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Friday, May 22, 2020

Quarantine Chronicles - Part 2

Things are getting back to "normal" here in Georgia.  Most things are re-open.  No libraries yet though.  Grrr.  

We were supposed to have a bunch of senior awards ceremonies and activities to attend this month.

D-man graduated from the University of Georgia earlier this month without a ceremony or fanfare. His ceremony has been postponed to October.

D-man's girlfriend, J-girl is an artist and did this rendering for him.  Pretty cool

L-girl was supposed to graduate high school at the end of this week.  She also didn't get prom or any of the other end of the year fun and games or finish our her senior varsity year in tennis.  Her graduation ceremony has been postponed to the end of June, but now only 2 of us get to go because they are reducing the amount of tickets available to each student.  

(As you can see from all her ropes, stoles and medals - we are missing out on a LOT of awards ceremonies!)
There is a piece of me that is heartbroken for them not to have these special moments.  But, an honest piece of me is rejoicing that I don't have to sit through both boring ceremonies right now.  I am horrible, aren't I?!? I really just want to hear my child's name and accomplishments.  I don't care about Tom, Dick, Harry or Penelope.  I don't.  I clap politely, but I don't care.  I also don't expect you to care that much about my kids accomplishments.    (Honestly, I brought a book to A-girls graduation ceremony and I read.  I did.  Originally, I was worried that I would feel a little rude, but people around me were talking and watching movies on their phones.  Reading seemed sort of tame in comparison.)

I have tried to make a few special memories for our two graduates though.  We surprised D-man and took him out for a steak dinner on what should have been his graduation night.  It was the day after restaurants started opening up again for in person dining, so it was interesting.  I had made reservations ahead of time, but there was a limit of 6 people per table.  I tried to explain to them that we were really a true we all live together and everything.....all 9 of us.....but, they couldn't make an exception.  So, we sat at 2 tables with 6 feet between them....then proceeded to walk back and forth and visit with each other the whole evening.  The restaurant was packed with loads of people waiting for tables....because the tables were spaced for far apart they couldn't seat as many people.  The poor wait staff were run ragged and all red faced and hot because they had to keep their masks on.  They also had added work to do like sanitizing menus after each and every customer, salt and pepper and steak sauce could not be just sitting at the table....also because it had to be sanitized between each customer.  So, they had lots of running back and forth to do, because they kept forgettin that they had to bring back those things.  

I just realized that we all got dressed up and I didn't even remember to take a picture of us!  It was actually Grandma's first time out in public in about 2 months.  Ooops.

There is not much I like about public school, but I did like one of the local high school traditions called Senior Breakfast.  It is exactly what it sounds like, but in addition to food, they also have teachers and family write cards and letters to the students.  The idea is that they just sit and eat and read their special notes.  I contacted teachers, friends and family and asked them to write letters to both L-girl and D-man.  I wanted to surprise them, so I had people send them directly to me and then we plotted and schemed so the two of them never picked up the mail.

I was particularly proud of my cantaloupe graduates.

I truly surprised both of them.  They both got lots of funny and thoughtful letters (and a few monetary gifts).  They were happy.  I got true hugs afterwards.  I was happy.

We have been keeping busy having bonfires, playing games (anyone heard of Qwixx?), hanging out on the deck just chatting.  Nothing earth shattering, but still sort of awesome.

Other things we have been up to:

S-girl had her first birthday cake commission.  I helped, but not as much as I thought I would have to.  This is really mostly her handiwork.

I have been crocheting ear protectors for facemasks.

Grandma turned 92 on Mother's Day.  She got the obligatory birthday pancakes

 and then the kids made us fancy brunch/breakfast.

(I didn't even know my kids knew how to make crepes!)

We surprised her with a Zoom call with almost all of her kids/grandkids. It was chaotic and loud and we made her cry happy tears....more than once.    I made her 2 of her favorite desserts, strawberry shortcake and lemon cheesecake (She was sad that she blew out all the candles and didn't end up with any boyfriends.  She was hoping for a 90 year old millionaire!).  It was a very good day.

