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

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.