I meant to include these videos in my post about Jack’s birthday. Enjoy!
Jack’s birthday started with presents. The big milestone this year was getting his own cell phone. Much responsibility and regulation were heaped with it, but he is very proud and has been a using it well ever since. He likes to text gifs to family members, so that’s been fun 😉
With adults vaccinated, low incidence rates, and good evidence for outdoor safety, we were able to give Jack a real birthday party! He invited his three best friends from class for an afternoon of science fun.
First we tried Mentos and Diet Coke. It worked, but was a little underwhelming.
Then we took the kids out for fro-yo.
The kids were content to chatter away excitedly. Jack has some great friends: friendly, smart, and polite. I eventually interrupted to suggest we do our next science demonstration – Elephant Toothpaste.
It took a while to get everyone’s solutions mixed up properly. We experimented with different container shapes, different volumes, and different hydrogen peroxide strengths.
This time we got great results! The foam was bountiful and the colors were exciting. They really liked the warm foam, caused by the exothermic reaction. I spent a lot of time admonishing them from touching it too much, to test the heat first, and not get it on their skin. They mostly listened to me.
Our final activity was a giant tub of oobleck. I bought out the cornstarch supply from King Soopers and Target and let them dump all of it in a storage bin. It was a total hit. Somehow the kids managed to worry me with this one too – sinking their hands in deep and then yanking them hard enough to pop their joints. Of course, one of them had to go all in with her feet too.
Lastly the kids opened their goodie bags and had chocolate cake with strawberry frosting. I didn’t get any pictures of the cake but it was delicious (there’s a slice on the table in the pic above). The kids were meant to take home the weird Japanese candy kit that Ben found. But they wanted to build them together instead. I had to call parents to extend the party because they were having so much fun. I think the best part for Jack was getting to relax with his friends outside of school for the first time in over a year.
Jack’s teacher came through with his award speech. Now recorded here for all history, to show how wonderful my son it 😉
(SOAR behavior is Safe, Outstanding, Accountable, and Respectful.)
Roadrunner of the Year
This year we would like to give an award called, Roadrunner of the Year. In order to receive this award students had to be nominated by their peers. Students were asked to think of a classmate who consistently demonstrates SOAR behavior all year long. I am proud to say many students were nominated and this year we have 2 Roadrunner’s of the Year.
Our first award goes to a student who’s peers said the following: “He has always been a great person to me and everyone else” Another said, “I would nominate this person because I look up to him and he always does the right thing even when nobody’s watching!” or “He has shown SOAR behavior in ALL of his time here at Vanderhoof. He is loving, kind, and selfless.” This 2020-2021 Roadrunner of the Year award goes to Jack Mason.
Jack’s school held a Continuation ceremony for 5th graders. “Graduation” was never uttered, though it was clearly a graduation celebration. 🙂
They sang the National Anthem, You Can Count on Me by Bruno Mars, and This is Me from The Greatest Showman. There were speeches from students, the principal, and a former NFL player who was an alum of Vanderhoof and currently the coach at the local high school.
Each student had their name called and they collected a certificate (to be traded for the “real” certificate in their goodie bag).
Jack was honored by winning “Roadrunner of the Year” (student of the year) as voted on by his class! We didn’t know that he would be given the award, so I was unprepared for filming. His teacher’s introduction was touching and had quotes from students that I wish I had been able to record. If she sends it to me I’ll post it here. Things like, what a good friend he is to everyone and how he always does the right thing, even when no one is watching.
He’s an easily embarrassed preteen who stalked up to receive his award so quickly I could barely film any of it! I convinced him to take some photos afterward (he already ripped off his tie and refused to put it back on).
We are so proud of him!
The Waterhouses came over for a quick visit. We had a great time catching up and eating good food. It’s great that we are all fully vaccinated (aside from the kids). Apparently I only took pictures during our afternoon visit to the zoo. The animals were pretty active and we had lots of great treats.
Ben and the boys went to Grand Junction to visit grandparents. Both Betty and Susan have early April birthdays, so it works out perfectly to celebrate together during Spring Break. I didn’t go because I was scheduled for my second Moderna shot. I had a quiet and productive weekend of quilting and watching K-pop, and only mild illness after the second vaccine dose. I saw a few pictures from the trip and it looked like they were kept busy with hiking and playgrounds and other fun activities.
Here’s a mishmash of pictures.
This spring has been packed with snow storms. They even canceled school for two days! I thought this recent snowfall mid-April would be the last, but they are predicting another 3-5 inches Monday night. I’m so over it and ready for warm weather!