Another recent quarantine activity was that I got my first haircut since....I don't know...probably October.  My hair is pretty easy.  It is long and thick and I can usually pull it up in a pony tail or make something work between cuts. But, it was getting to be too much for me.  Super long and heavy and I was just done.  When I start to get headaches when I pull it up in a pony tail, I know it is time to chop some of it off.  So, as soon as salons opened back up again and my lady was ready....I signed up.

But, I have to say, all the new protocols almost ruin what is usually a relaxing treat for me.  I truly get my hair cut once or twice a year which means that  I don't feel too bad splurging on it.

You know how it usually works: They offer you a drink, you get a nice shampoo/condition, a little head massage while they work the product into your hair, a nice chat with the stylist, and leave looking fabulous.

My stylist, Kelly, used to work at a salon close to my house, but a few years ago she moved about 1 hour and 20 minutes away from me.  I followed her.  I don't really mind the drive though because she is worth it...especially when I only do it once a twice a year.

However, is how my day went:

Arrive and wait outside the salon.  Put on my mask.  Be allowed in one at a time.  So, they can: take  my temperature; have me sign a waiver that I haven't been coughing/been near anybody coughing, etc; sent straight to the bathroom to wash my hands; then told which chair I could safely sit in.  Out came Kelly.  She was also masked and had a white, plastic "lunch lady" apron over her salon clothes, which has to be changed between each customer.  We talked about my hair through our masks, whilst complaining about our masks and the lack of oxygen.  Kelly sent me off to the shampoo bowl so her helper could wash my hair.  I sat down and I was asked to sit back, then her helper said, "I know this is weird, but I have to put a towel over your face."  Seriously?!?  I am already masked, now you put a towel over my WHOLE ENTIRE FACE?

Yes, they did.  It was black.  It was dark.  I felt like I couldn't breathe.  It wasn't quite as bad as my experience in the MRI machine where I had a little bit of a claustrophic panic attack, but it was NOT pleasant.  Where I would usually be relaxing and basking in being pampered, I was silently urging her to scrub faster and whispering in my mind, "That is enough.  I am sure you have rinsed all the conditioner out by now."  I REALLY couldn't breathe now.  She whisked the towel off my face when she was done which was all well and good, but then I couldn't see.  I felt like I was on one of those t.v. shows where the good guy has been kidnapped with a bag thrown over his head, transported to the evil villains lair and when the bag is finally whipped off....he kind of stands there squinting and blinking as the lone light bulb (in one of those cage thingies) sways back and forth....before matching whits with the bad guy behind the chair.   You know what I mean?  It was just like that, minus the guns and bad guys.

When I regained my sight, I went back over to the chair and Kelly started work on my hair.  This wasn't really relaxing either.  My mask got in the way of her cutting, so she had to carefully move the ear straps out of the way without exposing my face.  We talked, but it didn't feel the same.  Somehow, the world is just eyeballs and hair now.  It made me think maybe I should splurge and get those crazy fake eyelashes that are all the rage now.  If that is all I have to show the world, they may as well be long and luxurious, right? (except they would touch my glasses when I blinked.  Oh well, short stubby lashes are all the world gets from me, I guess)  I don't wear my mask much, but when I do, I have found myself announcing to people, "I am smiling under just can't tell!"  Maybe I would be able to smize more with my eyes if I could have to those lashes.

The only part of the salon story that is the same pre and post COVID-19 is that I left looking fabulous.

To finish this never ending story, the rest of my day was also not relaxing.  I drove 1 hour and 20 minutes home (which thanks to Siriously Sinatra, Sirius Broadway, and Sirius 80s, was not a bad trip).  I got home and found out that I was supposed to pick up 2 of the kids at the church car wash.  So, I hopped back in my car - drove to church, got a free car wash, drove them home.  Came home where Grandma had been waiting for me to help her take a shower,  so we did that.  Then, Rainman wanted to show me the outdoor projects he had worked on that morning (ones that I have been asking him to do for a few years now).  Yay!  Walked outside.  Looked around.  Dogs joined us.  One of them, who shall remain nameless,  apparently ate something that she shouldn't have and instead of taking care of business in the great outdoors, proceeded to walk into the house and throw up on the floor.  Happily it was on the hardwood and not the rug.   So, I cleaned that up, then my cute new hair and I did a little cleaning, pulled out stuff for supper, and had a very late lunch.

How is your quarantine going?  Are you coming out of it?  Things opening up yet?  Having to wear masks?  

