Sunday, April 11, 2021

Spring Break!

 

Spriiiiiiing breaaaaaak! Back in January when the COVID numbers were terrible and the future looked really bleak, we booked a get away to the desert with Victoria, Rob and Keira (oh, and dog. Dog got to come on vacation with me, his grandma, who lets him do whatever he wants and gives him forbidden treats, much to the disapproval of his parents. It's very true that being the grandma is way better than being the mom.)

The Easter bunny filled our kids' baskets with new suits, beach towels and pool toys, and also made sure to hop over to her house with a floatie as well. The floaties were an enormous hit, with kids and parents alike. We drove out on Monday afternoon and the kids were in the water within about a half hour of us dropping our bags in the house, which was our exact hope for the trip. 

We didn't plan much to do, because frankly, none of us enjoy doing things in 90-100 degree heat. Our one trip outside of the house with the kids was a trip to the Living Desert Zoo. And even then, we were in at 9:30 and home in time for lunch. The zoo itself is not super huge, which makes sense, because how long can you expect people to walk around outside when it's regularly 110+ degrees for months on end? The best parts were the Australia section, where we walked into an enclosure that had wallabies hopping around. They were very clear that we were not to pet said wallabies, but I found it really hard to not give them a squeeze. 


And then at the end of our tour was the giraffe feeding, which was SO awesome. The giraffes are so weird and beautiful, with their crazy long necks and their lovely eyelashes and spots. It's a total racket that you pay $7 per person for 3 piece of lettuce, but it was awesome and well worth it. 


Please enjoy the bonus ostrich creeping around in the background. 



The rest of the time, we just hung out at the house. The kids would get up, grab breakfast and then get in the pool until lunch time. The adults usually went in during the late afternoon, and we had a couple of days where the kids stayed inside playing video games, so we got to have actual adult swim. But it was also great for them to come back out and splash around with us, and in the evenings after dinner, they loved that they could swim and that the pool had color changing lights. The only problems we had were making sure we put enough sunscreen on the kids, and kept enough calories in them. At one point, a hangry Adam informed me (while I was trying to get his suit on him so he could have a poolside snack and then a swim) that I had been "a pain in his butt the whole trip." Whatever you say, you scrawny garbage fire! The last night there we were also able to do smores by the firepit, which is always a hit for kids and parents alike. 

Overall, just a great break from reality for everyone. We ate, we drank, we saw, we made friendship bracelets and read books and wrote code. What more could you want?


Loki did not want to go into the pool and was very concerned about us swimming. As you can see, he was even more worried when Tim started throwing children around. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

Birthday Boy!

 It's official, our little cat gentleman is eight!




We kept things pretty simple this year - he got a couple of new man tank tops, some books, and a couple of Switch games, which is all he really wants. We ordered pizza and had the grandparents and Victoria, Rob and Keira over for dinner. It felt like a COVID milestone - last year his birthday was the first thing we really "missed," where we scuttled our plans and settled for a quiet evening with only our bubble, telling everyone else we were really sorry and going to miss them. It was so nice, a year later, to have all the grandparents vaccinated and crowded around the dining room table, able to celebrate together. 

And the best birthday present of the day, given to all the parents, was that with the new CDC recommendations about 3 foot social distancing in adequately ventilated classrooms, our district announced that they will be going back for a full day of school beginning April 19th! HOOOOORAY! (also, thank goodness we sent them back to school - the principal has already emailed saying that they cannot accommodate any more switches from distance learning to hybrid.) 

Adam at eight is, as you can see, tall for his age and a major beanpole. He lost six teeth this year but only four of them have grown back in, at present. He has the funniest dance moves. He spends almost ten minutes a day screwing around in the bathroom, staring at himself and pulling faces, before he finally brushes his teeth (I swear, he acts like he's getting paid by the minute to dawdle, with an extra ten dollar bonus for every time I have to remind him to stay on task.) But he's also a genuinely sweet kid, with a kind heart. He notices things, and always has a moment to remark on a beautiful flower, or point out an interesting bird or butterfly. 

His true love right now is video games, so I proposed that we have a little LAN party with Judd and Lexi on Friday night. It worked out great - we haven't been able to hang out with those guys in so long (they haven't been to our house since October) and the kids were absolutely thrilled to have some time together (and a sleepover!) And of course, it was also wonderful for the four adults to get a change to catch up. The weather was really gorgeous this weekend, so we had dinner out on the patio on Friday night, and then Saturday morning they came over for a late brunch and we finished our coffees while the kids all jumped and screamed in the trampoline. It feels good to be getting back to a little more normalcy, seeing more of the people that we love the most. 

All Tim's dreams of fatherhood have now come true!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Back to Class.

