Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Back To School!!! Wahoo!!

 The kids headed back to school today, August 17, 2021.  All four started today, Chloë off to middle school and the younger three back to Paul Ecke Central Elementary.  Middle school is only 7th & 8th grades and then you head to high school.  Ella is headed into 3rd grade, the boys into 5th grade and Chloë into 7th grade. 


Myke isn't excited at all about back-to-school

Love these boys!

Summer wasn't particularly long, just about 2 months exactly, but we packed a lot into those weeks.  Myke and I went to Oregon for a family wedding, then all 6 of us did a trip to the east coast.  We did week at the Jersey Shore, a few days in New York City and some time at my in-law's house outside of Philadelphia.  I also took a solo side trip via train down to Richmond, VA to help my parents pack up their house.  They have since closed on the sale of their house and have driven across country to Nevada, where they are looking at possible future homes.  We'll see where they end up!  

Here are a few old photos from June from Chloë's 6th grade promotion.  It was a big day for us, saying goodbye to her elementary school after 7 great years there.  By the end of 6th grade these kids are big and just don't fit in in the elementary school setting.  They are definitely ready to move on.  It's just an end of an era after 7 years in Spanish immersion.  That program was a leap of faith and I am super impressed with where it took Chloë with the language.  It's just hard to believe that it's done!  There is one class offered for 7th grade that is taught in Spanish, which I'm thrilled about.  I can't imagine just being DONE with Spanish after so many years immersed in it.  Such a shame to think about in my opinion.

6th Grade Promotion (6/17/21)

Uncle Hale 

with friends and her 6th grade teacher (tan dress)

First day of kinder and last day of 6th 

Last day of School 2021

Promotion Celebratory dinner with friends 

Going to end here and enjoy my first day of quiet in SUCH A LONG TIME.  
More soon! 



Thursday, March 18, 2021

Venting Post

 March 13, 2020.  Friday the 13th.  That was the day that we were notified that schools were shutting down.  Just over a year ago.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Owen had to present his 3rd grade project about the Encinitas Boathouses and I had driven his poster in around 10am.  I had been planning to sit in and watch him present to the class but they were not allowing anyone else on campus besides staff and students.  There was a mild panicked energy going on in the main office of the school and the school secretary seemed baffled and overwhelmed, fielding phone calls from parents non-stop, dealing with all the confusion, etc.  I dropped off Owen's poster and picked up Ella's iPad.  She happened to be home sick that day already and since parents had been notified by text just an hour before that students would not be coming back the following Monday for school, I decided I should get that for her.  This day is just so ingrained into my memory.  It was a very surreal day.  At pick-up at 2:20pm there was an eerie quiet in the air as cars drove through the loop, picked up their kids and moved on.  We sure what the next few weeks would entail, working parents were wondering how they would manager weeks at home with their children, etc.  We were told we would be out of in-person school until after Spring Break so that meant a month at home with the kids.  A MONTH.  It was hard to wrap our heads around.  If someone had told us that we actually wouldn't step foot back in the classroom for the remainder of that school year no one would have believed it.  It couldn't be!  If someone had told us that A YEAR later we would STILL be not back to full time normal school schedule, we would have lost it.  I think I can speak for all/most parents on that one.  

Anyways, I have done my time.  I am OVER it.  I am so OVER facilitating and teaching the kids at home. They are in school Monday and Wednesdays and home Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  All of their work is in Spanish and I think that is what is (continuing to) take me over the edge somedays.  Owen does not only NOT want to work on his 5 paragraph essay on Life on the Ranchos in 1800's California...he also doesn't want to write it all in Spanish.  It's one thing for me to help him with the structure, format and how-to of the five paragraph essay (this isn't our first rodeo during this pandemic) but then translating it all into another language... I. just.can't.anymore.  (This is how I'm feeling RIGHT now, while typing this.  I've stepped away for a moment in order vent/release.  To bring my frustration level down.  So I can go back into the trenches of the school day today and help them with a fresh start and energy.  I have a tween who shuts herself in her room all day and then a 4th grader who doesn't love the writing part of school (but does love the math) and a 2nd grader who the teacher says "seems distracted" on Zooms (HELLO, she's a 2nd grader!...and she's Zoomed-Out like the rest of us!).  

It has been a year.  It has been a year for everyone.  I know that we are so lucky that I am able to full-time help the kids and manager their lives, help them when needed.  However, we NEED to go back to regular school.  I'm not a dual-language-immersion teacher.  Also, kids, MY kids at least, take suggestions better from their teacher or another person than they do from their mother.  They are as tired of me as I am of being such an integral part of their learning day....for the past year.  Soooo, that said, they are supposed to go back to school 5 days per week for just under 5 hours per day starting after Spring Break.  I am over-the-moon ecstatic about this.  I'm OVER it.  