The cats try to bust out of the catio on warm days, and cuddle during the cold days.
In between snow storms we had a couple nice sunny Saturdays. We took the boys out for lunch and picnicked in different parks.
Easter came and went. The bunny brought small baskets and hid eggs in the yard. We didn’t even dye eggs. The hunt for eggs gets faster and more cutthroat every year. I made way too much ham, along with rolls, green beans, and deviled eggs for dinner.
Just one vaccine selfie this time, but it’s a good one – I gave Ben his second dose! In a few days we will both be at fully immunity. If only we could do the same for the kids 🙁 It gives us peace of mind, even if our behavior stays mostly the same.
I started attending in-person zumba classes and it feels so good to be dancing again. My feet are killing me, but it’s good for my brain and my muscles. I’ve been doing tap and yoga at home still, but those can’t compare with an hour of cardio. It sucks to wear a mask and I get hotter than usual – and take fewer water breaks. But I love it and it’s worth it and I feel ok since everyone is masked and distanced and I’m vaccinated.
I’m still volunteering for vaccines. I have two shifts this week and continue to get frequent requests to work more often. I think the demand will stay through May at least.
We had some housework done, installing a new/safer dryer ventilation duct. Now I need to find someone to cover it with a soffit and repair the drywall. I’m also thinking about our bathroom that badly needs renovations, and the yard that could be landscaped so much better . . . there’s always so much you can do a house. Honestly, it’s not the money that puts me off home repairs, but the time and effort it takes to obtain workers and deal with their inevitable delays. I want to wait until at least this summer so we can have all the windows open and spend extra time outdoors while they work inside.
I’m working on a quilt but have lost interest in the project. I think I’m too busy lately. I started a new pair of socks (second pair of 2021 for me). It’s easy to pick up and put down. I hope to attend Days for Girls this week and get back into volunteering with them, after having stopped for covid. It’ll be great to put my new machine to work for them!
Our trivia team has been great. We’ve had the same crew for a few months now. We placed 2nd in March and this last week was came in first place! We beat my siblings and parents’ team by one point. Ben contributed a tricky video game music round that really shook up the typical standings. 😀
I’m still at it, helping spread vaccines as fast as possible. I’ve been volunteering either two half days or a full day every week. I hope you like selfies, because there’s not much else I can document while protecting patient privacy. This guy let me take his picture:
Yeah, this was awesome. We had a few spare doses at the end of the day and they asked if I knew anyone who could get there fast. You betcha! We were so happy Ben got a dose! We both thought it was sweet that I was able to give him the shot personally. What a strangely sentimental moment! I’m pleased that they scheduled me at that same clinic on the day Ben returns for his second dose.
After trying three different clinics I was done with juggling alcohol swabs, bandaids, and needles. A quick trip to the dollar store for baskets, a trip to the craft store for straps and fastener, a little sewing, and I had myself a drive thru vaccine belt.
It’s so great! I made two styles, and ended up preferring the larger basket. I refined it even further – I have an inner basket to keep the syringes separate, and a trash cup for wrappers that I can easily tip in the trash every few cars. You can see my larger basket in pics below. It’s gotten rave reviews from other vaccinators. I lend my second belt to other nurses and they always love it. I joke that I should make more and sell them. But I have enough going on 😉
Everyone is so happy and cheerful to get their shots (unless they are scared of needles, but I get them laughing and smiling by the time I’m done). We often have people gift candy and cookies as thanks. The day below, someone brought a whole tray of hot breakfast burritos! Super delicious and appreciated in the cold garage (I ate it in my car during a break).
I returned to Kaiser for my second dose of Moderna last weekend. Even though I’m not planning to change my behavior, I’m counting down the days until I’m considered “Fully Vaccinated.”
Today I worked a full day at a new-to-me clinic. This was the largest so far, with 1,170 appointments. I keep a tally of how many vaccines I’ve given. Today’s 86 doses brings me to 344 shots.
This clinic was really nice – very organized and well staffed. I appreciated that they took more though to our safety and comfort than some other clinics, with safety vests, monitoring carbon monoxide levels in the garage, and snacks and PPE, anti-fatigue mats under our feet, and a chair to rest between cars. I’m definitely applying if they put out another request on CVM.
It was also cool to give the vaccine to teenagers. Colorado starting allowing the anyone 16+ (Pfizer) or 18+ (Moderna/Janssen) today. Since we had Pfizer, I gave the vaccine to three high schoolers. I told them I happy they made the choice and can be examples to their classmates. I can’t wait for the data that lets my kids get it too.
