Family Fun

Back to School!

In the most normal of years, the beginning of the school year is akin to crashing a boat into a dock. But it has been a long time since I have seen “normal.”

The 2017-18 school year began with Hurricane Harvey and ended with me going on medical leave.

In the fall of 2018 I began my break from full time teaching and started subbing in two districts. In the spring, I accepted a long term subbing position, which was interrupted when a factory caught on fire. During the fire, I worked at Odyssey, where I was later hired as a behavioral interventionist for the next year.

I began my new position normally enough in the fall of 2019, and Iliana started attending school at Odyssey as well. Then came March 2020, which was anything but normal.

We began last year virtually, then had a week off for a hurricane that turned and missed us at the last minute. By September I was teaching full time again. The year was a weird combination of virtual and in-person teaching, with a two-week intermission when I finally caught the plague. At the end of the school year, I was offered my new position, which means that I began the year as an aide and ended the year as department lead.

And so, welcome to back-to-school 2021!

Last Hurrah: A Bike Riding Trip in Montrose

The last weekend before school started, we decided to get an Air BNB in Montrose. It was an adorable little historic apartment!

We packed our folding bikes and headed downtown, where we easily found the Buffalo Bayou trail.

Downtown had more businesses open, than they did on our spring break visit. However, there were more restrictions due to the Delta variant.

2. The “D” Word

It hadn’t surprised me that downtown was stricter, but then Ili and I decided to visit Armand Bayou nature center, once of our favorite woods-walking venues. It was beautiful…

But it surprised me that they had tight restrictions! Some made sense, like wearing a mask when you walk up to the payment window. But others seemed overly cautious for an outdoor place. It was starting to make me nervous.

Then our state entered into a weird battle over masks in schools. Our governor has banned schools from enacting mask mandates, but a local judge ordered one anyway and it was upheld in a higher court. Which means that the schools, who really have no interest in taking sides on political things like this, are strongly encouraging mask wearing.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. I am fully vaccinated and have had the virus, and I have researched the chances of me catching it again. It is a small enough risk, that I am willing to take it. I am definitely not going to stay home or change how I am living my life in a major way.

And yet, I kind of get the reasoning behind requiring the masks at school. Most of the students can’t get vaccinated yet, and kids are getting sick with the Delta variant. From what I have read, the chances of me being contagious are small, but we don’t know for sure which adults have been vaccinated, who has had the virus, etc. So I got myself a shield with pink glasses and created a rhinestone tiara above it! And Iliana got a new set of sequin masks.

While I understand the reasoning behind the masks, I am glad that school is being held in-person this year. There has been a very significant slide, both academically and emotionally, from the year and a half with no in-person instruction for a number of students. Right now, with what we know, I think the benefits of being in school definitely outweigh the risks. I will be glad when the children have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

3. Two Cute Iliana Stories

This has been a year of growing up for Iliana. We recently went to our storage unit and found a leopard print parka that Iliana enjoyed wearing for years. It doesn’t even come close to fitting her now! I asked Ili if she wanted to donate it, and she hesitantly agreed, although she wanted to take a picture of it first.

The next day, when my grocery delivery arrived, the young lady who brought them, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that had been on clearance. On a hunch, I asked her if she had a little girl. She said yes, she had a 5-year-old. And it turns out that her daughter needed a new winter coat and loves leopard! So Iliana was delighted that her coat went to a good home, and she enjoyed the flowers in her room.

Iliana is loving school this year, and she is taking an extra science class, as well as attending science camp through NASA. She has dutifully studied her chemistry lessons every night, and on Friday her teacher excitedly told me that Ili had gotten 100% on her test! We celebrated with ice cream, of course!

Have a wonderful week, and I hope your fall is starting out well!

About Us, Family Fun

8 (years)

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I’d just stare out my window


Dreaming of what could be
And if I’d end up happy
I would pray

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me

Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here

So I prayed (I would pray)

I could breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I
won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean


Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging around revolving doors
Maybe I don’t know where they’ll take me,

but
Gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I’ll spread my wings
And I’ll learn how to fly
Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Benenate Bridget Louise / Gerrard Matthew R TBreakaway lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Almo Music Corp., Music Of Windswept, G Matt Music, Friends Of Seagulls Music Publishing, Avril Lavigne Publishing Llc.

It was been a wonderful 8 years in Texas, and I look forward to many more!

About Us, Family Fun

July Adventures!

