Springtime in Colorado

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 πŸ™ 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. πŸ˜€

Yes, even more vaccines!

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 πŸ˜‰

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.

A beautiful day for a vaccine!

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.

Literary character dress up

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 β€œI’ll make a book about him!” Good loophole, kid πŸ™‚ 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.

Vaccines are coming

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.

My Birthday!

Last week I celebrated my last birthday on this side of the hill – 39! Ben and the boys did their best to give me a special day even though we couldn’t go out anywhere like we usually would.

I didn’t take many pictures. It was a very nice, relaxing day. I slept in, and then was greeted with cheers and a banner and a giant pile of presents. I was spoiled by all my family this year, with lots of crafting things, baking supplies, and beautiful things to wear. I had pleasant video calls with the Waterhouses and the Masons, and even my German penpal living in Tianjin! I received many birthday greetings by text message and a couple quick porch visits from friends bearings gifts. I truly felt loved!

My one plan for the day was to indulge in lunch alone. I listened to a podcast on the drive down to Shake Shack and had lunch by myself in my car. Ahhh. For dinner we had Thai take-out and watched Paddington 2. I baked myself a strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting. We were surprised when snow started to fall, making a beautiful, cozy end to a wonderful day.

King cake

We have never celebrated Mardi Gras and I have never had king cake. My curiosity was too strong this year, so I made one myself. Basically a big cinnamon roll? Huh. Can’t really go wrong with enriched dough and cinnamon sugar. It made a warm and exciting after school snack. (They helped me with the sprinkles.)

Crafty winter times

With the new year I felt the urge to purge my yarn stash. Usually I match yarn to pattern and follow the instructions with minimal changes. But these next three projects were entirely improvised.

First, I whipped up some leg warmers. Very basic 2×2 rib tubes. This was a rough, raw, sheepy wool from Wales. These leg warmers will be perfect to layer with boots on a snowy day.

Then I found a gorgeous ball of superwash sock yarn. I think I bought this green and purple blend in Chicago, but I’m not sure. I love the colors so much, I didn’t want to hide them under my pants hem as socks. Instead I made a close-fitting cowl, sort of like a turtleneck-dickie. I knit two stockinette triangles, then joined them and continued in the round with ribbing. It looked a little odd, so I added a tassel – perfect!

My next project was a little more ambitious. I’ve had many skeins of this berroco wool blend for YEARS. I knew I wanted to make a sweater, but I could never find a pattern I liked for the variegated coloring. I finally decided to make the most basic of sweaters on a knitting machine and just get. it. done.

Well, my knitting machine was falling apart. It was an entry-level model made of foam and plastic. I was proud of the purchase when I made it in my early twenties, but now the machine has lots of chipped or worn out pieces. When I called my mom for advice, she declared that I should have a better machine. A few days later with a Happy Birthday from mom, I had a lovely, functional, reliable machine!

I set up the machine and had a gauge sample knit in only 30 minutes! After washing, drying, and measuring, I did some math to make the sweater. The latest trend amongst knitters is puffy sleeves. What better time to experiment? I mapped out a crop sweater with balloon sleeves and got to stitching. I had all the pieces made in about 1 1/2 hours! It took much longer to figure out how to seam them together, and then hand-knit the ribbed cuffs.

It’s a kooky little sweater but I LOVE IT!

I’m already scheming to rip out a previously knit cardigan that’s too big, to make another puff sweater (maybe like this?).

BTW, the next trend I’m seeing on ravelry is bobbles. They’re everywhere! I want to make a lacy-bobble-halo sweater, but that’s a hand-knit project for another day.

The PTA wanted to making rice pack neck warmers for all the teachers for Valentine’s Day. Knowing that I’m crafty (I knit during meetings), they asked me to help. I made a test sample and wrote up a tutorial for the other 4 sewers. Then I made 14 more neck warmers. I struggled with my old Necchi, like usual. I’ve had it for maybe 20 years? I feel like it’s always being cranky with me, even after getting it serviced and adjusted and new belts and what-not. It’s constantly knots up my starter threads, or jams, or skips stitches, or doesn’t feed the fabric evenly. Well, that new knitting machine got me thinking how much I would enjoy sewing better if my sewing machine just worked.

After much online research and testing out some store models I bought a Janome 3160QDC. Happy Birthday to me again! I get presents all month long! πŸ˜‰

I LOVE this machine too. It’s like night and day between my old machine and this one.

I thought I would want a basic mechanical work-horse. But after trying one with automatic reverse or quilt knotting, thread cutting, a needle-threader, and up/down needle positioning, I realized yes, yes I do want those shiny bells and whistles please.

After getting it out the box and running some scrap fabric through for a few minutes (per the manual), I put some additional quilted stitches on a leftover neck warmer. Like BUTTER, my new Janome.

I’ve been wanting to make the Pins and Paws pattern since I finished Sam’s dragon quilt. Gotta wait for my pre-cut fabric to come from Etsy, then I can match it to backing and binding and dive in!

While waiting, I used scrap fabric to make a quilt block. I’ve never done triangles before and I wanted to make sure I could it before moving up to the Pins and Paws. I think I’m good to go!

Speaking of paws, the cats are up to their usual antics – passive fighting for warm spots, actual fighting for . . . Spite? Dominance? Entertainment? Who knows.

Some random pics from the last few weeks:

Sam’s Poop Poem

Poop, oh poop. Your Stinky soul.

it makes Me want to climb a pole

to avoid the smell.

my Brother and friend i must tell.

you come out of a butt,

Excuse me, i need to pull out a gut.

My lungs.

to not smell the Poop.

you smell like Dirty chicken coop.

Diarrhea is just worse.

it’s like a poop curse.

it is wet too.

it’s also a lot like poop goo.

you make a plopping sound.

and that is the end of my Poem about poo.

Spelling corrected, capitalization and punctuation preserved.
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