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July 2020

The Corona Diaries Week 19 - Science Camp

Yesterday was busy though I can't quite remember with what. But now it's Monday and I'm doing this. But I'm not happy. It's not easy to be cheerful this morning. Not at all. The hardest part for me while I'm unemployed and unable to do IRL things in a pandemic is having to be self supporting. Giving yourself Atta-girls only goes so far after a while.

Seriously this all just sucks. (Says Captain Obvious.)

Anyway.

Last week was Science Camp and I set up fun things for Harper (and other family members) to do. Not everything got done and I tried to borrow a telescope but no one we know had one, so no moon or planet stuff. And our binoculars are not great.

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I roped Grace and Gammo into making Naked Eggs. We started with a zoom call and we put eggs in cups and covered them with white vinegar. They stayed that way overnight. (With a spoon on top to make sure they stayed covered.)

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Then Harper and Grace and Gammo chatted on zoom while I made lunch for Harper. She made bracelets for them both out of rubber bands.IMG_3686
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Next day we got together to view the results and they are wild. We actually had a fun scientific discussion about how this worked and what would the egg taste like and could you just cook it and it would the vinegar flavor have permeated the membrane?

So while we chatted, Grace cooked up her egg and it was just a boiled egg that tasted a lot like vinegar. Her dog was happy with it.

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Another thing we did was observe what happens to apple juice when you leave it on the counter for a week. (I made this one up all on my own...haha.)

Results: It's pretty gross. I'm going to take a piece and put it under the microscope today. (More on that later)

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We made geodes with eggshells and food coloring and borax. This was also an overnight deal.

Results: Fantastic! And super easy, we could do it again.

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Gammo had sent a microscope to Harper at the beginning of summer. We got it out and looked at stuff in it one day.

First start with hair follicle.

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Tiny flower and details.
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Seaweed!
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We also made "Elephant Toothpaste". We did two versions - one with 3% hydrogen peroxide and one with 12%. Round 1 = 3%.

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Harper got slimed a bit so she had to put pajamas on. As you do in SCIENCE.

Round 2 = 12% solution. (The only kind I could get was "cream" style at the beauty supply store, not sure if that slowed it down.)


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And our last major science experiments were also egg related - Walking On Eggs and Squeezing Eggs.

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It kinda worked!

Then we did squeezing eggs, which actually surprised me as we were all really squeezing hard!

Cooking was pretty basic around here this past week. Too busy to go too nuts. Made some nice pasta.


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Took Harper for drive-up ice cream - she got the mermaid cup and I got the crown.
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Sunday night dinner was pretty basic. But delicious. (Homemade broccoli/cheddar soup)


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I had some minor vertigo and minor sinus annoyances (not covid related). Went to the ENT doc and was temped by all those drawers while waiting to be seen. Kurt thinks I'm insane, but man, when you have to wait for ever, it's fun to see what's in all the drawers. PS Vertigo solved with some physical therapy to realign the crystals in my inner ear.

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We try to exercise more. Kurt used to go to volleyball twice a week but that's long gone.

We come up with things you can do at home without needing too much equipment. Harper likes to join in. She did Twister on her own.
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Joined Kurt stretching outside one morning.
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Became an audience of two while I was stretching and doing planks. I really don't need an audience for that.
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We went to a park play date on Saturday with some friends from school - all with social distance and masks. Luckily there was plenty of room for picnics and a nice visit from one of my fave dogs.
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The girls all wore their masks and had an adventure in the huge empty lot next to the park. They found a fort already built and had a good time decorating and adding to it.
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Their new album just dropped.
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Cats provide much levity and joy. And science! As Harper figured out a new system of measurement to measure Biscuit.

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Willoughby enjoyed Harper's lunch alfresco.
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Biscuit enjoys my mouse cable. Maybe it's mouse flavored.
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But he's sleeper too.
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This fine feline has been around our yard lately. Veeeeeeery skittish. Also very cute.
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We got packages from afar with drawings from Harper's old school friend Edie. They were in school together in England and Edie's mom and I became good friends. We've zoomed a couple of times. I just love this graphic image. Edie has very dark hair!

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Harper drew a picture for my step mom's birthday coming up this week.
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And um. Yeah.
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I enjoyed some plumeria in the neighborhood.
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Rearranging our plants on the patio with help from a hand me down plant stand from friends a few blocks away.
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Still trying to grow some decent tomatoes. Have not had any luck with the romas I planted. They were all dry.
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So yeah. Another week. It's hard. Like I said before, it's hard and we have it easy.

 


The Corona Diaries Week 18 - Art Camp

Well. We're still here. Numbers in California are going up. Not as bad as some states, but bad. And there are secret military type squads taking people from protests away in unmarked vans in Portland. It's just all insane. Why did this country have to become so nuts? It's really really terrible and only going to get worse for a while.