Thank you.  

Monday, February 22, 2021

February Fun

 We are full-on into "Birthday Month" here at the Hines household.  Ella has turned 8, Myke has turned 42 and this upcoming weekend Chloë will turn 12.  February is always a busy one around here and this year all the birthdays are falling on either Saturdays or a Sunday so it has been party weekend after party weekend ...Covid-style that is.  Nothing too fancy.  Ella wanted to watch a movie with her best friend so we allowed her to have someone over for that.  We had monkey bread for breakfast and then cupcakes (made by Eli and Chloë) for dessert later in the day.  Myke's birthday was this past weekend and we actually did a little getaway to the local mountains for 2 nights for his celebration.  It was beautiful and cool weather, perfect for a hike on Saturday.  Was nice to just chill, watch movies, play games and just be all together without the distractions of being at our own house (cleaning, laundry, sports, etc.).  Chloë is so far undecided about what she wants to do for her birthday weekend.  Momma is exhausted!  Haha.

Eight is Great! 

Some have inquired about how Chloë is doing now that we are nearing 2 months from her Covid diagnosis.  She is great...no lasting effects that we have seen or noticed.  She is completely back to her normal self again.  Her doctor told her she was more or less immune to getting Covid again for 3 months from when she was sick so she is enjoying that feeling of a bit more freedom/less worry.  We have allowed her to see friends more since she recovered.  The other kids feel that this is a bit unfair as we are still more strict with them, but it is what it is.   Have to cut this short--today was the kids' in-person learning day and it's time to go pick them up from school. 

She's almost as tall as me!

Myke's Birthday Snuggles

Idyllwild Mountiains

Saturday, January 2, 2021

10 Day Isolation is DONE

Feeling a sense of normalcy again and we couldn't be happier... 

New Year's Eve Chloë seemed to be perking up just a bit, then she napped 4pm-7pm and woke up and seemed even better than ever!  She hung out downstairs for the evening, we watched movies, watched the east coast countdown and then we all stayed up until midnight to ring in 2021!  Chloë, too!  I think that was a first for the kids to make it to midnight.  Never have I felt the ringing in of the new year as so symbolic of a fresh start.  New Year's Day also marked the end of Chloë's 10 days of isolation and, apparently, this means she is no long contagious and can be back with the family on a regular basis.  It was almost like a flip was switched in how she seemed back to herself on Friday 1/1/21.  Her energy was back, she was chatting, complaining about how I made her bed (yup, she's BACK, baby!), playing with her siblings, etc.  Everyone was so relieved/happy to have her back, to be able to not be so strict with wearing masks in the house, etc.  Technically, the rest of us are still on quarantine through Tuesday, so we continue to stay home, order in groceries, etc.  Chloë is cleared to return to school on Monday but the other 3 aren't allowed to yet.  

First family picture of 2021- just after midnight
We did sparklers in the driveway

Getting to hug my girl with no mask!

New Year's Day fire pit 

Eli cooks French toast 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Day 9

 Day 9 since symptoms began.  New Year's Eve!!  Tomorrow, New Year's Day will be a big one for us--according to the CDC and confirmed by Chloe's doctor, she is able to be with us again after 10 days!  I am nervous to get ahead of myself but we are planning to be/will be celebrating tomorrow late afternoon/Saturday!!  I will be giving my daughter the BIGGEST HUG EVER and I might never let go.  I can't wait :).  That said, she still feels bad...but no fever.  She wakes up every morning feeling just as bad as she did the morning before.  It's like Ground Hog's Day.  Each day we wait in anticipation for her to wake up (since she sleeps until 10am or later lately) and hope for her to seem improved.  The past two days however (today and yesterday), though she has felt bad first thing, she seems to perk up a bit later in the day.  Improvement is happening!  

Outside time/Vitamin D time with Daisy

Stress baking

Working on Lego set


Daisy is 15 weeks now!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Day 7

 I think Chloe has perked slightly today.  She came down and sat in the sun out front for about 10-15 minutes twice today so far.  She spends most of the time in her bed, both because she is supposed to stay isolated and also because that's really all she wants to do or has energy for.  She says both walking down the stairs and back up are completely exhausting.  Going down makes her legs ache the most.  Yesterday we started a forced walking routine where we set a timer she has to come and walk around the house for 10 minutes.  I read that she should do that every couple hours no matter how exhausted and tired she feels. Today, just a few minutes ago was the first full sentence that she has said to me since she started feeling sick, so that was a big deal in my mind.  It might be something no one else has noticed ("no one" being Myke because he's the only other person who has spoken to her in person) but she has only given 1-2 word answers to questions we've asked, and other than that hasn't really spoken much, if at all.  It seems like she just hasn't had the energy to speak almost.  I'll see if Myke has had a different experience...maybe she just doesn't want to talk to me?! lol...On the plus side, it has been a week since we've experience tween sass and attitude.  

