Sunday, September 27, 2020

This Is Fine

The days are long, but the years are short. It feels a little like groundhog day, and it's getting hard to remember if it always felt like this - or if it's because of the pandemic. 

Superhero poses (maybe) - September 1, 2020

Things that are not normal:

  • No travelling (last month's Tahoe retreat being the one exception)
  • No visiting (same)
  • No summer parties
  • No birthday parties
  • No playground walks
  • No random family outings
  • No museums, aquariums, or zoos
  • No office
  • Longest "spare the air day" stretch ever - due to very bad fires and air quality
Carcassonne: A new favorite - September 7, 2020

Things that are pretty normal:
  • Kids in day care / JrK
  • Cats went to the vet
  • Kids had to stay home a couple days with a cold (COVID negative)
  • Flu shots
  • Making pizza together
Home sick - September 14, 2020

If we had to guess, it's the lack of big events and togetherness that makes it feel so repetitive. It's hard to mark the passage of time when so much is remote or not happening at all. That's not to say it's bad. We are certainly fortunate to have our jobs, our home, our care situation - and we know it. At the same time, it's hard to back away from that urge to help our kids have new experiences and adventures.

Mickey Ice Cream Bars - September 5, 2020

Finding the balance is going to take some time. What are reasonable risks to take? If the local zoo was open, would we go? When will we brave a farmer's market? On one hand, it will be so nice to let the kids experience these things again. But on the other, will things be so roped off and sterile that it's even worth it? 

We can say this though - a bubble isn't great long term, and we're starting to get more active in discussing what the next year looks like. 

Please wear your masks, make informed decisions, and be careful out there.  

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Approaching Normal

Normal. Expectations. Bubble.

It can be hard to even define these words now - the meanings shifting with the wind. That wind bringing a refreshing breeze or choking smoke. Impossible to predict which.

We had some normalcy in August. Of course, it was wrapped up in unusual, stressful, and downright strange. But it was there! 

The first "normal" thing? A vacation. We drove a few hours for a change of scenery - only stopping once each way for a bathroom break. We prepared the littles to wear their masks and touch NOTHING, and it went mostly OK. Once the women's was being cleaned and than a lady with her mask pulled under her chin came down the narrow hall asking questions about it. Elizabeth gestured towards the cleaning sign and ran out of the hallway clutching Immy. Maybe not that normal after all.

But we got there. To Donner Lake, to a rental house, and to grandparents.

Backyard at the rental house - August 10, 2020

Grandma and Grandpa Fiorani drove thousands more miles and dozens more hours, but we all made it safe and sound (with possibly a few more gray hairs). We can only speak for ourselves, but it was so worth it. A week of forgetting the outside world (mostly), crafts, games, meals, stories, hiking, and beaches.

Lunch on the patio - August 10, 2020

We stayed in the house more than we would have in non-pandemic times, which did make it feel more "normal." Our outings were the beach twice and Chris and Elizabeth took one hike. Instead of braving the overcrowded public beach, we explored the far less crowded beach at the state park on weekday mornings. Many people were wearing masks and most people were very aware about social distancing. A few exceptions caused some heart palpitations but were quite minor (like when the guy who wanted to take over our beach space crowded too close and offered to help us pack up).

Lake life - August 13, 2020

Hiked to the top of Donner Peak overlooking Donner Lake (and yes, that Donner) - August 12, 2020

Everett and Imogen did very well with the change of space and schedule. A few meltdowns here and there, but mostly good spirits. Imogen is in a very "boundary-testing" phase, which can be exhausting. Luckily, she doesn't hold a grudge.

Our little mermaid, Donner Lake - August 13, 2020

China Cove Beach at Donner Lake - August 13, 2020

Another "normal" thing? Everett started JrK. He's too young for kindergarten and also too young for any transitional kindergarten or programs offered by the school district (not that those are operating or would work for us anyway - most are part-time). His JrK is essentially full-time pre-school with an academic component. He loves it. He already knew his teacher because she was sometimes at his preschool location pre-COVID. 

Evie's first day at JrK - August 17, 2020

One of the biggest benefits of sending Everett to (low class size) care is outside play time with other kids. We have a play structure in our yard, but it's totally different to have access to a large playground to run, climb, and jump around on. Watch those expectations though - he hasn't been outside there once since he started because of the extreme heat and then the poor air quality from the fires. Outside time will have to wait.

The heat and the fires have been very hard on our state. We are safe apart from unhealthy air quality, and we are grateful for that security. We are also so very grateful that we took a vacation when we did. That always seems to be the case. We've talked often how grateful we are for trips we took in 2019 and even early 2020. Expectations for travel and visits now are so nebulous and fluid... and we aren't getting our hopes up that things will change in the next few months.

As the pandemic continues, we all have to get creative and thoughtful about the risks and tradeoffs we're willing to make. How big does our bubble get? What causes us to make changes? How long will all this last? How will we manage if the kids come home full time again?

We don't know. And for now, we have to be OK with that. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Summertime Grooves

It is amazing how quickly we adapt. We're in a pretty solid groove now, and no end is in sight. The office keeps putting return dates out there, and they keep passing by. When we stop and think - of course life is so different than six months ago. When we think of what we are missing out on - there is some melancholy, but it's mostly fine. Because what we have is pretty great, and we are so very fortunate.

Running through the sprinklers - July 4, 2020

We didn't get to go to Michigan for the 4th of July and we didn't get to celebrate "Christmas in July" with our extended family. It's sad and frustrating, but we all know it's also not worth the risk. Instead, Chris and Elizabeth hiked Uvas Canyon sans beasties (so we could hike a trail they aren't quite big enough for yet).

