Thursday, December 31, 2020

Have Yourself A Merry COVID Christmas

Christmas came just the same even with COVID swirling about our lives. Blessed to have happy and healthy kids at this moment and hopefully it will stay that way.

I got our Christmas cards out without much ado. Just that the cards were running late from Walgreens and the post office only had two books of Marian Christmas stamps. This year it took two takes of Christmas pics because of one unnamed rebel rouser - it wasn’t Lady C this time but of course she’s the ham of the group.

In years past we ALWAYS take our family Christmas pic in front of the tree at church but... COVID. I found out at noon on 12/23 that one of the preschoolers had an exposure on 12/18 - and we thought we had dodged the bullet. So that put our plans into a tailspin since we ALWAYS go to Grammy and Grandpa Joe’s after church on Christmas Eve. So all that got nixed. Papa took the big girls to church on Christmas Eve and our brave neighbor snapped the family pic before they left. You probably can learn a lot about a family when 1. Taking their picture and 2. When they are rushing to get out the door! J had been a screaming wreck all morning and was in his crib crying moments before the picture which is why he looks a mess but the Smarties he’s got semi- saved the day.

After church, we hung out and had an early dinner of homemade lasagna. It might be my favorite thing Lee cooks. It’s so good. Then we watched The Grinch and it was time for bed.

I said a number of times that I wouldn’t mind if we only put lights on the tree this year. I love sitting in the glow of Christmas lights. I eventually caved to A who was desperate to decorate it on the 26th. In the process I discovered C had thrown out her ornament she made at school - along with everything else in her party bag - and I could have cried.

The Christmas glow 

We are missing a few of sheep...

M’s stocking was backed and was a huge surprise for her! And a motivation for me to get As done - hahaha. I packed the stockings upside down. Candy first and bulky stuff last would have been the better technique but I’ve never had to solo pack stockings before - and hopefully I won’t have to either.

Christmas morning came with lots of excitement but everyone knows we don’t open presents until after breakfast and we try not to wake up siblings so I think everyone was around by 7:30? I did let them into their stockings when they woke up. They know there’s another Christmas PJ pic and of course Lady C steals the show!

After spaghetti squash egg bake - another Christmas only treat - it was gift time.

E thought an iPhone was wrapped up in this box - insert all the laughs - it was a FitBit.

This girl asked for new (specifically not hand me down cleats during the fall soccer season). We were perusing the cleats section online and she found some pretty expensive and very colorful cleats. Then she saw how much they were and decided she needed something not as $$$. So then I was on a mission to find them in budget - which I did on cyber Monday. Well ten days later I got an email saying the cleats didn’t actually exist in kids shoes sizes so my order was canceled. R would be the kids that it happened to. So I not so discreetly found a few of her other top choices. I will say it was the gift I was most excited to give and the one I was most let down about.

Not long after gifts A was ready to go out with his Nerf gun he cannot load because he’s left handed and his new overalls.

We had another quiet afternoon and evening with movies and dinner.

We missed Christmas with the cousins but Jibbe still came over a few days after Christmas for a few more gifts and dinner. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover from all the food food we’ve had over the last week.

J wasn’t into opening presents. Pushing paper around and eating it were his priority.

Lee and I were given some pretty cool new appliances including a new mixer and a four slot toaster and a wine aerator.

The MagnaTiles were given to C but I think everyone has gotten in on the building action.

So it wasn’t like a Christmas we had had or even the COVID Christmas we had planned but we still celebrated and have lots and lots of reasons to be thankful.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

St Nicholas 2020

Two and a half weeks before Christmas, St Nicholas stopped by. The big girls and I were coming home from swim meet number one of the month and church. Papa was supposed to be bringing C and the boys to church but two of them had runny noses so we opted to keep them home.

The advent project for the week was going through toys, desks, space - anything to find for St Nicholas to take. Next year we need to have a bit of ramped up effort I think but St Nicholas came just the same.

This should be the last year St Nicholas visits this chapel. Some time in the nearish future the addition will be started and the chapel will be right next to the garage - strategically placed for daily prayer time and no more traipsing upstairs every morning before school and praying you don’t step on a lego or Barbie shoe! Addition talk is for another time but I can tell you everything is purposeful and utilitarian about the whole thing.

