Saturday, May 30, 2020

Day 79- May 30, 2020

Day 79- May 30, 2020

The other great event today was that a friend related to that website where people in my town give away things for free, which is fantastic if you can't really afford to spend money right now, and love upcycling something someone else is ready to move on from.  One man's trash and all that.

Today, I was gifted a giant llama painting (it's probably from HomeGoods, or something like that, and Llama Destroys The World" that I found last year, and have read so many times, I have parts of it memorized.  For some reason, I always picture it being read in Phil Harman's voice- I don't know why, just the way he pronounces "a's" seems right for this story.  E. and R. also delight int he story of a llama who eats so much cake, he tears his dancing pants (which make his butt look groovy) and thus causes a rip in the galaxy that swallows up the world.  I didn't say it made sense.
Llama in the front hallway before
he migrated to E's bedroom wall.
the llama is wearing glasses and a bow tie.  It may be my favorite piece of art in the house- I asked for it because E. loves llamas.  Like, LOVES them.  There was a children's story called "

Anyway, this all flashed through my head, and of course, we needed the painting.  It is now hanging on E's wall.  I also gifted out a bunch of books, and am excited to go through what else we would normally put into a garage sale, but for now, would just give away to declutter our place. I also received a sectional couch (which we're going to use to stage my friend's house and then move to our basement family room), and an adorable sign about being home (also to be used for staging, then to live above the doorway in the kitchen).

We are almost done with painting.  It feels like we're almost to the finish line on this house, with the counters coming next week, and the bathroom glazing set for Wednesday and Thursday.  Today I put another coat on the windows in the bathrooms, and finished painting the bathroom cabinet doors.  It's extremely satisfying to see the transformation, and remember where it was just a month ago.

I can't wait to be able to post before and after pictures. Jeff and I have decided this should be one way he markets himself as an agent- as someone who can help a homeowner get the most out of their place by investing a little bit of time, money, and elbow grease. Not quite flipping, but doing the things that will give his clients the best return on investment when you need to sell.  It's a smart decision, and we'll see what the numbers say when all is said and done on this one!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Day 78- May 29, 2020

Day 78- May 29, 2020

I'm starting to lose track of days.  The weekdays are slightly more structured, but the weekend is just a mad mess of chaos.  I'm pretty sure today is Friday- the seventh or eighth one this month by my calculations.

And I caved.  I caved hard.  I signed my children up for membership on Prodigy.  They have been walking around since saying "Why?  Because we're MEM-bers!" and then breaking into fits of giggles.

I hate screens.  I'm not into video games (though I do remember loving Zelda and Goonies II as a child).  I don't want my children to spend a lot of time on the computer, and consciously did not get them iPads or tablets or any of the like.  The only reason they are on ChromeBooks now is because school mandates it.  Sitting in front of a screen makes me jittery and uncomfortable after a while, and I'm thrilled that normally during the day, I get to step away from the screen most of the time to focus on tangible library tasks, like sorting books and helping teachers.

So for me to cave and buy my children a subscription to an online video game is huge, and it should tell you the amount of begging I've been privy to over the last several months of quarantine.

Prodigy is a math game that their school uses, for free, but there are sections of it that are only accessible to members, and bonuses (being able to "buy' certain pets with coins they earn, buying houses, etc.).  A few of their friends have the paid memberships, but I was wary, because I try to avoid excessive screen time.  That said- they are doing their math for school on the computer, so as long as I'm limiting the time on the game to under half an hour, I feel like at least they are learning something.  It's a slippery slope, but I agreed to this for one month, so we'll see where we are when it's time to renew.

But video games will not take over, and I made sure the girls had plenty of time in the (pollen filled) outside air.  I've taken to wearing these masks not just because of social distancing, but because they help me keep at least a little barrier between me and mother nature, who hates me right now.  While I was doing my best to stay inside at Sammy's house, painting bathroom trim with primer, I could see the girls in the yard, where they had taken cones E. brought to practice soccer with, filling them with water, then spiraling them in the air above their heads so that the water flew everywhere, like a makeshift sprinkler.  They thought this was the greatest thing in the world, and since it was 83 degrees out, I thought it was a solid playtime option

Using the group on Facebook that has people give away items they no longer want, I was able to snag a bistro height table and two awesome bar stools to go with it.  These will eventually end up in our basement bar area (Jeff built a bar over the winter), but right now, they are going into Sammy's kitchen (as an eat in area) or in the house's basement family room, as a game table.  We're not sure which yet, but at least we have some nice furniture!

We ended the day with E's soccer practice.  It was a struggle to get my phone to stand up (we were still at Sammy's house with no wifi, so the phone was the only option for Zoom), but she was happy to get in a bunch of touches against the wall.  I'm really proud (as a parent and coach) at how her skills have progressed.  I know I wasn't nearly this technically sound at her age- heck, I didn't even start playing organized soccer until third grade, and she's only in second.  Her trainer mentioned that there's a chance we may get to have the kids be outside (and distanced appropriately) by sometime next month.  We're waiting for word from the governor, but there's hope!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Day 77- May 28, 2020

Day 77- May 28, 2020

Yesterday, I had answered an inquiry in a Facebook group for local parents about books.  A woman was looking to buy some for her daughters, and I offered to give her a bunch that we had cleaned out from E's closet.  When she arrived, we spent some time chatting through the door about the books, and she asked if she could pay me.  I, of course, said  "don't worry about it!" and then jokingly added "But if you know anyone looking to move, my husband is a real estate agent!"

Her eyes went wide, and she said she and her family were actually in the market to buy.  I gave her
Giving away free books
Jeff's card along with a Fancy Nancy book, and she and I sent some Facebook messages back and forth (and Jeff sent her a few listings).  Regardless of whether she ends up using him, it was nice to feel an instant connection to another mom (she and I were talking about our love of old houses), and I'm really happy I was able to help her with the books.

This morning, I got a message from her about a website for free items in our town.  Basically, someone posts what they have that they want to give away, and people can respond if they are interested.  It's a fantastic way to keep things out of landfills, and when you need to stage a house cheaply, it's a great resource.  I also feel good about it, because when we're done with the staging, I can either give the stuff to someone else, or use it for my family!

I also got to talk to Maggie, a colleague of mine, on the phone.  She and I often chat in the library on her way to teach ESL, or when she needs something for her students.  We've collaborated on a grant that we found out we will be receiving, and she and I spent some quality time today going over the logistics of it, and what we want to do with the money.  We're excited to put in a front entrance over by the faculty and student parking lot.  Right now, there's a sidewalk, but most teachers take the shortcut across what used to be grass and now (depending on the time of year/weather) is either a mud puddle, icy slipping hazard, or dusty dirt. We want to plant native plants, install a cute bench, maybe an arbor, and solar lighting. We also trailed off and spent a bit of time talking real estate (I've always loved this topic, and we were discussing families, so Jeff's current status getting Sammy's house ready for sale was part of it).  She's considering getting her Real Estate license so she can practice over the summer, and part time during the school year (our school gets out at 2:19, so there's plenty of time to show houses after that!).

