Saturday, October 31, 2020

The Leaves are a Changin'

We have had a very foggy and rainy week here. Last Sunday, we headed out on the Blue Ridge Parkway to check out the gorgeous leaves. It was foggy and drizzly for most of our ride, but the teens just thought that made it spooky and increased their enjoyment of the adventure. I am so glad we made it before tropical storm Zeta's high winds knocked most of the leaves down. Nature and beauty are so good for the soul.

There is a beautiful valley behind these three that you cannot see through the fog.
There was no way Elijah was getting out of the car in this weather ~ LOL.

Tim had his cardiac and pacemaker checkup at Duke this week. It was a 450 mile round trip and the farthest we have been from home since last October's trip to Duke. That just blows my mind. Only Tim and I went, since the COVID 19 restrictions meant that only one person could accompany Tim into the hospital. He had an echocardiogram, pacemaker checkup and visit with the doctor. His heart is doing great and responding well to the medications he was put on over the last few years. His body is tolerating those low doses without any side effects. His pacemaker is going to need replacing, but should be able to hold out until next fall. They did say the next surgery would be more complicated because he needs new pacemaker leads. He has had the same ones since he was nine years old and they are showing their age. 

While we were in Durham, we visited the mall to pick up lunch and get a few Christmas presents from a store not located in our city. The mall was huge compared to ours. We also noticed that there was 100% compliance on mask wearing, which was refreshing. No wonder their COVID numbers are better than most of the state. We also had to make a stop for gas on the way home in a city that is being completely overrun with COVID right now. It was night and day to Durham. Only one elderly gentleman and I were wearing masks at the crowded gas station. Some young men across the parking lot heckled us for wearing masks. I finished pumping my gas before the elderly gentleman did. I stuck around until he finished and left, because he was African-American and the bullies were heckling him more. It is disgusting that anyone needs to fear for their well-being because they choose to wear a mask or because of the color of their skin. I was glad to get back to my own little city where racism is not nearly so intense. 

The rest of the week was consumed with school, house cleaning and taking Anne to her dance classes. Our dance studio has decided to create a dance film based on Thumbelina. Anne was selected to be the lead, Thumbelina, and will be in every single scene. She will have to put in lots of extra hours at the dance studio. This film is the first for our studio. They are bringing in a filmmaker to help them. The release date will be some time in March, depending on any additional complications caused by COVID-19 and how easily the process goes. Anne is very excited about this project. It sounds like a perfect wrap-up for her senior year.

They decided to dress up as Wizard of Oz characters this year at Anne's work. She was the lion.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and Halloween (if you celebrate it). We are having a backyard bonfire with a bowl of candy. Then we are going to have an indoor hide and seek in the dark (at Tim's request) and a Harry Potter movie. 

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, October 23, 2020

Spooky Season

Since most spooky season events are cancelled this year from haunted houses to fall festivals, Anne was hunting around for something fun and safe to do during her favorite season. She heard about a costume challenge on Instagram and decided that she wanted to do a variation of that challenge this year. She decided to create nine costumes from our closets, thrift stores and sewing projects. Her costumes are all based on musicals. I think she did a marvelous job and she had so much fun.

A Chorus Line

The Sound of Music

The Sound of Music ~ Take Two

The Phantom of the Opera

The Addams Family


Mean Girls


Mary Poppins


We went on a few walks as a family this week. I also went on several walks while Anne was in dance class. I accomplished 14 miles of walking this week. We really enjoyed our family walk in the River Arts District. Our city is doing a wonderful job of making a greenway in the flood zone between the river and all of the old industrial buildings. Many of the buildings that are on higher ground have been reclaimed for artist studios and galleries, but the lower ones are mostly used by graffiti artists.

We also made our first leaf pile and spent a bit of time playing in it. You are never too old to play in leaves...right?! There are so many more leaves to come. I love autumn!

All the Rest ~
  • Anne wrote three papers this week (two creative and one expository).
  • She also did three sewing projects and three Latin lessons.
  • One of the Job Coaches came out from Vocational Rehabilitation to get more details from Elijah so that they can start job sampling in the next week or two.
  • Dear Husband replaced the pipes under the sink, and I put down new contact paper under the sink.
  • Anne went to work and dance classes.
  • My husband had his birthday...complete with grilled steak and homemade gazpacho soup.
  • We all got our flu shots.
Stay safe everyone.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Socially Distant Birthday Party

For Anne's 17th birthday party we decided to try a socially distant birthday party. We held it outside, with mandatory masks (when not eating) and everyone six or more feet apart. We decided on a Halloween themed party with carving pumpkins and a "scary" movie as the activities. Since it ended up raining on the day of the party, we had to fit everyone well under the carport. We had to double up the twins on the same blanket since they were from the same household and Tim ended up sitting with Anne for the same reason. The first activity was carving pumpkins. Everyone really liked this activity. We did gut two of the pumpkins beforehand to please two sensory teens.

