Decluttering School Documents

We recently went through the box with yearbooks and that sparked another education related decluttering.

John is retiring in June!!! He has agreed that all the extra copies of official transcripts can go. He has no plans to do anything that he will have to prove his college degrees.

We both got rid of the commencement programs – we have never looked at them since graduating.

I even found the extra graduation announcements in the same file – thinking we’re not going to mail them out!

22 more items decluttered from our house!

What about you? Are you keeping this kind of memorabilia?

Checkbook Registers

Old checkbook transaction registers – how long are we supposed to keep these? How many of these do you have?

I went into the cabinet drawer to pull out old tax documents from 2011 and 2012 to shred. If you only need to keep these and their supporting records for 3 – 7 years (or indefinitely if you commit fraud hahaha – see this post) , then it seems like we can declutter these.  

I must have decluttered the registers from before we got married since the earliest I found was for 1984, the year of our marriage.  

64 registers gone!  plus another 23 random medical documents.  87 items gone today!

Now I’m off to shred them! I know, it’s overkill but . . .

Old Cellphones

kiddo #2 (looking in the extra room’s closet for some random other thing): What’s in this old shoebox? Who’s is it?

me: Well, it’s our old cellphones.

kiddo #2: Why did you keep them?

me: We were told that if you dispose of an old phone, some mystery “someone” would be able to access all kinds of personal information from it. Just like all the conspiracy theories floating around right now, this might be a legitimate one.

kiddo#2 (rolls eyes and walks out of room mumbling): whatever Mom.

me (pondering voiceover): maybe I should go through these – definitely more interesting than lesson planning.


A trip down cellphone memory lane.

My first cell phone was a purchase by my Mom. She was worried I was driving alone at night and so bought the phone and paid for the first year of service. This was about 1990-1991. I still have the same phone number! This monster had a plan for 60 minutes of talk per month.

We upgraded in the late 90’s to the Nokia phone of the day. We also got one for John at that time. No idea where the other one is but it’s information is probably out there being used for nefarious purposes!

Now I have to clarify that some of these phones belonged to the kiddos. My mom also felt when they got to high school they needed their own phone. She again purchased and paid for the first year and all these years later, we are still paying!

Remember when you could look at a text and it didn’t count against your 50 per month???

Fancy Friday – 15 Jan 2021

Let’s all use the stuff we were lead to believe can only be used for “special” occasions! Every day is a special day! Keep it and use the china, sterling silver, and “fancy” tablecloths and napkins you have boxed up. I only wish I had done this years ago!

I realize that I need some sort of centerpiece for our table. The search is on!

Grilled chicken with roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash.

A little decluttering

We decided to do a little decluttering – just one box in the garage.

Hours later the box is empty and we have removed old yearbooks – yep, old yearbooks. When was the last time you looked at your old junior high/middle school and high school yearbooks? Ours had been in boxes untouched for at least 31 years. As we looked through them, some people who signed we remembered but most were unrecognized.

In the same box were 2 photo albums and several envelopes of pictures. My photo album had random pictures from junior high based on the house they were taken in. There was nothing that sparked “joy” or even any feelings when I saw them. They were decluttered.

John’s photo album was one his aunt put together when she took him on a cruise through the South Pacific when he was about junior high age. Most of the pictures were of scenery that he didn’t recognize. He also decluttered them.

Moral of the story – label those pictures! The label might spark a memory.

Fancy Friday – Jan 8, 2021

I’m going to use the “fine china” at least once a week. We had our first Fancy Friday last night and decided on a few “rules”.

  • The china and sterling will be used to eat on/with.
  • If we order take out (at this point highly unlikely) it will be removed from the takeout containers and put onto the “fancy” dinnerware.
  • Fancy clothing is not required unless we agree there is a special celebration – kiddo #2 comes home and immediately showers after being at the hospital/clinic and is reluctant to redress in fancy clothes afterwards. Can’t blame her in the least! Maybe later in the year.
  • If something breaks, I will not be upset. This stuff, which I love, has been sitting in the cupboard way too long unused and is, after all, just stuff to be used.

It only took 10 months of pandemic, 2 major holidays without family (other than the 3 of us), and the death of my mom to realize if I love it enough to keep it, I will use it!

Not sure how to title this one

It has been a roller coaster of feeling for the last 2 1/2 weeks.

Mom was placed back on hospice care about 4 weeks ago on December 10th. (After spending about a year on hospice, they removed in March just as COVID was imposing restrictions and she was considered stable.) On Monday December 21st, I talked to her and she seemed ok considering. The nurse came on Tuesday and everything seemed stable and ok. Wednesday morning she didn’t answer my call – not unusual if the nurse is there – she usually calls back within an hour. My sister-in-law went to the house just to do a check-in and Mom was not responding normally. She assumed it was her blood sugar levels, tested them and they were normal. She called the hospice nurse who arrived about 30 minutes later. Mom most likely had a “small” stroke during the night – the right side of her face was slightly droopy. She was able to respond to the nurse but unable to sign her name as usual. The nurse said it is common in medically fragile people to have sudden changes.

Thursday morning (Christmas Eve), both of my brothers were at her house when the hospice nurse arrived. The nurse said to them she doesn’t have much time. They called to give me an update but didn’t make it seem like something major was about to happen. I live about an hour away and was about to get into the shower to go there when they called back to say she had passed. Both phone calls were 16 minutes apart.

So many emotions are running through my head even still. Maybe more on that in a later post. I think I need to do some “emotional sorting and decluttering”.

Add to all this the COVID restrictions and not being able to spend time with my own kiddo and grandkiddos as well as the political drama unfolding this week, my brain feels like mush!

Instacart – We finally used it

Well, I finally did it – I ordered something from the grocery store using Instacart. I’ve always resisted using the app – surely I can do my own shopping. Why pay someone to do something I can do?

With the pandemic lockdown in full effect in Southern California, I figured I would support someone else’s income and keep us out of stores as much as possible. Our usual perishable shopping has been Walmart pickup for the last 9 months.