The kid received their Christmas outfits - which I’ll have to get the older girls in on next year because they weren’t fans - all the eye rolls. Everyone got two packs of the same Pringles because Pascha baskets had a variety of flavors and mom had to hear all about that, sugary cereal to share - all crowd pleasers, the big girls received new coats which seeing Es reaction was great because she informed us weeks ago that she wasn’t going to wear her pink and orange coat from last year so she had been wearing a fleece and hoodie to school because it was getting cold and she was standing her ground on the coat. I told her she needed to add a coat to her (not a single toy) Christmas list (sign of the times, I was sad) so when the coat I had in my closet for a few weeks came early she was thrilled.

And of course there were plenty of gold coins to go around because that’s really what St Nicholas brought right? That and a great selfless example. 

Our family celebrates St Nicholas Day much differently than others - some people get their shoes or stockings filled with treats, some people have St Nicholas come on December 25 and leave presents under the tree. I’m not really sure how we got to this point of giving St Nicholas toys and other items to take to give to other kids and in return receiving a small mixed lot of goodies and clothes by everyone’s icon - but I can tell you, I love the tradition for our family and it makes me want to find other ways to celebrate the lives of the saints in our house so we can all be encouraged by their examples.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Masked Swimmers - and other COVID swimming musing

Unmasked for racing of course but we have been blessed to go to two swim meets this month due to serious COVID masking and distancing during the meets.

The first weekend of the month the girls and I trekked out to Greensboro for a Friday night and Saturday morning meet. I wasn’t super thrilled about staying in a hotel but we did. The place was dead so that made me feel a bit better.

It was strange being in Greensboro because we were there nine months to the weekend - the first weekend in March - the last weekend that there wasn’t a care in the world about masking or distancing or anything. 

No spectators. A clerk of course. One timer per lane. All have been implemented at both meets we went to, in attempts to keep COVID at bay and allow kids to still participate in meets. Far from ideal but at this point we will take it.

This past weekend we headed down to Goldsboro. After the Greensboro meet I thought we’d be done for the year but the girls dropped a lot of time and wanted to do it. It worked out with our church schedule and we didn’t have to spend the night so that was that.

M has been hoping/dying to do the 500 free so she could earned the highly coveted swim bag - it’s earned not given. Her coach gave her the green light and she was on it. A seven year old doing 20 laps of free - in a race against 11 and 12 year olds - isn’t a huge deal I guess if they’ve practiced - and of course they swim double or triple that in a practice but it still makes me nervous. M was insane. She did awesome. She only finished a minute or so behind the 10 and 11 year olds in her heat. I wish I had the bag in hand to give it to her right after the race. Very proud of her and only have the above pic to prove it because I don’t know if you’re supposed to take pics on deck : )

Saturday rolled around and it was everyone to the meet except Papa who was on church pierogi fundraiser duty. Taking non swimmers to swim meets has never been the best of ideas but add some COVID action and they cannot come in. So I sent the girls in marked up with their events and wished them fast swimming.

A C and J and I settled into the park in front of the Y. Thank goodness for the novelty of new parks - except it was more like exercise area but we called it the park.

2.5 hours we spent out there with the occasional bathroom break and trot over to the window of the swim meet to catch the girls swim. They all swam in the same heat of 100 free - to which E reminded us she hadn’t swam in months. 

The eight sandwiches I made were all consumed before we left the parking lot. So we headed to CFA for a 30 count nugget and lots of chik fil a sauce. We shot over to Raleigh for church and made it home.

Sunday morning was cold and wet and made me especially appreciative of the nice weather we had with the littles because two hours of sitting around in the van would have been tortuous.

Overall for the two weekends of swim meets the girls took off tons of time and tried new events - R and the 100 fly, M and the 500 free. We are so grateful to have had a swim season at all during COVID. It has been a constant in our lives since June. While the girls practiced over the summer it gave me lots of time with A C and J to explore the parks and pond. Given the situation, I think we have made the best of it. The girls keep motivated (maybe sometimes because they earn screen time for going to practice - earned not given), they get to do something they enjoy and swim with their friends (and maybe chat more than they should when they are doing kick at practice). We are extremely blessed to have coaches who have made this happen for our family and all the RMY swimmers.