I got to give the Moderna vaccine to some very happy people in Denver today. It was so fun talking to everyone and working with other great volunteers. This clinic had a different set-up and some challenges with coordinating two facilities vying for authority, but they were on track to serve 500 doses by the end of the day. I had a half day shift scheduled. The shorter day, and the beautiful weather, made for a pleasant Saturday.
For spirit week the kids got to dress up like a favorite character from a book. Jack predictably chose to be a Hufflepuff from the Harry Potter books.
Sam wanted to dress like baby yoda from the tv show The Mandalorian. I told him that won’t work because he’s not from a book. Sam quickly retorted “I’ll make a book about him!” Good loophole, kid 🙂 He managed to get a decent first draft done by morning that he took to school too. We cobbled together the costume from some of my sweaters.
Since the vaccines were announced I have been trying to find a way to help. I applied to some part-time positions and wrote to the school district and my county office to let me work or volunteer for them. There was a ton of interest in using me, but no one offering me any actual positions.
After a month of emails and phone calls and applications (including digging up an old public hearing document that had the email address for a person I saw on a news story about a local vaccine clinic) (yeah, I felt like a stalker), I finally got a lead from the Jeffco public health department. They told me to register on the CVM website so they can use me. I later learned that there were issues with taking liability for volunteers, that the recent PREP Act fixed this by putting all liability on the state for any licensed volunteers. And, of course, hiring is always limited and slow, so a paid position will be harder to acquire than volunteering.
Things started to happen fast. I registered and did the FEMA training, and followed-up with (i.e. continued pestering) my collected contacts at the county office.
As promised, 10 days later when my background check cleared, I started getting invitations to volunteer at the vaccine clinics.
Thursday was my first shift!
What a day to start! We got about 4-5 inches of snow overnight. At home that meant the schools canceled in-person learning, and the remote lessons were basically “have fun in the snow!” So the plan for Ben to simple drop off and pick-up the kids for me became a lot more complicated. Poor guy.
For me it meant wearing many layers. My assignment was “Post-Op Supervisor.” This was a drive-through vaccine clinic run by the county. A paramedic and myself instructed and supervised every person to stay for 15 or 30 minutes in case they have a reaction to the shot. We reviewed symptoms and answered questions, directed parking, and answered about 4 car honks of people have mild issues (all resolved, none wanted to escalate to the hospital). This meant I spent about 8 hours standing in the snow and sun, speaking more than I have in a year, and talking louder than usual to be heard over the rumbling trucks.
I came home exhausted. My feet were aching so badly, I was fighting my Reynauds all day (yay for heated gloves!), and my voice was dry and cracking. But I haven’t been so happy in a long time. I had no energy in my body but my mind was energized and peaceful.
They gave out 510 vaccines that shift. I met some great people working the clinic and saw many polite people who were thrilled to be getting their vaccine. It was so uplifting to be a part of a solution. It was also a big step for me returning to work after quitting clinical practice 7 years ago. My confidence grew and I felt validated and wanted. My supervisor and coworkers were all so grateful I was there and said they hoped I would be back.
I have 6 more shifts scheduled for March at a different drive-through clinic in Lakewood. They tend to request volunteers last-minute: Thursday’s shift request was only 3 days prior. So I hope I can add more time in the Arvada clinic too. Bonus points if it doesn’t lead to frozen fingers and sunburned eyes! I really want to be a vaccinator and actually give the shots, but even if I only get pre-op education and observer roles, I’ll be happy. I learned a lot about what to pack and wear for comfort, and I look forward to helping more.
No one asked me if I needed the vaccine. The county is strict and they said they kick out about 100 people every day who made appointments but don’t meet the qualifications. So I didn’t think I would get one and was afraid to ask. At the end of my shift I finally asked my supervisor to confirm that I won’t be getting one, just so I can tell my family for sure it’s not happening. To my surprise, she apologized! She said they usually check every morning huddle for who needs one, and that I absolutely “deserve” a vaccine for being a volunteer. She rushed me into the fire station bay where the shots were given, but they didn’t have any extra doses left. She was super apologetic and told me to ask for one at my next shift.
Meanwhile, I had put myself on Kaiser’s waiting list as a healthcare worker once my CVM registration was approved. By coincidence, on Friday afternoon I got an email that it was my turn! I took the next available appointment and ta da! Today I got the Moderna vaccine!
I’m so happy. I had joked that I would bake a cake to celebrate the day I got the shot. So I did.
Things are looking up.