Anne wanted pumpkin bread instead of cake. We found these cute little coffin cupcake molds at a thrift store and made pumpkin bread coffins with candy bones inside. We placed them on a platter of brown sugar (the dirt from freshly dug up graves) and added Belgium chocolate pumpkins. They were delicious and so much fun.

JoJo was our professional pumpkin gutter. She arrived a little bit early and gutted pumpkins to her heart's delight. Her pumpkin came out so cute.

Tim really enjoyed the pumpkin carving, too. He is enjoying his bag of popcorn and M&M's in the photo below. We made bags of popcorn and M&M's in advance. I was the server who handed out everything (soda, carving tools, popcorn, cake), so that everyone could stay sitting on their beach towels and reduce any possible cross contamination. 

The pumpkins were a perfect party favor for each teen to take home. They were so delighted that they got to keep them.

Jim and his pumpkin.

We set the party for two hours in the evening so that it would get dark about 45 minutes into the events. This made a perfect level of darkness for the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, to play on the projector. We used a shower curtain liner as the movie screen. The carving took them longer than I expected, so I had to start the movie before they were done carving. However, no one seemed to mind and the movie was sort of in the background providing ambience. I thought the teens might prefer to talk more than watching the movie anyway. I was right.

Elijah's pumpkin

It all worked out great. Anne was able to see four of her nearest and dearest friends. Elijah also got to invite one friend. He had his best friend since early childhood over. The whole experience almost felt normal and proved that life can go on even with all of the many modifications that we are now taking to reduce the spread of COVID and increase safety, especially for our high risk oldest son, Tim. Everyone was delighted to be invited and more than happy to comply with our safety measures. Most of these young people live with a high risk family member as well and have been in even stricter lockdown than we have for many months. 

I am so glad we were able to pull it off!!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Wallpaper, Beauty and Gunshots

Twice this week we awoke to gunshots outside. The first time it was a few blocks away. The second time it was on our street and some shell casings were found on our next door neighbor's lawn. You might think we live in the hood, but you would be wrong. In fact, prices are so high in our neighborhood, we couldn't afford to move here if we weren't already here. I feel sorry for the families that just moved in to the brand new subdivision across the street and paid close to $400,000 to live there. They are probably more shocked than we are to find ourselves in unsafe surroundings. The police have no suspects at this time. They just know that cars were involved and that it seemed to be a drive by situation. Everything is so tense right now. It is exhausting. White Supremacists are threatening our local university this week, and it was on lockdown all day yesterday. Anne's friend who lives on campus was pretty frightened. They could only leave their dorm rooms to go to the bathroom. It is shocking how much hate is being flung around right now. Like I said before, I am just exhausted by all of the cruelty and hate.

In other home front news, Anne's friend still hasn't come back to dance. Her mother is still very sick from COVID-19. Our dance community is very concerned for them. 

Okay, got some of the stress out first. Now onto the fun and loveliness in the week. 

  • The leaves are changing. I love all of the colors.
  • Anne finished U.S. History II and Government.
  • I walked 11.5 miles this week. 
  • We went to the nature center as an early celebration of my husband's birthday, which is next weekend.
  • I at least got to talk to Elijah's job coach and was encouraged that supervisors were trying to push through the paperwork and get the ball rolling.
  • I painted and wallpapered my shelves that hold my crystal and pretty things.
I finally got to my pretty things shelving. They had not been painted in 40+ years. I painted the sides and ceilings white and then added toile wallpaper to the back and floors of the shelves. I am loving the results. I really need to paint the ceiling in the kitchen now. You know how it is -- when you make one corner pretty, the ugly looks uglier. Hopefully, I will get to the ceiling in November. I have a few smaller projects to do first.

We had a lovely time at the local nature center. We went in the morning during the week because Dear Husband had the day off. The nature center just reopened last week for the first time since March. It wasn't very crowded. The animals were very alert and excited to see new people. The kids loved the Red Pandas the most. Also, the goats and bears were really putting on a show. The mountain lion was majestic, as usual. The bears look so much smaller than they do when they are in my yard. LOL! The indoor houses were still closed so we couldn't see any of the reptiles. 

Stay safe, folks, and spread kindness. We need to remember that we are more alike than different. All of this hate, fear mongering and violent behavior hurts everyone. 

Blessings, Dawn