Happy Birthday, Chase!

Chase is 14. I can’t believe it.

I usually do a birthday experience for the kids but this year that has proven difficult. So I decided to do something he never expected me to do.

Chase has been begging for a gaming computer in his room FOREVER. So I caved. (Parental Disclaimer: He still has all the same parental controls, screen time limits, etc.)

I arranged for him to stay at a friend’s house overnight last weekend so Chloe and I could set it all up (desk, chair, computer, and rearrange the room to accommodate). When he got home the next day I asked him to put his stuff in his room (where Chloe was waiting to capture the big moment on video). He was definitely shocked and very appreciative.

I’m glad I was able to give him his birthday gift early, because now, on his actual birthday, I am awaiting test results to see if I have COVID… so I am quarantined in my room. Lovely.

Chloe helped me set up a carpet picnic outside my bedroom door. I ordered a pizza and my dear friend Celeste Schneider was kind enough to pick up my Nothing Bundt Cakes order (my first year not making a birthday cake… sad moment!) and bring me croissants and Sprite. It may not have been the perfect birthday party but it will surely be memorable. And this weekend he has a virtual gaming birthday party set up where he and his friends will game all night long.

Happy 14th Birthday, Chase M’Face!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This isn’t “Turkey Day” in our house. We make foods we love for Thanksgiving. We tend to pick lasagna every time as the main course. This year I had some helpers in the kitchen!

And then we had our traditional pumpkin cheesecake for dessert… with my parents this year (on FaceTime)!

Chloe put this up on her easel and we all contributed to it:

We have so much to be thankful for!

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.

Happy Birthday, Chloe!

Chloe is 10! I can’t believe it! Of course I had to make her a cake. She requested something with soccer and puppies:

She also requested Buc-ee’s for her birthday meal. Request granted!

We had to get creative with the birthday party this year. We decided to have a party on Zoom with her friends and family. It was a little awkward, but unforgettable! She wanted to have the party in her new room:

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

Chloe’s 10th Birthday “Experience”

Behold! My latest design project! Every year for the kids’ birthdays I give them a birthday “experience” vs. gifts. Well this year it was hard to do a cool experience because, well… it’s hard to experience anything fully these days. So Chloe asked if she could have a bedroom makeover. She helped me paint and then slept in my room until I was done with the rest of the transformation. Voila!

The last time I redecorated it was 5 years ago, when she was five years old (and I couldn’t believe she requested a pink room back then!). When her dad died last fall she brought over a bunch of things from his house and her room just ended up a big “hodge podge” of styles and STUFF. Needless to say it was in need of a makeover so I was more than happy to do it! Before and After:

It was definitely my biggest design challenge to date. Her room is small so space is always an issue. She has wanted a desk for awhile so I had to get creative with that. She also loves STUFF so storage is always an issue as well. She just HAD to keep the fuzzy turquoise blanket from her dad’s house so I had to work everything around that. In the end, I am super proud of how it turned out! She loves it, too, so my heart is very full right now.

The bed solved a lot of the storage issues:

I had to highlight some of her memorabilia from her dad’s house. The drawers on the wall are drawers she brought over from her dresser there, because they used to write notes to each other on them. I filled the shadowbox with special items that held memories for her:

I solved the space issue and the need for a desk with this cool thing, which Chase helped me install:

And the rest was just designed around the things she loves:

Happy Early Birthday to my baby girl!

Happy Birthday to Me!

I had a nice quarantine birthday today! It was all about ordering food: Duck Donuts and Starbucks for breakfast, Urban Picnic for lunch, and Nothing Bundt Cakes for dessert! (Once again, the kids wrote the card.)

My mom and I did our annual “Happy Birthday to Both of Us” FaceTime…. It was a good day. 🙂

My colleagues at work pooled together to get me a Visa gift card and I was soooo excited because I used it to buy myself some headphones! Let me explain.

Since becoming a 100%-of-the-time working mom, there are some parts of my life that are gone. One seemingly small thing I have missed is my TV time. When I had them 50% of the time, or even 75%, I had some weekends/nights to myself to relax. Once I had my kids all the time I realized all my favorite shows were not kid-appropriate. If I did have the energy to watch a show after they went to bed (rare), I had to hold a finger on the mute button just in case something popped up on the screen that I didn’t even need the kids to hear. Know what I’m sayin’? Anyway, a friend of mine gave me the idea of getting bluetooth headphones so I could watch without worrying about what the kids would hear upstairs. This gift card from my coworkers gave me the freedom to sit back and enjoy my shows without worry. Ahhhhhhhh…. It’s a beautiful thing.