My phone rang a little after our conversation, and it was one of my oldest and best friends, Heather.  We've driven across the country together (she drove with me when I moved to Los Angeles at 25), and she was calling because she was "going to Bj's for my every few weeks shop, and it's the only 'me' time I get."  She has two kids, a five year old daughter and an almost-three-year-old son, so right now, with she and her husband working from home, this was literally the only quiet time to herself she can get.  It was just nice to hear her voice, and feel (for a moment) normal.  I need more of that in my life right now- we all do.  With the orders coming day by day now, and restrictions seeming to lesson, there's hope that we will be with our friends and family in person soon.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Day 76- May 27, 2020

Day 76- May 27, 2020

Today was a lot of school work, and some good stuff. First, I figured out how to get my daughters to do their math homework.  Two words: face paint.  I have some that is left over from R's birthday party last year, when I turned her and her friends into "mermaids" using my artistic skills.  I was able to get E. to watch the math videos from Pearson on quadrilaterals while I turned her into Ahsoka from Star Wars, and R. asked for her face to look "like the galaxy" (picture to the right).

After the face painting, I ran to the girls' elementary school to pick up their school stuff.  It was quite the sight, seeing plastic garbage bags, each with a child's name written on a piece of masking tape affixed them.  This was the fun time of year, when the kids would be celebrating field day, end of year concerts, and graduations, and instead, they are relegated to flimsy blue plastic on asphalt (2020).  When I got there, there was no one else around, so it didn't even have the feel of a normal pick up, where I'd see other parents and chat.  I didn't realize how much I missed that until I got there and was by myself, with just the wind and the pollen to keep me company.  It's the little things.

My principal put out an email the other day to our staff, asking if anyone knew someone "famous" that could record a short shout out to our high school seniors, who were going to have a virtual graduation in light of everything going on in the world.  The only true connection I have is to a ridiculously talented young woman whose father, Jim, was a very good friend of my late dad's.  When I was young, I would watch those two men play basketball at a local middle school, and knew Jim's daughter, who was paralyzed in a car accident when she was two.  I remember my dad weeping when he told us (I was pretty young at the time), but I had an uncle in a wheelchair, who was a talented writer and one of the best people I could think of, so I knew she would be okay.

Well, Ali won a Tony last year, the first performer in a wheelchair to ever accomplish such a feat, and her dad Jim creates daily videos that are unbelievably positive and inspiring (no wonder this girl reached the stars).  I reached out to Jim via Facebook yesterday, and today, we chatted on the phone.  Of course, the governor announced yesterday that in July, there can be in person, socially distanced graduations, so he wanted to know if I still wanted Ali to do a shout out, and I said I'd love it, because even if it's not a virtual graduation, they can either play it at the graduation, or send it to the students as a virtual note of support.  He said she'd probably want to send a full on message, something behind just a "Congratulations!" because, well, that's what this family does.  They are loving and kind, and always looking to give to those around them.

I put out a few things on Facebook this week- one was contacting Jim, but then I also asked if anyone had curtains or curtain rods that we could use for staging, or if anyone was selling a stainless steel fridge (we need to replace the one in Sammy's house).  Remarkably, my friend Erin was willing to give away her old fridge, which is in her garage.

We met years ago, when R. and her daughter B. were taking Irish Dancing lessons.  I didn't get to know a lot of the parents, because I was constantly running back and forth with E.  But I also saw her a lot when I was working in the public library's children's department.  I loved that job, because in addition to being surrounded by books, I also got to converse with other parents, and E. was in there a lot with B, and with her son.

One day, we started talking about becoming a librarian, and she said she'd thought about it a number of times, but hadn't really dome much about it.  I told her I was going to school to get my school endorsement for it (so I could be a school library media specialist), and that she should really consider it, because it can be a great gig.

Fast forward a while, and I'd stopped working at the public library because I had been hired full time as an elementary school librarian, but I was still a frequent visitor there, because otherwise, I'd spend all my earnings on books for my kids.   I was just walking iup the steps when I saw Erin and her kids, and we started talking.  I told her I'd started working at an elementary school, and how happy it made me, and that if she wanted to look into the program, I could tell her all about it.  Our kids started getting whiny, so we agreed to discuss via Facebook.

Well, she's now enrolled in the program, and actually came to observe me right before the pandemic hit for one of her classes.  I'm so proud of her for following this path- it's not easy making a career shift when you are a mom of two in your 40's, but it's worth it if it makes you happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Day 75- May 26, 2020

Day 75- May 26, 2020

Today was a painting day!  The girls stayed at our house (more on that in a minute) with their Grammy and Aunt Marian watched them from a socially-appropriate distance in the back yard.  I ran over to the house to meet Jeff, and tackle the kitchen.  With the bathroom being glazed next week (it will look brand new and shiny white if the company's before and after pictures are accurate), this is the final hurdle before Jeff can list the home for sale.  It's been a long journey, but I'm happy we were able to help out a friend.  She wrote a sweet note to us that I received this morning, and made my day.

The kitchen is going to be the same light grey that runs through most of the house, with white trim and white cabinets.  Jeff's working on the doors and the box frames, and I was in charge of walls.  While I was standing on the ladder handling a rather high section of the wall, my phone of course rank, and I answered even though I didn't recognize the number.  It was the head of the town library where I work, and the director was calling to talk to me about getting my students virtual library cards (I'd emailed him last week), so that they can take out ebooks and audiobooks over the summer.  If you aren't in education, this probably doesn't mean much, but for those of us working in the trenches right now, having access for all my students to so many additional options would be incredible.

When I got home (after dropping off the payment for the real estate sign permit for the house- this
means as soon as we hit the market, Jeff can post the sign out front), I found my children had decorated each other in mud.  Yes, mud.  They had created a small hole next to their splash pad, pulling up some grass until they hit (literally) pay dirt.  They then used it as warrior paint, and had created their own designs, phrases, and unique make up.  They were happy, and in the warm afternoon, had found something non-electonic to occupy themselves with, which makes me happy.

I was also pleased to see our chicken wire fence, which we had struggled to put in between the picket fence and the bushes surrounding the garden, seemed to be keeping the small critters at bay.  No matter how many cute names E. gives them (Oreo, Bun-Bun, and Woody, among others), they still consume our beans and plants, and I'd like to have some of the veggies saved for us to eat.

The big news of the day was that the governor has opened up outdoor, in person graduations (with appropriate social distancing, of course).  This was met with a lot of cheers on social media, and I hope they can pull it off safely.  There's a lot to take into consideration, especially with larger classes (my school will have over 350 seniors).  Do parents attend, so two guests (which is what I've seen for indoor graduations in the past)?  But what if there's an extended family, where the parents are divorced and remarried?  What if you have young siblings and no childcare?  There are a lot of logistics to be worked out, but it's a step in the right direction towards reopening, and hopefully seeing the experts getting a handle on this disease.  We can all hope.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Day 74- May 25, 2020

Day 74- May 25, 2020

It's Memorial Day. We had two drive by birthday parades, one for one of E's soccer teammates, and the other for R's friend.  I love the drive bys because they mean (appropriately socially distanced) interaction with friends.  Granted, these are short bursts, but seeing other people in person is kind of a big deal right now.