Oh, wow! Where did July go? It has been a busy, fun month for us, with all that we could ever hope for summer to include. As I am getting ready for the back-to-school professional development next week, I thought I would take a break and update y’all on our adventures!

The Fourth (and Our First Time Hosting Since the Plague!)

When we first got married, we lived on a lake. We spent our time hanging out with two other couples, and on the fourth of July, we always invited them over to watch fireworks on the boat with us.

Yes, that is the lake that no longer exists, since the earth dam broke last spring.

The problem is that one couple is not in the picture, which is okay, because they have moved to Texas as well and we took a picture of them this year on the fourth!

We found a good anchorage on the bay and grilled up our dinner. Then this interesting-looking barge anchored disconcertingly close to us…

We realized that they would be shooting the fireworks from that barge. We wanted a front row seat, but we didn’t want to be so close that we had to worry about a hole being burned into to top of our boat! We moved back a little bit, and still got to be right underneath the fireworks.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening!

Summer Camp!

Two days after the fourth, it was time for Iliana and me to take a road trip. Our destination? Camp Blessing Texas!

Ili made a grand entrance, with all the staff cheering for her!

At camp, Ili met Baily, her high school buddy who hung out with her all week, and the two of them went to the cabin to get settled in.

While Ili was away on her adventure, the camp posted daily pictures, so we could follow along!

Days 1 and 2

Days 3 and 4

And then it was time to pick her up! Ili had a great time, and made a lot of friends.

Camp Blessing is located in the same town as Camp for All, so of course we had to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home! This time, Iliana drew a picture to put on their wall.

20 Years!

While Iliana was at camp, Rob and I had our own adventure. You see, 20 years ago, on July 7, 2021, this happened:

I decided to begin our celebration with a cake!

Rob approved…

Since Rob had the next two days off, we left early in the morning for an adventure in San Antonio. We got permission to park at our Air BNB early, so that we could explore the town on bikes. We started with tacos for lunch…

…And had lots of fun exploring the River Walk!

We then enjoyed our stay in a beautiful apartment in a cute neighborhood on the Riverwalk.

The next day we arrived at home in time for a beautiful sunset!

Iliana Stays Busy!

Once we got home, Iliana realized that she loves spending time at the marina, and she has been exploring the water in her new kayak.

She also has been having fun with black-and-white film photography. Stay tuned for some of her prints, once she finishes her roll of film!

And tonight she joined us on a bike ride to the food park in Clear Lake Shores. We ate at Okies, which, hands-down, has the best Shirley Temples in town! (I’ve introduced Ili to the joy of the Shirley T!)

And yes, Rob rode his penny farthing, but you will have to wait for Ili’s prints to see that!

Back to School

Not long after our return from San Antonio, I had my first meeting regarding our return to school. I am one of the special education department leads starting this year, so I will be helping to lead a training starting on Monday, and from there on it’s back to career-woman-mode for me! I will still update y’all on my adventures and thoughts, but it will probably only be once or twice a month. I will also aim to check in with everyone else’s blogs that frequently as well.

I hope everyone has had a fun, “normal” summer!

Family Fun, Health

Vacation Adventures (and One Misadventure)

An Early Start!

On the day that the calendar for Elijah’s Retreat opened, it filled up. I was not able to get us our usual spring break adventure, but I did book a few days for us in June.

Usually, we leave right after Rob gets out of work, make the 3 hour drive, and arrive late in the evening. This time, however, Rob had Thursday, the day we were scheduled to arrive, off of work. We decided to leave Wednesday night and stay at an Air BNB in Conroe, which would put us on the other side of Houston for the drive the next day.

We found the most elegant garage apartment I have ever seen!

Ili, of course, had to do her algebra class in the morning.

Off to Elijah’s!

As soon as algebra was over, we made the drive to Elijah’s. Rob and Ili flew balsa wood airplanes in the field by our cabin.

Iliana test drove a couple bikes.

Dinner was hot dogs over the campfire.

And of course I took a walk down my favorite trail!

Friday morning meant one more algebra class. Ili needed to go to the activity barn for wifi, so she settled in, in the sensory room.

Animal feeding time, of course, was a favorite!

It was, of course, beautiful everyday!

Saturday meant feeding the animals again.

Later on that day, Iliana treated us to her baked s’mores!

