posts tagged with 'social distancing'

with friends

I've been feeling pretty lonely lately. My family is wonderful and I'm super grateful to get to spend so much time with them, but they've got their own stuff going on and and it's not fair to ask them to fulfill all my emotional needs. So while I admit it does make me a little nervous, I'm happy that we're starting to be able to get out and do things with other people. Yesterday we took a hike with some homeschool co-op friends who we'd missed so much over the past three months, and it was delightful!

the boys with their feet in a marshy river

in Nashoba Brook

We walked in the Nashoba Brook Conservation Area; we'd never been there before but will definitely be going back. The river itself is the best part, with bridges and rocky pools and marshy segments making the walk along it endlessly interesting. But it had some competition in a man-made cave. I would have guessed it was a root cellar, except it was a little more complicated than you would really need for that; I understand that it has a mysterious reputation in local lore. In any case we had fun exploring it.

the boys shielding their eyes from the camera flash in a root cellar cave

the only time I'll ever use a flash is in a cave

The whole family came along—a pandemic bonus! Leah enjoyed talking with Kelley, but not as much as Scout and Blue liked playing with our friends' dog. We walked two miles; the three dogs must have covered five or six.

Leah with the dogs on river rocks

getting some training in while we stop to play

The kids got plenty of exercise too: when he has friends to run with, even Lijah can cover some distance without complaining! And I exercised my socialization muscles. A great morning all around.

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why can't I write to people?

You know I have my struggles to write in this blog as much as I'd like to. In the morning my brain is working well but there are many distractions; in the late evening it's quiet but it takes me fifteen minutes to write a sentence. As hard as that is, it's been even harder for me to keep in touch with my friends. Why on earth is that?! Shouldn't I be able to dash off a quick message—"hey, thinking of you... how are things going?" But then I sit down to write and I get stuck. What if they wonder why I haven't talked to them in so long? What if they've got something serious going on, and my tone is too lighthearted? Why haven't they written to me: did I do something wrong? It's maddening. And as bad as that is, for work I'm meant to be writing to the families I work with and my volunteers, and that's ten thousand times harder! I want to write, I really do. I care about all of those people and would love to be in contact with them. So what's my problem?!

All that is to say, if we're friends and I haven't written to you, I really want to and wish I had. I'll try again tomorrow!

our midsummer boy

a present on the picnic table next to french toast

birthday breakfast

Birthday celebrations are tricky in pandemic days, but Harvey had a pretty good one regardless. His birthday this year falls on a Saturday and the Summer Solstice, which seems pretty auspicious for fun, and we made the best of it. The celebrations actually started yesterday after lunch, when my parents came over with ice cream (and cones!) and a present for Harvey. We had a pleasant relaxing time hanging out with them outside in the shade.

Harvey opening a present outside by the hammock

what is it?

Then this morning the birthday proper kicked off with a birthday breakfast of french toast with candles stuck in. After breakfast I frosted the cake (chocolate chocolate) while the boys relaxed—Harvey free for the day from his job of clearing the table. His party was at 11:00 (appropriate for his new age!) and consisted of three hours of screensharing Minecraft with his friends over Zoom. I wouldn't have thought that was fun, but he reports that everyone had a great time.

Harvey playing minecraft over zoom

what the kids do these days

They probably would have gone even longer, but at 2:00 Harvey and his brothers needed to head out to an ice-cream-and-shoe-shopping date with the other set of grandparents before coming back home for the birthday cookout. They didn't really need more ice cream—it was the fourth serving in three days!—but they definitely needed new sandals. It's hot here! Just right to celebrate our midsummer boy.

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to market, to market

We went to the Farmers Market today. It started up last week, but we forgot, so today was our exciting first trip. Of course, things are different than they were last time we were there: there's a fence around the whole thing, separate opening to enter and exit, and a one way path among the widely-spaced stalls. And you can't touch any of the produce before you buy it. Still, we were delighted to be there and to have the chance to buy real food. Most important for me was getting some ground beef: the meat from River Rock Farm is so much better than what we can get at Whole Foods or from the meat delivery box place. The vegetables were less exciting, because almost everything there we already have in great quantities from our own garden. But I still wanted to get some, to support the farmers and the market, so I spent $5 on a pint box of snap peas. I also picked up some plants, which I guess I'll find room for somewhere...

Of course, I've been shopping three or four times over the past couple months; the boys have been away from the temptations of commerce since the beginning of the lockdown and they had money for treats burning a hole in their pockets! (metaphorically speaking: they all asked me to carry their money). Their favorite bakery wasn't there, but they found someone selling homemade cookies and spent $12 between them. Totally worth it. They were good cookies, and part of a good scene. Hooray for farmers markets.

outing again

Last week, as I mentioned the other day, the boys and I took a little outing. It wasn't really much: we needed to drop off some plants at our friends' house, and on the way we stopped at Great Brook Farm for a picnic.