On the way home from one of them, we drove past the girls' friend L.'s house, and decided to stop because she and her dad were just arriving home from the same drive by birthday parade.  These are our best friends, and they live around the corner- but we haven't been able to hang out, or even really see them, in the last 74 days or so.  Thought there was one day (day 37 if you're keeping track)where, despite a steady drizzle, L's mom Heather and I stood in my driveway talking for so long, her husband texted me to make sure she was alright.  We had apparently been chatting for an hour when all she was supposed to be doing was picking up a helium balloon tank and balloons for her oldest son's birthday.  Instead, we were discussing her blog,, me writing this blog, and of course, all things about our kids, who are our world.

Normally at this time of year, Heather, and I would be walking to and from each other's houses with our broods of children, hanging out on her front porch stoop (or our friend Jamie's, who lives a couple of doors down from her), while our kids run about like little feral creatures, spraying each other with hoses, chasing each other with foam light sabers, and generally becoming the dirty, sweaty children they are supposed to be on the cusp of summer.

My Timehop app on Facebook keeps showing me photos of our children, a nostalgic (but mildly cruel) reminder of what this time of year is supposed to be.  The pictures start about five years ago, and all of our children still had their baby fat, roly-poly arms, and chubby little legs that tottered sometimes as they learned how to properly run.  I met both Jamie and Heather when we were in the process of purchasing our house.  Jeff and I had both worked for years for a caterer named Dawn that lived on their street, and on one of our walks to get to know the neighborhood, we happened upon Dawn, and Jamie and Heather's families.  Dawn has known me since I was a child (her in-laws were best friends with my Granny), and Jeff and I spent much of our early 20's waitressing and bartending for her company.  She immediately came over and gave us big hugs, while small children ran around with ours, their mops of unruly hair flopping in the late spring breeze.  She then introduced us around, and we realized that my daughters are the same ages as Jamie's sons M. and R., and Heather's son A. was a couple of months older than R. and her daughter L, was a few months older than E.  Heather also had an older son who was a year older than R.

They were all instantly kind and welcoming, and I remember thinking "I hope they like us" (making friends as a grown up is hard!).  Jeff and I spent the better part of the walk back to our car reviewing names (and failing a decent amount).  The girls weren't much help, because at four and two, they just cared that there were other small beings with grins that took up half their faces, and their names didn't even register.

Over the last half decade, we've all developed a tight bond, working on block parties together, covering for each other (we watched Heather's kids when she went into false labor a few times with her fourth child a couple of years ago and Jamie has saved me a couple of times, letting me drop off the girls while I ran an errand or two), and sharing supervision duties at the Country Club.

I should mention the Country Club is actually Jamie's front yard.  Her oldest son is nonverbal autistic, something she told us the first day we met.  He's loving and kind, always ready with a big hug and bigger smile- and he's a flight risk.  A lot of her time that first day was spent making sure M. didn't run into the street (we all became pretty good at corralling him, as did the other kids, who also include him in everything they do).

A few months after we met, Jamie had a white picket fence installed in one of the kindest gestures I've ever been privy to.  One of M's specialists had heard Jamie mention, in passing, that M. sometimes took off towards the street, and how she hoped one day she and her husband (a firefighter) would be able to afford to put a fence in to keep him and his younger brother safe.  That woman then went to her church, and through collections from her parish, was able to fully fund a fence surrounding Jamie and Rich's front AND back yards.  There are even magnetic locks (which we also have on our fence) to make sure M. doesn't try to get out.

We all still keep an eye on M, but with the visible border, he doesn't even try to get to the street
County Club circa 2016
anymore. Because the kids always wanted to include M. and Jamie was the only one with a fence, her yard became our default hang out spot, with the parents on the front steps or in lawn chairs, and a communal toy pile that grows and switches up periodically as neighborhood kids (there are 13 in a span of five houses) leave their action figures or Nerf toys and pick up something new.  A few years back, we dubbed it our "Country Club" as we were joking and beer and wine coolers were being passed around.  The name stuck.  It's a perfect spot for relaxing, and has the old-school feel of kids coming and going across the lawns that was common when I was growing up.  This is my tribe and my village, and more often than not, it was the waning sun that made us realize we should head home to make dinner, because we were all simply having so much fun.

I miss our Country Club more than I miss almost anything else since the pandemic started.  Jamie and Rich have to be careful, because he's a firefighter and exposed to other people (in the firehouse and on calls) more than most.  He was actually self-quarantined in their bedroom for several days after one of the units he was working with at the fire house went on a call to a Covid-19 patient's home.  Luckily, he tested negative, but between getting the call that he may have been exposed to when the test results came back, Jamie was in full-on beast parent mode, handling both boys expertly while still ensuring that she left food for Rich at their bedroom door. 

Heather's husband just started going into work one day a week after about two months of working from home.  They caved when all their kids' activities for summer got canceled and purchased a backyard pool that is rather impressive.  Today, when we stopped to see L., the girls went into the yard with me and gaped, so excited that when this is over, we will all be able to head there to swim.  It was a harsh reminder of how much our kids are missing out on simply being in each other's presence.  The laughter, the feeling of belonging, the sheer joy- that's what is lacking right now.

Things are starting to open back up though- people can gather in groups of 25 outside, and I'm thinking playdates (socially distanced outdoor ones) may just be the next step for us.  I can't wait for the Country Club to reopen...

Day 73- May 24, 2020

Day 73- May 24, 2020

I woke up this morning, looked at my phone, and practically flew out of the bed.  It was 9:55, and one of R's good friends from school is moving back to Japan, and there was a drive-by parade for her at 10.  Thankfully, it was around the corner, but I still had to get my contact lenses in, grab Riley (shoes were not to be), and since I didn't see my keys right away, jump into Jeff's pick up truck and drive the half mile to the line up of cars.  Fortunately, there was a l-o-n-g line, and we pulled off arriving at exactly 9:59, one minute to spare.  Jeff's truck has a sun roof, so I allowed R. to carefully stand up and stick her head out as we turned the corner by her friend's house.  I know this is likely the last time we're going to see her- this move to Japan is permanent, and her living here was a temporary thing.  I'm hoping the girls can stay connected through Facebook Messenger for Kids, but I know that's not the same as in-person time, and it's sad to see her go.

My mom is officially putting her house on the market.  It's been bittersweet, knowing that we have been helping her prep for this, but also coming to terms with my childhood home being sold.  Many of my best memories are in that house- my first kiss with my husband was on the front porch, right after he asked me to be his girlfriend.  My parents brought home two different puppies to that house, Greta and Allison, and my sister and I staged more skits, shenanigans and half-brained ideas than most children could even dream about.  My best friend lived next door, and our dads created a path from my yard to hers through the woods that we spent every free moment in.  We hosted epic Memorial Day parties in our 20's (responsibly- we always informed the neighbors, checked ID's and made sure no one drove drunk).  There were bands who played on the back deck, friends I snuck into the house at all hours, and my sweet sixteen that transformed the garage into a twinkle-lit fantasyland.

