Neighborhood “socially distanced” block party

A few neighbors thought it would be fun to have a BYOE block party, so we did!  :) Everyone brought their own chairs and food, we hung out and chatted, being careful to maintain safe distances, and then we had a live performance! One neighbor is a jazz singer and another is a composer/musician, so they put on a show.  I think they have been Zoom practicing together. :)  Our preschool neighbor provided the entertainment by dancing around the whole time.  It was a lovely evening!

Eve brought the cat outside, on an yarn leash. The cat was not amused.

Neighbors putting on a jazz show. They said they were doing a driveway rehearsal. :)

Neighbors

More neighbors

On an unrelated note, the pine tree in our yard is bursting with baby pine cones!  They are adorable. :)

Look at them all! :)

With “portrait mode” anyone with a cellphone can be a professional photographer!

 

Life and such

It is a beautiful day and it’s Friday and I’m in the mood to post a few pictures. :)

This was yesterday morning. I took the picture and sent it to my colleagues, saying “Sorry, I can’t work today. The cat has claimed my computer.” :)

We are all still in school, though the high school seems to have given up so starting next week Lex will have no more assignments, while Eve and I will continue plugging away for three more weeks.  :(

His birthday is Monday. The world was nice enough to give us all the day off.  We have plans to continue socially isolating at home.  There might also be a birthday world being built in Minecraft. I think Eve has been working on that the past few days.  We were joking (kind of) about having a birthday party in Minecraft. It would be fun if that worked out.

Today the Vermont National Guard did a fly-over with four fighter jets. It was part of an event honoring “essential employees” and first responders in the state.  The flew over all of the hospitals in the state, plus, I think, that big one right over the border. :)

We forgot until we heard a rumble in the sky, then we ran outside to see.  It was still a few minutes before their scheduled time, so we hung out outside for a little while, hoping that we hadn’t missed them. Apparently we were too late though. :( We did enjoy some time in the sunshine at least! I figured I should take a few pictures to prove that we do leave the house on occasion. :)

The backyard neighbors have a lilac tree that is starting to hang over our lawn. We might help ourselves to lilacs later this summer!

Eve tried to climb the tree and decided she is too big and/or the tree is too small.

Waiting for the planes on a sunny day.

The karate dojo has been doing Zoom lessons (like everyone else in these quarantine times) and the also post challenges or special activities sometimes too.  This week they posted the SHOE-do-in challenge.  Eve saw it and said, “That’s easy!” Then proceeded to do it successfully on her second try!  She was super proud of herself! Not because she worked hard at it, but because she’s naturally flexible. :)

We sent it right off to the dojo for bragging rights. :)

Finally, I started with the cat so I’ll end with the dog.

If I stay in one place for too long (like a few seconds), I ended up with a foot warmer. :)

A busy day!

In these COVID-19 times we spent most of the days at home, socially isoalting.  Usually a big day is a trip to the grocery store.

Today we had a legit busy day!

It started with a visit from the Geek Squad because our microwave has been broken for a week.  We have living like pioneers, cooking our food over an open flame in the woods… or something like that.  Finally the repair guys came. They spread a moving blanket over the stove, removed the microwave and went to work.  Alan was in the office and the kids and I were at the dining room table, all trying to do proper social distancing.  After a few minutes we started to notice an awful chemical smell that grew stronger and stronger.  I thought they were using sort of chemical cleaner or something. Eventually we opened the windows. Alan came out and asked if something blew a fuse. The Geek Squad guys had no idea what was causing the smell.  We all endured.  Awhile later one of the guys said, “Oh no!” and they realized that they had accidentally turned the stove on!!  The moving blanket, squished between the stove and microwave, was melting and on fire! He bundled it up and rushed it outside, where it continued to simmer.  The house smelled AWFUL!!  We open the windows, Alan brought out all the fans from the old house, the guys tried to clean the stove.  It was awful. Eve went outside to keep doing her school work.  After awhile she came back in and said that it was smokier outside than inside. What?!  Alan went to look and found the blanket still smoldering, and smoking like crazy!  He broke out the hose and went to work while the Geek Squad guys continued to clean up.  Sigh.  Needless to say, they needed a part they didn’t have, so our microwave still doesn’t work!  They ordered the new part and will be back next week to fix it. We will continue living in the dark ages.  I don’t know why anyone, ANYONE, chooses to live without a microwave! :)

After that adventure we taped some signs on the car and headed down to DBS to join the HSD parade!  In all honesty, I was dreading this.  The forecast called for 100% chance of rain today and I was just imagining wet cars, windows up, kids huddled under umbrellas, etc. It seemed awful.  Mother Nature, however, cut us a break today!  The weather was PERFECT!!  We had decorated cars, students and families came out with big signs and even bigger smiles.  I felt like a celebrity! Alan came along to drive so I could wave.  It was so awesome.  I had a huge smile!