Big week this week! After our trip, I emailed our school principal about the odds of the kids coming back after spring break - I felt like that was a good transition point, and I wondered if, with the dropping COVID numbers and new regulations, the odds might be that the school was able to open fully. He dissuaded me, saying that after spring break there's only eight weeks left in the year, and that he doesn't have any word that the school will open full time (which may be the party line, may end up not being true if the schools get more funding and are allowed to put kids closer than six feet apart.) Anyways, between that and having a HORRIBLE week with the kids, I hit my breaking point. I can't be the mom I want to be if I'm also having to be their home school teacher. In fact, I could feel myself transitioning from classroom teacher to class pet - but the class pet of an overwhelmed female hamster who gives birth and then eats a couple of her babies, horrifying all the students. 

I emailed the principal back and said, okay, can we get them in ASAP instead of down the line, and thankfully the school was able to make room for both kids, albeit during different time slots. So Ellie is on campus 8:30-11 and Adam goes from 12-2:30. It's nice because we can all have lunch together, and I get to time to work with both of them as needed. Also, I'm glad Adam is the second slot, because he requires much more nagging in the morning (today he spent ten minutes staring at himself and dancing in the mirror before brushing his teeth, which is about average for him.) I'm getting a lot of steps in, walking to and from the school. 

Everyone had a great first day yesterday, and I am absolutely flooded with relief. I still have to coax Adam through about 90 minutes of school work at home, but it's more stuff that he can do independently. I don't have to sit there and watch him being a pain in the butt over Zoom. I also really like the teacher he got - we've never had her before, but only heard good things. Ellie's teacher is new to the school as a teacher, but actually attended when she was a kid, and get this - her fourth grade teacher was the woman who had been Ellie's distance learning instructor!

Adam's teacher sent me this yesterday, which makes me laugh. He looks like he's in prison, sitting behind the plexiglass wall, waiting to take a phone call from a visitor. That's what happens when you make your poor mom totally bonkers, kid! Several of his best friends from last year are in his class, which is a relief - even though the kids have only a fraction of the interactions they had before the pandemic. There's still a lot that we miss, but there's a lot good about this transition too. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Lousy Smarch Weather.

Well, apparently this is a once a month update blog, at this point. The reality is, we only do about one noteable thing a month - the rest of the time is spent in a repeat cycle or home school, working from home and outdoor PE. 

The biggest and best change in the past month is that Mimi and Poppy completed their course of COVID shots, and so felt comfortable opening up their home to their smelly little grandkids again. HOORAY HOORAY. I know everyone was really happy to be reunited and have some time together. 

It was very funny to me and Tim - so many people asked us what we were going to do with all of our kid free time and the reality is, where are we going to go? What are we going to do? Not eat at a restaurant or go see a play or a concert or hang out in public. And this is a great house, but we've spent a lot of time in it this year, and spent a lot of quality time together. Which is fortunate! The kids and their grandparents needed the quality time, not us. 

What we need is time out of this house, and a little getaway, so on Sunday when we picked up the kids, we headed up to the central coast to meet up with Bob and Nancy and the kids for another week of commune time, this time also celebrating Amelia's 9th birthday. We rented a house on a 350 acre property, and it was an absolute dream. There was only one house that we could see from our porch, and we only saw the other neighbors once, maybe twice. There was a huge lawn out front dotted with oak trees, and about a half mile down the gravel path was a tree swing, and then past that, just hills and trees for miles, including one really great climbing tree!





It was really a total dream come true, and not just because Tim took the week off and so I got to make him deal with Adam's horse shit when it comes to school. We had enough internet that the kids could do all of their online lessons (and play Minecraft) but it also felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, just relaxing. I spent a ton of time just sitting out in the lawn chairs, watching the turkey vultures and the hawks circling around. We had a fun celebration for Amelia's birthday, and made smores in the fire pit out front. Tim was a fastidious butler, starting cheese and crackers and wine time as soon as he and Adam finished for the day (cocktail hour starting at two? Don't mind if I do, I'm on vacation!) It's really a huge silver lining that during these weird times, we've gotten to spend so much time with great friends. It's basically the only benefit to distance learning (other than the reduced COVID risk.) I'm curious to see if the governors plan for opening schools gets our kids back in the classroom by the end of the year - either way I'm planning on trying to send them after spring break. I think everyone will be able to attend safely, and I think it'll help everyone's sanity (though I don't think being in a classroom is going to make Adam any less of a pain in the butt - just at least it won't be my butt, for the first time in a year.) 

