Thursday, December 31, 2020

To Brighter Days Ahead

No one could have predicted 2020. Not on a grand scale, and our little family couldn't have predicted what came our way either. It was not an easy year. We are grateful for our health, our employment, and our back yard. It absolutely could have been worse and we recognize that.

It could also have been a lot better.

Rather than write up all the things we're missing this year, we decided to focus on the joy this month. There is joy, and there is hope. 

Merry Christmas! - December 25, 2020

Mostly Unchanged Holiday Things

  • Elizabeth made and received ornaments through the Remembering Together Ornament Swap. It always feels good to create something for another loss family, and of course it's very special to get handmade ornaments celebrating Oberon.

  • Our Obie Xmas traditions were mostly "normal." Chris and Elizabeth took the day off work, we ate bug pancakes, we opened gifts, and we spent time together. 
Obie Xmas - December 9, 2020

  • Similarly, our big family holiday is Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve. It's also when Santa comes to see us, so it's a big deal. We made a plate for Santa and the reindeer, opened gifts, ate pancakes, watched the fireworks (remotely, and from an earlier time zone), and drank some bubbly. Happy New Year!
Santa came! - December 31, 2020

2020-Style Things

  • We try to attend the HAND's holiday craft night every year. Last year, Everett and Elizabeth went together and called it a "Mommy-Everett adventure." Everett remembered this unprompted, so we made sure to include him in this year's virtual event. Because it was on Zoom, that meant Chris and Imogen could participate too without totally messing up sleep schedules. A joyful bonus.
Making ornaments for Obie and ornaments just because - December 3, 2020
  • An annual tradition for us is celebrating Obie's big outing by going to Christmas in the Park and seeing Santa. This year was quite different as a drive through event, but we tried to enjoy it without dwelling too much on missed moments. The kids enjoyed it, we at least saw Santa, and the kids held Obie Bear and an Obie O for most of the drive. It was a sweet and comforting outing.
Obie O & Santa - December 9, 2020
  • The biggest disruption is we didn't fly to Michigan. We missed out on in-person family gatherings and catching up with dear friends. We miss watching our kids play with their cousins and friends' kids. We miss coffee dates and game nights. Handing out presents. All of it. Despite that, we know it was the right choice for us - to keep contacts low and stay away from major travel. 

Finding Other Joys

  • A lot more time off in a sort of "staycation" means we got more quality time in our little family unit. More walks (and bike rides) around the block, more exploring the neighborhood holiday displays, more crafts and science experiments, and another trip to Uvas Canyon.
Uvas Canyon County Park, Waterfall Loop Trail - December 22, 2020
  • Everett and Imogen are getting more into the holiday season preparations - from trimming the tree to making cards. Everett insisted on making cards and bookmarks for all of his Jr. K classmates, his teachers, and the kids in the other Jr. K class. Imogen tries to make a card (or three) for the same day care friend every couple days. We have to convince her to include others or try to distract her entirely because we are running low on cards!
Everett's first official holiday cards - December 2020
  • We had a Christmas-time visit with the SoCal Thoma Family. We don't typically get to see them at Christmas, so it was extra special to spend a few days in SoCal. It also meant our first trip down "the 5" with Everett and Imogen (which went pretty well, considering). The kids had a blast playing, making gingerbread houses, biking, reading together, and of course - opening presents. 
Cousins who dab... - December 27, 2020

Brighter Days Ahead

  • We're probably going to need a bigger tree. Everyone's ornament collection is growing, and our little 4-footer is unlikely to be able to fit any more additions.
  • There are going to be a lot of additions on and under the tree - because our clan is growing by one.

Our biggest news of the year is a little firefly joining the mix. More on all that later. For now, we just want to celebrate some new beginnings and cross our fingers for brighter days for all of us. Here's to 2021.

Remembering Together Swap Ornament 2020

The joy of MLP undies - December 9, 2020

Christmas in the Park, 2020 style - December 9, 2020

Cuddling Obie Bear at Christmas in the Park - December 9, 2020

Sunday, November 29, 2020

How Are We Busy?

It seems crazy, especially in pandemic-land, but this was a busy month. Schedule-wise, emotionally, and mentally.

Hiking Uvas Canyon on Obie's Bee Day - November 24, 2020

We had another carefully planned family visit in November - Grandma and Grandpa Thoma! It was very nice to spend time with them, but any visit these days takes a lot more energy. Planning, testing, quarantining, the list is so much longer than in "normal" times.