When we got back to school, Alan and I sent up the donated tent and got ready for book checkout.  After being out of school for two full months, we organized a book exchange for this week.  On Monday and Tuesday we accepted book returns.  The principal and secretary took turns sitting outside to accept books on Monday and Tuesday.  All week I took email “orders” for books. Last night I went in to school and checked in all the books, then “filled” all of the book orders.  This afternoon I sat out front and handed out books to the 20 families who had requested new books.  It might not seem like a lot, but it was great!  So many parents and kids were thrilled.  One family, with three avid readers, were arguing over who got to open the bag.  Their mom said that book checkout was the highlight of their day.  I said, “really? We had the parade today.” She said, “yes, the liked the parade, but they kept asking when they could get their new books.” :)  In another car I handed the kindergartner his bag of books and he tore right in to it.  He immediately told his mom about all the great books, then handed one to his 2yr old sister in the car seat next to him. I chatted with mom for a few minutes, then said goodbye to kiddo who, nose in book, completely ignored me.  Mom apologized.  I told her I LOVE seeing kids with noses in books! No need to apologize!

One of my coworkers was there for another purpose (handing out Finding Our Strides t-shirts), so we took this picture and posted it to Facebook to remind families to stop by. We were both smiling, then laughed at ourselves for smiling with the masks on. :)

The weather all week has been iffy, so the director of the parks department, who also has a kid at DBS, offered to let us borrow a tent for our book exchange this week.  It was awesome! It kept the rain off the principal and books earlier in the week, and it kept the sun off of me this afternoon! The forecast still said rain, the clouds were dark, but the sun was strong and kept breaking through. I felt very fortunate to have a tent over my head as I sat at a picnic table covered in books!

By the time I got home the forecast had changed from rain to hail, with a tornado warning! I showered (COVID germs all day!) and then sent the kids up for early showers.  Then we all watched UP as the storm rolled in.  (It has since passed and we didn’t get hail OR a tornado! We did get lots of heavy rain though!)

After months of little to nothing going on outside the house, today felt like a real whirlwind of people and excitement!  Last summer this would have been just another Saturday.  But on a Friday. It’s a weird world.

We are looking forward to a sunny, no plans Saturday!

Nostalgia

I was walking Huxley the other day and got really nostalgic. Our neighborhood is lovely, but it’s so new and bare. Our old street was so established and all the trees were fully grown and all the flowers bloomed and so much history.  Our new place will get there, eventually. Now it’s bare. Eve wants a tree to climb. She wants trees for her hammock. Our house was so cozy and had a swing set. Eve was happy there and wore colorful clothes and had friends. I was smaller and cuter. Less gray. Less old.

We have a 3yr old on the street and one neighbor babysits three other little kids, so our street is often covered in chalk and littered with bikes and balls.  I miss my kids being that little.  Or even smaller than me! I miss doing craft projects with them and reading stories with them. I miss gardening together. The neighbor was wheeling his 3yr old around in a wheelbarrow yesterday and it reminded me of this day and others like it.

Also, Alan and I have been watching That 70’s Show again.  I LOVE that show. It’s so funny.  But also it’s a show we watched together when it first came out and it’s a show about teenagers falling in love and parents still very much in love. For as often as I literally laugh out loud, there are just as many awkward moments.

I realize, OF COURSE, that it wasn’t all peachy-keen “back in the day.” The house was too small, not right, leaky. The yard took a lot of work. Parenting was hard and marriage was hard. There are as many “goods” today as there were back then, they’re just different “goods.”  Goods that I sometimes miss.

Also, this…

Purple!

Purple everywhere!

I dyed my hair purple.  Eve has been wanting me to do it for awhile. I kept promising to to do it when my hair was sufficiently gray. We had an appointment scheduled in the “before time” but then COVID-19 hit and the world closed down.  We eventually got tired of waiting, so today we took matters into our own hands.

Eve did the front section of her hair too. Unfortunately (for her), her hair is so ark that it doesn’t show much. It looks cool though. She makes everything look cool!

Happy Easter!

Easter this year was a little different, but also a lot the same.  I debated for awhile about Easter baskets because I can’t really go shopping and didn’t want to buy stuff on Amazon and it’s all just too much right now.  We never even got out the decorations. Two nights ago I asked the kids at bedtime if they would be sad if the Easter Bunny didn’t come. Eve said, “Of course the bunny can’t come, otherwise he’d be spreading coronavirus germs to all the houses!”  I know she’s totally in on the Easter Bunny secret, but I really appreciated the response.  I told them I had some Cadbury Mini Eggs (the best Easter candy!) and they could still color eggs if they wanted to, and they were happy.  So this morning started like any other Sunday, with sleeping in and Sunday comics. Then Eve went outside to help our neighbor decorate the driveways on our street for the 3yr old who lives at the end of the street.  This kid has a neighborhood of grandparents loving his every move! While she was out decorating with sidewalk chalk, I set up the Easter Egg coloring station.