Life with 'Rona

Written yesterday morning (not even sure the date).  Just wanted to get my thoughts out on "paper" so to speak.  Will update from here.  

 It has been a whirlwind of emotions over the past couple weeks.  We decided to be extra cautious in the weeks coming up to Christmas so we would be able to spend that week prior and the actual holiday with Myke's parents, who have been living in San Diego since late- September and are scheduled to fly back to the east coast for the next 4 or so months.  We hadn't actually spent Christmas with them in 3 years so we were determined to do our best to make sure it would happen and not be somehow messed up by this nasty virus that is going crazy, especially here in California.   They both have "underlying issues" so we wanted to make sure to keep everyone safe.  Even though school is relatively safe with distancing and masks and, so far, no spreading of anything between students, we decided to pull the kids out of in-person school the final week before break and they did virtual learning instead (they only attend 2 in person days per week so only missed those 2).  No seeing anyone, not even outside with masks on (which we had previously allowed at the park or outside on occasion).  Our kids are good with masks and seem to have no problem wearing them, so it's not an issue.  All started well.  The kids went to spend the night in Pacific Beach with the grandparents Thursday and Friday, the week before Christmas, after over a week of "extra-quarantine" precautions. They came back to us Saturday.  Monday we met up again with them and took the telescope to look at the "Christmas Star" and Tuesday they came up for more Christmas festivities.  We made hot chocolate, drove around to look at the lights in our area, and headed home to watch "Christmas Vacation" before Thom & Maureen slept over.  Chloe was tired and ready for bed right after the movie but I didn't think anything of it.  Around 3am Tuesday night/Wednesday morning Chloe woke up with chills and was crying.  She said she didn't feel well, and was upset that she was going to ruin Christmas and not be able to spend it with Mom-Mom & Pop (the kids' names for Thom & Maureen).  I took her temperature (normal) calmed her down, wiped away her tears and laid with her in bed until she could fall back asleep.  The next morning she woke up early and was feeling better.  We had breakfast with Thom and Maureen, then Chloe and I started making Christmas cookies...and it was apparent that her energy just drained out of her body at that time.  She leaned her whole upper body on the counter, had no desire to taste the cookie batter (major red flag! lol), and wanted to just go lay on the couch.  I put a blanket over her and she fell asleep.  At 10am in the morning.  Definitely another red flag as she is NOT a napper, but I was in no way thinking she had covid.  No fever, no cough.  She hadn't been around anyone without a mask on.  After her nap she still didn't feel great, we decided we better take her for a rapid-test before having Thom & Maureen sleepover again for Christmas Eve and Day.  Just for peace of mind we sprung the $99 for the test.  The lines were SOOOOO long that it took us 4 hours before it was her turn to get tested.  Luckily, we were able to wait at home for their call as we are only 5 minutes from the test center.  I went in with her, the nose swab was done, and then she and I sat and watched funny Youtube videos to kill the 15 minutes wait for results...in a small room, close together.  We did keep masks on though.  Doctor came in and said Chloe tested positive for covid-19.  We were shocked.  Chloe choked back tears as she had been dreading that news.  My mind started racing...how did this happen?  Where did she get it? ...and more so, OH SH*T, Chloe was in the back of the van with my in-laws as we drove around for an hour looking at holiday lights the night before.  No masks were worn (which was the point of our being uber-careful the weeks prior)...then they slept over, we were all on the couch together watching the movie, etc.  They were definitely my main concern, and of course Chloe and how devastated she was to get this news.  

