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Harper Turns Nine - A Pandemic Birthday Adventure

Earlier in the fall, we had discussed having a small birthday party in the park with Harper's friends - much like we'd done all summer, with bikes, masks and lots of space and fresh air. Then it became clear that we needed to think different with Covid numbers going up and lock down restrictions in place. So the Drive-By Pandemic Party became the thing. Disappointing to be sure, but so much better than nothing at all. And I think it went well.

The Birthday Girl asked for a Baby Yoda themed party. DONE! (Honestly I thought it would be Harry Potter again! Happy to move on from that.)

So Baby Yoda for the win!

First there was party prep on Saturday and BIG ASS BALLOONS. Because why not.

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Kurt bought Harper some old school gifts.

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We put together gift bags for the kids who were going to come by. We made sticker packs and Harper drew on each of them. There were Baby Yoda cups and stickers and gummy frogs in each gift bag, plus homemade cupcakes for everyone to take home.

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The morning of:

We start with the traditional balloons and streamers on Harper's door.

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Then we moved on to opening presents:

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Did we got a little overboard? Maybe. But to be clear - 3 of these gifts were from other people. We gave Harper six presents: 2 were books, 2 were board games and 2 were items of clothing she so desperately needed as she's grown out of everything! All in all, very practical.
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Then pancakes - Found the batter mix with this on it. When did that happen? I think it was some random school morning a while back - Hilarious.

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Note to self - next year do the numbers backward so they look better when finished cooking.

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Grace sent nice presents and one was this WEINERMOBILE WHISTLE!!!!!! She got to see the WM in person a few weeks ago.

I was so excited! Harper was all: "meh" so I said: GIVE IT. It's mine now. Thanks Grace!
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Then on to frosting cupcakes! We made the cakes the day before and did buttercream frosting the morning of.
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Green for Baby Yoda theme...

Harper did all the frosting herself.

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Kurt worked hard to set up the drive-way drive-by "Party" venue while we were decorating and getting other stuff ready.

Ready to party!

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Street party art:

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Waiting...

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Waiting...

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The party starts!
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We love our friends!!!
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At one point there were about 12-15 people standing around our driveway/in the street (all masked, and all standing at safe distances) and it was so bittersweet to only be able to wave and chat loudly, then send them on their way with gift bags and cupcakes. I'm go grateful for all our friends who were able to make it over!

And then we were tired.

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We cleaned up, then Harper opened more presents.
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Then we had burgers and pie and played LIFE.
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For what it was - Pandemic Birthday with Lock Down regulations in place - not too bad, all things considered.Harper is a lucky lucky girl and I'm so glad we could make it special in its own way.

The days go slow, but the years fly by.

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UPDATE: I forgot to add the invite I made for the party:

Copy of Harper 9th Birthday Invite

 


The Corona Diaries Day 7 - My Turn To Chill

I'm a doer and a producer so being active and managing situations is what I'm about. Yesterday I allowed myself to just chill. Did a few things in the morning that needed getting done, but after that, not much else. Played Candy Crush. Cooked meatloaf.

In a facebook group I'm in, someone asked how we are all doing. Reading through the replies makes me very grateful for all that we have and how lucky we are in this wacky weird situation we are all in. I wrote about how I drift between just focusing on today and what's in front of me right now and then look ahead to the hazy strange future. What will it look like for all of us? I don't overwatch/overread the news, but starting to see articles about "how our future will be radically different" adds to my teeth grinding at night, I'm sure. And my mom is a five hour plane ride away. Maybe that's why my shoulder hurts.

So much is out of our control so I'll focus on what I can do and let go what I can't. And play candy crush when I really just need to zone out.

Speaking of out of control, yesterday (the actual day 7), Harper woke up at 4am - I heard her door open and she went to the bathroom. Cool, I thought, she'll go back to bed. Nope, she came to me and said "I can't sleep." She lay with me in our bed for a bit, then got up and said she would read. I tucked her in and asked why she couldn't sleep. "My ear hurts." Okay, some tylenol then. I went back to bed, she read. Then she came in to our room around 5:30 and climbed in bed again and fell asleep, we both did, until about 7.

She asked for more yoga!

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Then because it's Friday and Friday's are days she can watch tv after school, she asked to watch tv. I said "After school" so she said, "okay, let's do school!" So we did the math work and the language arts work including a letter to my mom.