Gigi celebrated her birthday yesterday, which also marks the first anniversary of the last time I sat down and had a meal in a restaurant. Who would have thought that a two week shelter in place would last this long? (I mean, I know a lot of scientists knew this was going to happen - I certainly wasn't mentally equipped to take in that reality on that last Friday, picking my kids up from school and making sure they had everything from the classroom.) 

In short, all is well, nothing is different and yet everything is changed!


Thursday, February 4, 2021

February Updates.

 


I do not know why we are getting a fifth quarter to 2020 - no one wants that! No one needs this nonsense! So things here have been pretty unspectacular. The light is definitely at the end of the tunnel, as we watch some of our favorite people over 65 get their vaccinations, and dream about going out in public and hugging people again, but in the meanwhile, it's a lot of the same old, same old. With the huge surge of cases we had here in Orange County, we went from seeing a couple of families here and there to just locking back down to our initial bubble - our neighbors Rob, Victoria and Keira continue to be a key part of that, and thank goodness for it. I joked to them a few months ago that I felt guilty when they would talk about not seeing anyone outside of your household, so dangerous yadda yadda, and so I had decided that we were officially one household. 

We've been focusing on a lot of small creature comforts around the house. When we took our Christmas tree down, every time I walked in the front door I'd be greeted with our beat up recliner, and that started to bum me out, so we went and replaced the living room furniture with a new sectional. Our old couch still had some life in it, so I put it on craigslist and was glad to see it go. No bites for the recliner on craigslist, so it went to the curb for bulk item pick up. 

The new sectional actually gives us more seating in about the same amount of space. It's really comfortable and works for what we need. I got a little glass topped coffee table off of facebook marketplace, so we are pleased. Well, most of us. Kids are miffed that they're not permitted to eat on the couch, but that's what happens when you keep filling my furniture with crumbs (I can eat on the couch though, of course.) Thankfully, the cats have mostly left it alone, though the other day I caught Taco trying to go at an arm, and so to distract him, put cat nip on the couple of scratchers we have throughout the house. Tim's coworker got a good laugh over zoom later in the morning when he heard me shout at Adam "don't touch them, they're on drugs right now!" when he went to try to pet a those drugged out goons. 

On the last rainy Saturday Ellie asked me to dye her hair, and now she is a beautiful mermaid girl. The boys remain totally overgrown furballs, and I had a dream last night that I cut my hair short again, and it was very tempting. 


Distance learning continues to be a trial, especially since Adam seems hellbent on making it as miserable as possible. He just doesn't want to do the work (and I know some of this is no different than it had been back when he was in the classroom.) He thinks it's boring, or he already knows it, and he hates anything that involves writing, so he'll just delay as long as possible. After a couple of really ugly days, where he was logging off of his zoom instead of completing the assignments, and then he and I going head to head while getting stuff done (stuff that should be SO EASY for him) because he'd spent the entire school day screwing around, he's now working out in the dining room, where I can supervise. I don't want to micromanage, but I also don't want him to fail second grade because he's being an ass and pretends he can't find a pencil and therefore can't take notes and then can't fill out the assignments. It's the sort of stuff that in the classroom, a teacher would stare him down until he got out his social studies book, but over zoom, she can't be as effective and so it's my job to step in. As I told his teacher, I've run out of carrots for him, and since I can't hit him with a stick, we're all getting punished and working together! I still don't think sending him to school is worth it, because the hybrid program is only 2.5 hours and we'd still have to slog through some of the online learning at home, but if his campus was open up for full day school, those kids would be out of here as fast as I could get a mask on their faces. 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

January Blues

 


Thus far, 2021 feels like 2020, but with new bangs. Definitely looking for brighter days ahead, and grateful that we're still safe and sound together. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Christmas Catch Up!

 Another make shift holiday in a goofy year, that turned out to be better than expected, or as least as good as it gets. We missed out on a lot of parties, and we definitely missed SO MANY of our people, but our little foursome had a good time. 

We went down to Dana Point to check out the harbor lights with Auntie Sara

We celebrated Hanukkah with our friends Lauren and Jonathan and their girls


We gave Poppy a drive by birthday parade


We made and decorated gingerbread cut outs, including the traditional holiday favorites of coyote, unicorn, ax, hammer and squirrel


Christmas morning was super chill, since we weren't hosting brunch. The kids got up at a reasonable hour and we headed out to let them go through their stockings first. Their big present from Santa was for both of them - the much desired Nintendo Switch that mom and dad have been refusing to buy. So now they think Santa is even more magical than before!

And you know, it's been fun. Santa also brought Mario Kart and Just Dance 2021, which we can all play together. And because the Switch is super portable, we were able to bring it over to dance and play with Auntie Sara, who once nearly wept with joy when she received a Nintendo Wii back in the day.