Surprise snowfall

We were all shocked this morning to find the world changed to a winter wonderland!

I got to try out my new snow tires that I got as an early Christmas present. They were great!

When the sun came out the boys mucked up with yard with an epic snowball battle. Eventually they allied forces and built a fort to secure the territory.

Thanksgiving menu survey

We made the sad decision to stay home for Thanksgiving this year. The risks of catching or giving the virus unknowingly is just too dang high.

I made a list of possible dishes to serve and asked the household to vote for their favorites. It’s just the four of us, so why not cater to our tastes?

Apparently vegetables are not the popular clique in our household.

Halloween 2020

Friday the kids got to wear their costumes to school. No parade or elaborate parties this year, but they got to wear the costume all day, instead of changing out of it after the class party. I enjoyed seeing all the costumes at drop-off and pick-up. I heard many thanks from students for the crafts I provided to their classes, and several mentioned that they loved when the cats interrupted my video tutorial 🙂

By some miracle I was saved from making Pokemon costumes this year. It’s been Pokemon Pokemon Pokemon non-stop out of their mouths all fall. Yet for some reason they asked for Hogwarts costumes, with robes from each of their houses (Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff). I happily agreed and gave quiet thanks that I wasn’t being asked to make a Slurpuff or Sirfetch’d or some other obscure thing.

This morning we carved pumpkins. The two largest are from the store, and the the three smaller pumpkins were grown in our garden! We had two little green baby pumpkins appear October 1st. They didn’t get big enough to carve by Halloween, but we put them on display all the same.

They kids were delighted to learn they had a remote lesson from Hogwarts scheduled in the afternoon! Who is Professor S? Is it Snape? But Snape doesn’t like to teach! Who is going to be playing Snape? Will there be other students? They were in wonder all morning, and then absolutely delighted to see their uncle Andy sniveling criticisms at them via Zoom.

Andy did an amazing job setting up the lesson. First they chatted about their school and dress. Then he had them “clarify the handwriting in their assignments,” filling in the adjectives and verbs as with Mad Libs, and then read back their hilarious Halloween essays.

The lesson was interrupted by the new Herbology professor who needed help with her over-sized pinecones, and then by Professor Dumbledore who warned of us a loose troll and said there was a problem with the Halloween feast.

Professor Snape then turned to potions, asking the kids to make Lemon Quaffles (inspired by this clip from QI). He had funny terms for all the ingredients – ground troll dust powder and minotaur’s tears and such.

Their professor claimed that if they mixed it correctly it would form a self-baking lemon cake. Instead . . . .

Lastly Snape gave them what he thought was a traditional muggle treat “candy corn”, but instead was “canned corn.” The boys drank dragon’s blood (red colored chocolate milk) in their cauldron cups and toasted their professors a Hoggy Hogwarts Happy Halloween.

Professor Snape gave them a homework assignment to create and original spell. Here’s what they came up with:

After a relatively quiet afternoon, when Ben and I stole away for a few minutes to pick up dinner and drinks, it was time for trick or treating!

Sam had a cold today (runny nose and cough – our pediatrician recommended against covid testing in favor of a visit on Monday to clear him for school). We cancelled meeting up with friends to trick-or-treat. Ben took the boys out with masks and tongs (to pick up candy and ring door bells) and safely guided them to obvious buckets and away from interaction with any people. We busted out the old stroller to help Sam stay out as long as his brother. After and hour they came home with full buckets and frozen fingers. It was an incredible and memorable Halloween!

A Giant Leaf Pile

The ash tree usually decides to dump all its leaves within a couple days. We had a brief day of good, sunny weather afterward, before a winter storm was forecast. We all pitched in to clear some of the leaves so the kids could enjoy a giant leaf pile.

Midweek October Things

Nimbus loves it when I put on the electric blanket. We cozy up after lunch while I work on my computer. She puts toes in the air when she reaches peak comfiness.

As mentioned briefly last time, I have been building craft kits for the school Halloween parties.

Parents are not allowed in the school year, and no outside food either. The party solution from the PTA was for volunteers to supply holiday crafts for their kids’ classes. I’ve always served as a room parent/party committee. It was a no-brainer to sign-up this year again – ONLY a craft (versus the traditional craft + games + food) and no obligation to coordinate with other parents! The hardest part has always been scheduling room parent meetings to agree on each item, waiting for emails to be returned, and crossing fingers they supply what they promised. Much easier by myself! I waited a couple days to let other parents have a chance to sign-up. When none stepped forward I signed-up for both my kids classes. Then last week I got a text that the other fifth grade parent dropped out, asking if I could cover the crafts for their class too. Of course!