Friday, May 1, 2020

Quarantine Chronicles - Part 1

Many times in the last few months, I have thought about blogging to share stuff that has been going on over here.  Then, I would stop myself and think....who cares about what is going on in my world....besides me?!?

I have not changed my mind about that, but I still feel compelled to commit a few things to paper (you know what I mean) even if it is just for my own sake and to help me remember.

We had a few birthdays.

We had FANTASTIC trip to Minnesota in February.  The girls and I went and played tourist because I had come to the realization that only A-girl and L-girl had vague memories of Minnesota.  And really, their memories were scattered and mostly things like remembering when we had to go shovel the end of the driveway so Rainman could get home from work....only to have the snowplow go by and us having to do it all over again.  Not exactly stellar, heartfelt memories of my home state.

We stayed with my mom, but we tried to do different vacation-type things most days.  I had to laugh because when we got to Minnesota, we grabbed a bite to eat  at  Pannekoeken Huis and then headed to the famous Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.  We got out of the car and one of the girls said, "Man, I was hoping for some real cold weather while we were here."  I would say about 5 minutes or less....later....she turned to me and said, "Nevermind.  I take it back.  This kind of hurts."  LOL  Yup.  Even I, who have lived through many a year with wind chills in the negatives had become a bit of a pansy.  It was like -11 wind chill that day.  My face hurt.  My lips didn't really want to work and form words.  But, underneath it all, it was kind of refreshing.  I do have a lot of Norwegian blood running through my veins.  LOL

We went to a live taping of a local T.V. show, we went to Benihana, we did this super cool Game Show Battle Thingie.  It was just fun.  Stress free.  I even remembered how to drive in snow and ice - yay me!

Then we came home and the world began to change.

Public school kids came home....and my extra little bonus buddy got to stay home with his mom (special ed. teacher) and not hang out with us. I miss him.

College girl came home.

College boy worked at the dorm - so he quarantined by himself when he wasn't working shifts while everyone moved out of the dorms.

Then, college boy came home (and brought home a dog that he had fostered during the quarantine so he wouldn't be alone.)

Eventually, even Rainman was working from home.

I now have a full house with 9 humans, 4 dogs, and 1 cat living here full-time....and I don't hate it.

I have been cooking and baking.  We sit down to eat dinner together almost every night - because nobody has to run out the door to work, sports, church, etc.

I would say the majority of us LOVE the new routine of eating together.

A-man looked at me one night when I called him to dinner and said, "Mom!  Are we eating together in the dining room again?!?  Ugh....Why?  Nobody really does that anymore.  It is weird."

LOL!  Yes, we force that poor teenage boy to dine with us.  We are just those kinds of tyrants.

There really is a lot that I have loved from this weird time in our lives.

I love the unhurried days.

I love the feels like our lives when I homeschooled all of the kids.

I love having time to feed my family.

I love our on-line exercise classes.

I love our bonfires or the nights we all just sit around on the deck and visit and joke around.

Daily life has not really changed for those of us that were already home-schooling....other than there are a lot more siblings around to help (or distract) us during the day.

What do I miss?

Going out to eat and going to church (which is also where I was able to see my friends).  That is pretty much it.

It is funny (or not) how different Rainman and I are.  I am hoping to retain most of our new normal once the quarantine rules expire.  He wants to jump back into our old lives of running around, sports, lessons, etc.  He is ready to take off as soon as the restrictions are lifted.  Opposites certainly attract (and eventually annoy).

I am going to try to post more and at least document this time of our lives for myself.  I am also planning a post on what "our" typical homeschool day looks like - just in case anyone happens to be interested.

In the meantime, stay safe.  Wash your hands.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

My Birthday

I turned 52 this year and now that I am finally doing better with keeping my expectations low for how much hoopla there will be on my behalf, Rainman and the kids managed to do a pretty decent job of making me feel special this year.  Go figure.

