Saturday, August 15, 2020

Mid-August Highs, Literally

It's 111 degrees outside. And that's not an exaggeration, it's actually 111 degrees outside. According to my weather app, it feels like 118, and according to my body, it feels like the air is made of fire. Hello August, you're always my least favorite month.


Usually the month is made better by our family vacation (always taken in the late summer swim school slow down), school supply shopping (my fave), and the always thrilling first day of school. Since none of those things are happening, it's mostly just me working in the bedroom, everyone sweating all the time, and the kids negotiating with James and I over how long either one of us will sit outside to watch them swim. Fun!

Though of course there are moments of great fun. James gives the kids a creative writing assignment every morning. Some of his prompts have been "who would win in a fight between paper and rock and why?", "invent a new candy, give it a name, explain how it's made, packaged, etc.", "invent a new word, explain its meaning and why it needs to be added to the dictionary." He's such a good at-home summer camp counselor, I just mostly make them clean stuff. Anyway, one prompt last week was to invent a new game, explain the layout, rules, how you win, etc.

The kids read their prompts at dinner each night. They take them very seriously and it's become a very important part of the day. I feel like we've learned some new and interesting things about each of them along the way.

Cora likes to create visuals and exhibits to her prompts. For the game night prompt she had worked for much of the afternoon cutting little strips of paper, writing of them, and placing them into a plastic bin she found. She placed all her components under her chair to await their dinner-time unveiling.

When it was her turn, Cora told us about a game called "Guess The Thing." To play Guess The Thing, you take a piece of paper from a bin, open it, and try to act out the thing written on the paper so other people can guess.

Oh yes, she invented charades. Probably stolen from a scene in Frozen 2, she didn't know it was really a game and definitely didn't know it had a name, though we all call it Guess The Thing now.

And so we played, and you guys, I CANNOT recommend Charades/Guess The Thing more highly with children. I hadn't played since my high school youth group days, and had kind of forgotten about it, but there's a reason Guess The Thing has been around forever. The kids LOVED IT and James and I had so much fun playing too. Like a drawing room in Victorian England, we were giggling away and the kids' acting styles were hilarious and often very unhelpful (they generally chose to become the object rather than show how the object is used; like becoming a water bottle, rather than pretending to drink from one), but the best part was all the "Things" Cora had written on her tiny pieces of paper. It was such insight into her little 6-and-a-half-years-old mind. It was my favorite night in a long time and it will sparkle in my memories of this time.

Other big things that have happened in the last two weeks:

I went to the office for the first time since March. I had to print exhibits for a deposition and so some other necessary items that required me to be on location. As used to be tradition, I grabbed a Starbucks on the way and arrived just before 8 a.m. to walk through an empty lobby.

I was greeted by a stale office with a sadly outdated calendar that reminded me of all the fun things we were supposed to do in March, every single one of which was canceled. What a little time capsule of our former life.

I did my work, embracing the silence and lack of children, and headed home, holding my exhibits and the big book of securities laws from my desk that I've missed near-daily since we'd been separated.

My home office has improved a bit more. James has started painting the walls and ceilings a soft white that contrasts beautifully with my teal accent wall. We also got a new remote for our top row of blinds so they can finally go up again. We lost the remote years ago and really kept thinking it would turn up, but now that I live in our bedroom, and I have to keep the lower windows closed to avoid staring at the swim school families, I really missed the light and trees of the top row. One remote and two service calls later and we're back in business!

We also cleaned our skylights and all the natural light pouring into my bedroomoffice is giving me life.

In the same spirit, I was inspired to dump everything out of our junk drawer in the kitchen and organize it. Every time I open the drawer now I smile. It's the little things.

And then I cleaned out my closet and all my drawers. It was exhausting as I forced myself to try on every single thing, but my drawers now ALSO make me smile and we're all for manifesting things like that.

This week I took my first virtual deposition. It's a brave new world, but thanks to good WiFi, virtual backgrounds, and very cooperative children (and a headset with mic stolen from the youngest child's "virtual school" box), it's one we keep finding new ways to make work. I wore real clothes and packed all my snacks and lunch and didn't move for a very long time.

Afterward I met a friend at a nearby outdoor patio to sit diagonally 6 feet from one another and catch up. Margaritas after depos are a grand tradition and James coaching until 6:30 and the kids never leaving the house couldn't stop me from keeping the streak going. I realized after I arrived that I never told James I'd left. He was coaching and would assume I was still holed away indoors, so I sent him this text to update him.

In other news, finally free from all manner of fungus and worms, Mr. Moose was neutered last week. I'm assuming it was a pretty weird day for him, but his shaved behind is quite fetching and he seems to have forgiven us for taking his testicles.

His favorite place to sleep is the top bunk of the girls' doll bed. Everytime Cora sees him there she covers him with one of the baby blankets. Adopting a kitten was just the best idea.

Maggie, of course, also remains perfect.

She misses our car rides so much that I sometimes make up errands to give her a ride-along.

While working a million hours a day last week I treated myself to a few extra Starbucks runs. The kids and canine accompanied me for one of them.

Maggie is my most stalwart and loyal colleague. Moose flits in and out, but Maggie is always there, snoring loudly beside me.

School has been delayed three more weeks until September 8th. We're virtual only for the first four weeks and I'm here for it. We got Claire her own Chromebook, Cora has my old laptop, and Landon has his middle-school issued computer. Everyone has mouses and headsets with mics. James has pushed all his lessons to afternoon-only and will once again be our schoolmaster. It won't be perfect, and I'll be sad when the original first day of school passes us by, and there will be days when this will be fucking hard and I'll probably cry sometimes and write about my frustrations, but I know to my core that we are so, so lucky to be able to make this work.

In related news, our numbers are going way down. It's almost like opening the whole state without a mask mandate was a really stupid idea and then enacting one in early July was a really good one.

In adapting to this new world, I've learned that the Old Navy kids face masks fit Claire and Cora best, the Target kids masks fit Landon best, James likes the ones my sister in law made, and I like those and the Old Navy adult ones. James has purchased a very large and expensive heater for our backyard pool to keep his lessons going in cooler weather. I'll be working from home until at least January and likely longer.

I remain on the emotional Coronacoaster but am momentarily in a stable place of feeling like this is going to be here a while but it's okay. My coworkers stand ready. Our family is very lucky and we can always play another round of Guess The Thing to remind me of that fact.

Moose thinks we're doing okay too.

Happy August to you all. I'll close with food:

SaturdayCalzones, our latest take on pizza, these were great and everyone loved making their own.
Sunday: Tortilla Soup with chips and toppings. Good, but not amazing.
Monday: Pasta with leftover lasagna sauce I made and simmered for 5 hours the Sunday before; side salad. 
Tuesday: Tamales, rice, refried beans, toppings. 
Wednesday: Teriyaki Meatball Bowls, brown rice, steamed broccoli. These were GREAT!
Thursday: TAKEOUT! BBQ brisket, ribs, and sausage, served with watermelon and tasty sides. 
Friday: Nachos with the leftover brisket. 

Saturday: Greek Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken, naan, tzatziki. 
Sunday: Caprese Grilled Cheese, fries (baked from frozen), fruit. 
Monday: Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen, with soft-boiled eggs, corn, and probably more vegetables.
Tuesday: Beef Tacos, Rice, Beans. 
Thursday: Vegetable Chili (loosely based on this, but with an orange and yellow bell pepper and diced carrot), corn chips. 
Friday: Takeout pizza! 
Saturday: BBQ Salmon with Avocado Mango Salsa, Black Beans. 
Sunday: Party Meatballs on slider buns, frozen tater tots, mixed vegetables.

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