Eve got right to work.

I’m glad they still like coloring eggs.

Eve had a theme in mind, of course! She decorated her to look like My Hero Academia characters.

See?! :)
She drew two faces on each, apparently they each have a cute face and an angry face. I think that’s what she said anyway. :)

It was such a beautiful day that Alan did his CrossFit WOD outside, then I went out for a run.  Ha! I decided to try running again. It’s been a very long time!  I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to do it at all.  I’ll keep practicing. :)  When I got back our little neighbor was outside and all the elderly neighbors were standing in their driveways watching him.  It was a weird little scene.  One of the ladies said that they are all missing their own quarantined grandkids so much and it was nice to have him as a stand-in.  He’s a cutie, but I guess I’m just not there yet. :)

Our driveway. Eve is a talented artist. :)

Someone hung plastic Easter Eggs all along the fence on the bike path!

And also put out this little offering.

After showers and lunch we decided to have some family outdoor times ourselves.  Starting on the roof, of course!  Eve has been asking to walk on the roof for awhile now and I keep telling her to ask dad.  Today he said he was putting in the screens, so she jumped at the chance to ask before that happened!  Out they went.  For a girl who claims to be afraid of heights, she sure liked being on the roof. :)

She kinda liked it. She was definitely a little nervous.

I told her, from my spot on the ground, that her payment for going on the roof was that she had to pose for just one photo. And she did!!

Then the kids wanted to find Easter Eggs.  So Alan and I hid them a few times and the kids had fun finding them.  Then Alan and Eve hid them and Lex and I had no fun finding them.  Those two are competitive and us two are not!

This is the fire and ice guy.

This is some other anime guy. :)

After that we were all tired and ready for some alone time… until it was time to ZOOM with the extended family!  How fun is that?!  I didn’t take a picture, but you can imagine it.  I know we have ALL seen our share of video conferencing these days. :P

Happy (quarantined) Easter to all.  I hope you enjoyed your day. I wonder if the Bunny will return next year.  Hmmm…..

Huxley likes the smell of hard boiled eggs! I had him outside with me when I was hiding them and he immediately made it his job to find them. Silly boy. He spent all day popping up at the table or by the counter.  Wherever the eggs were, Huxley wasn’t far away. :)

Gardening

With all the crazy in the world right now, Eve and I decided to do something grounding… literally!  Over the weekend I put out a request to the universe (via Facebook, of course) asking for hostas to plant in front of the house.  Lots of people replied, offering to let me dig up hostsas from their yards, but one super kind friend dug them up herself and delivered them!  How awesome is that?! Another friend from the old neighborhood texted saying she’d just dug up some rose bushes and did we want them too.  Um, yes!  We walked over to our old street to pick them up. Yesterday the weather was perfects, so Eve and I did some planting.

We planted five hosta plants in front of the house.  There are three different kinds and the goal as an ABCBA pattern, but neither of us are really sure if that worked out.  We’ll have to wait and see!  On the corner of the house we put the rose bush.  I hope at least something grows! :)

I’m happy that we now officially own our  neighborhood and are able start prettying up the place.  In a few years it will look much more lush and colorful and less barren and new.  That will be nice.

Birthday Girl!

Hey, we had a birthday around here.  Someone turned 13!!  Craziness!  Everyone kept asking “what are you going to do to celebrate?” but with social isolation and COVID-19 in the air, what could we do?!  We took a hike last weekend and celebrated the big day with birthday presents and waffles and “home school.”  She seemed to enjoy it though!

We started the morning as we usually do on birthdays.  A pile of presents on the table!

My baby girl is 13!!

Happy Birthday!

Eve opened presents and drank seltzer from her new favorite mug!

Maybe it’s time to cut back on the morning seltzer! :)

We all watched the present opening.

Eve had a very specific gift list, so she got very specific items.  She was happy. :)

Her favorite saying. Looks like she needs a nap already!

Talk bubbles need to be in the right place!

Lots of presents and cards kept her busy for awhile.

We had to take a short break so I could make waffles and she could do her Advisory Check-in for school.  But soon enough we were back to presents!

This present from Joyce was like a party in a box!

A fun, messy party in a box!

Cash and waffles! What more can a girl want on her birthday?! :)

The rest of the day was spent “at school,” in other words, sitting at the table in front of our computers.  It was a rainy day, so we did dog walks, but nothing else too exciting.  We are still working on the home/school balance now that they are one and the same.

Around dinner time we had a family “gathering” for cake and singing.

Oh yea, cake!

Quarantines = Video chat birthday parties. It’s a weird world we’re living in, but I’m glad the tech is there to support it!  I wish we were all together in person, but at least we got to see faces and hear voices.  <3

Eve ran away when everyone started singing. Remember when she used to LOVE the attention? Well, not so much any more.

