Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We definitely got into the spirit this year!

The kids’ dad used to go crazy decorating his yard for the holidays. Chloe wanted me to take all of his decorations after he died, but it was a LOT and let’s just say… not my style. So I told her we could totally decorate outside this year to honor that memory, but on my terms lol. This is our start. I figure we’ll add to it little by little throughout the years. Chloe had a lot of fun shopping for the decorations with me, and we actually made the ghosts ourselves (thanks, Martha Stewart)!

We carved pumpkins in the spirit of our new COVID life:

Last night we did a little Halloween “festival-ing”. We first went to this cool sounding place in Georgetown but when we got there NOBODY was wearing a mask and the kids were the ones to say “never mind” first. They couldn’t believe people weren’t taking the pandemic seriously. (I was so proud!) Chase said it perfectly:

“Think of a mask as a video game upgrade: ‘+50% disease resistance.’” I thought that was a hilarious perspective!

Anyway, we left that place and went to Pioneer Farms, which was lots less crowded and had lots of safety measures in place. It was really low key but we had a lot of fun. Just exploring old houses in the dark with few others around was creepily fabulous.

And then of course we had to dress up! We had a “Stranger Things” costume theme this year. It happened by accident. Chase said he wanted to wear a hazmat suit this year (because COVID). And Chloe wanted to be Eleven from Stranger Things. They wear hazmat suits in Stranger Things so we decided to make it an all-out theme and dress the dogs up as demogorgons (whose costumes Chloe and I made ourselves)!

For reference:

And here’s our take!

Of course I had to join the fun!

Trick-or-Treating looked different this year, but in a fun way! Chloe got to go with one of her best friends she hadn’t seen since we shut down in March, so that was awesome. Now we are quarantining her candy for a few days before she can touch it. (Don’t worry, I bought extra for her to have until then!)

Chase spent the night at a close friend’s house (someone he has lunch with at school every day, anyway). They ran around his neighborhood trick-or-treating and played video games all night.

Happy Halloween!

One Year Ago….

One year ago today my kids’ dad didn’t show up to Chloe’s soccer game. I called his work, asking them to please tell his ex-wife if he had reported to work. He hadn’t. Standing on the back porch so my kids couldn’t hear my concern, I called the police. They called me several times after that initial call to ask questions: “Do you know the garage code?” “Could he have gone out of town?” “Are the dogs friendly?” I tried to keep things as normal as possible so I took Chase to Tae Kwon Do, standing outside the studio clutching my phone, waiting to hear something… trying to keep a smile on my face for every time Chase looked at me through the window. The longer I waited for news the tighter the knot clenched in my stomach. When the police called and asked me to come to his house I knew. I told the kids I was going to check on things, and cried to my mom on the phone the whole way there. I pulled up and saw several official vehicles out front and two officers in the driveway. I got the news very matter-of-factly right there, and ended up in Brian’s dining room with the detective answering questions, knowing he was laying in the bedroom 10 feet away from me. I made it back to the car and called his sister before driving home. I had to tell my kids their dad was gone. How does a person do that? I still feel like I did it wrong (knowing full well there was no right way).

This day one year ago changed our worlds forever. It has been one helluva year… but you know what? We’re good. Nothing can prepare you for something like that, but we’ve moved past the surviving part, and on to the thriving part. What doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger.

The kids chose to honor him tonight by eating at one of his favorite places and watching one of his favorite movies.

P.S. I can’t believe they convinced me to go to a buffet in the middle of a pandemic but I was actually really impressed with all the safety measures they had in place.

Work For It!

My weekly deal with Chase is that when I check his grades at the end of the week his ability to play video games that weekend depends on whether or not he’s passing all his classes and/or missing any work. His grades looked great this week in all of his classes but one. That one class took his games away. He’s been doing OK with the loss, but he and his friends do a weekly “game night with the boys” on Saturday nights and today he bargained with me…. “I’ll do all the chores you want if I can at least do my game night with boys!”
I’m sorry…. Call me weak… but I just had to take advantage of that offer.

First I made him prove he did the work to bring that grade up (the beautiful part of online learning). Then I made him WORK for it (and told him if I heard one complaint the deal was off)! He did dishes, laundry, scooped poop, gathered and took out recycling, vacuumed the entire house including the stairs, hung things up for me outside, cleaned the kitchen, scrubbed his bathtub and my shower (score!!)… all with a “yes, ma’am” attitude.

Totally worth it.