Today I dropped off 84 craft kits with prepared supplies for each kid to complete two crafts, four different crafts all together. Plus spare parts for the teachers to hand out as needed. They were organized and split between 5 boxes for classes with both in-person and remote students.

We were supposed to include written instructions for the teachers to do the crafts. I thought it would be more helpful if I demonstrated each of them on a video for them to pause/replay as needed. Then the teachers would be free to roam around helping and encouraging kids. Of COURSE I had to set the stage with props, light the candles, and wear something spooky. If you want to do some crafts with your own supplies, watch my videos here!

Tonight had some new excitement with video games. Ben treated himself to a Switch Ring adventure game to try to get more regular exercise. We used to go to the gym 2-3 times per week, but obviously stopped in March. Jogging is unbearably boring and I’ve become a poor walking partner since the weather has cooled and darkened. This game looks like a fun way to get more exercise. Jack was jealously watching Ben break-in the game. He eagerly starting his own save file when given the chance. Maybe some competition between the two will keep them playing longer! I had a fun time watching them while I brewed a pot of herbal tea and stirred a large batch of steel cut oats for breakfast this week.

Fall pictures

We’ve been busy bees since school started again. Let me try to catch up with some photos of notable days.

Not pictured from the last month: my bouts of mask-sewing, my packing 90 craft kits for classroom Halloween parties, and Ben’s quarantine 6 day quarantine while he was sick with a cold and we waited for his COVID test result. (Negative, and he’s feeling good again, and no one seemed to have caught the cold).

Sam’s 7th Birthday

Little Sam turned 7 years old! We had an extended celebration. The week prior, my parents came out to play and have some NIJ time. I can’t believe it, but this is the ONLY picture I took all weekend.

Not pictured: swimming at their hotel and visiting Edgewater Marketplace to enjoy their large variety of food and little art show.

Saturday we hosted a small party with appropriate precautions. Just three friends, entirely outdoors, wearing masks, with non-contact game. Sam has been very into Pokemon lately, so we had a Pokemon party. I made a two flavor cake (chocolate and strawberry). I made pokeball beanbags and a toss target with all his favorite pokemon. The kids went wild with it, and then got their sticky hands out of their goodie bags, attacking the board and each other.

The main game was a hunt. I laid out 11 pokeballs (made of paper plates) with 5 similar cards for them to collect (3 friends +Sam + Jack) and a clue for where to find the next hidden ball. They were less delicate with the game than I expected, roughly tearing into the prizes and racing off before the clue was read as soon as they had an idea where to look. I think they had a great time with it.

Cake and presents and playing with Sam’s new hover drone rounded out the short party.

Sunday morning we celebrated Sam’s real birthday in the usual fashion – presents, favorite meals, and playing whatever he wanted.

Happy seventh birthday Sam!

Back to School 2.0

This morning the kids went back to school in-person. Nerves were high. Their packs were extra heavy with supplies because there was not a back-to-school night when we could have delivered classroom items earlier. Also, they had their masks and shields and hand sanitizer bottles to deal with.

Also a friggin’ SNOW STORM.

They felt unprepared and unaccustomed to the cold weather. They refused boots and gloves and umbrellas when I was getting them ready, but I think they regretted that. Their hands were frozen as they waited to be let in the building. Sam’s eye shields fogged up but he claims he likes it and it looks like a video game and he refused my offer to get anti-fog spray. Jack was so very very nervous about everything. All week he’s had butterflies and keeps thinking he has COVID symptoms. (He doesn’t.) He’s normally a little hypochondriac, worse so now. The wildfires have been pumping smoke into the air for weeks, so I think we ALL have a little sore throat these days.

Special screening entrances meant we had to skip the traditional front-of-school photo, and I had to give kisses good-bye separately because they enter on opposite sides of the building. I peeped in the windows as I walked away and was happy to see happy kids. Inside in familiar classrooms with smiling teachers and out of the icy rain, they looked calm and happy. Sam took a seat in the front row near the door (excellent for airflow!) and Jack appears to have a seat next to his best friend (score!). I saw Jack dutifully put on his face shield in addition to his mask, despite concerns all week that he would look dumb and different.

I’m still hella nervous. I think we should all be in remote school still, that’s the safest option. But our elementary is putting all possible precautions and protocols in place. The kids are ecstatic to be back in real school around other kids. They will learn and grow much better in a school environment. But is all that worth risking? We will see.

For now, it’s freezing outside and my house is warm. When I opened the door it was deadly quiet inside and the scent of waffles cheered my soul. I sat down to write this and Nimbus snuggled up to my side and has been fervently purring. Obviously I’m not the only one pleased to have a break from the kids and the heat.

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