The living room- home to countless Christmas mornings
And now, it's just too much house for my mom to handle.  I can't afford to buy it from her, so we are in the final weeks of prep before it hits the market.  A friend of mine, who lives down the street, mentioned on Facebook that she was looking for a new home, and I sent her a description of mom's.  She's driven by a million times (she literally lives a block away, and once helped save my mom's dog by stopping before she could reach the busy intersection a few doors down),  and I offered to let her through today if she wanted (wearing all the precautions necessary, like gloves and a mask).  Our daughters are on the same soccer team, and we were able to organize an impromptu playdate while I showed her around.
The back porch, site of several late-night
gatherings with my friends
It's interesting to see your home through someone else's eyes.  It made me proud that she loved the house so much (she's trying to figure out if they can swing the asking price), and it was fun to tell the stories behind some of the rooms, like the time my sister and I tried to create a hole between our bedroom closets in order to create one big closet.  Little did we know that plaster was not easy to remove.  Somewhere around age 37, I got a rather testy call from my mother, where she began the conversation with "What were you and Nicole thinking when you made this hole in the wall?!".  I'm rather happy it took her a solid 25+ years to figure out the hole was even there.

After she left, I went around the house, taking some preliminary photos and creating video tours of the rooms, in case we want to go in that direction.  We'll likely get a professional, but I was curious what I could put together, just in case.

The girls and I also stopped by the house Jeff is working on, and I put the finishing touches on the ceiling in the master bedroom while he began cleaning the cabinets and sanding them down (the first steps for painting them).  The girls were allowed inside the home for the first time, since the carpeting is totally done and the paint is finally dry.  They took off their shoes, and rolled around, exclaiming "it's soooo soft!".  The lawn was also mowed this week, and so when they tired of the carpet, they were able to run around outside and play soccer.

In looking at the comps, I think she's going to do very well on this sale (way better than we initially thought), and that makes me really happy for her.  Jeff and I have also been planning how to make the best usage of this time for his growing business.  Real estate is largely based upon referrals and word of mouth, but we're thinking we can also advertise him as someone who can help get the most bang for your buck for people looking to sell homes that need a little bit of work.  He can help with the labor (or has an arsenal of contractors and subcontractors that we trust) and can make some small tweaks go a long way towards increasing the sales price of the house.  He's also worked with a few people from out of town, going out of his way to make videos of walking through homes, creating detailed notes about towns and their offerings to send (along with internet links, descriptions, and photos).  In one case, he actually had me come with him to do a Skype call, so he could walk around showing features in a house, and then walking through town, while I held the camera.  I don't know too many people who would do that in freezing temperatures.  He's really good at what he does, and I'm really proud of him for finding a profession that suites his personality and means he's helping others.  There's nothing quite like helping someone find a home.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Day 72- May 23, 2020

Day 72- May 23, 2020

Today, Memorial Day weekend began with my signing into unemployment with my husband,  as we were unable to certify for benefits on his normal day.  Luckily, this time things went smoothly, and the funds will be deposited "in one to two business days."  Phew- one less thing to worry about.

When I was a child, unemployment wasn't something I was aware of, and Memorial Day Weekend instead was all about soccer.  Yes, I had learned in school about the heroics of our armed forces.  My grandfather was a two-time purple heart recipient, who had lost a number of men in his 7th Infantry at the Battle of Kwajalein. But I was too young to understand the tremendous sacrifice our armed forces had put in, and I focused instead on the here and now- which meant our Torpedoes Soccer teams playing in The Virginian Soccer Tournament. 

The Virginian was held in and around Alexandria Virginia, and was a hotbed for quality football.  As my parents became more experienced with the trip, this meant leaving around lunchtime on Friday, and jumping in a car stuffed with shin guards, socks, uniforms and more.  My sister and I would share snacks, sing along with the radio, and generally either get along beautifully, or annoy the bejeezus out of each other. 

"Virginia" (the shorthand known by every Torpedo) was an all-weekend tournament that encompassed every team, both genders, and all ages, of the Torpedoes Soccer Club.  I joined Torpedoes in 1989, and my first Virginia was in 1990.  For the next eight years, I would complete the roughly 500 mile round trip journey with my family, weaving our way through Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and finally, over the Potomac to Alexandria, Virginia.

The ride was part of the fun.  This was pre-cell phone, so we kept entertained by observing license plates, telling stories, and scanning the cars around us for familiar faces.  When you have roughly 20 teams, of about 20 kids each, you've got 400 potential Torpedo families (at least) sharing the road.  Discovering a "TORPEDOES" bumper sticker, with its red block lettering and white background, was cause for giddy shrieking, and stealthy craning of necks to see if we could recognize any of the occupants.  On occasion, we were rewarded with a familiar face, a honk, and a wave across back seats loaded with enough snack food to feed an emerging nation.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the open center of the triangularly-shaped building.  Little sisters and brothers  were racing through, climbing through ferns and other greenery that created an artificial oasis in the sunlight drenched space.  You could look up and see all eight floors, the white railings like perfect little fences on each level.  Elevator tag was popular in our younger years, as was prank calling our coach.  Maturing into our teens, we took to hollering down from the upper floors at each other, at boys, making plans for our evenings off.   

I remember in 1994, the Rangers played the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.  I wasn't much of a hockey nut, but the energy was palpable, and I swear, the entire place shook with each goal, and roars erupted as people flooded out of their rooms to cheer and trash talk between periods.  

There was the year our coach’s buddy, a Men’s National Team player who happened to live in DC, met all the parents out for a drink- while my teammates and I headed on a rare “unchaperoned” trip  through the old town center to our destination, a dark theatre to huddle together in, and watch "While You Were Sleeping" (we were rebels, to be sure).  

There was soccer, too.  Oh, there was soccer.  Virginia was the measuring stick, the hallowed end-of-season, post-State Cup tournament- though in my teens, as my team began winning state titles, we qualified for the more prestigious, invitation only Columbia Maryland Tournament- while continuing to stay at the same Embassy Suites in Alexandria, because tradition.

Most years, it was blisteringly hot.  We would sit and sing silly songs, like “Boom Chica Boom” and work out extensive hand-slapping games, coupled with cheers only pre-teen girls could create. Wanna Buy A Duck was a favorite "Wanna buy a duck?" A simply game, the conversation would go as follows:
Wanna buy a duck?
A what?
A duck.
How much does it cost?
50 cents.
Does it quack?
Of course it quacks.
(Turns to the next girl)
Wanna buy a duck?

This could go on for wayyyy too long until an annoyed coach or adult intervened.

Temperatures were mostly in the upper 80-90 region, causing profuse sweating, lobster inspired burns, and shinguard tans that were like war wounds to be lauded and admired.  I scooped ice cubes out of my mini cooler, where they had been cooling my water bottle and Gatorade, and smuggled them into my shin guards, socks, knee braces, and even bra (in older years) to try to lower my body temperature- a futile task in the incessant sun.  Extra water was carried in giant jugs by our fathers, and we would dip cups in it, not to drink, but to pour over our heads.  One year, gel filled "cooling snakes" were popular, and slithered around our necks at half time, becoming instantly warm against our skin despite their promised "chilling" properties.  