I started back on my political volunteer work text-banking (like phone banking, but you know, texting) with gusto over the last two weeks and have been asked to become a "trainee" which means I move up the volunteer ranks and get more feedback and will soon become a "pro" volunteer (oxymoron!). But I like doing it and it's easy to do from home in and around everything else. I work with Open Progress Text Troop. It's generally pretty easy, never dull and sometimes I get called "the Devil" so that's fun! But it's important to be doing this and to help with campaigns all over the country, local and state and national levels. We have to have a change. There must be change for the better.

LAUSD announced officially that school would be distance learning in the fall. We knew it would happen, but hearing it officially made me feel quite sad and disheartened. Mostly for Harper as she really misses the running around and super social parts of school.

The good news is, she's been able to do some small "in real life" fun things with friends on bikes, now that she knows how to ride. However, she did have that fall with the major road rash last week, as you saw, so she spent the week recovering from that. Once the bandages came off and she let it dry out, all was well. She even compared it to her popsicle one day. Um...cool?

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So Art Camp came at the perfect time.

Each day started with a video that I had heard about on a podcast called "Parent Trapped". The video was a drawing class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, an author and illustrator: "Draw Every Day with JJK" -- Highly recommend! Harper would do about two videos each day and we would also do some of the things together. She really got into it and I was impressed with her drawings.

I'm going post a bunch of her drawings as small images and you can click on any you might be curious about for a bigger image...

There were expression exercises:

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Games with a partner (me or Kurt) where one draws a squiggle and the other makes an image from it.
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He taught them how to draw specific characters (his Lunch Lady and Yoda).
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There there was the Fold the paper in threes and you only drew a section of character without seeing the other parts. Then you unfold and voila! Good fun.
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Other facial expressions using a template that you draw ("balloon and X").

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And this one that she asked me to send to his website.
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Another character.

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Then a section on word balloons and characters.
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I had a collection of art / craft things to do around the house. One was to paint pine cones we had collected a while back. (The most random of my art projects!)

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I kicked it old school with some Mod Podge, tissue paper (pre cut because nobody has energy for that) and empty jars.

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She found the darkest spot in the house to show them off. I actually really enjoyed this one. Very zen and calming.
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Harper made a collage for Grace as a late birthday card. (I left this one un-cropped because I appreciate the realness of the mess in our dining room.)

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I gave her no instructions, just to make something big and so she made her a play house with extra things in the "ware you put stuff" pocket.

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We stuck tissue paper with contact paper to make stained glass windows.

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She got to play video games and watch tv too. But I would always ask her to draw something from whatever she had done. And then she started just drawing things whenever. Which I love. Like broomball with Kurt.

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Not quite sure what this says - my phonetic translator is not working on this one.
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This just rocks.
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And this is the main character Aloy in Horizon Zero Dawn that she and Kurt play.
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There was hang out time.

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And zoom picnic time with friends from school.
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After a round of minecraft (Kurt and Harper play) I asked for drawings of their characters.

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We did a field trip on Friday. Went to pick raspberries and blackberries near Oxnard. Always nice to get out of the house and do something not ordinary.

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We picked a LOT and traded a box for cherry tomatoes from our neighbor. Good trade.
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And as it was still art camp, the assignment that afternoon was to draw the blackberries and raspberries. Both Harper and Kurt were given the assignment.

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What to do with so many berries? Bake two items. A cold blackberry pie and a tray of blackberry/raspberry bars.

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The bars are super yum. The pie, kinda odd, not enough gooey juice to cover all the blackberries, but it still tasted good!

Earlier in the week I made some granola.
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Cats.

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I started a new workout/better eating routine. Starting is always the hardest part. Tuesday was day 3 and I wasn't super pleased with the company. Mostly I want to do my sweaty work alone and NOT HAVE AN AUDIENCE.

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But I lost three pounds and kept on my program, so yay me. But what was my reward for a kick ass art camp and new workout routine? A stye in my eye. FFS. No good deed goes unpunished. Sigh.

But I did save a caterpillar that had been in some mint I brought in to regrow. (Focus didn't work out well in the pic) I wondered why the leaves were disappearing on the mint in vase...

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Next week is SCIENCE CAMP and I'm scrambling a bit. LUCKILY! Grandma J had sent a microscope to Harper earlier in the summer, so that will be a big part of the coming week. Stay tuned.