It was definitely different visiting this time, with Ili getting older. Iliana noticed that she didn’t get as excited about some of the activities, but she talked to Miss Cheryl, who showed her how to lead the horse and told her she can be a volunteer next time we visit, and help the other kids while they are horseback riding. Ili was excited about that and didn’t want to leave on Sunday.

And the Misadventure

We had a few misadventures during this trip as well. I enjoyed having the time to walk and get lots of steps in, and I did a lot of this walking while exploring the woods. After doing some exploring away from Elijah’s property, I came home and took a shower, only to find a tick on my belly. Disgustingly, ticks love my fatty skin, and they always freak me out. I have a lot of moles, but I always look very carefully for ticks. This one blended in surprisingly well and I almost missed it.

So yuck, but Rob was the hero and removed the gross, black bug. It looked like it had just gotten there, which was a good thing.

Then there were my eyes. On Friday at some point, my left eye got really itchy and red. By Saturday they were both red. I figured it was allergies and bought eye drops. They helped a little, then by the time we got home, my eyes were red and angry. I Googled it and decided they must be sunburned. They cleared after a couple days once I was home, although they stayed light sensitive and itchy.

Then there was the heat exhaustion. I have gotten heat exhaustion every year we have been in Texas, and my sore, sore muscles and inability to regulate my body temperature told me that I had done it again. However, this time was worse, as a day of rest did nothing to help. By Wednesday, after we were home, I was beyond exhausted. Wondering if I was dehydrated, I drank Poweraide, which helped a little. I went to bed early and still woke up tired and sore.

And still the allergies! I had the worst sinus headache.

The last straw was the ringworm. On my left hip was an angry red bump, with the telltale white circle and red circle around it. I bought some cream, and in the morning the outer circle was less red, the bump was brighter and angry, and the outer rash had grown a quarter of an inch larger. I put more ointment on it, because it had to be ringworm, right? Nothing else looks like it. How many other rashes look just like a…target?

Oh crap.

Over on my tummy, the tick bite had swollen up, looking just like the angry red bump in the middle of the “ringworm.” And a red circle was starting to spread around the bite.

After a text conversation with a dial-a-doc, complete with pictures sent, I had a prescription for 20 days’ worth of Doxycycline, which, interestingly enough, is also what our dog is taking for her heartworm treatment. So I will not have heartworms and the dog will not have Lyme disease!

Yes, Lyme can be every bit as scary as the Rona, however it has the wonderful feature of being treatable, especially early on. In fact, we will never know if it is Lyme or STARI, which is spread by the lone star tick and not nearly as dangerous. Whatever it is, it is getting nuked by the antibiotics before we even have time to see what it is!

So today I have had my first two doses, and I actually have the energy to write a blog post for the first time since we got home! I even did the dishes and took out the trash, which also had not happened. The angry bumps are less angry, and the bullseyes are barely there anymore.

I have decided to create a new drink, called “The 2021.” It will be a glass of Corona with a lime in it…

Family Fun

Summertime Fun!

In case you don’t live in Texas, I will tell you that you are looking at an armadillo. Our neighborhood is home to the most adorable armadillo family, and they like to greet us on most of our evening walks.

In addition to our new animal friends, we have more adventures to share with you this month:

Birthday Ceramic Painting

When I was pregnant, I didn’t want to find out the baby’s gender until they were born. My friend Jocelyn, however, had a dream that I had to leave her daughter’s second birthday party because I went into labor and had a baby girl.

I never made it to the birthday party, but our daughters do share a birthday! They have always been good friends, and we decided to take them out to paint ceramics shortly after their birthday.

Our adventures included shopping, and I found yet another pain of blingy jeans!

Iliana decided to end the day by baking some cookies, using the teenager cookbook my mom got her for her birthday.

One Last Ronavax Encounter

Okay, we’re a little done with rona in this house! Iliana got her last dose of Ronavax this month, so none of us have to worry about that virus eating our brain, ever again…

It wasn’t a school day, but she wanted to wear her school uniform anyway. I loved her choice of mask!

Iliana made sure to wear her Pride month visor that she made at camp back in April!

When we got home, we found a lazar tag set from her Uncle Chris and Aunt Kelly!

Shopping Trip and Another New Neighbor!

After meeting the armadillos, our dog, Jasmine, was happy to meet another friend on her walk.

Yes, Rob snuck a picture of me into the series!

Iliana has been formulating her own sense of style, especially in the summer when she does not have to wear her school uniform. She and I decided a trip to the mall was in order!