The games came in quick succession- inevitably something in the early morning that preempted enjoying the extensive complimentary buffet set out by the hotel staff.  The consolation, if you didn't make it to Monday's championship match, was the ability to indulge in the overflow of bacon, french toast, and pancakes that poured out of the silver serving trays.

1990-something (I'm the one who just kicked the ball
over the keeper's head- one of my favorite goals.
Over the course of the weekend, a jersey or socks became "lucky", and without in-room washer/dryers, we were reduced to completing covert washings at some point on Saturday evening, rubbing the tiny, sweet-smelling hotel soap into our uniforms to lessen the stench of grass, dirt, and sweat.  That same soap was then further defiled as it got personal with our shin guards, which were hung over the shower rod by their velcro strips to dry to an acceptable level of damp in time for the morning game.  

Games were played at places named "Fort Something-Or-Other", and cannons were fired in honor of fallen soldiers in the middle of championship matches.  There was a year that our game was delayed by thunder, lightning, and finally, cannons, before we completed an epic comeback, and won, 5-4.  

When I think back to those weekends, what sticks with me the most are the memories of my teammates. These women now have their own children in a lot of cases, or are favorite aunties of the next generation of little footballers. Crank calling our coach at age 11-or-so, racing up and down the floors in the elevators, squishing into booths with as many of us as we could manage during dinner time- the laughter is what I remember the most. I miss those girls and those days of adrenaline rushes on the field. I'm grateful that my own daughter will start heading to her own tournament for Memorial Day next year. The club no longer travels to Virginia- instead, it's down to central Jersey, so a much shorter commute. It won't be the same without the hours stuffed in a car and the wide open spaces of the Embassy Suites, but the team camaraderie will hopefully be similar, and she'll begin developing her own treasure trove of memories. And someday, shell be asking her own kids "Wanna buy a duck?"

Friday, May 22, 2020

Day 71- May 22, 2020

Day 71- May 22, 2020

When you have been sheltering in place for over 70 days, unusual twists to daily routine can be fun.  Today's was a power outage.

That isn't always fun.  Food can spoil (and since we got a delivery this morning, that would be bad), but the outage was only for about two hours and we didn't need to open the fridge.  It started around 6, right as I began making dinner and the girls were getting out of their showers (I realized it had been several days since their last ones, and their hair was becoming more than a little greasy.  R. had also asked earlier if I could cut her hair after her shower- she wanted a "summer do"- so that was a bit of incentive for them to get cleaned.

Fortunately on the dinner front, we have a gas stove, and what I planned to make involved veggie burgers (easy on a stove top), home fries (check) and salad (already made).  It's also the end of May, so while shadows were starting to form, it was still pretty light out.

The girls immediately started jumping around, excited about the possibility of using candles and building forts "because Mommy, when the power goes out, you HAVE to build a fort."  Considering the number of times I've suggested my student build forts (usually when studying Margaret Fuller's Autobiographical Romance  and discussing the importance of childhood in Philosophy and Literature), it would have been rather hypocritical for me to not allow this.  By the time I finished making dinner and called the girls in, the antique loveseat was covered in an Elsa and Anna comforter, there were a piano bench and two small end tables covered in a quilt  to form a tunnel, and my yoga mats were hanging off the fooseball table as a makeshift doorway.  The girls were quite pleased with themselves.

It was getting a bit darker in the kitchen, and Jeff had a whole box of candles out on the back porch, so he brought them in, and I approved or disapproved based on if they were scented (scented candles make my already not-happy allergies worse).  All told, we had about seven that would work.

Jeff lit them, and we had dinner by candlelight, followed by a family chess game between Jeff and the girls. Riley inquired about her hair cut, and  I told her I wasn't so sure cutting her hair in the dark was the best plan, but she was determined, so we moved to a window, and by the light of the waning sun, I started to trim.  "No Mommy, go shorter".  Since the last time I cut her hair, she ended up thrilled for a day, and then lamenting her short hair for the next several months, I offered a compromise-there would be significant trimming in the front, and I would taper it until it was long in the back.  She agreed, and I'm pretty proud of myself for the end result.  All those years of trimming Barbie's hair clandestinely in the playroom as a child finally paying off (now if the kids want their hair dyed with watercolors, I'm their gal).

The power was still out when I cruised over to my mom's to pick up this week's grocery order.  We've been sharing, although today, I got an email from Instacart, and they apparently have opened up more delivery slots.  Seems that more people are going to the store, or maybe Insta hired more folks, but either way, deliveries are easier to come by.  Mom was on the front porch, Lysoling down some of the packages, and I was able to pick up my bags and haul them to the car.  By the time I got home, PSEG had restored power, and all was back to normal.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Day 70- May 21, 2020

Day 70- May 21, 2020

The highlight of the day was a zoom call that we got to watch with the cast of Sabrina The Teenage Witch (yes, the show that ran from 1996-2003). My younger self was positively giddy, and the girls were enthralled to see the cast chatting away (though they were mildly disappointed that Salem the cat wasn't involved).  One of the best things about watching the actors' interaction was the clear love and respect all the people involved held for each other.

It's gratifying to see that people you looked up to when you were younger (actors, musicians, artists, athletes) seem to be genuinely kind, wonderful people in real life.  R. and E. have had a really rough time the last few years, what with moving back and forth when I lost my job and then gained a better one, switching schools, and now with the pandemic being stuck away from their friends.  I started watching Sabrina with them shortly after we moved in with my mom three years ago, and it was a consistent source of joy for them (and for me, who remembers the shows from my youth).  As a mom, all you want is for your kids to be happy, and the show gave them that.

When the pandemic started, we got CBS All-Access, largely because it meant we could watch all the Sabrina episodes again (side note: I worked at the public library for two years, and was in charge of ordering DVDs for children.  They have the entire series, thanks to me, along with other 90's staples like Boy Meets World, Full House, and Family Matters- I went all in on T.G.I.F.).  It's like comfort food- familiar, relaxing, and something that can be shared. The girls were thrilled to not only see their crush Harvey and favorite aunts Hilda and Zelda, but also to see that the actress who plays Libby is a nice person ("Mommy, she looks the same, but she's so sweet!" was E.'s awed compliment).  It's hard to find family-friendly television shows these days (networks tend to cancel them rather quickly, like Schooled which just got the ax- I'm just grateful we get another season of The Goldbergs), and throwbacks like this one fill that void.

Today was also chock full of zoom meetings, birthday parades, and the usual school stuff.  One of E's soccer teammates, A., turned eight, so we jumped in the car and cruised by her house towards a line full of her friends and family.  We stopped briefly (and unofficially) to say hi, as A. stood beaming on her front lawn, jumping up and down and waving with all her might.  Her mom had strung streamers with flags on them all over ("Do you like them?  It looks like a used car lot!" she called out as we joked about missing soccer and getting the girls together).  We joined the line, saying hi to friends who were in their place already, like teammate E. who was sticking out of the sunroof of her dad's white SUV with her little sister.   When the parade started, we honked and waved, and blasted Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", which is what you do when you can't have a real party because of a virus.