Our niece, who works for Instacart corporate, has been encouraging us to try it. Grandma is a “member” and frequent user. If my mother-in-law, age 89, can navigate the app, surely I can. (side note: I’m mother-in-law’s tech support.)

Last night about 7:30 pm I went to the app and selected the grocery store in our neighborhood. I selected 15 items. Some were items Walmart didn’t have when we placed our pickup order last weekend. The order was “assigned?” to Shopper “Joshua” immediately. Then it was changed to Shopper “Jose”. No idea why or how it was changed. Kiddo #2 said it must have not been worth Joshua’s time since it was a small order.

When Jose got to the store, he let me know he was beginning and would update me along the way. The app has a special texting feature built in. I did let him know it was my first time and he replied “It’s my pleasure I hope I can make your experience amazing!”

He was so helpful – sending pictures of the shelves if something was out and wanting to know if I saw something else I would rather he pick up. It was as if I was right there! I guess they do this for every order but it sure felt special to me.

About an hour after placing the order, the items had been delivered and put away! I’m sure it would have been longer if I had left the house when I started.

$10.52 for peace of mind – worth it on an occasional basis.

Actual ReceiptInstacart charge
Items$47.64$50.57
Tax$0.55$0.65
Service Fee0$2.49
Tip0$5.00
Total$48.19$58.71

Another Major COVID Lockdown

Southern California is moving into a 3 week major lockdown. Did we ever really stop our lockdown from March? Technically – NO.

How does this new lockdown change our current life – not at all! We are now on day 268 of self-quarantine/isolation.

As a family, we are observing the restrictions as much as possible – staying home except for “essential” trips, wearing masks, and social distancing. Kiddo #2 removes all clothing in the garage, sanitizes her phones, sanitizes her hands, and then goes straight to the shower when she gets home from work. If we venture out, mask and shirts are removed in the garage and hand sanitizer used before we touch the door to come in.

It helps that we are both working from home and basically only leave for perishable groceries, with few exceptions. Everything else gets ordered online and is delivered or curbside pickup (restaurants). Our food out budget used to be more than I’m willing to admit to and since March, we are averaging about $100 per month. It’s just not worth the risk.

A little California COVID information: Lockdown orders were modified in late August and tiers for each county were developed. Our county started in the “Purple” tier, moved to the “Red” tier for 2 weeks in October and back to “Purple” for every week since. Here’s a link if you’re interested in business details for each tier.

These 39 California counties just moved back to stricter COVID tiers

The new criteria added last week looks at the percent of ICU beds available in each state region. Here is a map showing all the counties, their current tier color, and which region they belong to. A more restrictive lockdown than the tier lockdown is ordered if the region has less than 15% of ICU beds available. When enacted on Thursday (Dec 3), all regions were above 15%. This morning Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions dropped to 10.3% and 6.6% respectively. The order basically mandates everyone stay home and only interact with members of your household. It also adds further restrictions to businesses. Here’s a link if you want to learn more.

Restricciones por la COVID-19 - Coronavirus COVID-19 Response

Decluttering the Freezer

If you are like me, once something is put in the freezer I tend to forget it exists. Anyone want a popsicle that is 11 years after expiration?? Glad I was looking for something that sparked this decluttering!




And while I was doing that, I found these drink mixes in the outside frig and freezer – just a few years after expiration!

Weekend Chores!

Hoping everyone is well and safe for this holiday weekend. We are both doing chores around the house – this will keep us away from others for the weekend!

John is working on the sprinkler system in the back – this seems like a never ending project. This is what happens when you get multiple leaks in the pressurized line, dig up to fix it, and realize the previous owner didn’t use the proper thickness of pipe. No wonder our water bill was so high compared to everyone else! I really wish I had taken a picture of the roots growing into the cracked pipes. He is also adding a new line.



I decided to do a little decluttering as I was cleaning. We replaced my iPad with an iPad mini for my birthday so the old cover can go. My iPad was so old, they would only give me $20 for the trade-in. Guess it is better than nothing.

When I got into a kitchen drawer, I found these old Weight Watchers point “calculators”. Guess they can go since they now have a great app for tracking your points and determining points for various foods.

An old sleep shirt and a couple of nonworking pens – you would have thought no more would exist in our house but you are wrong. I was also able to convince John to get rid of these baseball themed pajamas – he would wear them one day a year for pajama day at school/work and well . . . he’s retiring this year!

And these old headphones! Who uses corded headphones anymore?? These are so old they are literally falling apart.

Dog Sweaters!

I never thought I would purchase clothes for the dogs but . . .

We had a frost warning the other day. When we took the dogs out to take care of their business, the newest pup sat by the door shivering. She doesn’t have any extra meat (or fat) on her. So I ordered these sweaters for them. They showed up yesterday and here they are modeling them.

John put them on the dogs this morning before he let them out. Sweaters survived! Guess they like being warm!

Decluttering the Pants

Kiddo #2 and I have been decluttering the excess weight from our bodies. We’ve decluttered 97 pounds in the last 11 months! Hooray for us!

Since COVID lockdown 238 days ago (I know, can you believe it?!?), I’ve worn yoga pants every day. They are definitely getting baggy but who is seeing me? When I teach, the students can’t see my bottoms. We recently ventured out to visit my sister-in-law and I actually put on a pair of jeans. They were too big! That was the inspiration for going through my pants. Since I was going through mine, kiddo #2 decided to do the same.

We decluttered 18 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts, and 4 shirts.

Whenever we have to teach from school again, I’ll need to place an overnight delivery of pants! Right now it looks like we will be distance teaching for the remainder of the school year with the current rates of COVID.

23 more items gone from the house!!

Decluttering Old Receipts and More

I finally have some breathing room. School started 8 weeks ago and I’ve had little time for anything other than teaching and lesson planning for this “wonderful” experiment called distance learning. I’m not complaining (much) – it’s just very time consuming planning and prepping for this versus in person instruction.

When I sat down at my desk today to do a few things, I noticed the growing pile of old receipts. We keep certain receipts until the return date has passed. Well, I think some from 2017 and 2018 qualify!

Today I decluttered 31 receipts!