Ili decided that I could go to Forever 21, since I had been good! I found a peasant cropped top that made her roll her eyes…

Otherwise, Iliana is keeping herself busy with her summer algebra bridge class, which she is taking over Zoom. (Since she is going to be taking algebra for high school credit next year, she has to take this class over the summer). Luckily, she enjoys it!

And of course there is more cooking…

And trips to the dog park!

Alligator Camping!

Sometimes armadillos and turtles aren’t enough. Then it is time to spend a weekend at Brazos Bend State Park. Their mascot is an alligator, and the park map contains a section titled, “Alligator Etiquette.”

My parents joined us, in their new camper!

We had our usual accommodations…

I started my day with my usual celery juice.

And we had lots of adventures!

Iliana met a baby alligator and a snake.

We saw a poster explaining that a Jeep running over an armadillo is a part of the carbon cycle.

Oh, and did I mention that it was gorgeous?

So those were our adventures this past week! This next week will bring us a trip to Elijah’s Retreat, which will definitely be fun, relaxing, and welcome.

I hope you all are having a wonderful summer as well!

Family Fun

Ronavax for Ili, End of the School Year, and 14 Years of Awesomeness!

More Ronavax!

Ili is going to summer camp in July, and we received an email recently that said every camper needed to have either a positive antibody test, proof of vaccination, or a negative Rona test a week before attending camp. We thought it would be great to avoid the hassle of subjecting Ili to a nose test the week before camp, so we decided to take the easy route and do the antibody test. It was April, and all three of us had had the Rona back in March. Easy peasy, right?

Some research online indicated that CVS had antibody testing available, and the nearest place listed was in Friendswood, 20 minutes away. I scheduled an appointment with plenty of time to spare before yoga class that night, and we made the drive. After arriving early and killing time in the dollar store, we checked in, only to be told that the computer system was down so testing was not available that day.

After some online research and calling around, I learned that the CVS next to the school where I work (which is MUCH closer to home than Friendswood) offered testing, had a functioning computer system, and had an appointment available in 20 minutes. With just enough time to make the drive we arrived at the store.

After an uncomfortable finger prick, we filled the nurse in on Ili’s history while we waited for the test results. If you remember, Rob and I tested positive at the end of February. Ili tested negative on February 28, but a few days later she started showing mild symptoms (very low grade fever, muscle aches, fatigue). We called the school nurse, who said that it was our choice whether to get a test, but that a positive test would not change her required quarantine days or return date. We decided not to get a test but just assumed she had the virus. So she snuggled with us and we all chilled together.

Well, it turns out that Ili’s symptoms could have been caused by many things…but definitely not Covid.

The nurse said that there was absolutely no way she had Covid back in March, if her antibody test was negative so soon after. So back to the drawing board.

Luckily, I received an email two weeks ago, that vaccine appointments were available for kids ages 12 and up, and that slots were set aside for students at our school that very afternoon. Ili is usually fine with shots, but during that surprise appointment, it took three nurses to accomplish the mission. Now we’re good until dose #2 on Thursday.

End of the School Year

Well, we made it through the year of craziness! This was an especially emotional end of the year for a lot of the kids.

Iliana kept busy. She shared a poem during her class’s poetry slam, and she danced to “Bang” in the school talent show. Here she is, doing some sun salutations to warm up!

The end of the school year, of course, meant state testing. This year, it has been emphasized that the testing is mostly for our information, so that we can see how much students have fallen behind, due to the pandemic.

Well.

One morning, my boss couldn’t wait to talk to me, because Ili’s scores had come in. She had aced the math test, which was no surprise, because she has never not aced the math test. However, she also aced the reading test! So next year Iliana will be taking algebra and pre-AP English. We are very proud of her!

Iliana Turns 14!

The year Iliana was born, I worked right up to the last day of school, then went to the hospital the next evening (she was born 22 hours later!). So that means that every year, her birthday is always right before or right after the last day of school. This year, it was the day after.

We decorated our apartment for the occasion…

Iliana’s big present was Mario Kart Home edition!

And of course, we had to set the Roomba loose on the track!

Instead of a party, Ili wanted to do a weekend get-away at a hotel with a pool. So I found us a suite in the Energy Corridor. We swam, I went thrift shopping, and our high point was playing the Oregon trail card game!

But then of course this happened….

So happy summer everyone! I hope you are having a fun, dysentery-free Memorial weekend!

Family Fun

Yes, We Are Still Alive!

Happy weekend, everyone!

