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#FrontStepProject: Julie and Peter

Updated: May 12

Welcome to another #columbiaheights#frontstepproject brought to you by MarKei Photo & Video. I began this initiative to facilitate connecting the humans in my city, to celebrate our diversity, and share our challenges during this pandemic and beyond. If you’re enjoying this series, please share. To support my photography, like & follow MarKei Photo & Video (on FB, IG, Twitter, &/or YouTube). We are still offering socially distant photography in MN, so feel free to reach out!


Julie and her husband, Peter, live near Sullivan Lake with their two sons, Calvin (2) and Ellis (5).



Julie’s husband is a machinist and deemed an essential worker during shelter-in-place. His shift has changed to start him at 4:30am since his company has staggered their workers’ schedules as well as cut hours in order to facilitate social distancing while at work.

Julie is a stay-at-home mom. In the Before Times, Julie was still a stay-at-home mom so not much has changed for her on that front; however, in the past she was able to bring her kids out to events at the library and parks as well as visit with other parents. So the biggest difference for them is that the kids are home all the time. The kids are hanging in there, but they miss their friends. So they have been enjoying using the video-share app called Marco Polo to connect with loved ones (I desperately want to witness a 2-year-old using Marco Polo). Julie and Peter are hanging in there but really are hankering for time off from being parents 24/7. Julie wants the community to know that our local library is doing a story time video once a week. Additionally, the library is doing online book holds and curbside pick-ups for books. Due dates have been extended indefinitely and there are a lot of resources available on the library website including digital apps for eBooks. Our local school districts also have a lot of resources available. Julie mentions that many organizations, like zoos and museums, are providing intimate virtual tours online. There is a lot of new content online that wasn’t available in the Before Times that they’ve really been enjoying. Julie says that she’s been encouraged to take advantage of the big milestones in her kids’ lives, like taking off training wheels and potty training. Parks are busier than ever and they’ve been enjoying a lot of family walks.


Julie’s family tries to limit visiting the grocery store to once a week. In the Before Times, they typically weren’t eating out much but now they find themselves ordering out for a few reasons. For one, the stress of the lockdown. ‘Nuff said. But secondly, they really want to promote their local businesses. So they’ve been enjoying the delicious victuals from Miller's Corner Bar and Grill, Pizza Man of Columbia Heights, Asia Chow Mein Restaurant, The King's Thai Cuisine, and Holy Land.


Emotionally, Julie was pretty anxious at the beginning of this pandemic but has started to improve. Sometimes she feels guilty about all the screen time the kids are getting but she’s beginning to find other ways of keeping the kids engaged without the use of screens. She’s been really thankful for all the resources and support that are available. She says, “let your kids get dirty, hug them, do what you can”. She has sent them out in the backyard to play a lot which has done havoc on the yard which they have been trying to revitalize with new grass. But she doesn’t really care about that right now. She says, “we’re growing kids, not grass”.


Julie and her husband have been working as excellent teammates in this trying time. They have prioritized making time to check-in with each other to ensure that they each are getting enough personal time for their own needs. Things they’ve been doing for their own well-being is listening to books, working out, or playing video games. They have a relatively small house and so the efforts to make room for personal space and time has become very essential and intentional. They’ve enjoyed watching TV and just finished Tiger King. Julie says, “it’s like watching a train wreck".


Lastly, I asked Calvin (2 year old) what his favorite food was and he said he highly recommends the “poopy taco”. I asked if it was available for curbside pickup. He enthusiastically informed me that, yes, it was and that he makes them.


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#FRONTSTEPPROJECT: If YOU want to be featured, message me! It is free for Columbia Heights residents. Donations to SACA Food Shelf & Thrift Store are encouraged. Special priority for residents who are members of a disenfranchised community, essential workers (particularly healthcare) or local businesses. Please share this opportunity with your neighbor who may not be on social media.

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#COVIDHIGHLIGHT: If you know an essential worker, immunocompromised individual, or otherwise marginalized/impacted individual whose story you want to elevate (with their consent), consider hiring MarKei for a #COVIDHighlight photoshoot & interview for $175. For example, purchase for your next door neighbor who is a doctor and has had to live in the family garage for the last 2 months. Or for the teenager next door who is missing out on prom and graduation. I will interview them on the phone and do a socially distant photo shoot with them (even through glass, if extra precautions are necessary!) Reach out for more details! Available to any metro resident.

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¡Se habla español!

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