On a completely different decluttering note, I reached the body fat decluttering milestone of 50 pounds!! Got on the scale yesterday – 50.1 pounds decluttered from my body!!

Do I get to mark those off on my 2020 things decluttered in 2020??

New Dog!

Our friend Nancy is a dog lover – not your “I love dogs” but “I REALLY LOVE DOGS!!” kind of person. We had mentioned summer 2019 that we were thinking of getting a playmate for Wall-E. She knew we wanted a small dog that was not yippy.

Over the last year, she would forward me pictures of rescue dogs that might meet our requirement. This time, since we are home all the time, we figured why not. We are both teaching from home until at least January. It’s not like we have anything going on!! [sarcasm! we are crazy busy with school stuff right now]

The rescue friend of Nancy’s had a small dog about a year old, gentle and quiet. We went over to Nancy’s on Sunday to meet Maggie (we changed her spelling to Magg-E)

We came home with a new dog! She is gentle and so far quiet. She growls at the TV when something catches her eye that she doesn’t like. She also growls if we walk her towards the car. Thankfully, she is 9.3 pounds and can be picked up to go into the car.

Magg-E visited the local vet on Tuesday morning for her shots (since we don’t know if she ever had any) and to get her lady internal parts removed. She came home with the cone of shame – Wall-E is NOT a fan of her cone. She loves to play with him yet the cone annoys him.

Now to work on removing her tear stains.

Not COVID!

Hi everyone! It’s been a while and we are doing ok.

School started back up and we are CRAZY busy trying to effectively teach virtually. Challenging to say the least! This is one of my stressors right now so I’m not going to talk about it!

I came down with a few “sickness” symptoms Thursday. Fever, fatigue, headache. That evening, Kiddo #2, the pediatrician, wondered why I hadn’t called to arrange a COVID test. My response, which pushed her over the edge: “It’s not COVID. It’s just my normal back to school, run down, fever, body response.”

Kiddo #2 asked me to look at the COVID symptoms most likely to be experienced – fever, fatigue, and headache make the top 5 list.

So, I got COVID tested. The next morning at our clinic’s drive-though testing. Friday the results are in – NEGATIVE.

(I want to shout “I TOLD YOU SO!”)

By the way, I have Crohn’s disease and these are always my symptoms early in a flair and over the years. I’ve learned to listen to my body and take a breather.

Now to let my body relax a little. I haven’t done anything work related for the last 2 days. I think I’ll read blog posts all day today!

Follow Up to Skin Care Post

Hello everyone! We are still around, just crazy busy starting school.

This is a follow up to my skin care post found here.

I’ve been using the CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C serum ($24.99 at Ulta) almost every morning for a little over 2 months. I still have plenty left – a little bit goes a long way! I use about a pea-sized amount for my whole face. At this amount, it will last the rest of the year!

According to the Ulta website: “Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe’s Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum with hyaluronic acid is formulated with 3 essential ceramides and 10% pure vitamin C – visibly brightens while helping to restore the protective skin barrier. This serum has a potent antioxidant L-Ascorbic acid (the purest form of vitamin C) that helps to even skin tone and continuously brighten skin while providing antioxidant benefits. The serum’s gentle, lightweight formula helps restore the protective skin barrier and improve skin hydration, leaving skin soft, radiant, and healthy looking. Skin appears visibly brighter and even toned with improved texture.”

Did it brighten my face? Maybe. Did it improve hydration? Yes. Did it make it appear more even toned? Maybe Did it improve texture? Yes

In the evenings, I apply a small amount – about a pea-size to each half of my face – of the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer Fragrance Free ($38.99 at Ulta). This one also still has plenty in the jar and will probably last the rest of the year.

According to the Ulta website: “Olay Regenerist Retinol24 Night Moisturizer penetrates deep into skin’s surface layers. Olay’s proprietary blend of vitamin B3 + retinol complex hydrates skin for 24 hours for a bounty of benefits. You’ll see visible improvements in fine lines and wrinkles, smoothness, brightness, firming, dark spots, and pores. Retinol24 delivers all of these benefits with virtually no irritation. This fragrance and dye free moisturizer absorbs quickly and goes deep into your skin’s surface layers so you wake up every morning to younger-looking, radiant skin. Use Olay daily for 28 days and see true skin transformation.”

Did it improve fine lines and wrinkles? Yes, under my eyes. Did it improve dark spots? Not really. Did it reduce the size of pores? Not really. Do I wake up every morning to younger-looking, radiant skin? Not really. Did I see true skin transformation after 28 days? Not really.

My face does seem smoother to the touch. The area under my eyes seems less wrinkled. There is less redness on my cheeks.

Overall, I’m torn if I would recommend the products, especially considering their initial costs. They do seem to last longer than I anticipated.

Here are the before and after pictures of my cheeks and nose. In the before picture I was smiling so that’s why my cheeks look a little different. I think I had the flash on for the after picture as well.

What do you think? Any obvious difference?

July 2020 in Isolation – we had to escape our house!

As you have noticed, I haven’t written about July. So much has been going on so here’s the recap since the last post.

We bought Pedego bikes!! These electric bikes are awesome!! See below.


We also: (posts will follow soon!)

  • We went “camping” in Watsonville, California.
  • We went camping at East Fork/Rock Creek area near Mammoth Lakes, California.
  • We’re getting things ready for Kiddo #2 to move back in. More decluttering!
  • We’re getting ready to do distance teaching!

On our trip to the Bay Area (CA) to visit Kiddo #1, Grandkiddo #1, and Kiddo-in-law, we took the bikes and logged 15 miles going to the park and the BART station to watch trains with Grandkiddo. It was an amazing 5 days with them over the 4th of July weekend.

The bikes have pedal assist. If it senses you need a boost (because you slow down while pedaling I think), it gives you a little extra. You can also use it as a non-pedaling electric bike. We played with that feature but don’t really use it. The point of the purchase was to get us moving. Pedal assist is enough for us.

It handles sloped areas well and really rides nicely on flat streets. We went on a few hills while camping and it went well. It was the first time on bikes for both of us in about 25 years so there was a slight relearning curve we had to deal with. Overall, I would highly recommend the bike.