I know it has been two weeks since we last checked in. The end of the school year is always crazy, and the pandemic has added extra craziness this year.

Oh, and Ili and I went to camp last weekend!

This was our first time returning to camp since the beginning of the pandemic. Things were definitely different, but it was fun to be back!

As always, our adventure began with the bonfire. We had to socially distance, but there were s’mores involved!

Because of Covid, each family had their own cabin. Ili and I chose bunkbeds on opposite sides, and we made the most of our space!

In the morning, we had (socially distanced) energizers, and then we got to meet our group.

And guess which activity Ili and I got to do first…

Thanks to yoga, I scaled the rock wall in record time. My hip range of motion has definitely increased–noticeably!

After the rock wall and zip line, it was time for the giant swing. This was new at Camp Be An Angel, but it had been one of Iliana’s favorite activities at summer camp two years ago.

And, of course, I took a turn as well!

After we recovered, Ili surprised me by knowing how to steer a canoe.

Fishing was next, and Iliana persisted in spite of the bait-stealing turtles. She caught fish after fish, and was the last to leave when it was time for lunch.

Lunch was a time for Ili to draw and relax. Due to social distancing, each family had their own table in the dining hall.

After lunch, it was time for horseback riding! Much to my surprise, I could move my leg the right way to dismount correctly. More yoga magic, I suppose!

Then it was time to see the barnyard animals. Unfortunately, Dali the Llama is now “retired.” (I suspect he is taking selfies in the big farm in the sky.)

After that it was time for some disc golf.

We definitely worked up an appetite by the time we arrived at the dining hall!

Previous years, we have gone swimming Saturday evening, or if the weather was too cold, we would have a dance. This year, they told us to gather in the dining hall to get ready for an activity.

This activity involved having each family carry one glow stick to the “Star Place” on the opposite side of the camp. The staff would be walking around with flash lights, and if they shined one on us, we had to freeze. If we moved or talked, they would take our glow stick and we would have to go back to the dining hall to get a new one. The game was surprisingly a lot of fun! And Ili and I made it on the first try.

Morning brought us breakfast and our picture from the day before. I bought us matching Camp for All shirts (and a coffee mug) from the camp store.

Previously, Sunday was a very low-key day at camp. We would have free time in the morning, with an optional church service, followed by the talent show.

This year, however, the day was filled with even more activities! We began our day with arts and crafts.

Ili and I always went to the “Tree House” during our free time on Sunday, and this year we had just enough time between arts and crafts and the next activity. Feeling too cool for this tradition, my 13-year-old reluctantly indulged my nostalgia.

After that, it was time to visit the reptiles and go on a nature walk/scavenger hunt.

Our walk ended at the archery range! With the smaller groups, Iliana and I both got some individualized help from the staff. By the end of our time there, we were both hitting the target consistently. We felt like Katniss Everdeen!

Ili was not excited when they sang the tear-jerking song at lunch (they have replaced “The World’s Greatest” with an equally tear-jerking song!), but she was happy to stop at Freezy Frenzy on the way home. Clearly, she does not share her mother’s enthusiasm for taking selfies, however.

So that was our adventure! We were both a bit wiped out after the busy weekend, and Iliana developed a fever and aches for a day and had to stay home from school on Monday. However, it was completely worth it.

We are now looking forward to more adventures! Iliana will turn 14 the day after school gets out, and we will need to celebrate. June will bring a camping trip with my parents, as well as a visit to Elijah’s Retreat. In July, Iliana will spend a week at Camp Blessing. And I plan to order my new lipstick for the fourth of July!

P.S. Rob and I finally ate at a restaurant tonight! Like indoors, at a table. It was crowded, with music and craziness. Normalcy approaches…

Family Fun

Ronavax, The Ring, and Happy Easter!

Good morning, folks!

I thought I would share some updates and pictures this week.

Ronavax

Rob and I decided that the vaccination rates would probably go up if they named the vaccine “Ronavax” and had a picture of a dead virus on the bottle.

Ronavax! It kills the rona dead.

So I got my second dose of Ronavax on Tuesday. The fun thing about having actually had the rona, is that they actually know very little about it. I have read that you probably have full immunity after one dose if you have had the virus already. And that you have a stronger reaction to the first dose than most people, because your body goes crazy making antibodies after the first dose.