Lijah eating a sandwich by the pond at Great Brook

out and about!

Besides eating lunch in a shady spot by the pond, the boys splashed in the water and caught some tadpoles. Then after 30 or 40 minutes we got back in the car. That was it. In former days, that would have been supremely disappointing as an adventure; or at least not worth mentioning. But over the past few months our standards have slipped! So we were all utterly charmed by the outing.

Harvey and Zion wading in the pond looking for tadpoles

here fishy

It helps that we left baking hot weather at home and found it cool and comfortable at the farm. There were almost no other people around, so we were able to take our masks off (the boys had been wondering how we would manage a picnic while masked!). And the water was full of fish, tadpoles, and frogs. We wondered if they were all feeling pretty relaxed, having seen so few people all spring; certainly they were quite comfortable hanging around by the shore (and the fish at least were hungry for bread crusts).

a big frog on a lily pad (one among many)

doing what frogs do

Nobody caught any fish though—they were much too fast and too jumpy. No frogs either, ditto. But the tadpoles were easy enough, even with only sandwich tupperwares as nets. We could even have brought some home if we wanted to, but we didn't. Because, you know, social distancing.

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Zion's birthday report

As I said the other day, we didn't let social distancing stop us from celebrating Zion's birthday!

Zion blowing out his birthday candles

still festive

We all made him presents; we were going to give them to him at breakfast, but we couldn't wait that long and gift-giving happened first thing. The bunny that Lijah (and Mama) made for him is the softest thing ever, and it was well appreciated.

Zion opening his birthday presents on the couch

it's a bunny!

Then the sun came up properly so we could have breakfast. The kids have the choice of whatever they want for their birthday breakfast, but they always pick pancakes. They're easy to put a candle in.

Zion looking at his birthday pancake in the kitchen's morning light

birthday breakfast light

The birthday party—via Zoom—was right after lunch, which meant that we could share the moment of singing Happy Birthday and blowing out the candles, as pictured above (Harvey is showing the meeting participants the optimal view of the action from the iPad's better camera). The cake was just a yellow cake with buttercream frosting, but it came out great; I think I appreciated the lower pressure environment that came with just baking for my own family. I do that all the time! It does mean we had some leftovers, though.

Zion's birthday cake

simple but delicious

After Zion finished his piece, the kids all played online for an hour and a half or so. They would have gone longer but I cut them off: even on birthdays there are still things to do! But that wasn't the end of our celebrations, because I made sure to make the most birthdayish dinner possible, all to Zion's specifications: hamburgers and hot dogs, potato chips, and lemonade. We were going to do smores for dessert but it started raining. Oh well, more cake was good too.

a hamburger and hot dog on my plate

party food

Happy Birthday Zion!

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prerelease at home

The pandemic has changed many things about our lives, and one thing that has pretty much dropped out has been playing Pokemon. With events cancelled there's no reason to practice, we quickly get bored of playing each other with the same decks (and building decks with physical cards is such a pain we never want to do it unless we have to), and it's hard to play online when we're spending so much time on screens for other reasons. But we still love the game, which is why we were so happy yesterday to be able to organize a prerelease tournament for us and some friends.

Prereleases are semi-competitive events that take place every three months to introduce a new set of cards—or they did, before everything was cancelled. We haven't missed a set since Harvey started playing, so I was glad to be able to pick up a few prerelease kits online. Then we set up some Zoom meetings and some cameras—lots of cameras, since to play over Zoom with full human interaction each player needs two: a face cam and a downward facing one to show the cards. I built some stands to hold the cameras.

Harvey playing Pokemon at the kitchen table against an opponent in another house

how we do it these days

There were only two things to mar the fun of the day. The Archibalds didn't do so well—Harvey, Zion, and I only managed to win one game each (out of three). Oh well, more joy to father and son Bongiovanni who took home second and first place! And the recording of the event that we took through Zoom defaulted to speaker view, which means that the actual action of the games isn't ever visible in the recording. So sad. It would have been so fun to have that video record, which I was planning on cutting into a shorter video to share. I guess we'll just have to remember things in our minds like cave people. Well, our minds, and all these words I just wrote.

Here's hoping that the next time a new set drops we'll be able to play in a real card shop. But if not, I think we've got this virtual tournament thing pretty well figured out!