Grandkiddo, who is now 29 months, was in awe of the motorhome parked in her driveway. You should have seen her face when the walls moved out! She even got to take a small ride around the block as we were getting ready to attach the car. MIND BLOWN!!

  • “your house has wheels!?”
  • “your house can move?!
  • “my house doesn’t go bye-bye.”
  • “I want to use your potty.” [her mommy said she had to potty in her house.]

I so wish we could have taken her with us to Watsonville.

Day 106 of Isolation – new pizza

We decided to be wild and crazy with our pizza today.

I’m calling it Chicken Enchilada Pizza! I’m sure there are similar recipes online for this.

Ingredients:

  • pizza crust (gluten free using Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix)
  • small can green enchilada sauce
  • grilled chicken breast, chopped
  • chopped onion
  • chopped tomato
  • Parmesan cheese
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

After baking the pizza crust, mix small amount of parmesan cheese with enchilada sauce. Put sauce onto crust. Sprinkle chopped chicken, onion, and tomato onto sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake 350 F for about 7 minutes. Top with avocado if desired.

Easy and YUMMY!! 

Days 103-106 of Isolation

Decluttering!

First, I attempted to take some boxes for donation. I called ahead and they confirmed they were accepting donations. Got there and was told “we aren’t taking donations today.” WHAT THE HECK! I just called. So the stuff from work is sitting in the back of John’s car. This was our second attempt to donate this stuff!

Maybe next week it can finally get donated!

2 boxes out of the house at least!

Second, I decided to declutter/organize my genealogy boxes. This picture shows the end result. I started with 2 boxes this size and reduced to one box. I confirmed every bit of information on every piece of paper I decluttered was also found in my Ancestry tree. I also made a spreadsheet for the birth, marriage, and death certificates I have. Needless to say, this led to rabbit hole “excitement” for me.

124 “items” gone!

Third, John replaced the storage cabinet in the garage with a shelving unit. He also purchased plastic bins to put stuff into. I used the label maker to put on the bins. Not many items decluttered but it sure does look better! The old cabinet doors couldn’t close anymore.

13 items gone!

139 items out of the house!!  Feeling accomplished!

Day 100 of Isolation – decluttering the extra closet

Since Kiddo #2 was home for 24 hours, we decluttered her bedroom closet. Yep it is still called her bedroom and kiddo#1’s room is still hers. Kiddo #2 left home 13 years ago but some things never change!

Kiddo #2’s room is set up with a bed and dresser.

Kiddo #1’s room has the extra TV, bookcase, and sofa sleeper. When she visits, that’s were she sleeps, even if Kiddo#2’s room is not being used. Silly girls!

Here’s the 117 items decluttered!!

Day 99 of Isolation – decluttering the bathroom

Kiddo #2 came out to trade cars again. She ended up coordinating and delivering over 5800 diapers to local shelters! WAY TO GO!!

She will be finishing her residency program next week and temporarily moving back in with us August 1st. Job searching during a pandemic has been challenging to say the least. She can save the money in her savings account for the move when she gets a full-time job. She has arranged for per diem work at a local clinic to hold her over until she takes her board exams in October.

Because of this, she wanted me to declutter “her” bathroom. Our Saturday afternoon fun was just that!

78 items were removed from the bathroom! Productive day!

34 items to a local women’s shelter! 

We consolidated the bandages.  There was an empty blood pressure device box.  Where’s the device?  Who knows.  The stethoscope is gone – kiddo #2 called it crap and said we don’t need one.  She also laughed at the diameter of the 80’s curling irons.

Tomorrow is her closet – imagine, she wants some of the stuff that we’ve been storing in her room since she moved away to college 13 years ago to go elsewhere! I’m hoping most of the stuff will be hers!

Days 96 & 97 of Isolation

After working on the windows, I decided to declutter/reorganize the DVDs.

We had reached the point of more DVD’s than the shelves would hold. That meant going through the old VHS tapes and reorganizing the cupboard to make room for them. 21 items decluttered!

I also decluttered 10 old coupons from my desk.


A few other things we did over these 2 days:

  • 3 hour phone chat with a friend
  • chats with both kiddos
    • Kiddo #2 detailed her delivery of diapers from the “Diaper Drive” she organized at work for a local women’s shelter. 5300 diapers were donated over 2 weeks! Great work!
  • trip to the cemetery to “visit” John’s Dad.
  • John cleaned the rain gutters at his Mom’s house
  • did some DAR research for a prospective member
    • This is another rabbit hole for me!

We watched MANY episodes of the series “Yellowstone”. We are really enjoying this one!

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is Day 95 of Isolation and John’s Birthday!!

We celebrated at home – duh! It is the first time in YEARS thanks to the pandemic.

John requested bison burgers, baked beans, and chocolate cupcakes for his birthday dinner.

The ground bison was available at the local health food store. It made great patties and were cooked on the BBQ. Served lettuce wrapped.

I used the instant pot to make the beans this time. They tasted a little different but that could be the recipe wasn’t the usual one. I tried one I found online for the instant pot.

These are gluten free cupcakes I made and boy, are they yummy! I made buttercream frosting to put in and on them. Sorry, no pic of the finished product. Just trust me when I say I’m glad it only made 6!

It was a great day to turn 64!

Days 92-94 of Isolation

Now that we have a TON of time to do all those wonderful chores we’ve procrastinated doing, we decided to conquer one accidentally!

Ours were the windows. We spent DAYS working on them. Partly because I also vacuumed all the baseboards in each room as I worked my way through the house.

It all started when I was cleaning the bathroom. I decided I should vacuum the blind. Then that led to vacuuming the window sill. The window sill needed more than vacuuming this time so I had to wipe with a damp microfiber cloth.

That led to wiping the window itself. Once you do the inside of the window, you have to do the outside. This is where John comes into the chore! That means removing the screen and cleaning that. Before you put the screen back on, you have to clean the window track. Some of these were really YUCKY!

Even though it is not perfectly clean, it is so much better than before.

