Family

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes - The End Of Elementary School

Harper started Kindergarten at Overland Elementary in the fall of 2017. Yesterday was her last day of 5th grade, June 10 2023. 6 years!

She didn't quite understand why it was a big deal for me. I said, "if you decide to have kids later on, you'll understand when your kids go to school. And then you might say the same thing to your kids but you probably won't remember that I said this right now." (ha)

I thought back to when I went through school changes, but it was different. My elementary school on Maui went through 8th grade but I left after 6th grade to go to Seabury (7-12 grade). There was no celebration, culmination, graduation. They had that for the 8th graders only. To me it felt like a big change as I was going to a new school before my friends did. (They were all staying until 8th grade.)

Maybe we make a bigger deal of it now? The school and all the parent volunteers who planned and organized everything did a fantastic job. Thursday there was the ceremony at school then a party that night at a fancy venue, then a field day for the short, last school day yesterday (Friday). Harper got lucky as this was the first full year back to "normal" after the pandemic. So her class got all the camps and field trips and activities that had been cancelled the previous two years. 

We had a great time at Overland, good teachers, good friends, so many amazing extras you don't normally get at public schools. (A full time librarian! Unheard of these days, sadly.)

Middle School Adventures ahead!!

(all pics can be clicked for bigger versions)

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The beaming graduate!
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Harper and Bailey
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During the ceremony
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Bailey and Harper and Estella
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April Can Be Cruel

Jennifer died 15 years ago in April.

15 years. How has that much time gone by?

Most of these last 15 Aprils I have seen the date looming - April 17 - and have mostly tried to ignore it up until the last minute. One year I was so busy I forgot it entirely and then felt bad. These last couple years I have felt all the feels in the days leading up to the actual day so that I was not being beaten to a pulp on the day itself. Usually that means I write about it ahead of time in my journal or text Grace or Mom about it.

This year I texted Grace a few days ahead, thinking that would let some pressure off, which it did. The day itself came and went with sweet notes and texts within the family. Another year gone that Jen's not here to see her kids mature, to meet Harper, to see what she might have done with an empty nest. Sigh.

I thought I was good to go for another year. But then. Driving Harper home from soccer a few days after the 17th, Ace of Bass came on the radio ("I Saw The Sign") which I started singing along to. Jen loved Ace of Bass back in the day so I thought of her immediately and while singing, burst into tears. Harper noticed of course and I said, "Jen loved this song and it just hit me extra hard today."

Grief is a trickster, even after 15 years it can surprise you when you least expect it.

15 years.

 


2023 - Happy New Year

Oh Hi. It's been a number of minutes.

I have been off the blog since last April, just didn't feel like I had much to say. Then I got a movie job in August and my time was hardly my own. But there is an end date to the job and that's always good.

I was inspired to blog this picture of my great grandmother's 120 year old samovar. I polished it up for a brunch we had in mid December. It's taken me a month to post this.

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Here are a couple more holiday images. It was a quiet and lovely one at home due to my work schedule.

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It was 80 in LA on Christmas so of course we went to the beach and met friends there.
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New Years Eve was Fondue fun
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Then another walk on the beach on New Year's Day.
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Very grateful to be healthy and doing fine in 2023.

There are potentially big things to come this year.... I'll keep it mysterious like that since nothing is set in stone yet.

(You can always click the pictures to make them bigger.)

 


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.

 


The Corona Diaries Day 4 - Diorama Day

Tuesday, St. Paddy's Day. We didn't find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but dang, we got a rainbow! Small blessings.

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I got to write more this morning, Harper woke up a little after 7:00am. Clearly she needed the sleep after being up so early yesterday. It was good to have lots of quiet time to myself and put some words down in a creative fashion.

Before school started I put on my walking shoes and went for a lovely cold march through the neighborhood. I was thinking I might pop into Trader Joe's for 2 small things on the way then came around the corner and saw this:

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I didn't get any details but am guessing people were only being let in a few at a time. I am very happy to wait for my small not very necessary items.

I came home to find school was gearing up. Harper started with more yoga and then as I made some breakfast, she and Kurt started math class. I audited. Then they went for a walk as I hit the showers.

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Afterward was break time then onto The Diorama! Harper and I worked on it with my trusty new glue gun. I didn't burn myself at all and Harper only did once. Success!

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There was some lunch and more chillax time, followed by Language Arts. We went through her workbook and then the worksheets which we forgot yesterday. Harper didn't really want to do the work sheets at first, but then she started rolling I just sat back as she plowed her way through them. Rock on, girl.

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Then she got to watch Frozen 2 while I dealt with grown-up stuff, tax prep, paperwork, etc.

Then the diorama beckoned her again and she finished it before dinner with supervision and some assistance from Kurt. I was amazed and pleased as I told her she could do more this week. But no, DONE! Well, not 100% done. Still needs the facts and description.

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While they glue-gunned away, I baked a water cake that someone had posted on Facebook. A cake made without milk or eggs or butter. I was dubious but decided why not give it a go. I had wanted to make Irish soda bread but didn't have buttermilk or cream or even white vinegar to make faux buttermilk. Gravity was on my side today, no mishaps.

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It's different. Definitely benefited from the lemon curd I had in the fridge. The flour I used was not All Purpose, but a stronger one I had from Grist and Toll. You can taste the flour a bit too much. There is lemon zest in it, but not nearly enough. I would play with this cake recipe when I have more flour. I do have some coconut flour in my baking drawer, I should find something to make with that.

I had a nice call with my sister in San Diego and texted with friends around the country. It's nice to be in touch in this wacky time.

Second school day in the books. It went really well, though there were a few moments of WHY IS EVERYONE IN MY OFFICE RIGHT NOW??? on my part, but more in my mind than out loud.

We are working on a field trip idea! More on that later...

 


The Corona Diaries Day 3 - First School Day

Day 1 of actual 'school' day. It was chock full, starting oh so very early.

I woke up extra early to get some writing done (since all my day time writing time will disappear). Started writing at 5:40 am hoping Harper might sleep till 7:00.

6:04.

SIX OH FOUR!

Ugh. Oh well. At least I got a page done in that time.

Harper and I did kids yoga via Cosmic Kids this morning. It was a bit, um, faster than I was used to for a yoga session. But a good thing to get going with. And later in the day she asked if she could do another one. Cool!

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The morning was filled with a friend of Harper's whose parents were in a child care pickle and of course you have to step up and help. They had a great time playing and making silly videos (which I will not post here because it consisted of much screaming and running.)

After our friend left there was math and language arts. Using the handy dandy white board in an alternate direction.

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Around lunch Harper found an alternate use for her backpack. Biscuit kinda liked it.

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After lunch was art class. I happily observed the lesson on shading, cross-hatching and blending. Kurt is pretty darn good at drawing! There was a lovely rain shower while class was on. It was very relaxing.

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Then we rounded out the day with baking cookies for St. Paddy's day tomorrow. We had green icing but no shamrock shapes. And in case you imagine I have my sh*t together, please observe many an imperfect moment! Ha! Gravity and heat...my nemeses.


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After we made dough, when it needed to cool for an hour, Harper took a long nap. Something she rarely does. I guess that early wake up, super high energy morning with a friend and classes at home really did her in.

I hope she sleeps later than 6:04 tomorrow...!

It was a good first day and a good start to the whole new world we are living in.