Getting home, E. quickly changed into full soccer mode (which meant shoes with laces instead of velcro- she kept her dress and leggings on), and she and I went to the yard to hop on the Zoom practice call.  I'm wearing a mask outside because my allergies have been awful since Monday, but I'm her coach, so I need to be involved.  E. practiced passing, first using the fence until we realized E. might break it, then the shed until it was clear that one could break an ankle from the chipmunk holes around it.  Finally, I jumped in and had her just one and two-touch to me and back, as that was the most consistent, least likely-to-injure self or property option.  It's good to see her teammates working out, even if it is over zoom, and E. and I worked a bit on her shooting and dribbling in the yard as well.  She likes to have me videotape her practicing her moves, so she can see what she does well and what she needs to work on.  She also kept asking me to post the videos on Facebook so our family and friends can see what she's up to.

We ended the evening with R. presenting a report on Cheetahs to us.  She was very proud of her work, and I'm happy to see she's inherited my willingness to jump up in front of people and speak.  She's clear, loud, and authoritative, which will take her far in life (I learned a long time ago that even if inside, you're nervous or unsure , if you sound like you know what you're talking about and exude confidence, people will believe in you). Since she wants to either be an actress or an astrobiologist, I think these qualities will serve her well.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Day 69- May 20, 2020

Day 69- May 20, 2020

Today was a relatively lazy day.  I received an email notifying me that we got a $2000 grant one of my colleagues and I put together to install a walkway and garden near the front of our school, which was exciting, and I helped put together information for the upcoming student council election.

E. fought me every step of the way on doing her homework.  I feel terrible, because she's just over it.  She doesn't want to do another of the same type of assignment that she's done multiple times. I understand, from an educators perspective, why students need repetition to learn skills.  At the same time, I sympathize from my own background as a student that having to do something over and over, when you already know how to do it, becomes tedious and boring.

I remember one of my favorite classes I took in college was a math one.  It wasn't because of the subject matter, it was because the teacher would go over the concept the first day of class (on Tuesday) and at the Friday class, would essentially keep going over the concept with more practice in class.  Attendance wasn't mandatory for the second class, so if we "got it", we didn't have to show up.  I always did (math was a strong suit for me), and so I essentially had Friday off.  Had I had a more active college social life, this might have meant more, but I still appreciated it.

In E.'s case, today was an assessment, and while I know (since I've been checking all her work) that
she understands how to read a nonfiction book, take the information, organize it, and write about it, her teacher needed this final thing handed in, so I had to be looking over her shoulder all morning to make sure she did it. Eventually, she did finish her write up on hermit crabs, so there's a victory.

She and R. also did some quality filming this morning where they pretended E. had a twin, Bella, and cut together a video so it looked like E. was talking to herself (E. was talking to a video version of herself in the short film, like she's on a zoom call, and I have to say, it was pretty convincing).  I'm impressed with their ingenuity.  R. also filmed E. doing her "trick shot" for soccer.  This involved some step overs, a spin move, and finally, a shot on goal.  Not too shabby for an eight-year-old.

Mom and Bryan came over to pick up a few tomato plants, and it was good to see them in person.  We all wore our masks (mine helps a bit with my allergies, which is a bonus).  And we saw our tenant  Brian getting a haircut outside the apartment (he and his fiance Tracy live in the apartment is above our garage).  Their wedding was supposed to be on May 23, and they are planning to still tie the knot, but in her mom's backyard with just their parents present.  I'm hoping for sunny weather for Saturday- they are the nicest people, and the deserve a special day.

I realized when I looked at the calendar that today is 25 years since my Sweet 16 Party.  It's not nearly as special as a wedding, but I remember that at 15, it was the most important thing in the world.  My parents didn't want to rent out a big hall or something (I remember a lot of people I knew celebrating at country clubs or restaurants).  Instead, we rented a giant white tent, and connected it to our three-car-garage.  The interior was then covered with black paper with silver stars that my mom found in some prom catalogue (side note- we kept getting that catalogue for at least 15 more years- we joked about it when we were planning my wedding).  This hid the yard supplies, rakes, and rusted out camping equiptment beautifully, and we swept the floor clean.  We hung white twinkle lights around the garage and the pool area, and they hired a DJ to play all the greatest mid-90's hits.

It was as perfect a birthday as I could have ever hoped for.  I was surrounded by my best friends, boys asked me to dance (this NEVER normally happened) and the night flew by.  Weddings are much the same (only you usually only have one boy you're focused on, not multiple- assuming it's a good marriage!). I'm hoping they have a wonderful one, fully of magic and surrounded by love.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Day 68- May 19, 2020

Day 68- May 19, 2020

The NJ Unemployment page is infuriating. I set a timer so we could certify for Jeff's benefits, and when we logged in, we got the message "Service Unavailable: The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems.  Please try again later."  Of course, the issue with this is that there is only a half hour window per social security number, so you can't try again later.  For half an hour, we repeated attempting to log in, and at one point, even got to the certification page to answer all the questions about not working this week, only to get that error message again when he hit "submit".

After that, the message changed to say that "The Unemployment Insurance Web application for claiming Weekly benefits is not available at this time.  Please try again later."  Forget the errors in capitalization ("weekly" is not a proper noun!), the message is laughable because, in case you were keeping track, you can not try again later.  Well, sort of- there's another half hour at the end of the day where you can certify if you missed your time.  Guess what?  We got the same message then too.

I spoke to another agent in Jeff's real estate office today, who was having issues with her claim as well.  I lamented to her that there were some pretty simply fixes on the forms (ie, have a place to upload your 1099 if you are an independent contractor, have a form that makes sense for self-employed people) that would probably make the process run much smoother, but apparently, common sense is not a requisite for whoever designed this system.  And yes, I realize this is a new world of unemployment, and I'm grateful that independent contractors and the self-employed are able to get any benefits right now, but it seems like if you are going to offer benefits, you should take a minute to update your forms to reflect that.

We also had to deal with an Ebay order gone bad.  We had ordered an Intex Pool for the backyard using gift cards we had, but when I went in to check on the order, I discovered that the vendor no longer existed on Ebay. Fortunately, the Paypal Payment hadn't been accepted yet either, so I was able to cancel it.  But just another minor frustration.

On the positive side, the painting is mostly done at our friend's house, and the carpets were finished today.  It's a major transformation, and the rooms look lovely and fresh.  I'm glad we were able to do this for her, and I hope that the home sells quickly given the work that has gone into it.  The girls were happy to have their daddy home all day (even if he wasn't feeling well- too much working and something he ate not agreeing with him).

The girls and I also made Jeff a Father's Day gift.  It's a few weeks away, but since the Mother's Day presents we got our moms took a while to arrive, I wanted to get a jump on this.  One of his favorite photo mugs broke recently- it developed a crack in the side, and now leaks.  So we reordered it, and added a travel mug for coffee that also is decorated with "We Love Daddy" and a bunch of photos from the past year.  We're at the point where he can pretty much exclusively drink beverages out of receptacles covered in our kids' faces- but he loves these things, and they are personalized gifts that he can use all the time, so the girls voted for another one.