I got my first dose on day 10, which in the rona world (for those who don’t know) if the first day out of quarantine. I couldn’t tell what symptoms were from the shot and which ones were just from me still feeling crappy from being sick. But I figured that was my big reaction, and shot #2 would be a piece of cake. Right?

Wrong. For me, shot #2 of the Ronavax was worse than having the rona (although much shorter lived). My temperature went crazy over night, just as it did with the rona, although a got a lot hotter. I woke up freezing, with a temperature of 97. My back and legs were on fire, and I knew that going to work was not going to happen. Lots of texts to my boss and my team, and then I headed off to yoga. (Yes, the nice thing about Ronavax is that the side effects are not contagious! I double-checked on CDC’s website, just to be sure).

Yoga, of course, helped with everything. I had some relief from my building brain fog, and I made it through class without any weird muscle twitching or tingling, which was another plus. Just like when I was sick (I did yin on videos then!), yoga bought me a couple of good hours to enjoy the sunny day.

Then I crashed. It was off to bed, but when I woke up, I felt no better. This was a difference from having the actual virus. When I was sick, I could sleep a couple hours, then have a couple of good, somewhat-alert hours before the next crash. This time, I slept all day, until I felt somewhat less crappy in the evening.

The next day the muscle aches were gone, but the twitching and tingling were still there, with a little brain fog. Two more yoga classes finally cured that!

So now I’m back to my normal post-rona self. I get tired a little easier, and if I allow myself to get too stressed, I crash. Otherwise, it is fine, as long as I keep my head on straight! I’ve started eating an anti-inflammatory meal plan, which has absolutely hit the spot. Lots of fish, nuts, and (my favorite!) berries. I’ve got to get myself into shape, because I have a feeling that real 5K’s are going to happen this summer, and I am determined to break 10 minute miles!

My tiara didn’t make it through the race!

The Ring

Back in 1999, Rob and I were 21. He was making $800 a month working at a grocery store, and I was a full time student, substitute teaching a few times a week for $65 a pop. Rob occupied his free time fixing up this 1979 Impala, which was the bane of my existence–mostly because I would much rather go on a date than watch him work on the car…again…

One day, the owner of a used mobile home lot came into the store, eager to rid herself of an engagement ring. Her ex-fiance had bought this ring from a discount store called Best that had since gone out of business. Fortunately, that same day, Rob found a buyer for the Impala. And double fortunately, the price he received for the Impala was also the asking price for the ring!

I didn’t know that he bought the ring, of course. All I knew was that the car was gone, which was already a win for me. And then, at midnight on New Year’s Eve, Rob got down on one knee on the ice over Lake Huron, and the ring set off on its new–and more successful–adventure!

So we bought a mobile home from a used car lot (sadly, not the mobile home lot owned by the previous owner of the ring) for $1000, got it towed to a lake that no longer exists, and began our adventure together!

Fast forward 18 years and 60 pounds, and I found myself needing to have an MRI. All metal jewelry needed to be removed, and my ring was a little…um…stuck. I tried every trick in the book, but my finger just swelled up. Finally, our only option was to cut the ring off. We kept it safe, deciding that we would wait to get it repaired, until I reached my goal weight. Oddly enough, through numerous mess-ups in the medical bureaucracy, I never did have that MRI.

Well, even though I am currently 16 pounds above my goal weight, I am very close to the weight I was at my wedding! My size will not change significantly when I do get back to goal, so we decided it was time to get the ring fixed. The setting for the large diamond needed to be redone, and one of the small diamonds had fallen out and needed to be replaced. But the end result is that it looks better than new, and is quite happy to be back on my finger!

Happy Easter!

I spent a lot of money on Easter 2020. Life was really depressing at that time, we were still in lockdown, and the marina had decided that the bathrooms should only be open from 8:00am-8:00pm. (Because the rona can only spread at night? I don’t know.)

Iliana had 5 Easter baskets, I set up a whole snack spread for the day, and I insisted that we all get dressed up. Of course, it was not the magic I had been hoping for and was kind of depressing.

This year was much lower-key, as Easter usually is for us. And that was just fine. Yesterday, Iliana orchestrated a white elephant auction.

After that, it was time to decorate the eggs. I was much more into it than 13-year-old Iliana!

Following the egg decorating, it was time for the traditional drinking of the blue egg dye. Rob started doing this one year when his mom was still alive, in the hopes of shocking her…It was a rousing success and has been repeated every year since! Here is the picture from last year:

This year, we decided to make a video of the big event.