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Then it was time for art. Kurt set up the easel and paints.

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Then some lunch and snacks and it was time for tv! She watched for a couple hours then I said time for a break. We all just did whatever until around 3:30 or 4. I was playing the aforementioned candy crush and she wanted to help so she did. Then I had to get up for something and I said, "Why don't you take a nap?" and by golly, she said, "okay" and went to her room and TOOK A NAP FROM 4PM UNTIL MIDNIGHT! Wow. Clearly she needed that sleep. I was asleep at 10:30 so when she woke up, she came to me and I took her back to bed and gave her more books to read and fresh water. That lasted a little while then she wanted to get up. I told her to watch some tv with Kurt, and yelling from my bed "Animal shows!" which she did until about 2 or 3. Then she went back to bed and woke up at 7. YAY. I hope that is the end of crazy sleep schedule for her as she is no longer complaining of earache. Fingers crossed.

Kurt and I had dinner on the couch! It's been ages since we did that since we normally eat at the table together every night. It felt like such a throwback to the Before Kids era. We watched the first episode of Top Chef.

Harper got a letter! It's from Grace. As of this writing (Saturday morning) she hasn't opened it yet.

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One week of staying home. It's very very weird to try and conceive of doing this for a long time. While it's stressful to not have work right now (freelance and all) I'm really glad I'm not currently employed so that I can focus on our own needs. Again, very grateful for that.

I have a cold now too...did I catch it from Harper? Whatever was rolling around in her ears? Probably. It's wasn't strep for Harper, so that's good news. No fever for any of us. But a head cold for me. Ugh. Oh well, this too shall pass. Another day, more candy crush.

 


The Corona Diaries Day 6 - Not So Sick Day

Today the ear was better, but we took it easy in the morning. Harper asked again to do yoga - yay! So glad she's loving Cosmic Kids. And I love that she said on the first day "She's from England!"

Biscuit supervised.

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Yoga in the books, she said her ear hurt a bit so gave her more motrin. Then she got to watch tv for an hour with a breakfast of chamomile tea and green apples. I then went for my own long walk which was so nice. Get out in the clean fresh air.

Biscuit is a long cat.

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Later, Harper got to choose between art, math or language arts. She chose art first with Kurt and they did alcohol inks. I was in my office dealing with the rest of our lives. Not clear who was in charge of the class.

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Today was also clean house day! Bringing back Home Ec to school. Harper helped a bit with all of it and we all learned to appreciate our housekeeper even more than we usually do. (She's being paid to stay at home during this wacky time.)

Biscuit again with the Supervision.

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By the way, Willoughby is here too, but has had a terrible case of feline acne and we've had to give her special medicine which she freakin HATES so she keeps to herself a lot.

Lunch happened with ramen, kamaboko and hard boiled egg. Surprise-two yolks! Harper said it meant she would be lucky for five days. Cool!

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After lunch was Math with Prof. Frey and again the table sitting appears to be the key to good math studies. Following Math Class was AP Try On Mom's Fancy Shoes. She nailed it. It was pretty cute then I looked the picture of her in which I focused on the silver shoes and man oh man, she already looks like a model with that pose.

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Awww, shoe-heart.

The rest of the day included language arts, playing video games and having snacks. Before dinner we went on a walk in more sensible shoes and waved at neighbors.

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Things have been okay, but it's not always easy or fun, that is for sure. I was doing tax prep while Harper and I did language arts. Harper really puts in the work which I appreciate. Don't get me wrong, she doesn't go way above and beyond, but she focuses and gets it done. Can't ask for more than that.

As for me, my temper is kinda short, my nerves on edge often. I'm working on breathing through it but every morning I wake up with my inner cheek rubbed raw from the teeth grinding while I sleep. It's worse than it's been in a long time, the teeth grinding. Glad I have my sexy night guard. I make sure to get outside every day, have time to myself for at least half an hour here and there, even just to play stupid candy crush on my phone. God it's relaxing.

How are you all holding up? We have weeks if not months more to go. I plan on going to the hardware/nursery store to get plants to put in the garden. Tomatoes, etc. A good activity with bonus food down the line!

One day at a time, my friends, one day at a time.