Fun with Grandma & Grandpa Thoma - November 16, 2020

That said, it was worth it to have family time. And we're extra glad that we pushed for a visit before the holidays get into swing. The surge raging across the U.S. right now is something we want no part of.

We took a couple days off of work to focus on the visit, and we took the full week of Thanksgiving off as well. To most of the world it's "the week of Thanksgiving," but to us it's really "Obie's Birthday Week." 

We started with a neighbor's yard party to celebrate their twins' 2nd birthday. The yard parties really do feel like a good middle ground of waving hello and sharing some "smize" and distanced chit chat, plus people are getting really creative with outdoor (and distanced) kids' activities. This one had a construction truck themed scavenger hunt, driveway painting, and all the trimmings to make dirt and worms at home.

Can you spot the excavator? - November 21, 2020

Celebrating the neighbors - November 21, 2020

Then it was diving into some Fiorani family recipes for Thanksgiving prep. With Everett getting older and learning about holiday traditions in school, we want to make sure he's comfortable with our family traditions (which don't revolve around turkey).

**Our planned activities were then interrupted by a gnarly bike fall in which Everett lost his two front teeth.**

We told you - it's been a busy month. Chris was with Everett when it happened, and somehow managed to carry two bikes and a child around the corner towards home before Elizabeth met them. One tooth came out after some gentle movement, but the other was still attached to some gum tissue... but dangling. We knew this was not going to be a safe situation for sleeping or eating and we needed to get it checked out. 

The first step was 911 and the firemen who came to check him out for more serious injuries - loss of consciousness, vomiting, etc. Thankfully, Everett was alert the whole time and we had no concerns about a major head injury. Also, shout out to Imogen who played quietly by herself while all this craziness was going on - right at dinnertime!

The next step was calling the medical advice line to make sure we went to the right ER. Elizabeth drove Everett to our regular hospital and luckily there was no wait. Lucky for no waiting - and also lucky that there was not a lot of extra exposure because we're still in a pandemic! Everett enjoyed watching some videos while we waited for a nurse and a PA to check him and tell us they can't do anything because it's dental... but they did have the number of a dentist who would do after hours - success!

The final step was to go to the dentist's office where Everett could finally be treated. At this point it had been a couple hours since the original injury. We can't overstate how well Everett handled everything. He answered everyone's questions well, he wasn't screaming or crying much at all, and he was in a fairly good mood. He called it a "super mega-adventure." We'll spare you the details, but essentially he had one extraction, some teeth fragment removal, and three stitches in his upper lip. It's been a week now and he's healing very well. You can't even tell on his outer lip and his gums look nearly normal. He's also able to eat almost his regular diet (we've stayed away from gummies and very hard things).  

Then it was back - mostly - to the plans for the week. 

Making sauce less than a day after the bike accident - November 23, 2020

On Obie's Bee Day, we were still able to hike to his bench at Uvas Canyon. It's becoming a nice tradition to have the kids hiking with us. Next year we may push a little farther than our 1.5 mile up to the bench and back.

Obie's bench - November 24, 2020

There were some reminders that other people love Obie on his Bee Day - some expected, some unexpected. Every year it's a little less from those outside our little family, but that makes sense. More time has gone by. The world he was born into has changed more and more since he left it. While there was once completely cleared space for him to be in our (and others') lives, it's more fuzzy now. We love and remember him, but he doesn't have school friends and doesn't have funny stories to share. 

This year, the emotions hit us at somewhat different times. Maybe not right on his birthday when we expect them to. Maybe a few days later. Maybe it will keep coming. This is the most emotional time - all the anniversaries of special moments and events are coming (good and bad). 

Our Thanksgiving meal was a traditional Fiorani one with some adjustments. We made ravioli instead of lasagna (thanks for the tips, Vitali side!). We added more vegetables. The kids LOVED the apple pie, but Everett was still going on and on about eating turkey, also.

Helping make pie - November 26, 2020 (Thanksgiving Day)

So Saturday we had some turkey, and they both expressed extreme displeasure. Everett did like the canned cranberry sauce, so Chris has a reason to buy that again next year.

It's the last day of this outside life reprieve. Tomorrow it's back to work and back to day care (but not back to JrK yet because... the surge has us concerned). We feel... not ready. Apprehensive maybe? It's been very warm and comfortable in our bubble. We've felt busy, and adding back outside obligations is nerve-wracking. Here we go.  

Lip almost fully healed! - November 28, 2020


Watching speeches - November 7, 2020

Hiking at Santa Teresa - November 27, 2020

Walking, bike riding, and bird watching at Hellyer - November 16, 2020

Obie Loves Yellow

Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Gauntlet Begins

Even in a pandemic, October is where things get busy for our family. The past couple years we've done the full rundown - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Imogen's birthday, Halloween, and random other things. This year, we'll focus on how 2020 is adding wrinkles to our jam-packed October.