I made homemade tomato sauce, dough from scratch, and decided to create pizza for dinner.  We had delivered the other day, so I sautéed onion, eggplant, tomatoes and spinach together, then used them to top one full pizza.  The other was divided into a regular cheese portion (for R.), a veggie part (for me and E.) and salad section (basically dough with salad dressing that we top with salad when it comes out oft the oven).  Some people love meatloaf and potatoes as comfort food- I go for pizza.
fresh produce from

While it was cooking, the girls took showers (they had seen a baby deer in the woods behind the house, and went traipsing through the pachysandra, which has poison ivy in it, to take a photo.  I insisted they wash themselves in hopes they can avoid getting rashes).  E. finished first, and she and I turned on Sabrina The Teenage Witch to watch an episode about Salem competing in a cat show.  After dinner, we watched an episode about Harvey and Sabrina's first kiss, where he gets turned into a frog, and she has to go through a series of tests to prove he is her "true love" in order for him to turn back.

It's one of the girls' favorites, and admittedly mine too.  There is a great line at the end where her aunt tells Salem "at sixteen, it's always true love", implying that every sixteen year old thinks the person they are with is their true love.  Looking back, with hormones raging and a limited world view, I can agree with that statement.  Though in my case, the person I was with at sixteen turned out to be my true love straight through adulthood, and I married him (I wrote a bit about that several years ago in a post called "Before Midnight".  So maybe sometimes (as was the case with Harvey and Sabrina) that 16-year-old true love ends up being your soulmate too.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Day 67- May 18, 2020

Day 67- May 18, 2020

I woke this morning to the sound of a ladder against the wall by my bedroom window.  Crap- it's the gutter cleaners.

I had spoken to the company that cleans our gutters a couple of weeks ago, when they called to set up a spring appointment.  At the time, I told the woman to check in with me in late May, because nothing was in the gutters since all the pollen, leaves, flowers, etc. were still on the trees.  Apparently, she took that to mean she should put in an appointment for mid-May. 

After grabbing my glasses from their hiding place under my bed (next to my phone charger and computer), I rushed downstairs, and stepped onto the front porch.  In the next three minutes, I spoke to the men who were planning to do the cleaning, explained there was nothing to be cleaned yet, and to please have the company call me to set something up for June.  They were gracious and helpful, and I waved as they pulled away just as the sanitation department pulled into their place to pick up our recycling.

With that out of the way, I walked inside, and realized the pollening is real.  My left eye was bright red, and my nose had begun dripping.  I shut the door, popped a Benadryl, and hopped into the shower to de-pollen myself.  I hate spring allergies with a passion, and normally, would use this opportunity to head down to the beach for a weekend or even just an afternoon of relief.  Alas, with Jeff finishing up the house for our friend, we can't really go anywhere at the moment.

Instead, I'm hunkering down inside with the air purifiers running on high (which is a shame, because it is gorgeous, clear, and warm out, and I'd love to be hanging in the sunshine with the kids).  Jeff and I completed the series finale of Cheers today.  I have officially watched all eleven seasons, all 273 episodes, and it brought back all the warm nostalgia of the early 90's.  As a middle schooler, my parents got me a small television for my room, and it sat on a cedar chest next to my bed, a white marvel with rabbit ear antennae.  I used to watch the Channel 11 News At 10 with Kaity Tong and Marvin Scott, and then stay awake to watch Cheers reruns at 11.  Thinking back, I really should have been getting to be earlier, because I was definitely tired in my first classes at school.  But Cheers was comfort- I knew the characters, followed their stories, and would wait impatiently for the new episodes (while loving the old).  Yes, a lot of the jokes went over my head- I was a very unsophisticated middle schooler- but there were enough laughs to keep me going, and the characters made me smile.

Visiting the site of Cheers in Boston
When I was looking at colleges, my parents took me to several in the Boston area, and I was more
excited to visit Bull & Finch Pub (the exterior of Cheers) than I was to see Harvard or Wellesley.  Perhaps my priorities were a little out of whack, but I was so happy to see that golden sign, and walk down the steps that led to a little basement tavern.  Yes, it looked totally different inside, but there were photos of the cast and bits of history preserved inside, which made up for it a bit.  Last summer, Jeff and I drove up to Boston with the girls to surprise one of my best friends at her 40th birthday party (which also was a surprise party).  We needed something to do until the party, so we wandered around Boston Common, and then headed down towards the water.  As we crossed the street, I looked up and started bouncing- we had had happened upon the Bull and Finch Pub.  The girls hammed it up with me for a photo (even though that had no idea why Mommy was so happy about this sign), and I was reminded of the little bar where everybody knows your name.

Rewatching the show now, I'm impressed by how many jokes hold up, and of course, how many more of them I understand.  It's also remarkable to see how I view the characters in a different light now that I'm over 40.  They are still lovable, but there's also a twinge of sadness here and there at the state of their lives.  That said- there's also something to be said for people who maintain decades-long friendships, have companions they can count on and know where to find when they need them.  I also appreciate that they gave their characters a proper send off. 

When I was 14, and the series ended, I remember being upset that Sam didn't end up with Rebecca or Diane.  Now, watching the characters evolve, I realize it wouldn't have made sense for him to be with either.  Rebecca, maybe- their friendship and chemistry could have worked.  But the Sam and Diane dynamic- now that I've been in a loving relationship for almost a quarter of a century, it's definitely clear that while they care about each other, they wouldn't ever work in creating long-term happiness for each other.   That's reserved for someone that you can honestly say you want to spend your life with, even during a quarantine lock down, who makes you laugh daily, and watches over 270 episodes of your favorite television show with you, just to see you smile.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Day 66- May 17, 2020

Day 66- May 17, 2020

I woke up ready to go, and snuck over to the house to paint.  I got in a solid hour of painting trim before heading home to make second breakfast (I'm turning into a Hobbit).  The carpet is inspiring me and Jeff- we can see the transformation the house is going through, and we're both eager to see what it turns out like for our friend Sammy.

Jeff headed to the house to finalize some touch ups, and the girls and I swung over to my mom's so they could play (more socially-distanced backyard babysitting).  I spent a solid few hours getting another coat of paint on trim and finishing off the downstairs family room (it used to be wood panels, and they now look crisp, white and fresh thanks to Benjamin Moore.

When I got back to Mom's, I gave the girls a ten minute warning, and headed over to the far edge of the property.  We are friends with the neighbors, whose son was in R.'s class when we lived with my mom for a couple of years.  Yesterday, the mom, Veronica, texted me because her friend is thinking about moving and Veronica mentioned that my mom was going to sell her place this summer.  I texted her what we were thinking of putting it on for, and we got to talk in person today.  I miss our over-the-fence chats- when they fenced in their yard for their new pool last year, they put in a gate so the girls and her son could go back and forth whenever they wanted to.  It was a joy to have such great next-door neighbors, and I miss them.