I don’t know about you guys, but this hadn’t been done thoroughly in our house for at least 5 years (assuming we did it during the 2015 Great Flood).

So one bathroom window means every window was cleaned inside and out! Every screen was cleaned. Every track and sill was cleaned. Every blind was vacuumed.

What pandemic chore have you completed lately?

Days 89-91 of Isolation – not what we planned

We were supposed to be in Glacier National Park – instead we went to Prado Regional Park. Definitely not what we planned! COVID sure is putting a crimp in our summer plans! Not sure we are going to make our goal of 20 public parks and/or 20 nights in public parks during 2020. 3 nights of our 20 complete!

The National Park refunded our reservation money about a month ago when it was decided they would not be open this week for camping.

Prado Regional Park is in the southwest corner of Chino, California. It has full hookups (meaning we have water, electricity, and sewer connections), most are long pull-through sites with asphalt pad for parking. A concrete patio area with picnic table and fire ring is also at each site. Cost is $40 per night. The sites are pretty far apart. Good AT&T cell reception.

** 11/2020 – the lake is contaminated and no water activities are allowed until further notice. Please check their website for more information.

South view shows neighboring site and local mountains.
North view from same location, showing patio area and nearest neighbors.
West view showing location of closed bath house and distance of neighbors in that direction. Washer and dryer available for use at bath house.

From their web site: “This park is loaded with outdoor recreation and adventure offering, fishing, camping, hiking, biking and nature trails, splash pad, disc golf and outstanding picnic facilities are just a sampling of what this park has to offer.

A unique feature of Prado is that it has a meeting room that seats 80 people and is ideal for club meetings, parties and receptions.

Additional activities at the park include two 18-hole golf courses at El Prado Golf Course, an Olympic shooting range at Shoot Prado, an equestrian center at Prado Park Equestrian Center and an archery range by Oranco Bowmen Archery Club.”

We had a unique easterly view. Mid-afternoon on Wednesday a small fire started in the equestrian/hiking area. 28 acres burned. Pictures show progression and how close it was to us. Friday morning John saw a deer going towards the river in this area.

My only complaint about this park has to do with the bugs. It is near a wilderness area and has its own “lake” so the mosquitoes and other biting bugs are plentiful. I really don’t like to use bug spray but you really should at this place!

Now I’m off to do laundry – too bad “vacation” doesn’t include a respite from these kind of chores!

Day 88 of Isolation – wind

Yesterday was a windy day – average wind speed around 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 miles per hour most of the day. We enjoy watching our wind sculptures by Lyman Whitaker spin. We purchased them at the Renee Taylor Gallery in Sedona, Arizona. [We are providing the links in case you are interested in more information. We do NOT make any money on links.]

We have the Double Spinner, Nebula, and Lotus versions. Somehow we didn’t show you them when they were installed. Go figure!

All 3 are stainless steel. John installed them by securing the pole in a bucket of cement and then burying the bucket. This will allow us to take them with us when we move.

Day 87 of Isolation – skin care

While Kiddo #2 was home on Saturday, we had a discussion about skin care since her surgery scars are still very visible. We went down a rabbit hole on the internet researching scar care which leads to overall skin care which lead to skin care for “aging” skin. [Some call it “mature” skin. Nice ways of saying OLD!]

This is not a typical topic for me to write, talk, or even think about. I rarely use makeup and haven’t really worn it much in my life. I always had acne breakouts made worse whenever I put anything on my face and gave up trying about 30 years ago. [Having 2 small children might also have played a role!]

Even mascara went since it made wearing contacts uncomfortable. I would rather see and not have glasses slipping off my face than have mascara on.

So here is my usual skin care routine for the last 30 years – wash my face (and body) with Dove Beauty Bar. {Link just in case you’re interested – I don’t make any money on my links.} When they came out with the Sensitive Skin version years ago, we switched to that. John doesn’t really care what soap I put in the shower. He uses whatever is there. I also only use the bar version – less environmental impact than the plastic bottles for the liquid body wash version. I added the Clinique Moisture Surge Hydrating Supercharged Concentrate most mornings about a year ago. I also don’t use facial sunscreen unless I know I will be out for extended periods of time.

So now back to our “findings”. Apparently, vitamin C serum and retinol are the go to things for healthy “aging” skin. So I am going to perform a month-long science experiment.

Question: Will Vitamin C and Retinol products have a visible effect on my facial skin?

Research: Many sources – it was an internet rabbit hole! Vitamin C serum and retinol are the go to things for healthy “aging” skin.

Hypothesis: If I used Vitamin C and Retinol products every day for a month, then I will see visible positive changes in my facial skin.

Experiment: I will use CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C serum each morning after washing face with Dove Beauty Bar and follow it with my Clinique moisturizer. Each evening after washing my face with Dove Beauty Bar, I will apply Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer Fragrance Free. I’m not going to explain why I picked these brands, never having tried serums or night moisturizers before. Thank you Ulta for curbside pickup!

I’ll share my experimental results around July 8th. Both products first used on June 8th.

Day 86 of Isolation – another yard project complete

I FINISHED TRIMMING THE ICEPLANT!!!!

This side took about 4 hours and filled our green and black cans, as well as 2 neighbors green cans. I’m very thankful our neighbors allow us to use their green cans (and they ours) when we have big yard projects.

I don’t listen to music or podcasts during these type of projects. I like having time in my own head. I feel so relaxed after having ruminated and thought through mental/emotional stuff while removing the yard stuff.

Anyone else notice that when you have yard projects like this, you declutter your mind as well?

Day 85 of Isolation

A relaxing day – Kiddo #2 came home for the day/night. She is feeling back to normal, is back to work, and needed to trade cars with us. As part of her advocacy rotation, she organized a diaper drive for the local shelter. They’ve received about $500 worth of diapers and funds for the shelter. Her car can’t hold all of it for delivery, so the Xterra is coming to the rescue!


