The boiling sun shines over her head, causing sweat to trickle down. She takes a deep breath as she looks down and relishes the beautiful view in front of her. Tired, she grabs her water bottle from her backpack and takes a cold sip. The trees swaying in the wind and the sound of birds chirping make every hour of the hike worth it. She smiles to herself when she sees her two girls playing as they head down the mountain to their parked car. The fresh air and fun games are just what the family needs.
This was just another typical Sunday morning for Ms. Denise Bilotta and her family. Ms. Bilotta, the administrative assistant to the principal and assistant principals, typically works on campus three times a week and from home the remaining two days. With more time on her hands now because of Covid, Ms. Bilotta has found innovative ways to occupy herself and her family. Hiking is one of the many ways they are spending their free time.
“On Sunday, we did four or five miles, and the day before, we did the same. We sometimes do several hours because, otherwise, [my kids] are just home and on a device,” Ms. Bilotta said.
Ms. Bilotta loves hiking the trails, and so does her family.
“I get out the most, and so on the weekend the rest of my family is dying to get out, so we go hiking every weekend because there is not much else we can do,” Ms. Bilotta said.
Though hiking for the Bilotta family is not a new activity, they still find ways to keep it exciting.
“We try to do different trails all the time. We go all up the San Gabriels, Angeles Crest. A couple of weekends, we went to Glendale, so basically the local mountains. Sometimes in Lake Arrowhead, we go hiking as well,” Ms. Bilotta said.
In addition to hiking, Ms. Bilotta and her family have found other innovative ways to fill the time. Not only do they cook more often, but they also enjoy playing board games in the evenings.
“We have Qwirkle; it’s like shapes and colors, and you have to get a row of all the same shape or all the same color, so even my nine-year-old can play it. We are also getting the Azul one, which seems pretty popular too,” Ms. Bilotta said.
In addition to family-bonding activities, Ms. Bilotta aims to formulate new, personal hobbies for herself now that she has more time.
“I am going to learn how to crochet. My sister sent me this little kit to make a penguin. I also have a book that has some stitches. Also, Michael’s has free classes on Zoom that will teach me how to make a crochet heart, so I signed up for one of those,” Ms. Bilotta said.
In the past few months, Ms. Bilotta has also exercised her mind by listening to books.
“I have been listening to a lot of audiobooks. I use the app Libby, and I used to listen to podcasts, but now I listen to books because I have more time,” Ms. Bilotta said.
While quarantine has had its setbacks, Ms. Bilotta has not let it hold her back this new year. She has chosen to have a healthy mindset looking forward to the rest of 2021.
“You got to stay positive,” Ms. Bilotta said.