We talked about soccer and how the sport has changed for children over the yers.  We discussed how it used to be more about position is and passing, working as a team from early childhood.  However, over the last several years, the push has been more on the individual, and developing skills instead of teamwork.  We both miss the days when it was about passing and strategy, and I certainly feel like there's too much stress on personal development instead of team development.  Maybe it's because of the way I was coached, but I was brought up believing team first, individual second, and that it was my job to make the people around me better, so that we could win as a unit.

I heard from the head coach at the school I interviewed with last month.  It's at the school I coached at for several years before I had R. and E. (well, I kept coaching through both pregnancies, but when E. was turning one and R. was 2, it became too much, so I took a few years off).  The coach had texted a couple of days later that he wanted to offer me the position, but they were waiting on the AD to meet with the principal, since there was an internal candidate.  I checked in a week later, because I hadn't gotten anything official, and he apologized for the deal, but said that the meeting should take place that week.  That was back on May 6th, but today, he texted me that they should be able to confirm hiring me this week, which is fantastic.  I loved coaching at the high school level, and he already said E. would be welcome to come visit practices (she is VERY excited about that and being a ball girl for my games).

I love that I am still involved in soccer, both through coaching E.'s team, and through this new
My soccer team (and a boys' team from Mexico) hanging out
 at an international tournament in Colorado circa 1993
adventure (though I'm not counting my chickens until I have a contract- especially in these turbulent times).  There's something about being a part of a team- as a coach, and as a player- that bonds you.  The same could be said about "teams" of people coming together to bring a play to life on stage, create a company, or compose a song.  But the connections forged through literal sweat and playing sports- those are some of the strongest I've ever felt.  Maybe it's the collective experience, and the length of time we were together.  There's something to be said for being a teammate for over a decade.  There aren't that many people you can say you had a relationship with for that amount of time, and on a team, you have to find ways to make it work. You learn to read each other, know what your teammate is thinking or going to do (sometimes even before she does).  Your team and their success depend on it.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Day 65- May 16, 2020

Day 65- May 16, 2020

Today was an exciting one.  First, we discovered that on the new app Jeff installed for our Apple TV, we could get new movies included.  This led to some very exciting shrieking because we could watch Scoob, the new Scooby Doo film.  I loved watching Scooby on Saturday mornings was a big part of childhood, and the girls discovering him and the Magical Mystery crew is super fun.  I ran around the house cleaning and organizing (it's pollening season, and things need to be clean) while they were happily distracted, but made sure to poke my head downstairs to see the film on our projector screen periodically.

The girls were happily cackling at the movie when I headed upstairs with a load of clean laundry, and went to check on our stimulus check once again via the internet.  There's an IRS website for this, but every time I check, it says the information doesn't match what they have on file.  I tried our address, and my mom's (since we had been living there when we filed our 2018 taxes), and neither worked.  Frustrated, I pulled out this year's taxes, and started going through the paperwork when I made a discovery.  The kind of discovery where your stomach drops out and you think how could I have been this stupid?  The accountant had inputted the address incorrectly.  It wasn't ours, or my mom's, it was a hybrid of the two (her town and the "Ave" part, and our street number and name.  A quick Google search revealed that it was actually an address, and I took a moment to compose myself before swearing- vehemently.

I typed in the address, and sure enough, the IRS website gave the encouraging message that "Your check was mailed to the address on file on May 8th".  For those of you keeping track, that was over a week ago, and mailed to strangers at an address that wasn't mine.  I immediately did two things- I emailed my accountant to ask what the heck I should do (and how to change my address), and then called the post office in town, hoping that perhaps they had held onto it, or had it returned.  The officer I spoke to was very kind, took my name and phone number, and promised to check with the postman who serviced that house to see if he had noticed it.

Then I took things a step further.  I completed a change of address form on, so that if anything else from the IRS gets sent, it gets forwarded to me.  My phone dinged as I was completing it, and it was my accountant, telling me there is a form I needed to fill out and send in with the corrected information.  I searched the IRS website, found the form, and sought a phone number to call (I know, I know, it was futile).  Eventually, I found a number, but the message was that they weren't accepting calls right now (so convenient), and to try their online automated services.

Cue more vehement swearing.

I was racking my brain when a lightbulb went off.  I decided to see if social media could be used for good, and hopped onto the town moms' board.  I explained my situation, and asked if anyone knew who lived at the address in question.

Remarkably, within five minutes, I had a message from the administrator of the group, saying she'd found a person in the group who had that address (they need proof of residency to join the group, so I am assuming they keep an excel sheet of such things).  She had reached out to the woman, and would let me know if she heard anything.  I typed back immediately, texting my number and saying that if she could please pass it along, that would be a huge help, and thank-you so much for coming to my aid so quickly.

And truly, not five minutes after that exchange, my phone rang, and it was the woman who lived at that house.  She told me how she and her husband had been surprised to receive the stimulus check (it's in a very clearly marked envelope), but were worried about just returning it to the IRS, since they were pretty sure it would just end up in purgatory.  They were going to try the post office this week, but then she got the admin's message about me.

I am not ashamed to tell you I burst into tears.  Just at the thought of these people holding onto the check, in hopes of reuniting it with its rightful owner, was a kindness that I don't take lightly.  I told her how my husband is currently on unemployment, and that I'm a teacher, so money is tight.  Thank-you probably came out about fifteen or so times in our three minute conversation. She told me she would leave the envelope in a box on her porch, and I promised to be there in about ten minutes.

The newly carpeted living/dining room areas
When I arrived at her adorable ranch home, I put my face mask on, and practically skipped up the steps.  There was a ceramic squirrel guarding the box, and I gently picked him up and retrieved the envelope from within.  I waved happily at the house, and after hand-sanitizing, pulled out of the driveway and headed home.  I promptly deposited the check electronically through my bank's phone app, and went down to check on the girls.

They and their dad had decided to make a full morning of films (hey, it was Saturday morning after all) and followed up Scoob (two thumbs up) with Trolls: World Tour.  Jeff was tired and sore from all the work he's been doing prepping our friend's house for sale, and since carpet was being installed this morning, he was able to relax and watch the movie with the girls.

The movies was... interesting.  Pretty typical children's cartoons, singing and dancing, and of course, bodily function humor involving trolls pooping baked goods.  There were also many, many colors, and when a troll started floating by playing smooth jazz, Jeff and I looked at each other, communicating telepathically as only two people who have been together for a quarter century can.

WTF are we watching?  

I'm not quite sure- I mean, I could understand this being written DURING quarantine, or by someone on a lot of drugs...

Seriously though, did that troll just levitate while playing a hookah?

Pretty sure he did.  That, or I'm more out of it than I thought.  Maybe I need a full day off. 
Outdoor chess

By the time the trolls came together to harmonize through all the genres of music, there was much troll mythology explained, and much that frankly, I don't want to know.  It had been a long morning, and while the rest of the day would bring a ride to a friend's to pick up blue-filtered glasses (to try to prevent more ocular migraines in the future), outside chess with Jeff and the girls, and me talking Jeff into hooking up the trailer to our riding mower next time he mows the lawn so the girls could take rides, nothing could quite compare to the excitement of stimulus check adventures and crazy haired dolls that sing.  All in all, a pretty good Saturday.