Friday, March 27, 2020

Stay Home, Stay Safe...Counting Blessings

I am writing a counting blessings post this week. With all that is going on in the world, it is important to find the silver linings in this dark cloud. This certainly is a time of worry. I am trying to stay positive, and counting blessings is always one of the best ways to see all that is good even when there is so much bad.
Everyone needs a cute cat picture!
We are now under a Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate in our state. It has really struck me how very blessed we are in our family that we are safe at home. Everyone gets along peacefully, and there is no fear that harm will come to us from each other. There are so many families riddled with violence that place children and adults in physical and emotional danger every day in their homes. My heart goes out to all of them!

The roads are increasingly empty in our city. I am taking this opportunity to encourage Anne to drive more. She really doesn't like driving at all, so far, and really would like to stay in parking lots for forever (her words). We even drove in the rain one day this week. We practiced social distancing and didn't get out of the car. Now we are under the Stay Home, Stay Safe mandate, she can only drive if she is driving us to the grocery store. I am glad I had her do a bit of driving on actual roads so she will be more comfortable getting us the three or four miles to a store. Of course, we don't need to go to a store for several weeks, so she won't get to drive much anyway.

Dear husband is still at work. All hospital employees are essential. He did have to do lots of training of a new employee this week and one staff member was sent home with Covid-19 symptoms over the weekend. He is done training the new person and is blessed that next week he can spend most of his time in his office and hopefully won't have much close contact with other people. For the most part, all outpatient appointments have been cancelled and rescheduled for June. The Veterans Hospital is a bit of a ghost town, which keeps him safer.

I am really enjoying having time to cook. I always have made many if not most of our meals from scratch, but I was always rushing. Now, I actually have time to cook what I want. Cooking is enjoyable again instead of being a chore.
Veggie beef soup and biscuits

Chicken pot pie

Breakfast for dinner
We also accomplished a goal we have had for a long time. We got a floor laid down in the back shed. It is now a dance and gym room. The guys are putting weights back there and Anne put her dance bar on one side. Now she can kick and leap without hitting the ceiling in our main house. Everyone took turns learning the skills required to lay a stick and paste floor.

Anne's homeschool spring formal for late April was cancelled, and we do not know yet what will happen about Dean's graduation party. We received his cap and gown in the mail this week. Since we had such lovely outfits ready and nowhere to go, we decided to have a photo shoot under the cherry blossoms.

Lastly, we are moving right along with schooling. It is amazing how much you get done when you have nowhere to go. Dean completed Industrial Arts this week. His last project was making a coin sorter.

I hope all of you are healthy and finding peace and safety in this difficult situation.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 20, 2020

Finding Our New Normal

Sunday night brought the first wave of coronavirus cancellations into our lives. All of the kids' out-of-the-home classes have stopped. Anne's performances for the next few weeks have been postponed. Anne also was laid off from her job on Tuesday. My husband works in a hospital so his job is secure, and he is still going to work every day. We are adjusting to our new normal. There are lots of feelings of anxiety and stress associated with this disease. However, we are making the most of our time at home together. I am trying to have one planned "special" event each day. Many of the events are super simple, such as a movie, craft or board game. We are thinking of trying to play every board game we own, if social distancing goes on for a long time. We also have an extended chore time and outdoor time in our yard each day. I am rationing the special foods like chips and dessert.

Highlights from our week ~

Anne has wanted to learn how to sew on a sewing machine for a long time. She has pulled out the sewing machine and learned how to load bobbins, how to work the machine and made a tank top for a dance costume out of a pillowcase. She also made a wraparound skirt out of another pillowcase. We plan on exploring other sewing projects in the coming weeks.

The guys are missing their physical classes. I went out and bought them some axes so that they can chop down all of the weedy trees that are invading our backyard. They are pretty happy with the project.

We had a wonderful time with our Yum Yum subscriptionbox this week, which featured snack foods from Brazil. We made a real event out of it and watched a few documentaries about Brazil on YouTube.

Dean finished three workbooks this week. He only had a few lessons left in Geography Volume I. We have all three volumes and he has jumped around it, depending on the country or region that he was studying. He was close to being done with Volume I and decided to just wrap it up this week. He also finished Reading Detective RX

We also watched more movies than usual. We watched a three DVD set of Poirot stories, The Chicago Musical (that was a racy show...yikes), and a host of nature and earth documentaries. Math is going at a much faster pace, now that Anne and Dad can sit down together every night.
Here is a bit of cuteness for you.
I pray that you all remain safe and sound. We are hunkering down for now. We don't have to leave the house for weeks if it comes to that. We want to take the best of care of our adult son Tim. He is considered to be in a very high risk group for this pandemic.

Lastly, our dog is holding steady. We hope the steroids continue to make his life pleasant for a good long time.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 13, 2020

Facing the Unknown

I am sure we are all wondering what the coming weeks will bring with the Coronvirus  rearing it's awful head. It is always hard facing the unknown. Of course, none of us can look into the future on any given day. However, we are used to most of our days and weeks going somewhat to our plans. Now we just don't have any idea what the next week will bring. This is especially hard for kids. My kids love routine and right now their out-of-the- home routines are very much in jeopardy. We have a very, very full spring schedule this year. There are two productions with five shows in the next two weeks, sign language classes, Belegarth classes, appointments, concert tickets, relatives who planned to visit, birthdays and so much more. Will any and all of it be cancelled? As of today, nothing has been cancelled yet in our city, but I think that is just a matter of days. There is certainly lots of talk going on in all of our life circles. Oh, and the stores....they are mad houses! People are going crazy over toilet paper, of all things. Hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes are long gone. We also have an unrelated concern that is causing much uncertainty in our lives right now. Our sweet Boomer (dog) is struggling with the cancer that is riddling his body right now. He is too old to survive treatment, and we are providing palliative care (steroids) to make his final days comfortable and enjoyable. We do not know if he has weeks or months left. With the steroids, he is eating again and appears much happier and more comfortable. How long will the steroids help is completely unknown. So how are we coping with all of this unknown territory?