Of course, the bunny came overnight! There was one Easter basket this year, plus lots of hidden jelly bean eggs.

We concluded our day with a visit to my parents’ house. My mom tried to freak Ili out by eating her Easter grass (Ili did not know it was edible). However, Ili nonchalantly grabbed a handful and ate it herself!

It was a fun visit, and I was able to hug my parents for the first time in over a year!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate!

Family Fun

Days 8-14: Defeating the Nothing

When I wrote last Sunday, I was less symptomatic, Iliana was almost better, and Rob had returned to work.

On Sunday night, I had a very pleasant surprise. On a whim, I stuck my nose in a coffee can…and smelled coffee! It seemed that I was getting my sense of smell back in record time. At first, I had to spend time smelling things in the morning, to “wake it up.” But now I can smell everything pretty consistently, although not as strongly as I used to. I suspect it will continue to improve. Happily, this happened after I disinfected the apartment, so I was spared the overwhelming bleach smell! Rob and Iliana are starting to be able to smell things too, although much more slowly.

On March 9, 1,885 people in the US died of Covid. Also on that day, I was considered to be recovered. I was on day 10 since the onset of my symptoms and I had not had a fever in nearly a week. I was no longer contagious, and other than some lingering brain fog and sinus stuff, I was feeling good. It was time to return to work!

Being out of the apartment made me realize that I still had a lot of brain fog! Luckily, everyone was very accommodating at work. Being back was exhausting, but I loved seeing my students again.

The greatest irony of my situation is that, on the day I became symptomatic, teachers were cleared to get the vaccine in Texas. There was a sign-up for employees of our school, so I chose Friday, which was the latest date available.

Well, on Tuesday, I received notification that my appointment had been moved to that afternoon. I was very upfront about my situation, and they said that since I was on day 10 and had not received an infusion, I was good to go! I got the Pfizer vaccine, and I will be getting the second dose, even though they suspect that people who have had the virus develop full immunity after one dose.

Another fun fact about vaccines: people who have had the virus have crazy side effects after the first dose. On Wednesday, I was useless at work, the brain fog was so bad. I also had crazy muscle aches.

On Wednesday evening, I made it to my first yoga class since being sick. From the beginning of class, I experienced more mental clarity that I had since my symptoms began. The brain fog has stayed away from that evening on. By Friday, I was able to fully resume my duties at work.

During a surge in the pandemic, I had noticed that Air BNB prices downtown were very low. I suspected that the surge would be over by spring break, and it had been a year since we had last gone downtown. Usually we stay in Montrose, but this time we found a room in a high rise, right in the center of everything!

Friday was day 10 for Iliana, so we were safe to enjoy a weekend of normalcy.

We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise!

Our Jeep barely cleared the ceilings in the parking garage where it stayed parked while we rode our bikes around the city.

The high point of our day was a much-overdue ride on the Buffalo Bayou trail.

It was fun to have a day of normalcy, and in the evening, we set out to achieve my post-immunity goal of eating at an indoor restaurant. We rode our bikes around, but did not find anywhere open. Definitely a sad sign of the struggles of the past year.

We were on floor 28 of the building behind the restaurant

I was going to end this post with a reference to The Neverending Story, with the quote, “Falkor, it’s like the Nothing never was!”

But maybe we aren’t there yet.

We live in a world that has been very impacted by Covid. The streets are lined with closed businesses, where people have lost their livelihood. And nearly 2000 families lost loved ones to the virus on the day I recovered from it. There is a lot to heal, a lot to rebuild.

And yet we are moving forward. Spring break has always been a time to go out and do fun activities with Iliana, and we are looking forward to that this week. We have an appointment at the zoo on Monday, and I know we will find more fun outings to fill our week. We wear masks for social reasons, but we are no longer living under the threat of the virus. And I have no doubt that I will have my indoor dining experience by the end of the week!

So maybe we’re not at the part where it is like the Nothing never was. Maybe we are at the part where the Childlike Empress hands Bastien the grain of sand that is all that remains of her once great empire and tells him to make a wish. “As many as you wish. And the more you make, the greater Fantasia will be!”

Almost as if on cue, as soon as I finished writing this post, we saw a bunch of lights slowly making their way down the road outside our window. I closer look revealed that it was Critical Mass, and we could hear their music up on our balcony on the 28th floor. No, their numbers weren’t as insanely huge as they had been on the ride we joined years ago, but they were there, moving forward.

Next month we will join them.