Rainman attempted to take me out for a relaxing breakfast on my birthday.  It was a Saturday.  He had to work at noon (which means leaving our house by about 11:15 to make sure he gets in on time).  He kept puttering around the house and I kept pacing saying things like, "Shouldn't we get going?"  "Maybe we should drive separately so we won't be a in a rush."  He pooh-poohed me and assured me that it wouldn't be rushed.  (I am just like my mom in that regard - I can remember the rare times when we went out to eat after church to Mel-O-Lane.  Dad and us kids would wolf down our meals - chug the Mountain Dew (the only time we got to have pop!) - and be ready to hit the road.  There would be my mom sitting back in her chair just calmly sipping her cup of coffee and disgustedly saying to us, "Don't rush me.  I am enjoying my coffee.").  My point is, when I get to go out to eat, I am just like my mom.  I like to take my time, enjoy being waited on, and just relax. 

Remember these bottles?

When we got to my number one choice of locations, there was a line out the door (Luckily, I had kind of figured this would happen since it was now mid to late Saturday morning, so I had a back up place in mind.)  Off we went to my back up option number two....and...yup.....line of waiting customers outside.  So, yes, my birthday breakfast ended up being at Chick-Fil-A.  Good thing I really like Chick-Fil-A!

Unfortunately, between home and the three restaurant stops, Rainman and I had gotten into a tiff, so by the time we sat down to eat, he took my birthday card  out of his pocket and shoved it across the table to me with a semi-snotty "Happy Birthday!"

Anyone that has been married for any length of time, knows exactly what I am talking about, right?

It was a very sweet gift, but at the time, I felt like it was something unnecessary and way too expensive.  Notice I said "at the time".  But, more on that later!

The kids gave me sweet gifts this year.  S-girl and V-girl gave me small, thoughtful gifts - things I needed or would really use - a new hair brush - a bath bomb.  L-girl got new family pictures printed for our wall.  D-man and A-girl, broke college students, both said that they wanted to take me out to eat.  A-man is 14 and just sort of huddled around everybody else as my gifts were open.  I did get a hug and an "I love you" from him though.  I will take it.

I got Chinese take-out for my birthday meal and a foot massage and pedicure by my girls.  It was a good birthday.

Now back to Rainman's gift.....which was.....a night alone at a bed and breakfast.

Let me tell you about my life now that the kids are getting bigger.  When it is not sports season, I spend a lot of evenings my bed....reading....or taking a bath....whilst reading.  When I say "a lot", I really mean pretty much every night.  I have given up watching t.v. - with an occasional Netflix show here and there.  So, my evenings are very quiet and solitary - since everyone else still wants to watch t.v. or is just doing their own thing.  Every now and again, the kids and I will play some games, but pretty much, I think they feel they have spent all day with me and are done with me by the end of the day.

As I opened his gift in the middle of Chick-Fil-A, he said things like....I made sure it had a nice bath tub....and you can read on the private balcony, etc.


But, I thought....I do that for free every night at my own house!

He had actually looked at the family calendar (a rarity) and reserved my room so I wouldn't put it off (which I totally would have).

This is where he sent me.

It was actually great.

Here is what I realized....I do spend a lot of time alone either reading or working, but I am also interrupted a lot by questions, having to referee disagreements, or having to use my Solomon type wisdom to decide what is fair in their quest for more computer time.  I see (or hear) the kitchen getting dirty and people not cleaning up after themselves, so even if I go to bed early to read, I know there will be a mountain of dishes in the kitchen just waiting for me when I get up in the morning.  When I awake, there are also just random piles of shoes and socks spread throughout the house - even an occasional pair of undies that have been  mysteriously abandoned by their owners.  

You moms will get the idea, I think.  While I read, there is almost constant chaotic background noise (music, t.v., laughter, fighting, cheering for sports, impromptu wrestling matches).  

Mental chaos.  

I almost always awake to...a messy house.  

Physical chaos.

At the B&B, I was truly alone.  Literally.  I was the only guest and the innkeeper doesn't stay on site.  So, I locked myself in and rattled around in that big old house by myself.  I did have a bit of work to do to meet a deadline, but I sat on my balcony and typed away.  The only interruptions were from me watching people walk or bike by in front of the house.  There were also occasional tourist stops in front of the house.  I felt a bit like a minor celebrity as I would stop my work to wave at them from my perch on the balcony.

When I finished my work and sent it off to my boss, I read.  