COVID Getaway

I rented a house with a pool for the long weekend to give our little family a mini COVID-safe getaway. We’ve been cooped up for so long, without a vacation, and we just needed it! I made it a total surprise. They knew we were going somewhere but that’s it. The only reason they knew that was because Chloe saw “COVID Getaway” on my calendar. Whoops! They were continuously guessing and I just kept saying, “I don’t know!” It was sooooo fun torturing them!

The morning of the day we left Chase said, “I hope it’s not camping” and I chose to use my acting skills to mess with him. I gasped and said in my best defensive/hurt voice, “Wait! What’s so wrong with camping! Camping is fun!” He immediately stopped and said, “Wait… We are camping? I mean, camping isn’t bad, but…” and I just told him to go away and let me get ready. What worked out so perfectly is that I had bought stuff to make s’mores in the fireplace, so I made sure I packed that stuff on top of the food bag/cooler so it reinforced his suspicions even more. Hee hee! I’m so mean.

Anyway, after Chloe’s soccer game we started driving to Dallas and they watched the time count down on my GPS. When we were about 5 minutes away they got super confused because we were obviously not in some remote camping area. I pulled into the driveway of the house, turned off the car and said, “Come on!” They followed me to the front door and when I entered the code and opened the door they looked at me like I was crazy. That’s when I told them the house was ours for the weekend. They were in shock! It was the best.

The weekend was way too short, but we enjoyed every second of it! We swam….

…watched movies…

…played pool…

…and ping pong…

…and made s’mores!

It was a weekend that proved to be good for the soul. The kids didn’t fight at all! It was amazing….

“Quarantine”

Well, the kids are going to go back to school in-person tomorrow, so I thought I’d recap some of our quarantine experiences.

We built a mask collection (thanks to my mom)!

We did some baking:

…played games:

…got into escape rooms:

…played volleyball (until they shut the court down):

…read books:

…did some art projects:

We invented a new type of Ping Pong called “PE Ping Pong”. The rules:

  1. If the ball is on your side of the table, use whatever means necessary (using the paddle) to get it back over the net (even if you have to hit it 10 times).
  2. If you’re the reason the ball goes off the table, you have to run in place while playing until the other person hits it off the table.
  3. Add some dramatics where possible.
  4. Laugh a lot (though in this particular photo they are in deep concentration mode lol!):

I also learned how to cut Chase’s hair (not very well, but good enough for quarantine). Check out the before & after’s!

We learned how to do everything online, setting up our workspaces and even virtual Tae Kwon Do spaces!

Chloe and I started running again:

We did a lot of “drive-in” and “drive-by” activities: Drive-in movies, Drive-by last day of school, Drive-by birthday parties…

I did some organizing (in addition to my big home projects):

And the kids did what they do best:

It has definitely been (and continues to be) a strange time, but all that time “trapped” in the house together actually came at a great time for us. After the kids’ dad died, life was a whirlwind. This forced us to slow down a bit and just enjoy our time together. Man, I love my little family….

Chase’s First “Little Man” Hair Cut

The kids will be going back to school in-person in a week, so it was finally time for real hair cuts! I looked at Chase and said, “I think we’ve outgrown Cookie Cutters.” He agreed. I made him an appointment at Roosters and he got to experience what it feels like to REALLY get his hair done. His stylist was awesome. She spent time talking with him about what he liked/hated, how to style it, how to properly wash it…. Afterwards I asked him how it was and he LOVED IT. Even asked if we could go somewhere to buy him a comb. My little man! Here are a couple before & after’s (and one “during” lol):

Grass!

My HOA finally got on me for my lawn (well, lack thereof). I’m really glad they did. I mean, I knew it had to be done… but I could think of so many more fun ways to spend $5K!! This kicked me in the butt to just suck it up and do it. I splurged on a sprinkler system, too, so I don’t kill my investment. Chloe helped me clean up the landscaping and put down new mulch. Much better….

Here are some before & after’s:

First Day of (Virtual) School!

The kids started school today, virtually. I went back in July, as is normal… but our district’s students will start school virtually as well.

Here are their “first day of school” pics this year!

And then, just for fun. I decided to do a side-by-side comparison to last year’s first day of school photo. I almost fell over. What happened to my babies?!?

Garage Makeover

I cleaned out and reorganized my garage today. I spent 10 straight hours in there and the process was hot and sweaty and definitely not fun but it’s DONE and it feels AMAZING!! Here are some before and after pics. It isn’t glamorous but for some reason it just makes me feel better about my life! Lol

Here are some before & after’s:

Every time I open the garage door I feel a sense of peace now. Ahhhhhhhh….