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Morgan Hove turns 9 years old Friday, and instead of celebrating her birthday with her family on a road trip to Disney World, they are at home sheltering in place.

Theresa Hove, 47, Morgan’s mom, said the family made the decision not to travel the day before they were supposed to leave.

“We were going to drive,” Theresa Hove said. “The whole family, my daughter’s friend, plus my niece in South Carolina. They just moved there this year. We were anticipating to go as a family. I had to break it to her we couldn’t go.”

Instead, the Hoves, like many families across DeKalb County, are trying to make the best of Illinois’ shelter-in-place order. The order has been in place since 5 p.m. Saturday in an effort to protect residents from potential exposure to the coronavirus, a viral pandemic forcing shutdowns and stay-at-home mandates across the globe.

Theresa Hove said the family would not have been able to go to nearby beaches because they were closed. She said she knows her family did the right thing by staying, but it was hard after two months of planning.

Earlier in the week, the Hoves were found taking advantage of a dry spell in the rainy week, drawing sidewalk art with chalk.

Morgan Hove and her siblings – Jacob, 17, Brooke Panttila, 16, and Max, 15, all of Sycamore – have adjusted to the idea of not going on the trip, even though that means not being able to spend time with their older sister, Melanie Van Vlerah, 27, who lives in Virginia. Van Vlerah was supposed to meet up them in Orlando, along with Morgan’s cousin, Audrey Wirsing, 9, who lives in South Carolina.

Theresa Hove said they’ll mostly miss having extended family time, especially knowing her children planned the whole thing.

“They did everything this year,” she said. “This was their trip. This is an even bigger buzz kill.”

However, Theresa Hove said she’s glad she waited to pay for the Disney tickets until they got down there, so there’s one less headache.

As for how to spend Morgan’s birthday Friday?

They’ve decided on a small family party, one gift for Morgan, and then donating Morgan’s handmade dog toys to Tails Humane Society.

All hands on deck

In DeKalb, Shaunda Wilson, 50; her husband, Leon Wilson, 50; their son, Dontaye Bradley, 26; daughter-in-law, Kailyn Bradley, 24; and their grandchildren, Peyton Bradley, 2, share the house with 10-month old triplets Leon Bradley, Malcolm Bradley and Jameson Bradley, and they’ve had to adjust as well.

“It’s a full house,” Shaunda said. “I’m a [Northern Illinois University] police officer. They’re my grandbabies. Since daycare has closed down and childcare has closed down, they’ve been here full-time.”

Shaunda said it’s been a lot to handle, but she said the triplets are “such happy babies.”

“I’m able to watch them grow up and watch them explore,” Shaunda said. “That’s been a positive and happy thing, especially during such a trying time.”

Shaunda and her family have converted the downstairs, while the children are awake, into a full activity center. Nursery rhymes and music play in the background.

“They’re able to go anywhere they want to go,” she said. “We don’t have any gates in place. There are pillows out, toys out, their cubes are out. If they want to crawl, they can.”

Shaunda said it’s like that in the daytime.

“It’s loud,” she said with a laugh. “All the time.”

Shaunda said the upstairs areas belong to the adults, and they can go to their own rooms if they need time to themselves. She said the downstairs “turns back into a living room,” as soon as the children are in bed.

Shaunda said there’s always an adult at home to watch the children, because she and Leon, a truck driver, work nights and Dontaye, a laborer, and Kailyn, work days.

Shaunda said it only gets tense in the house when the triplets get sick, because it’s not only one who gets sick; all three get sick.

“If you’re lucky to put one down, the other two are waking up,” Shaunda said. “It’s all hands on deck.”

With Shaunda and Leon considered essential workers, they don’t have the option of not going into work.

“That really puts into perspective what’s important,” she said, noting her family is what’s important, especially during the current climate as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We take it very seriously,” Shaunda said. “We don’t want [COVID-19] coming into the home because we have four babies here.”

Cupcakes, cookies, chicks

Much like the Hoves, Ashley Hooker, 32, and her family live in DeKalb, and also had to cancel vacation plans to the Wisconsin Dells and to Tennessee to see Hooker’s mom.

Hooker said it’s been an adjustment staying at home.

“All I’ve been doing is cleaning, because nature hasn’t been working with us,” she said.

Ashley said that her son, Gaige, 6, spends a lot of his time playing video games. She said they’ve been baking together, too.

“There’s not a whole lot to do when you have younger kids,” she said of Gaige and his younger sister, Chloe, 4. “They kind of just do their own thing.”

They’re sharing their stay-at-home time with three dogs, one an English Mastiff, four cats and baby chicks, too.

Ashley said her young children bicker a lot and that she’s glad when her husband, Nick Hooker, gets home.

“I sneak into the other room,” she said.

Despite the disappointment of canceling family trips, she said they’re getting through it.

“We’re baking cakes, cupcakes and cookies,” she said. “The other day my husband took my daughter to Schnucks. She’s not a homebody. She picked out eggs and an egg dye kit. We’ll probably do that today or tomorrow.”

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