    I can now fast-forward 5 days later as we are now on Monday (I think?  Days all blend together) and we are FINALLY feeling a little more relaxed today.   I can reflect and share the past days with more clarity and less anxiety. The first days were just extremely challenging and emotionally draining.  Having your baby girl feel SO MISERABLE both physically and emotionally and not being able to hug her, rub her back or even sit with her in her room to keep her company had me a wreck and fighting back tears that seemed to leak out when the exhaustion of caring for her and keeping everyone else healthy set in.  Our main goal was "avoid spread" so I moved into the downstairs guestroom, we assigned people bathrooms which they would use until further notice, so there would be less sharing and Chloe could have her own bathroom, we all started wearing masks full-time around the house, and Chloe was isolated into her room, with us bringing her food and drinks as needed.  It sounds sad, but she honestly felt so terrible and just utterly exhausted and lethargic that she didn't have energy to do anything else, anyways.  She does come out for short outside visits each day but usually doesn't last too long.  We made Christmas happen with my in-laws, after all.  They came up that morning and sat outside our big glass doors- we set up FaceTime with speakers so we could all chat, have coffee (and mimosas!), breakfast and open presents "together".  I'll attach picture, it worked out great, though it was completely exhausting for Myke and myself both physically and emotionally.  Trying to make the day fun and memorable while still having concern for everyone else and Chloe.  This was 2 days post-diagnosis and Chloe was feeling worse, not better, as each day passed.  What felt bad was what was hard for her to pinpoint, which was one of the weirdest parts about it.  She has not yet had a fever, no cough, no shortness of breath (thank goodness!!!), but she has just been like an almost-lifeless sack o' potatoes and just a shell of herself.  A couple mornings her throat hurt, her legs have been sore each day, but overall she is just sick.  A walk down the stairs to the outside takes a lot out of her.  Sitting in the sun didn't feel good on her skin one of the days.  It's just so hard, again, as a mother, to not be able to make her feel better and more so not be able so snuggle her.  The other kids, too.  We did "air hugs" the past 5 days.  This morning we gave all that up.   We are OVER it.  This is also, after today, finally, Chloë seemed just a little better first thing in the morning instead of worse.  Also, Myke, Eli and Ella have all been tested since Wednesday and all negative.  I am just watching myself for symptoms.  So far, so good.  I had the most direct contact with her before diagnosis, wiping her tears with my bear hands that first night, and when I curled back into my own bed at 4am after leaving her's, thinking to myself that I should probably go wash my hands, but then falling asleep before doing so.  

    Also, best news of all, Thom and Maureen did tests on Saturday afternoon and they are both negative.  Somehow, Chloe contracted this, even though she has been no places or around any people on her own. We were bummed to spend the holiday break in quarantine in our own house, but obviously California is on lock-down orders anyways, but we can't even go out and ride bikes/walk around the neighborhood, I believe.  In the end, it's lucky it happened when it did because the kids aren't missing school, Myke already had the time off from work, the puppy can't go out in public for another week after her final shot, so we might as well deal with this now.  

    Some people have said we might as well just take masks off and let nature run it's course.  Maybe we will get it, maybe not.  Most people do not get seriously ill and we do not have concerning underlying issues that would put us at higher risk for a worse fate if we do contract covid.  We have spent the time so far avoiding it like the plague (literally) while at the same time TRYING not to make Chloe feel like a leper.  Not sure if we were successful with the latter part, but I think she is understanding.  I can see where they are coming from, and it would be so great not to have these masks on all the time...but I honestly would just rather NOT get sick if I don't need to.  You never know if you will be one of the ones who has it worse than most.  We are rolling the dice 6 times with that...and each person who gets symptoms starts a 10 day quarantine THAT day...so this could drag out for 60 days with 6 of us if we happen to get sick in some kind of "waterfall effect" (worst case scenario) and I just CAN'T fathom that.  Chloe already is feeling worse and is not the asymptotic child or the child that feels bad for 1-3 days and then is fine (which is what I had mainly heard of how kids will likely react).  I also don't want to be sick and trying to care for other sick kids and/or sick husband.  So we chose the more cautious route.  Thank goodness for Insta-cart, Target delivery, and my awesome neighbor friends who have brought us food, drinks, games, flowers, balloons for Chloe, and just made us feel loved and cared for.  We are feeling less anxiety now, there is laughter again, we know we will come out  the other end and be okay.  It was just a big mental game the first few days.  I realize I probably sound a little dramatic to some, but it really messes with you when you have been so careful and then someone in the family gets sick...and with a disease that has such a range of symptoms and a range of ways your body might handle it....from no symptoms for some to a death sentence for others.  While California is on world wide news with the amount of cases, we honestly only know a handful of people personally who have gotten sick (that we know of).  I can literally count on one hand.  Also, we never let our kids to sleepovers, did not allow playdates in houses, if she saw someone outside they had to have a mask, and even that was so limited (we were/are definitely more strict than all but a few other families with kids that we know) and covid still made it's sneaky little way into our lives.  

    This entire post has just been me "typing out loud" and letting it all release from my mind.  No reading it over, editing, etc.   It's therapeutic, it's releasing, it's for memory...as I know the details of all of this will soon be left in the past, and a faded memory of Covid Christmas 2020.  

    Please stay safe!! 

Christmas Morning
(she made it down for a bit)

Reality of 2020 "social-distance-Christmas"

Ella trying out the "Grandparent Section" after they left.

Going in to strip the patient's bedsheets

Day 6- get well gifts from great friends

Puppy love