 

 

 


The Corona Diaries Day 5 - Sick Day

Last night Harper woke up crying at about 11pm with an earache. She cried and cried and cried. My theory is that half of that was unexpressed emotional stress about all these changes. Poor thing. I gave her motrin and water and read to her for a bit and she felt better and went to sleep. It was about 11:30 or 12. She woke up at 6:15 this morning and napped a bit this afternoon. Hopefully she'll get a good long sleep tonight.

We do talk to her about what's going on, that it's serious and we are serious about doing all the right things, that it's going to be a big challenge, but we will be okay. I try to ask her about her feelings and share some of mine (But not all. I'm not a monster!)

So Day Three of homeschooling was a sick day. Sweet girl did do another yoga session (she asked to do one!), then got to watch Netflix for a bit as it was a sick day. She ate apples and had hot chocolate.

I enjoyed that down time with a lovely pot of tea.

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I attended to household business, bills and calling the doctor for Harper's ear and such. Kurt was out golfing - I know I know, it sounds nutty, but out in the wide open and easily staying far from the other players sounded good. On his way home he stopped at Vons for more apples and cucumbers and parchment paper and potato chips. Many things were empty but many things were still very much available and it wasn't too crowded. We got a starbucks treat as well (Biscuit was jealous). Kurt took a silkwood shower after all that outdoors/among people stuff.

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Harper had a doctor's appointment at 2:30 so we hung out and ate lunch then played Uno (aka math practice with the Biscuit assist) on our bed.

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It was nice to drive around, traffic was fine, but busier than I thought it would be. There were cautions galore at the Dr.s office, which is good. It took no time to get seen, which was even better. Harper got a strep test just to be overly cautious, negative in the office, we'll get confirmation tomorrow. For now just take the motrin as needed.

Harper proved she is genetically related to me and my mom by doing THIS all on her own. God I love looking through drawers in doctors waiting rooms...!!!

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Harper was perky in the afternoon so Prof. Frey had math class ready for her after the doctor. She did great. I think the alternate seating options are helpful!

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Later she distracted herself with lemon picking and while I'm glad she found something to do on her own, I was really bummed she picked all those lemons as I had planned to leave them on the tree and use them as needed. :-( Luckily there are still a few on the tree.

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So.

Thursday is Lemon Zest and Juicing Day!

She had a nap while I made a lovely leftover rice/chicken/cheese casserole for dinner with enough for more tomorrow and a bunch for the freezer.

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Quiet dinner, a bit more tv and now bedtime with a slug of motrin for the girl and hopefully a good night sleep!

Fortunately, fresh lemon goes well in a vodka tonic.

 


Newsflash: Uncomfortable Sucks

In yoga yesterday we held pigeon pose for a long minute on each side. That was uncomfortable. But I want to change, I want to strengthen and stretch my body, so I have to go there and stay there. Be there in that pose, feeling the stretch in my hip, checking in with my shoulders and neck and back.

I've read plenty of books and articles about "stepping outside your comfort zone" and how important that is for change. And I've done it on a small scale when learning new things (podcasting for example).

But what I never really took on, what I never explored was actually feeling uncomfortable. Feeling uncomfortable on purpose and coming back for more.

You have to physically feel it in your body.

This realization startled me yesterday. I felt so stupid, like, duh, of course you have to FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE to break through.

I haven't done regular yoga in about 15 years and started again in January. IT'S HARD! I'M UNCOMFORTABLE! But I keep going back because I know it will get better. (It already has even though I freakin tripped on my big toe and fell yesterday. Ugh. Uncomfortable!)

Goal for 2020: If you are not uncomfortable, you are not doing it right. (And you know I'm not talking just about yoga, right?)

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(A picture of pigeon pose, but not a picture of me.)


The Things You Keep When Clearing Out

JaiEarringsCleaning up / clearing out your space, no matter that space, challenges you to think hard about what you want to keep and what you truly don't need. We packed up most of our personal belongings when we went left for England this year. (Friends were renting and we were making space for them.) Upon our return, we pulled out the essentials from their boxes and left the other stuff to get around to.

I finally got around to a big plastic bin of random t-shirts, bathing suits, work out clothes and my jewelry. "My jewelry" sounds fancy, but really it's a bunch of cheap and cheerful bead bracelets, glass earrings, etc. Nothing upscale at all. I just hadn't wanted to take two sandwich sized bags of stuff with me. 

Since we've been back I've had only what I had in England: four pairs of earrings, five necklaces and one ring. And it's been plenty.