Fourth of July outfits - July 4, 2020

Contour Trail at Uvas Canyon - July 2, 2020

Everett had his first dance recital. We didn't get to watch it live, but we do have a video. He loved wearing his costume, taking pictures outside the studio, and (of course) watching himself perform. This isn't how we imagined it, but he still felt proud, accomplished, and celebrated.

Everett's first dance performance - July 19, 2020

Everett and Imogen returned to swim class. It's an open-air pool and a small, stable group of families. Everett only has one or two other kids he is near, and Chris swims with Imogen so they can stay socially distant. They LOVE being back in the water. We tried to virtualize so much of their pre-pandemic lives, but you can't Zoom a pool.

First swim class back! July 11, 2020

We spotted Jackson Storm at swim - July 25, 2020

We also had a play date. Gasp! It was with a girl that goes to daycare with Immy, so we are already in a shared social bubble. The adults still socially distanced outside (and masked), but we let the kids play. Our backyard is a good space for kids and we have missed sharing it. By this time in the year, we'd typically have had at least one "summer party", opening our home and enjoying the company of our friends and neighbors. Someday, but not anytime soon.

Imogen - July 2020

Oh yes, and Everett turned 4-and-a-half. We don't do parties for half birthdays so it was pretty much what we would have done pre-pandemic. We enjoyed treats (he chose donuts) and a few gifts we'd accumulated over the months.

Everett turns 4.5 - July 7, 2020

This pandemic is clearly sticking around for awhile longer, so now we have to figure out what fall and winter look like. We have to prioritize and mitigate, plan and reevaluate. How do we visit loved ones safely? What can wait and what can't? Is Halloween totally cancelled?

That last one is a bit tongue in cheek, but Everett did ask (unprompted) if germ time would be over before Halloween. At this point, the answer is most likely no.

And yet, on we groove. Our little family, full of love. We're not sure how long we can coast like this, but we're not worried about that now.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A Cover Is Not The Book

For a few years, we really didn't do any screen time at home. Everett and Imogen got some at daycare, but we wanted home time to be more active. 

Immy the Ladybug - June 6. 2020

Evie the Surfer - June 6, 2020

Now that they're a bit older, and especially because outings are severely limited, we are watching more movies together as a family. 

It's been so much fun. We rotate picks and the kids usually pick a book they've read many times. That leaves it to us - the grown ups - to come up with different kinds of movie magic. 

Maybe you've watched Mary Poppins lately, but if you haven't we'll remind you that it's a VERY slow-moving movie. The musical numbers are (mostly) fantastic, but the plot is plodding if it moves at all. And honestly, some of the songs aren't great either. Our kids were fidgety and we had to call them back for the "good parts." 

Even so, guess what music they want to listen to? Guess what characters they pretend to be? Everett still wishes he could jump into a chalk drawing and Imogen wonders when we will find the carousel with a pink and purple horse. We listen to "A Spoonful of Sugar" every night as our cleaning up song.

So last weekend, Elizabeth picked Mary Poppins Returns, sight unseen, hoping it would have some of that same magic.

It was a little more of a callback to the original than we thought! The slow beginning had us catching each other's eyes with a hint of "oh, no... not again... will they even sit through this?" Answer: Imogen no, Everett mostly. Everett really loved it - especially the fantastical parts. Watching his face light up made all the nap-disrupting and chore-delaying worth it. His eyes grow wide and a joyful smile spreads across his face. Elizabeth and Everett watched part of the movie while Imogen started her nap, including the musical number "Trip A Little Light Fantastic."

He jumped on the couch, he made up a new dance, and he insisted that we rewind the movie so he could show Immy. When we all sat down to watch (after naps), he giddily narrated what was happening: "Mary Poppins just did second position!" (It was first, but we'll take it.)

Yes, it's true there is less "magic" in their lives right now. Very few outings, no play dates, no family visits or trips for months. Maybe this is the perfect time to lean into some movie magic.

Evie's glorious locks of hair, pre hair-cut - June, 6, 2020 

Completing Preschool "Room 4", off to Junior K in August - June 20, 2020

Father's Day Celebration - June 21, 2020

Walking to get coffee, masks on! - June 21, 2020

Apart from movies, magic, pandemics, an awakening to racial injustice (that hopefully germinates lasting change), and the beginning of summer - June marks two very important annual events for our family.
  1. Pride
  2. Waddle Walk
Pride has been part of our relationship since the beginning. Family members and close friends have had to live through the indignity of being denied rights and courtesies given to the heteronormative amongst us. It's ridiculous, intolerant, and wrong. Pride as a symbol of being proud of who you are and who you love is paramount. Our kids will hopefully only understand the need for Pride festivals through the history books. All we can do for now is have them witness the love and acceptance.

PRIDE Celebration at Home.  Love is Love - June 27, 2020

June 2020 marks the second Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS) Waddle Walk. Last year, we were hoping more people would join us the next time around. But then, pandemic. Our family woke up early and drove further away to avoid the crowds (and the heat). We had a lovely, misty, chilly three mile walk at Mount Madonna. As awkward as it feels to fundraise, we did do it. We did it for families going through the indescribable pain of losing a child and then the all-consuming fear of trying again. Families like ours. 

Next June? We plan to be waddling and proud again. It's tricky to try to project anything other than that.

Waddle Walk at Mt. Madonna - June 28, 2020