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Patriots Day in quarantine

We've had some improvisational stay-at-home Patriots Days before, but nothing like yesterday! To be honest, it was hard to even remember that it was Patriots Day, what with the snow yesterday and the general lack of public signs of the festivities. Luckily, I happened to see somewhere that Lexington Public Television was broadcasting a replay of last year's early-morning reenactment, the one that starts at 5:30, plus lots of other content from Patriots Days past. We've actually never seen that particular reenactment, so we made plans to get up early to check it out. Many of us managed it.

Lijah watching the minuteman on a screen in a dark room

it's just like we were there!

Of course, there was some grumbling and some drama—just as if we were really there! Zion didn't wake up in time and was unhappy about that. He blamed me—fairly, I suppose, since when he told me that no, he didn't want to get out of his bed he actually wasn't really awake and I should have kept shaking him. And just like in real life it was very hard to make out what the announcer in the recording was saying, so even though we were in our (relatively) warm house, watching minutemen standing around for a quarter of an hour got a little old for the boys. They did enjoy it when things finally happened. Then immediately following we read Sam the Minuteman so Zion could hear a textual version of what he missed, and we could talk some about the context of the battle. Then the boys played minutemen and redcoats while I prepared our very own home-grown pancake breakfast. The complete Patriots Day experience!

Well, not entirely complete. Lexington TV had a full schedule of events that included a parade and a fife and drum muster, but by mid morning the stream was having all sorts of problems—we were getting just a couple frames per minute, which is not really enough to make out what's happening. But that was fine, because while it was lovely to have a little taste of the holiday, it's not really Patriots Day when you're stuck at home. And we did have some other things to do. Here's to better luck next year!

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our joyful Eastertide

As I mentioned, we had a lovely Easter day Sunday. It was sad not getting to church, but it also meant the morning was a whole lot less stressful. The kids didn't need to get dressed up, and planning for dinner was much easier when I knew I could keep cooking during church! And of course, we also missed having friends over to join in the egg hunt and share dinner. But we're getting used to this social distancing thing, and the boys made the best of it.

the boys sitting on the lawn opening their easter eggs

still fun with just three

To be honest, the part about missing church that bothered them the most was missing out on the spread of donuts and pastries we've come to expect. So since I had some extra time—and wanted to make the day extra special, despite all the restrictions—I made some myself. They came out good.

donuts

just like the real thing!

I got them done just in time to start up the computer for my online Kids Church program. Unlike us, a few of the kids did dress up and I was glad to give them a chance to show off their finery! I showed off my donuts. Harvey and Zion joined me for worship for the first time—we sang Matt Maher's "Christ Is Risen", and they gave it all their energy and volume to make our rendition way better than the original. More punk for sure. When that was done we tuned in to the adult service (as mentioned, as I listened I worked on the scalloped potatoes). The boys were done with church and played Minecraft.

When church finished up we headed outside for the egg hunt. We own a whole grocery bag of plastic eggs, and we put them all out; and knowing the capacity of my offspring I actually hid them all this time. So the hunters were occupied for a good while (and needed a few hints from their parents to stay focused towards the end). We didn't have much candy in the house, but Leah ordered a bunch of little collectible eraser animals and they were a big hit.

Lijah reaching under the elderberry bush to grab an egg

found one!

Then it was time for dinner. After some debate we ended up getting a big ham; it was on sale (the little ones weren't) and besides, we're supposed to be stocking up to reduce the number of trips to the store. The boys were suitably impressed when they came to the table.

a big ham and some other food on the table

do you think it's enough?

We ate maybe a tenth of it; we froze two pounds of the leftovers, and what we kept out gave us four or five meals over the last three days. The donuts didn't last that long.

When we first entered this shelter-in-place season, Easter seemed far away—and it was the day we initially let ourselves we'd be able to see a return to normalcy. Now the end of the quarantine seems farther away than ever, and our social distancing life is starting to feel like a new normal. So it was good to have a beautiful, celebratory, socially distant Easter celebration to show us that things can still be fun and exciting.

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traveling in physical space

This morning I had to head out into the world, to pick up more chicken food at the feed store and do a picture book swap with a friend who lives out that way (we can't wait til our books clear quarantine and we can see what we got!). I wanted to do it in the morning and then be home in time to start the Kids Coop Zoom call at 9:30, and of course I couldn't leave before we did our morning work. Poetry is important! It seemed pretty doable until I got in the car at twenty of nine and realized that traveling in physical space actually takes time. Really! I had kind of forgotten. One of the reasons we got so busy last week—we're dialing it down now—was that, when you're only scheduling virtual gatherings, you can really cram em in. Friends want to play Pokemon online at 10:45? No problem, my work meeting that starts at 10 should be wrapping up right about then! This morning at 9:00 I was just reaching the feed store and had many miles to go before I could get home again. In the event, I made it—with one minute to spare!—but it was sure funny to me how unaccustomed I am now to, you know, actually going places.