The Corona Diaries Week 17 - Camping Camp (We Are Amateurs)

It was a weird week of not being sure what day it was, which, in covid times is not unusual, but even more so last week. It was a week where I felt even more removed from the world than before. There was no rhythm to it. There had been rhythm before, again, even in these wacky times. So I'm glad this week is over. I'm really looking forward to having some semblance of structure. This comign week is Art Camp and I'm finalizing plans and materials this week. There will be magazine collages and reusing of brown paper bags and tissue paper and - yes, here it comes - mod podge. Can't wait.

As you know, last week was Camping Camp. I was excited to try. It ended up being what Grace likes to call "the burnt pancake" version.

Here's what I've learned: I am a rank amateur camper. Oh I'm game, but not very experienced. I have some basic skills, I have a clue, but it's in no way second nature.

I learned that if we want to be regular campers, we need to have some gear. Nothing fancy at all, but things like a box of kitchen stuff dedicated to camping. It lives by itself in the storage area and we just grab it when it's time to camp. No pillaging our own kitchen wondering what we might need.

We need better sleeping gear. We took air mattresses and blankets which would have worked out great if it hadn't been so damn COLD overnight! Wow, it was so much colder than expected and we didn't bring enough blankets. Blankets for on top of us and to also layer between us and the air mattress as the air mattress keeps the cold in really well.

I need to learn how to plan food/meals better. TOTALLY overdid the food. I was packing for ten people for five days, apparently. And bacon and eggs. Next time how about just cereal and milk? Maybe ease into it?

I also learned that I would really rather have one of these:

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(or this one or this one or hell, why any one of these?)

Our tent was spacious, but I could only just stand up in it, so that was annoying for Kurt to not be able to. But I did like the front porch aspect of it, made it handy for storing your stuff in a separate space and also a place to leave your dirty shoes before going into the sleep spot.

Prep also involved doing the Helga braids.

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Car was PACKED.
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Bathroom break and a snack. (I guess we didn't bring enough??)
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CAMPSITE! Tent is up.
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That's Grace's car and tent behind Kurt. Then beyond that to the left were other campers at their site.
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Setting up camp is thirsty work.
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Grace brought a smaller tent for her giant air mattress.
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Harper giving it a go.
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CLASSIC FAMILY FAVORITE! Grace and Harper's Great Grandmother always had these on hand.
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Setting up camp in a pandemic is thirsty work.
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Climbing a hill.
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At the top

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View from the shower, which we never used except to wash hands as the toilet room didn't have a sink. But the toilet room was actually very modern and clean and nice. Proper flush toilet! LOL
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Harper got to work on making a sculpture.
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It finally cooled off a little bit.
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A bit of frisbee.
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And Grace made / brought spectacular chicken dinner for us (and the wasps).

(Another lesson, bring a dam fly strip or wasp trap to hang from a tree.)
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But this is what Harper really came for.
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Many marshmallows were consumed.
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After Harper went to bed we pulled out the Jiffy Pop - good old nostalgia!
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And it caught on fire.
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Jiffy Fail.
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As mentioned, the evening got COLD. But there were amazing stars and planets to look at. (Duh, dumbass, BRING BINOCULARS!)

At one point, maybe 2am? I had to go to the bathroom (which I never do at home!) and by then the just-past-full moon was up. It was amazing to walk all the way to the bathroom with no flashlight. (It was about a 1-2 minute walk.) The coyotes were talking all night, not very close, but you could hear them plainly. But Kurt and I definitely didn't sleep much due to the cold.

Lots of rabbits around the path to the toilet in the morning.
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We took a walk up another hill before it got too hot.

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Got to the top, lovely view. Harper complained the last little way up. "I'm not going all the way up!" "Harper, just come on." "Fine."
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Then she got up , looked around for 2 seconds and left.
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More rabbits.
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The sculpture was redesigned.
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We made breakfast and decent camp coffee. Then discussed going home early as it had been a very uncomfortable night and there was not easy way to make it better. No handy Target 5 miles away from which to grab more blankets. Harper was extremely disappointed and who could blame her. But we still had time to play.

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and finalize the sculpture.
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And eat a hot dog for lunch using the handy hot dog holder in the folding chairs.
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Harper's final sculpture was a mini campfire. (foot for scale.)
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Welp. Drive home was tasty.
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Back home we unpacked and washed everything. We were filthy from all that dry dusty dirt. Harper wanted to watch TV the minute we came home and was about to jump on the couch and I said, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Go get in the shower first!" Which she did.

The rest of the week involved Harper learning a few new things. Broomball for one.

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Creating more art. (This was one of the very first projects I saw online at the start of the lock down. Finally pulled it out for something to do.)
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Tried the Jiffy Pop again - reasonably more successful, but still not quite right. And no, I can't explain about the expression and body pose.