We had our 3rd meal “out” tonight. Our favorite local Mexican food place does take-out. We ordered and John willingly went to pick it up. They’ve reopened for a limited number of tables – he said only one family was in the restaurant. They usually have a wait for dinner on most nights (and have about 25 tables)

Some of the changed he noticed:

  • he didn’t have to bag his own chips and salsa
  • the soda machine area was roped off – I guess they will bring you a new glass if you want more beverage
  • everyone working was wearing a mask

And our favorite server was working and healthy!

Day 84 of Isolation

Today represents the completion of our 12th full week of self-isolation due to “Safer/Stay at Home” orders. My, how time flies (is there a sarcasm font out there?)


Kiddo #2 “graduated” from her Pediatrics residency program tonight. She doesn’t actually finish until June 30th. Usually they have a big celebratory dinner and invite the families. Instead, they did a small virtual ceremony earlier than usual. We are so proud of her!

2 more steps are required – pass the Pediatrics board exam and find a job. Many places are under hiring freezes, even for doctors. Since the kids aren’t in school, they (and their families) aren’t getting sick! Add to that the people losing their health insurance due to layoffs and you have plenty of uncertainty. It seems weird to think we are in the middle of a PANDEMIC and some medical professions are not “needed” at this time.


On the home front, John played with the sprinklers (again and still!). Things are looking so much better. Can’t wait to post a picture of the grass actually growing!

I moved to the middle drawer to declutter it. Here’s the stuff that was decluttered and the before and after pic. We have no idea where the rest of the Cuisinart mini is. Maybe decluttered earlier? Most of the paper pile was recipes torn from magazines and newspapers along with a BUNCH of recipe empty recipe cards.

Day 83 of Isolation – Decluttering

Today I decluttered a bottom drawer in the kitchen.

17 instruction booklets, 2 bags, 4 chair leg plastic caps (these just won’t stay on our chairs)

23 items decluttered today and a much neater drawer.


John worked on the sprinkler system in the back yard. We now have a drip system for the patio plants and planters and it is on the timer! Thank you hubby!

Day 77 of Isolation – Decluttering!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we had 14 rolls of undeveloped film just hanging out in the desk drawer. Feeling inspired, I took the 14 rolls of film to get developed in January 2020. The drugstore initially said it would be about a week. Several weeks later and only 9 rolls had been processed and returned. After a couple more weeks, the other rolls were processed and returned.

When we picked them up at the drugstore, I quickly went through them and realized MOST of the pictures were worthless. $322.36 later to realize maybe one roll of film worth of pictures were kind of usable. I put the pictures back in the envelopes and said I would deal with it later.

Later arrived.

I’m decluttering 14 envelopes, 10 cds and 541 pictures (due to duplicate printing.) Some of the date stamps are from 1999, 2000, and 2001. Just a few years hanging out in the drawer!

565 items gone!

Day 76 of Isolation – end of the school year

Today was my (Barb’s) last unofficial day of work. I had my last virtual class meeting with my science students, my AVID students, and our last staff meeting. I also “attended” our last virtual staff happy hours in the early evening.

Tomorrow is my day to get grades turned in (done!) and close out our virtual/digital classrooms (done!) John’s grades were due today but has a staff meeting tomorrow morning. He is almost done!

We have had 11 weeks of virtual/distance/remote learning. My students missed more than a quarter of the year. Everything assigned to my students was optional “enrichment” activities for both our districts. We were also directed not to teach any new concepts and to limit their academic activity to no more than 2 hours per week per subject with a maximum of 12 hours expected per week for middle and high school students. Elementary students were limited to 2 hours per day with a 10 hour maximum per week. (This might have been a state directive.) While I understand this, it sure did make it difficult for educators.

Parents had to learn how to manage working at home or working outside the home with limited childcare as well as “homeschooling” their students with the uncertainty of the pandemic on the livelihood on their family.

Many teachers went overboard on assignments at the beginning and turned off the overstressed parents. Some parents just gave up and let their child do what ever they wanted to do academically, others “enforced” 2 hours per day of “academic activity”, and then some expected their child to do everything listed for the week from every teacher.

I worry about August when we will be requiring a minimum of 5 hours of work a week from students, either in class, at home, or a mix of both.

I will miss the virtual meetings with my students. They have shared so many small personal details of their lives, more so at the beginning of all this. Some have shared insightful realizations about how they learn and what they enjoy doing now that they have time to pursue these other interests. Surprisingly, they are wanting to limit screen time (phone and computer) and prefer playing video games on the television screen. Maybe it has something to do with the closeness of the screen to their face.

Goodbye 2019-2020 school year. May we NEVER have to have a school year like you again!

Day 75 of Isolation – new lights

“We” (it was definitely not a joint effort!) finally got around to installing these extremely bright LED lights in the garage. The box says 300% brighter – I’m going for about 1,000,000 times brighter!

They really are beyond bright!

John spent most of the day working on it, between going back to Home Depot to get the actual electrical fixture and wiring stuff, assembling the wiring stuff and installing onto the rafter.

I am very grateful – no more darkness in this corner of the garage! Our electrician friend also ordered LED bulbs to go in the other fixtures in the garage. They should arrive tomorrow!

It looks like we need to declutter again now that we can see in this area!

Day 73 and 74 of Isolation

We continued to work an the yard. It seems like progress is slow. Here are a few pictures showing we have made some progress. This post shows the before picture of the front curb/gutter.

I’m not sure what this gardening tool is called, but John has spent more time with it in the last couple of days than with me!

And I’m not crazy about this “new” version of WordPress editor!

Day 71 and 72 of Isolation – More Yard Work

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings were devoted to yard work. John has hit a snag in prepping the back for planting grass. The large tree outside the fence has MANY roots just below the surface that need to be removed. Some are quite large in diameter. This is slowing down the progress in planting the yard.

Barb worked on trimming the ice plant in the front as well as trimming a couple of plants in the back.

Here’s my before picture. When it’s done, I’ll post the after. I can finally see the curb and gutter again for most of this! Hopefully I can get the entire thing done by the end of the week. We are due to hit 100 F for a couple of days, also slowing down progress.

Since we live on a corner, this continues for about twice the distance on the side street.

Day 70 of Isolation – Classroom Cleanup

School is almost out! Just one more week of “enrichment” lessons!