I sat in the massage chair downstairs for a LOOOOOOOONG time.  I took a bath.  I shaved all my bits and bobs.  I exfoliated.  I moisturized.  I read some more.  I used Door Dash for the first time and wasn't murdered. (My son, D-man recommended it because he works in a dorm on his campus and said they get deliveries from Door Dash all the time and he said  the guys seem nice and normal.  That didn't stop me from texting him messages like, "I did it.  I am awaiting my very expensive cheesesteak and fries...and possibly my murderer.  Just know that I love you....."   After my food was delivered, I texted him, "I am alive and unsullied". LOL  I crack myself up.)  

Really, the Door Dash thing was a bit expensive, but when you don't want to go out and get your own food/can't get your own food - it is pretty awesome.  I did it all from my phone.  I ordered.  I paid/left a tip.  They sent me a text that they had gotten my order.  They sent me a text when my order was picked up by the "Dasher", and literally sent me a text when my "Dasher" parked his car and was walking up to the door!  This is the kind of thing that makes me feel old and realize how good this younger generation has it with these kinds of things.  In my day, you had to drive in the snow, up hill both get yourself food. 😉  

Breakfast at the B&B was wonderful and unrushed and I could just take my time over my coffee with no pressure.  The innkeeper did pop in and chat with me a few times as people tend to do when they find out you have 6 kids....and homeschool.  It was definitely a splurge, but, great job, Rainman!

I am a teeny tiny bit ashamed that I did spend almost the whole time reading. Almost.  I was also able to spend time thinking and praying.  Again, something I "think" that I do at home, but in retrospect, I don't do it as often as I should and even when I do ends up rushed and....thoughtless.  It was nice to go a little deeper.

One thought that kept rearing its head was Rainman and I becoming foster babies.  My parents were foster parents for 25 or 30 years.  But, I have been reluctant to be a foster parent, especially for babies, because I remember how attached my mom would get and how she would cry when they would leave.  I didn't want to do that to myself, but, that is kind of selfish, isn't it?

Rainman and I are still mulling over the realities of bringing in extra tiny people to our family, so we shall see.  (Yes, we have been bringing extra little people into our family for years - but most of them go home at the end of the day)  I was thinking of the practical things like - we already have most of the "baby stuff" - we have a lot of love here - we all love babies - babies are portable so they could easily go with us to sports/school events/church with us.  We will see....we are very early in the thought process.  But, pray for us, will you?  Age is factoring into our thought process a bit.  I am a bit leery of losing sleep again.

I completely get that I am getting older.  But, I still forget.  Kind of like I sometimes forget that I am overweight and then I see a picture of myself....and think, "Oh yeah....that is right....I am fat."

Here is a recent example:  V-girl and S-girl decided that they wanted to paint their bedroom because it was too little girlie for them and too "Neopolitan" looking (like the ice cream - and it was....brown on the bottom, white chair rail and pink on top).

Anyway, the girls picked out a color and I got to work...thinking I would knock it out in a day.   This is where the "Oh yeah....I am old now" snuck up on me.  I did manage to get it done in 2 days (with the girls doing the little touch up spots for me because the thought of climbing up that stupid ladder one more time or even sitting on the folding chair and bending over to get the spots near the baseboards had me in a tizzy.  They also got paint on the ceiling and I just looked at it and said, "Meh....who will be looking at your ceiling, right girls?"  I was not climbing up that stupid thing one more time!)

It looks great, but seriously, I was sore from my finger tips to the tips of my toes.  I think the only part of my anatomy that was not sore was my head.  That is it.  Sad.

So, then I think, what am I  even thinking by considering taking in extra little people that I will have to get up in the night with?  But, then I think about those poor little babies and think, if not me...then who?  Will it end up being someone that doesn't love babies the way my family loves babies?  I love how V-girl has gotten to be a psuedo-big sister to the extra kids we have watched for the past 5 years.  You don't really realize the natural life skills that are taught when there is a younger sibling around.  Even the simple ones, like being aware of someone else's needs or having to wait for the baby to stop crying or get their diaper changed before you can ask your mom a question.  Little things that are actually quite big.

Selfishly, again, I think of the fact that I am finally getting back to my singing and am enjoying being in 2 bands.  I have time to write and have gotten some articles published with  more possibilities looming.   Will those things go away if we take on part-time/temporary care for babies?  I don't know.  Should I even consider those things as part of my decision?   

Anyway, happy birthday to my rambling self.