In recent weeks, I've gained a few pounds and with my stepdaughter's new-found urge to bake, I fear it may get worse.

Since Spring Break, Clara has spent most of her time at home. She, like most college students and all of the children in public schools, have had to adjust to being stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it's been a bit of a challenge.

I think Clara felt some excitement at first when the college she attends announced its plans to close for the week after Spring Break. Just the idea of not having to get up at 8 a.m. to go to class for an extra week didn't seem that much of a downside. As the days went by, though, and her school decided to replace in-person classes with online classes for the remainder of the semester, she became more and more frustrated. It also meant that she would not be able to stay in the dorm with all of her friends. And, since Shannon and I had encouraged her to stay home and not venture out in order to help the effort to flatten the Coronavirus curve, reality set in that she would have to stay away from friends who were also encouraged by their parents to socially distance.

One of the consequences of the efforts to shelter-in-place on many people is the toll that it mentally takes. It's important that we look out for each other, care for each other. We need to listen because it's very likely that someone in our lives is dealing with mental stress or anxiety at this time. Most of the time, just listening to someone makes all the difference.

As Clara spent more and more time in her bedroom, Shannon and I started to worry about her mental state. Sure, she could still Facetime her friends, but when you're 20 years old and you're used to going to the movies with your friends or having a friend over to the house, it's not the same.

Fortunately, Clara made the decision last week not to let it continue to get her down. She came out of her room and decided she would bake. Not only did she bake brownies from scratch, she made beef stroganoff with a little instruction from Shannon and then baked a delicious cake with frosting and strawberries as a topping. Half of it was gone in two days.

So, yeah, I've gained a few more pounds since last week due to cake, brownies and Beef Stroganoff, but it was worth it to see Clara overcome the mental toll she had faced in recent weeks. That truly is a blessing.

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