Fortunately she came back for the cake. :)

We measured her on the wall at bedtime. She’s exactly the same height Lex was on his 14th birthday, which is actually a slow down in her growth spurt. We had fun looking at all the heights over the years. Then off to bed!

We now have two teenagers in the house. Yay and boo. She is an amazing girl, full of confidence and silliness and creativity.  I look forward to seeing the person she is becoming, but I also miss the smiley, bald little girl she used to be.  Fortunately she’s still smiley at home and still loves to snuggle!

A pre-birthday hike

Now that we are all in Covid quarantine lock-down mode, it’s been interesting trying to plan a 13th birthday.  We had to cancel our big birthday trip, which was going to be her primary present.  I’ll reschedule it, someday, but I have no idea when that will be.  I ordered a few presents online, plus presents from family, but that’s all we got. I’ll make a cake on Tuesday. We asked Eve if she wanted to do a family outing and she decided on a hike. The forecast for the next few days is yucky, and we’ll be “in school” all week, so we took advantage of the dry weather yesterday and went for a hike up behind the school. There are trails there that the kids have gone up a few times in PE classes, but Alan and I had never been on them.  It was fun.

She’s debating about whether or not to let me take a family pic. It took some convincing, but…

She agreed to pose for JUST ONE photo! :)

I snuck a few others! :)

Look at this crazy landscape!

Huxley came with us too. Looking dapper (and dirty) in his fleece.

Eve drank from the creek, then taught Huxley how to. :)

We had fun exploring the area, on the well marked and not-so well marked trails. Towards the end we found ourselves back on the bike path, where, coincidentally, a guy Alan knows from the conservation committee was pedaling by.  We asked him about the brush clearing and he said there were invasive species in that area that were killing native trees, so last summer they brought up a “brontosaurus” to do massive clearing.  Crazy!  He pointed us to the trails website for more information.

The only down side to the day was the vast number of ticks we had to pick off Huxley!!  He’s wearing a flea and tick collar, but apparently it’s not working anymore! I ordered another one immediately! We all spent the rest of the day feeling like we had creepy crawlies all over us.  Yuck!

Home Learning – Day 2

Hello all, we are on day two of home learning.  Day one passed in a flash.  All the teachers and all the kids and all the parents trying to connect to all the things… kept all of me busy for a very long time! But we got through it, most people got up and running, and most people were happy. I left mid-day for a brief walk in the sunshine, which was great and helped me clear up a support issue that had me stumped. Nothing like a change of scenery to clear your mind! The email influx continued today. Lots of parents, some more patient than others. Some shared their frustrations with the situation. We all concurred and reminded each other to go slow, and take a breath, and we can get through this together.

My kids are enjoying home learning, though it has resulted in a lot more screen time for all of us. Something I don’t love, but they don’t seem to mind. :) Yesterday brought frustration from one and tears from the other, but we got through it, sorted things out, solved the problems, and got through our day.

Once the tech support need lightens I’m going to have to focus on our own schedule at home. If this goes from two weeks to many more, I need to develop a routine that doesn’t involve us on the computers non-stop. Today I was thinking a 4pm family game time would be lovely. Of course today at 4pm I was still working. :/ Then I had to remind myself the same thing I’ve been reminding everyone else. Go slow. Take a breath. We can’t do it all immediately.  We’ll get through this.

The best part of my day, was when I took 10 minutes to check in on my Library lessons.  I found over a dozen kids had left comments about how much they really liked the book I had read (recorded myself reading) and shared with them. They told me about parts of the book they liked, and that it was good I was still reading to them. One kid, completely unprompted by me, recorded herself reading The Book With No Pictures and shared it with me. She said she was reading it for her cousin and thought I would want to see it too.  She giggles the whole way through the book. It was fantastic and I literally LOLed many times! In the middle of tech support hell I hadn’t realized how much I missed the kids.  It was nice to reconnect with some of them, even just virtually.

Here was Eve’s Day 2 Advisory session:

Dog on head? Check! Cat on lap? Check! Full of giggles? OF COURSE!

Or maybe it was later in the Day 1 session?  I can’t keep track. It’s all blending together in my head! Today the governor issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which I guess is a nicer, Vermonty-er way to say shelter-in-place or lock-down. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect my daily life, since we’ve essentially be home since last Wednesday.

Ok, it’s 8pm and this post is pretty rambly. I’m going to (attempt to) step away from the computer for awhile. It snowed a bunch last night. It was cold and wet today. I hope the warm sunshine comes back soon.  G’night all. <3

PS. If you want more (and better) things to read, check out this blog started by my friend and author Andi Diehn.  She is a great writer and her daily posts have been a highlight in my days this past week.  Mere Countrywoman