While residents are being asked to stay home and practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus, they’re turning to an array of activities — dusting off old games, home improvement projects, new and old hobbies — to combat cabin fever.

“It’s truly necessary,” Emily Wilkinson said. “Otherwise, we’d be bored and at each other’s throats.”

At the Wilkinson home in Bacliff, Emily and husband, David, often begin each day walking their dogs, with sons Brooks and Bobby Jett taking to an exercise regimen. Next, it’s school work, and then the family will tackle a project in the afternoon.

“It’s good to be productive; it’s good to have purpose,” David Wilkinson said.

Normally, much of the Wilkinson family’s productivity would be spent at school. Both David and Emily are Dickinson ISD teachers — David a world history teacher and assistant football coach at Dickinson High School and Emily a language arts teacher at Kranz Junior High. Brooks is a seventh-grader at Kranz Junior High, while Bobby Jett is in the sixth grade at Barber Middle School.

During the first week of staying at home, the boys built a fire pit in the backyard, which David called a 100-wheel barrow trip, and nearby, they also completed a Dickinson Gator-themed art project in the family’s palapa.

“These guys rocked it,” David Wilkinson said of the fire pit project. “They moved all those stones. I was just kind of the foreman and told them where to put them.”

More recently, the family reset a leaning fence post in their backyard, and the project of the day this past Thursday afternoon was staining the backyard deck.

“Our neighbor was on the other side of the fence, so we got a little bit of social distancing while still talking,” David Wilkinson said.

The reward at the end of the day for the family is ping pong in the garage. With their children long wanting a ping pong table, David and Emily purchased one during the first week of stay-at-home orders, but there is no ping pong until all the day’s work is done, he said.

All of this represents safe ways for the family to stay active and not be inside the house and glued to electronic devices all day during the coronavirus pandemic, they said.

“It’s definitely better because when you’re inside, the only thing you can really do is sit around and watch TV and play on your phone,” Bobby Jett said. “When we’re outside, once we’re done, we can go swim or enjoy what we’ve built.”

Future projects for the Wilkinsons include taking down an old chicken coop in the backyard, resealing some tiles near the family’s pool, building a barbecue pad, house cleaning and lawn landscaping.

“We’re just looking for anything,” David said. “We’ve always got stuff we can cut back; we’ve always got stuff we can clean up. There’s always plenty of work.”

When normality returns and the stay-at-home order is lifted, the Wilkinson family hopes to share some of their home projects with friends — such as hosting a Hawaiian-style pig roast party using their new backyard fire pit.

“Building stuff like that, we can do fun stuff with our friends after the coronavirus breaks,” Bobby Jett said.

DOMINOES EFFECT

Not long after the stay-at-home order was issued, Steve Lamb headed up to the attic of his family’s Santa Fe home to retrieve a tabletop for dominoes games that had long gone unused.

The dominoes game of choice for the Lamb family is 42. It’s a strategic numbers game, similar to the card games spades and hearts, born in the state of Texas.

It’s a game both Steve and wife, Paula, played growing up and are passing on to son Caleb, an Austin College sophomore now back home, and German foreign exchange student Charlotta Kueppers, who had stayed with the family since August and spent her junior year of high school at O’Connell College Preparatory School in Galveston. Kueppers returned to Germany last week.

“It’s going back to our roots a little bit,” Paula said. “I remember playing this with my grandparents.”

Both Steve Lamb, who works for American National Insurance Co., and Paula Lamb, a teacher and counselor at O’Connell, have been working from home during the stay-at-home order, while Caleb has school work during the day. After dinner, the family unwinds with a couple of hours of 42.

The game has a multi-pronged benefit for the Lamb family: It brings them together at one table and keeps their minds sharp, as opposed to the isolation and lethargy that often is the result of spending too much time on electronic devices.

“It’s a good way to come back together,” Paula Lamb said. “This is good. This is a way to unplug.”

Having raised children involved in sports and continued to maintain an active lifestyle before the coronavirus pandemic, staying at home has been difficult, but rediscovering 42 has helped matters, Steve Lamb said.

“I’m involved in masonry, and usually, I’m out four nights a week at meetings,” Steve Lamb said. “We’ve never been a sit-at-home family.”

ON THE HUNT

With son David at home while she prepares meals at her Galveston restaurant, Fish Company Taco, for takeout and delivery, Daya Myers-Hurt was pleased to learn her wife, Laura, had developed an activity for David — a scavenger hunt.

For this particular scavenger hunt, there are several pieces of paper with short riddles or rhymes written on them. The missing word in the rhyme or the solution to the riddle reveals the location of the next paper, and so on.

So, in one game, David, an Oppe Elementary School kindergartener, can sharpen his vocabulary and be up and moving around the house and in the backyard.

“She’s hiding clues all over the house that have pretty simple words; most of them are words that he’s supposed to be working on,” Myers-Hurt said. “He’s loved it because it’s exciting, and then when he gets to the last thing, there’s either a toy that we already have or a cookie or something random at the end of it. So, he’s practicing reading, he’s practicing rhyming words, but he also gets to run around all over the house, which is amazing.”

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, james.lacombe@galvnews.com or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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