Rapunzel, Rapunzel's mom (the Queen of Corona...), Wonder Woman, and Hawk (superhero invented by Everett) - Halloween 2020

Virtual Service of Remembrance

We weren't sure what to expect, but we're glad we Zoomed the HAND Service of Remembrance this year. The theme this year was bees, which of course are very special to us. Elizabeth usually helps make the centerpieces and was a bit sad not to be able to craft some bee-autiful things for the group. Even so, the virtual service went very well (technically) and was quite powerful (emotionally). The side conversations are always a nice benefit of this event, and we were able to have some chats with folks we don't otherwise see.

Service of Remembrance - October 4, 2020

Dance Show Taping

Elizabeth has been choreographing and dancing in shows with a local studio - Ariel Dance Productions - for nearly a decade. This is the first time the show is going online and that meant pre-recording the numbers. The safest option for everyone was to film it outside (thanks, back yard!) and keep very few dancers in frame at a time so everyone could stay spaced out. Everett and Imogen were glued to the windows watching the dancers perform in costumes right here at home. Of course, masks on unless we were actively taping. It was - again - weird, but both technically went well and emotional to wave at people we're used to seeing in person regularly. 

All the world's a stage - October 11, 2020

This also meant doing some recording with some very special guest performers. Mark your calendars for November 21 at 5pm Pacific if you want to see who (Zoom webinar 964 9747 4774).

Sneak peek!

First Family Outing - Mask Edition

We took Everett and Imogen back to Spina Farms for some Halloween "normalcy." We met a daycare family there and had fun riding through the fields and exploring the pumpkins. The kids all impressed us by keeping their masks on for more than 95% of the time. Sometimes we forget just how much kiddos take our lead - if we don't make it a huge deal they won't either. The only hiccup was when Imogen tore her mask off and threw it on the ground right before the barrel train started. Oops.

Masks on, flowers on, Halloween ready - October 17, 2020

Imogen's Tangled-Up Birthday Party

You probably already know that we enjoy throwing big parties for beastie birthdays - for both the kids and the grown-ups. This year was different, but our wants were the same. Imogen wanted a Tangled theme (do you remember what her kingdom was called? Oof.).

After lots of brainstorming and planning, we think we threw a pretty good pandemic party. Thankfully, everyone besides the smallest kids was fine with masks. We were also outside and staying far apart (expect those daycare kids... making us look bad by showing off their bubble). Typically we serve a meal, so that was less work on one hand and justified a little extra money on individually boxed cupcakes. 

Immy's birthday party! - October 24, 2020

Our outdoor activities came down to:
  • Chalk Rapunzel tower activity course
  • Pin Pascal on Rapunzel
  • Take-a-turn painting
The painting was the big hit, and Imogen has some nice group artwork on display to celebrate her birthday.

Looks like we weren't the only ones craving some together-apart-ness. We had over 50 people come through over about four hours. That little bit of catching up with friends old and new was an invigorating way to spend the day. The birthday girl was thrilled - to be dressed as Rapunzel, to play with her daycare friends (it's tough at this age to expect her to remember friends she hasn't seen in almost a year), to paint, and to play. Everett morphed into a spectacular junior host - welcoming new guests, explaining the hand sanitizer, book selection, goody bags, and games. He also was very good at ensuring he said goodbye as people left. Color us impressed.

Family Time

Our first houseguests in the pandemic time were the SoCal family. After negotiating pre-trip quarantines and activity plans, we were thrilled to get the cousins together for some quality time. We all needed it. 

Who said you need a big party to justify a bounce house? 

Bouncing is the best - Oct 30, 2020

They came on Imogen's actual birthday and stayed through Halloween. It gave us the chance to have a mini party to celebrate both occasions and add a little extra magic for the little beasts.
Maybe trick-or-treating looked a little different, but we're still dressing up, carving pumpkins, and sharing a Deel family tradition that we missed out on when "Christmas in July" was canceled... The Money Tree. 

Introducing the Thoma cousins to the Money Tree - October 31, 2020

All dressed up and ready for fun - Halloween 2020

Trick or Treat "stations" on our walk - Halloween 2020

How We Feel

Exhausted. It is worth it to do these things, to bring the magic... but it is tiring. November and December, here we come. 

One Last Thing...

Wonder Woman says to make sure you VOTE!!!

Boo'ing the neighbors

October 24, 2020