While unpacking yesterday, I made a pile to give away and cut down my jewelry load by 1/3 or so. That feels good.

But these. These will never go. Never ever. 

These were made by a dear friend I knew from high school. She died in a house fire with her two little children in 2003. Devastating.

You could never put Jai in a tidy box. She couldn't be defined. Quirky gets close, but is not quite enough. She was an artist and made lovely jewelry. These are the only things of hers I own and I will keep them close. 

If you've seen the tattoo on my right ankle, that's her website logo design. She's always with me. 

Cleaning out stuff always brings up memories and emotions and joy and pain. And so much to celebrate, even in grief. 


Different Directions

I don't have a job at present. And by job I mean I'm not booked on a movie. But I am working my ass off.

My Menopodcast partner, Sarah, recently mentioned a book called The 12 Week Year. It sounded intriguing to imagine jamming a bunch of goals into 12 weeks instead of 12 months. I was curious (skeptical?) and had a free Audible.com credit so I got the audio book and started listening. 

And I'm in. 

I bought a hard copy so I could write notes, highlight sections, easily reread bits, and flip around for different sections. My key takeaways are to FOCUS ON ACTIONS, not results. Also to write everything out, build a schedule that works for me every day and STICK TO IT. There is an aspect of this plan that I love: Scoring. You have to score yourself each week-score yourself on tangible tactics and "to-dos" on the plan. 

You also have to stretch and sacrifice and be uncomfortable because that is what change requires. 

Some days it SUCKS. But one of the tips to get you back on track is to review your big vision. What do you want your life to look like in 3 years? I realized today I need to have that vision statement nearby my work desk so I don't forget what I'm working toward.

I'm in week 2 and have achieved a decent amount of my weekly goals set for week 1. I'm doing well so far here in week 2 (and yes, blogging is scheduled as it is part of a bigger goal.) 

I won't review my goals with you now. I would much rather review what I accomplished at the end of 12 weeks. And even if it's not 100% - even if it's only 65%? I will be proud. Proud because I started now and will have accomplished something. 

Stay tuned for the review of my first 12 week year. Coincidentally it ends on December 29.

Give it a shot! 

 

 

 

Note: My links (and/or images) often connect you with Amazon Affiliates products. I write about things I love and use. I don't get compensated to write about them. (I'll tell you if I do.) However, if you do decide to click through and end up buy something, I'll get a little bit from that sale.

 


New Starts - Watch This Space!

LifesABeachI feel like I'm in first gear. And it's good to be starting again, slowly revving up to new things. I'm learning a lot, getting into new habits, working to stay focused when my attention is scattered all over by these new shiny exciting ideas and plans.

One of the plans involves revamping this blog. It needs a redesign STAT. And I have fun plans for new content and varied story telling. I'm also going to start working with the Amazon Affiliates program so if you see me hawking some wares with amazon links, know that it's all for stuff I use and love. I'm not being paid by anyone to post about them, just looking for some revenue streams while I write about what excites me.

I hope you'll follow me on instagram too: @freyjulia as there will be a lot of new stuff happening there, plus some Harper related fun. I'll be on Facebook a lot less as I push past my regular old boundaries. 

One big goal I'm going to work toward is writing a novel in November. Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Truth! I know people who have done it and are honing their novels to this day. England inspired me with a notion for a novel and so I'll be blasting out ... something like a novel ... a very rough draft of a novel. But it will be something to work with and expand on. 

Season 2 of Menopodcast will be out soon and then we'll begin Season 3. I hope you are listening! 

See? So much to see and do. And I've only talked about HALF of it! Stay tuned, watch for changes, come along with me into new worlds!

Watch this space.


Another Harper Milestone: A Visit From The Tooth Fairy

The tooth had been wiggly for weeks. Monday morning, Harper was being fussy about changing into school clothes. I was brushing my teeth, she was in her room and supposed to be changing clothes. She came rushing in "Mama! I pulled out my tooth!"

And that tooth is so tiny when it's all on it's lonesome. (Sorry, forgot to take a pic of just the tooth!)

Interesting to remember - that was her first tooth to come in. Do they all fall out chronologically?

The Tooth Fairy delivered a silver dollar. Harper commented that Melody (in her class) got $3. "Must have been a bigger tooth." Said Harper.

Must have been, Harper, must have been. 

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