We are working to remain calm and keep our at-home routines stable. I am also actively thinking and planning at-home events to give us a sense of normalcy and fun if we find ourselves quarantined or without any out-of-the-home activities. I went ahead and bought birthday cake mixes for our family's three April birthdays, plus Easter candy in case we find ourselves homebound. We are adequately stocked with food. It is really all we can do. I am concerned for our son with cardiac and lung issues. He is at especially high risk so we are not taking this lightly. As for our sweet doggie -- we are enjoying him and spoiling him rotten. We thought there was going to be lots of stretching for our family this spring. We didn't think it was going to be in the way of death and disease. :-(

Highlights in Homeschool ~ School is going fairly well. Our latest Misfit Box  of vegetables came. Dean gets so excited about the fruits and vegetables each time. He is really enjoying learning to cook with different fruits and vegetables. This week, he learned how to use the food processor and made rainbow coleslaw.

This is just one of about four layers of lovely organic produce.

Dean finished U.S. History II this week. He really loved the last book he used in his history course. The book, Terrible But True Awful Events In American History, was a perfect wrap- up of American history for my teen. He found all of the "mistakes" and disasters were fascinating. He also completed another math workbook, Budget Math, by Remedia Publications.

Anne is dancing as much as she can right now. We don't know how soon her classes and shows will be cancelled. She is working hard to learn the different parts of her Grade 6 Cecchetti exam that she hopes to take in June.

Anne got stuck in Geometry several times in the last few weeks. She finally made it through the unit that was killing her. Hopefully, the next unit will be easier. She has just three units to go to wrap up math for the year.

Both teens did a unit study on The Old Man and The Sea this week. We read large excerpts from the book and then watched the movie from 1990. We also watched a documentary on Earnest Hemingway. It was an enjoyable study and just low key enough for us this week.

We shall see what next week brings. I suspect that Tim will be home with us much more in the coming weeks. His day program hasn't closed yet, but they have cancelled all field trips, volunteer opportunities and visitors. They will be doing mostly crafts, in-house movies and hanging out in the gym.  It sounds like it will probably feel like a glorified day care (Tim's words) in the coming weeks. Tim thinks he would rather be at home avoiding illness and enjoying family. I am fine with that for now.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, March 6, 2020

Stretching and Growing

We have had an amazing last couple weeks. A week ago last Thursday Anne and I took off with 13 other teens and their dance teachers to attend the NC Dance Festival at The North Carolina School of the Arts. It was an incredible experience for all. The girls were challenged with eight classes that exposed them to a diverse palette of dance. The girls were divided into three different leveled groups which kept the chaperones hopping, getting everyone where they needed to go. The girls got to take classes in jazz, several ballet classes, musical theater, contemporary, pointe and character dance. Anne loved the jazz and musical theater classes the most. Each girl also had the opportunity to go through an official audition for the upcoming summer camp 5 week intensive. Anne took the ballet audition with the understanding that she would not be able to attend camp, even if she is selected. It is way out of our price range, and she can't leave her part-time job for that long. However, it was  a great experience to go through an audition.
Anne and her friend L were in the most advanced level for which our dance studio participants qualified.

Our whole group in the lobby of the hotel.
To keep costs down, we decided to stay in two hotel suites, which meant two chaperones and seven girls in each suite. We had three sleeping on the floor in each room. It was super crowded, but everyone got along great. We also brought our own food for dinner and lunch. The kids had sandwiches, fruit and juice boxes for lunch. For the dinners, we used a slow cooker to make loaded baked potatoes,spaghetti and a variety of sauces plus salad, and pizza on the last night. We made as much food at home as we could and warmed it up in slow cookers in the hotel room. 
Ballet Tech class

Jazz Improv class

My Leaping Daughter

We also had the delight of seeing two performances. We especially loved the winter showcase put on by the college. It was fun getting all dressed up and going into the city to a beautiful theater. It was a long and exhausting weekend...but so amazing. It was totally worth the long hours and lack of sleep. 

We got home after midnight on Sunday (Monday morning). My husband and boys did great on their all guy weekend. They followed the schedule and menu plan that I left them. They also had a wonderful time going to Target and buying all the snacks of their dreams! We spent Monday through Wednesday trying to chase off illness and doing a bit of school. I also went out to dinner with a friend who I haven't been out with in years. It was a lovely adult night.
My amazing dinner out
By the time Thursday rolled around, it was time for my sons and husband to head out for a long weekend in a neighboring state at a Belegarth competition. They are having a wonderful time sword fighting (with foam weapons), camping, cooking over open fires and generally being guys. Thanks to cell phones, I can keep in touch with them. The weather is a bit rough, so I have encouraged them to go to a hotel tonight since it might snow. But they haven't decided to "wimp out" yet. If they stay in the field overnight, they first will go to Walmart and get an extra sleeping bag or two to use as comforters over their existing sleeping bags. I hope they continue to have a great time. 


Their tents

There are moments in life when we get to stretch and grow a great deal in a short amount of time. This is one of those weeks. We are so blessed.

Blessings, Dawn