.

“We are hanging in as best as we can,” Liz said. “I’m really happy to have Josh home because he can share in on the not so fun moments.

“We both have our moments where we look at all the greatness to come from this, the family dinners, all the people walking outside and our kids’ creativity and wonder.”

Those moments are offset by moments of uncertainty.

“Sometimes, the panic hits or we just get emotions from being bored and trying to figure out what’s next,” she confessed. “It’s nice to have him home to help me through and so I can help him.”

With Josh home, the family had been catching up on work around the house such as yard clean up and painting.

“We have a few more rooms left to paint,” Liz said.

The explosion of the Androscoggin Mill in Jay Wednesday afternoon, April 15, caused a bit of panic for the Smith’s.

“We do not live close to the mill so we didn’t have any of the wood fiber to clear up but it was pretty scary,” she said. “I was outside and heard sires coming for what felt like 10 minutes. When we found out what had happened, we were scared trying to make sure all our friends were okay.

“Josh has a hard time sitting still and staying put so we have to get creative. He was able to help his friend clean trucks that were dirty from the mill,” she said.

On Friday, the family enjoyed free pizza provided by My Dad’s Place.

They gave out pizza to brighten people’s day,” Liz said. “We were happy to have it and I was happy not to have to cook.”

The pizza wasn’t the only highlight of their week.

“The kids have been spending a lot of time making tree forts and I packed up winter clothes,” she said.

But it was a simple discovery that brightened Liz’s week.

“I found a watermelon when I went to the grocery store and it was perfect,” she said. “So, yeah. My highlight was mostly getting into warm-weather mode.”

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