I went this morning to prep my room for summer. We were given a 4 hour window. I completed everything in 1 hour! I signed in at the office at 8:55 am and signed out at 9:58 am. I assume the 3 minutes was walking to and from my classroom.

I normally do everything the last day of school while my homeroom students are watching a movie while the 8th graders are having their promotion ceremony. Here’s most of what I accomplished in an hour.

  • Took down all my bulletin boards and stuff on the walls and put stuff into cabinet
  • Threw away graded papers that didn’t get handed back to students
  • Put all the recyclable bottles into the large trash bag for recycling. Moved them next door to the teacher who handles that for the department.
  • Defrosted my mini frig freezer (with a little help from my hair dryer!)
  • Put away all the pencil boxes and letter trays
  • Moved the butcher paper roll to the closet
  • Moved the printer paper and graph paper to the closet
  • Put the desk top stuff in the drawers.
  • Moved my teacher editions into the cupboard.
  • Brought home to recycle all the extra copies of assignments.
  • Brought home the stack of one-sided paper for use at home.
  • Put the DVD player into the closet.
  • Unplugged the TV and frig. Totally forgot to unplug my document reader and projector – oops!
  • Brought home my sweatshirt and coffee mug for cleaning.
  • Gathered up a few resources for reference for next year planning.

I’m sure I forgot something on this list! I am so glad I started decluttering the stuff in my classroom a few years ago. It gave me more space in my closet and cupboards so when I have to prep for the end of the year, it goes quickly and smoothly.

Grades were submitted this afternoon. It sure is easy when every student gets Credit/No Credit as a grade. Only 10 No Credit students! Not a single one of them did any of the “enrichment” activities to earn extra credit for their failing class grade.

I’ve also become very minimalistic in my class decor. Have you?

Day 69 of Isolation – Work Computer Cleanup

Today at my department meeting, we were reminded we have to go in tomorrow to clean up our room for the summer and turn in our keys. Hopefully that won’t take me more than an hour or so. I’ve decluttered plenty of stuff and have become very minimalist in my classroom decorations over the last couple of years.

John has to go to his school for end of the year cleanup next Thursday. He hopes it doesn’t take him long. Knowing my husband, he has way more stuff out than I do and it will take way longer than he thinks!

We were also reminded to make sure our “My Documents” items are moved to our Google Drive because the district is changing how our documents are stored and accessed. Anything on the district server is at risk of deletion.

So I spent the entire day (ok, I did have a Google Meets with my students and department, talked to Kiddo #2 for about 1.5 hours, fixed dinner, text with Sister-in-law) making sure everything was moved to my Google Drive.

On my school laptop, I have the virtual “My documents” which stores on the server, “Documents” which store on the computer hard drive, and Google Drive for my documents. They told us several years ago this would happen eventually – I guess eventually arrived! Most of my stuff is in Google Drive, but I am find some things that need to be moved/removed. How many years of sub plans should I keep? I really don’t think I need every sub plan I’ve written since 1997! These were the kinds of things still in “My Documents”.

Since I was moving files, I figured I would remove everything from the laptop hard drive and the virtual drive to my Google drive – finally put it all in one place. I cleaned out my recycle bin before I started just to see how much was “moved/removed” from the laptop folders.

How many items in my recycle bin when I finished?

16,163 files (25.6 GB) decluttered

How much is now in my Google Drive?

41.7 GB Unfortunately you can’t easily see how many files your drive has.

Guess I need to do some Google Drive cleaning next.

Days 67 and 68 of Isolation

Is this 10 week experiment of remote/distance learning just about finished?

I’ve seen some people posting on Facebook about their virtual classrooms. I “played” with Bitmoji and created a virtual classroom using Google Slides.

It took about 5 hours to make. I had to watch a couple YouTube tutorials, search for the stuff I wanted in the room, crop the images, find what I wanted to have the images link to, and make my Bitmoji. The Bitmoji wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be BUT I had to download the app and then install the extension onto my computer. My work computer wouldn’t allow me to add the extension, so then I had to transfer to my personal computer.

Here is what it looks like so far. I don’t have a link yet for the filing cabinet. The hope is to put the documents the students will need in a google drive folder that the students can access.

Now where do I put this virtual classroom? Do I start using Google Classroom? Do I make a Google Site for it? Do I embed it on the Haiku/PowerSchool module the district has us use? Suggestions from fellow teachers would be appreciated!

Day 66 of Isolation

Today was a “relaxing” day around here.  John transplanted/propagated several trimmings of a Rose of Sharon.

Rose of Sharon are easy to grow and propagate elsewhere in our yard.  You just trim a branch and plant the trimming!  We’ve never had an issue with growth.

These plants are from a set of plants his grandparents had in their yard.  Grandpa died in 1965 so they’ve “survived” at least 55 years!  Trimmings from their yard went to John’s parents yard then to our yard.  We should get a set ready for Kiddo #1’s yard.  4th generation of them!

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This area used to be where we planted tomatoes.  We are filling in the space with Rose of Sharon to help cool the kitchen.  The shrubs should provide a nice barrier from the afternoon sun.

Day 65555555555555 of Isolation

Or at least it feels like it today.

This afternoon we did a socially distancing visit with another couple.  They put out their RV awning and we pretended we were camping in their driveway.  We maintained our distance, wore masks, and didn’t eat or drink anything.   We even took our own chairs!

While the visit was nice, it did have an overarching feeling of abnormal and some anxiety for me.

How long are we going to need to socially distance and wear masks?

What are the long term psychological risks of socializing like this?

What about all the Zoom burnout?  How is this going to affect society?

Will someone call the police on us because we aren’t home or the friend has visitors?

So many questions, so few answers.

Day 64 of Isolation

We took Kiddo #2 back to her apartment last night.  It is really quiet here!  Even though she is 31 years old, having her around increases the noise level in our house considerably!  We also don’t have to worry about waking her up OR interrupting her TV watching or book reading.  And I still miss having her around!  We realized yesterday that of the 9 weeks of quarantine, she has spent 4 weeks with us – 2 recovering from surgery and 2 for her “vacation”.

