Saturday, March 18, 2023

Three Years Later And We're Completely Changed


I'm not sure why it suddenly hit me today, but I realized exactly what was happening at this time three years ago. I have constant reminders of the last three years, but to go back and read journal entries from this week three years ago, got me choked up. 

Three years.

You would almost not know that we had been through a pandemic at this point. Life seems more normal than ever. We've been to restaurants, bars, events, and socialized all this week. We've been glued to the TV watching NCAA games (which were definitely not played three years ago). The only indication that there was a pandemic, I mean, other than inflation, shortages, and high political tensions, is that whenever we get sick, we're automatically tested for Covid. Masks are still kept in easily accessible places, but we haven't needed to use them in any place other than hospitals or urgent cares. Yes, life certainly looks normal at this time. Finally because at times I thought it would never end.

Three years.

Life is back to normal, but we're completely changed. My children and I are closer than I ever thought possible. Even as my oldest is off to high school and my middle child will be a teenager in a matter of months, we're tight. They still don't mind spending time with me (they just tend to prefer spending it watching movies, television shows, and occasionally willing to go out in public with me), they still ask me what our weekend plans are. If they have a question about life or school, they openly ask and share. I know I can thank the pandemic for that closeness, as we spent months with each other and then two and a half years homeschooling, and a full year traveling off and on.

I never do anything I don't want to do and I make sure I have people in my life that only bring me warm fuzzy feelings. I know I can thank the pandemic for that. I'm intentional with my time. I slow down and breathe more because I saw the beauty in it in the early days of the pandemic. When things don't go perfectly as planned, I have no issues pivoting. Sometimes it's disappointing, but I don't feel it as deep as I once did. This week is the perfect example of it. My children were struck with a stomach flu, one of those where they vomit one day, fine for awhile, and then back to feeling sick. We had to cancel our planned travel days and pivot to going to a museum close to us. Back in the day I probably would have cried with my children from the disappointment and have been ticked an illness took us down. Instead, I shrugged my shoulders, ordered an insane amount of take out, and watched March Madness. Nothing tends to surprise me anymore (sadly). I tend to think, "well this is life."

Three years.

It's been two years since I stopped thinking about what we had missed because of a pandemic. It's been two years since I realized all we (and myself) had gained. A better perspective on life, a realization of what was most important. I really haven't thought much about this week three years ago until today. I took time to look at journals, blogs, and pictures from this week (and month) three years ago. Until this point, I had associated this week three years ago with feelings of panic, disappointment, worry, confinement, and sadness. Today was the first time I had a different perspective on three years ago. The pictures showed smiling faces, trying new and different things all of the time because we had time. My children's faces were younger, softer, and honestly, a little bit sweeter than they are today. Because that was three years ago. We lived a lifetime in three years and I don't regret any of it. I never want to live through another pandemic again, but all of those completely normal, negative feelings have been replaced with good memories and sweet feelings that took me by surprise.

I didn't realize how special those days would be one day. I've said many times in my years homeschooling my kids, that the pandemic gave me time. Irreplaceable time with my kids, to explore, to do things we wouldn't otherwise have the time to do. Three years and an endless about of gratitude to have gotten the extra time and to be through that time, back into a normal looking life. I know my story isn't everyone's stories. We have friends and family who are suffering from Long Covid. We know people whose lives were changed in the worse ways because of the pandemic. I know I'm privileged to look back on this week three years ago with positive feelings. Not everyone is or was so lucky. 

Three years.

Porch drop offs were a big part of life, as were puzzles, YouTube exercise videos, and puzzles.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

SB Part 1: Daycare

 Our original spring break plans of heading to New Mexico for the week were canceled when my minis requested to keep daycare open and spend some time with friends. After all, this would be their last spring break with their friends. Luckily, they have a week and a half off for break, so I managed to switch around my days off, take all of their daycare friends, and fit in three days of nonstop fun. Literally, nonstop movement from 6:30 a.m. until bed. 

Day 1 was board games and chatting/catching each other up on their lives. I love the strong bonds these kids share.

Day 2 was crayon making, slime creating, dog walking, and prepping for an early St. Patrick's celebration.

Day 3 was leprechaun craziness! Our leprechauns came back (read their backstory here) and brought friends with them. The kids built leprechaun traps and caught themselves some leprechauns!

Ticket To Ride is one of their favorite board games to play. We've got numerous expansion packs at this point. For Christmas, daycare received the New York expansion pack. The kids liked it because it was a fun, quick play. The big cards came in handy for games of Black Jack. Sorry and Yeti In My Spaghetti were also played.

Legos were brought up and a new TV bought (for March Madness). Everyone was happy.

We got together with family to celebrate my grandma's birthday. While she's no longer with us, she knew how to throw a party so we did just that in her honor. It was wonderful, minus our night ending with a kids throwing up from a migraine. Everyone got grandma back scratches (pictured above) before the night was over. 

We had TONS of broken crayons. I gave the kids permission to peel the wrapper away and break the crayons even smaller. It's been years since I've done this activity. I couldn't remember what molds were microwave safe, so I melted the crayons in (what I knew was a) microwave safe bowl, then poured them in. They hardened quickly. While all of the bolder, darker colors seem to overpower the other colors, when the kids colored with them, the other colors really popped out. The kids called these 'galaxy crayons' because they looked like the galaxy.
I should also note that everyone wanted these crayons made and everyone complained about the wax smell that filled the house. 

Each child got to come into the kitchen to mix a slime. Then they spent the rest of the day playing with their slimes. Each afternoon, I give the bigs electronic time while the littles nap. On this day they opted to put away electronics so they could play with slime instead. Sensory fun for the win again.

While the littles napped and the bigs played with slime, I drank another cup of coffee and got a start on prep for our St. Pat's celebration. I made Lucky Charms cookies and rainbow pancakes. Magically I got both done, put away, and the kitchen cleaned up before naps were finished.

The kittens were not okay with all of the kids in our house! The dog is used to it and LOVED having everyone here. The kittens were irritated because they couldn't peacefully sit in windows without being bothered.

Wednesday March 15 was our St. Patrick's celebration. Those pesky leprechauns left their footprints all over the breezeway trying to get in. Thankfully, those green footprints were cleaned up easily at the end of the day.

Finally one of the leprechauns moved! And he left behind paper confetti because it can be recycled, but he doesn't have good aim. This leprechaun must have heard a kid coming down the hall and gotten messy with the food coloring...errr...I mean,the leprechaun doesn't have good aim. The kids thought the "pee on the seat" was hilarious.

Then we all gathered in the daycare room to make leprechaun traps. Bigs helped littles, some littles just watched, but everyone's trap eventually caught leprechauns that were enroute from Ireland in their adventure for St. Patrick's Day. 

A daycare party isn't complete without extreme craziness. Their objective was to keep the balloons off the ground while kids also threw piles of confetti and streamers in the air. The only way I got the kids to stop was telling them the frozen pizza was ready to eat for lunch!

Then our regular leprechauns, Sammy and Michael, summoned three of their friends: Seamus, Cornelius, and Robby.

A favorite St. Patty's snack: rainbow fruit plates for every child. I used to do a giant rainbow fruit tray, but due to Covid, switched to individual plates. I did the plates again because everyone seems to enjoy not fighting over all of the marshmallows, but as it turns out, the giant fruit tray would have been preferred. 

One last note after the last visit from our leprechauns. It was a fun, albeit exhausting day.