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Harper also learned about seriously skinned knees. She fell off her bike for the first time. Luckily, we've watched enough Tour De France to know how to properly bandage that up.
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Cats.

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Sweet potatoes are flowering in my garden.

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And I hope justice will happen for Breonna.

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Lastly this week, I made the number 3 sidewalk obstacle course.

So - will we try camping again? Yes, I think so. It's just going to involve different planning and finding a better/cooler/less dusty place. But I'm game!

 

 

 


The Corona Diaries Week 16 - Online Camp

For me it was a "meh" week. June gloom definitely ended and the days are sunny and warm almost from the get go. Now it will be four months of mostly just hot and sunny. I realize people come here from far and wide to enjoy this (in the before times) but I'm super over it. And thank the stars we got AC four years ago. That helps A LOT. And the splash pool for Harper. School is set to start in about six weeks. It will be interesting to see what will be decided by LAUSD and what parents will want to do.

Harper had an online camp this week - Minecraft Co-op through Planet Bravo. The whole camp was a lot of kids, but then they broke into smaller groups for the actual minecraft play/work time. She had a good time, but it was a challenge to share an office with her as she got into it! There was much talking and "working" with the other campers. Some nuggets:

"It's cray cray!"

"If you want to be spit in the face by a llama, then hit 1!"

And at some point she told someone she had to skedaddle. "Skedaddle" is not even in our rotation of regular words around the house.

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They had the kids take breaks and do physical stuff around the house like "build a superhero from stuff in your house" or "build a fort." And parents took pics and forwarded it to share with the camp.
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By the end of one day she had really gotten into it as evidenced by her workspace.

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She also got plenty of outside fun time which included the brief adoption of "Chocolate" the lizard. She opted for gloves after it peed on her. (Or discharged a defensive liquid of some kind.) He was released after a few hours.

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Harper also found another chrysalis near the front door. She was super excited to show me.
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There was more bike riding. I'm trying to keep her going every other day or so. We rode by Roger's old house and she said she wants to live there some day.

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We got new running shoes. I was in desperate need and Harper only had junky old sneaks. Harper chose her traditional blue, I went with hot pink.

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It was nice to go for our little runs with proper new shoes. Alas, Harper's desire to run the fun run is waning. We've taken a break on it and we'll see if we can pick it back up when we get back from camping camp.

We had a bit more prep for camping camp. A cheap and cheerful fold up chair was acquired for Harper. And we borrowed a big cooler and camp stove and other small misc items from a kind neighbor. And Harper packed her suitcase on Friday.

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I'm pleased that we could borrow so many things from friends, that saves tons of $$. We bought a tent, Harper's chair above and I bought a camp coffee pot which I tested yesterday and it was pretty good coffee. Oh and giant marshmallow skewers, cuz you know, smores. (Frankly, Kurt and I could pass on smores all day, but the 8 year old. Well.)

Random outfit:

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The cats were busy in their regular ways. Nothing fancy or special.

Mr. Biscuit had a few moments with his blue chicken. This was the toy Harper and I picked out for him when we adopted him. SHhhh, don't tell him it's a dog toy!

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Willoughby didn't get in front of the camera much this week.

Kurt entertained himself with a puzzle, one we had made way back in April. We put puzzles on moveable whiteboards as we don't have space to leave it one spot. But this leads to curious cats wreaking havoc.

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We also started watching a new (new to us) show called "Dark" which I needed a break from after two nights because it is, in fact, dark. So I suggested and we watched something light and frothy. That Paul Newman was fantastic in just about everything.

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July 3 was the release of #Hamilfilm -- AKA Hamilton on Disney+. We, along with jillions of others, watched it on Friday. It was so nice to see it after all these years of listening to the soundtrack. Harper got bored by the middle of act 2, and I think Kurt did too as afterward he told me some history facts about the fiance of the Goerge Eaker  - you know, the guy who shot Philip Hamilton - and how the fiance went on to marry Robert Fulton, inventor of the steamboat. Well. I really enjoyed the show...

Wacky moment - when I was scrolling through Disney plus for something else this week, I came across this insane blast from the 90's past. My first big VFX producing gig. God I was terrible and had a lot to learn.

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For the 4th, we joined three friends for a socially distant backyard hangout. Then came home to listen to fireworks all night. Harper went to bed late and had posted this on her door.

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The cats were not too bothered by all the fireworks, thankfully.

Camping camp will be a good break from the house and our routine here. Being distracted by Harper's online camp made the week less productive for me, so I'm aiming to get back to working more diligently on my projects when we get home. Part of that will be to come up with Harper's next camps. Arts and Science will be one. Crafts another. We have a zillion brown paper bags to work with. Let's see what I can find.

Halfway through the year and it all just gets weirder and weirder.