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.