Of course the shoes she ordered from Rothy’s showed up today.  [sidebar: Rothy’s is giving 50% off if you are a teacher or medical worker.  Kiddo #2 got her 50% off pair, loved them so much she ordered another pair!]

At some point next week we will take her the shoes.  She also put in a request for lentils, pinto beans, q-tips, bleach, and the Yeti she left behind.  Thankfully, we have plenty extra of these items!  Maybe she knew that and that’s why she put in the request.  She (and her sister) also know if she asks for something, either I or John will make sure she gets it.  Maybe our Kiddos are spoiled???  Thankfully they ask for these kind of things!

Speaking of things the Kiddo’s want:  sanitizing wipes arrived!  [Recall that Kiddo #1 was jealous I received some for Mother’s day.  Kiddo #2 ordered her some.]  Costco had plenty to ship to our house but they weren’t available to ship to Kiddo #1’s house.  What’s up with that??  I made a trip to the post office and mailed her 4 packages of wipes and a rash guard shirt for Grandkiddo from her Sissy (Kiddo #2).

Today was a work around the house day.  You know the stuff – inside: laundry, vacuum, changing sheets, cleaning bathrooms, etc;  outside: getting rid of the last of the weeds!  John is hoping to get the grass seed spread this weekend in the back yard!!  I’ll need to do a yard update post if that happens!  Sure hope I can find the “before” pictures!

Day 63 of Isolation

We are getting close to the end of the school year!!  Just 2 more weeks!  Then a summer vacation of planning for the “mandatory for students distant learning” that may or may not happen in some form.

3zpowe

We were both reminded that the 3 days after Memorial Day are still school days.

Normal school year:

  • John would give finals.
  • Barb would have 20 minute periods after a REALLY long period 1 for 2 days of promotion practice and promotion ceremony day.  These days are usually minimum days – students on campus from 9-1 including a lunch period.

Neither of these are happening so what to do – find something for the students to “complete” even though nothing is required of them.  I guess we will have “special” Google Meet for the students.

Day 62 of Isolation – Vacation?

I really need to use the schedule feature for posts!

At this point of the school year, we would be crossing items off our to do list so we can escape for 9 weeks the moment school gets out.  Not this year.

There is no to do list since California is still on Stay at Home orders.  We are assuming we shouldn’t/can’t leave home.  Glacier National Park sent us an email that the park is closed until June 30.  Our camping reservations were for the middle of June.  Thankfully, they are giving a full refund.

Figuring out Recreation.gov cancellations was tricky – would you click “Cancel” on this to cancel the reservation below?  I went to “Modify” thinking “Cancel” meant cancel this screen.  Go figure!

Capture

Our trip to Monterey is in limbo.  We are fairly confident that the Monterey Bay Aquarium will be closed when we planned to visit around the 4th of July.  The campground is also closed at this time since the state is on Stay at Home orders.

We were scheduled to go to Hawaii the last week of July.  Hawaii extended their 14 day mandatory quarantine to June 30.  What are the odds they will lift that on June 30th?  Do we take a chance?  We are leaning towards cancelling.  John’s mom is using her travel points for us to go – both Kiddos were going to join us!  We even purchased 1st class tickets for us and Mom (our first time!) as a special splurge.  We should get at least a travel credit if we cancel the flights.

Anyone know about getting refunds instead of credits from airlines?

 

Day 61 of Isolation – Student Loans & College

All of our Parent Plus Loans are paid in full!!

Because of the pandemic, all federally backed student loans (and Parent Plus Loans) have been modified to a ZERO percent interest rate for 6 months.  Since we are not spending as much as usual, we had enough left over in April to make a final payment on the last student/parent loan for Kiddo #2.  We received the official Paid In Full notice today!!  Talk about excited!  Our kids college experiences are finally paid for!

How will this pandemic affect the next group of college students?  What about this generation of people?  Will college going rates change because of this?

The California State University System announced today that Fall 2020 classes will be online with a few exceptions.  It looks like certain “lab” based classes will occasionally meet.   8 of the campuses also moved their deadline for deposits from May 1st to June 1st.  It looks like the University of California system will be adopting something similar.

As a parent, would I want my kiddo to move away?  Is it worth the money to go “away” to just have your courses online?  With the global financial uncertainty of the pandemic, is it worth the debt?  More people are saving and paying things off because of the uncertainty – more than in the last 40 years!

If this pandemic had happened in 2007, Kiddo #2 probably wouldn’t have gone to college on the east coast.  Heck, Kiddo #1 probably wouldn’t have gone 150 miles away.  There would have been serious discussions about staying close to home with the possibility of transferring.  We have a UC school about 10 miles away.  It was considered their “safety” school just in case something happened and they couldn’t go away.

How many students will be attending closer to home?  There is going to be a massive federal debt because of the pandemic.  What are the long term ramifications of this on their career prospects?

Day 59 & 60 of Isolation – John’s Data

John’s spread sheet tracks the number of infections and deaths worldwide – so far he follows 21 countries.  His metric is when a country hit 30,000 cases.

He also tracks the data for 30 states in the US – added when they hit 8000 cases.  He uses the Johns Hopkins website as his source.

As you can tell, we look at this pandemic is very different ways – he is big picture while I am more locally focused.

As you can tell, the US is a primary contributor to the world count of cases.  We haven’t reached the flat part of the curve yet.  Italy seems to have flattened.  Russia looks like it is having dramatic increases in cases, confirmed by news reports.

Capture 1Capture

Day 57 of Isolation – Barb’s Data

We’ve been tracking the Coronavirus data for quite a while.  Once we realized that most news sites just update the same page over and over, it was difficult to see trends.  The news organizations try to put it into the simplest form (understandably) but being science nerds, we want to play with the data ourselves.

My spread sheet has 3 components:

  1. Our community data since 3/27 when the first positive case was identified.
    1. Looking at this data, our curve has not hit its peak.  Why would our county rescind the mask order? data
  2.  Our community data showing the daily increases in confirmed cases and the 14 day average – the standard for “reopening states” was that the 14 day average needs to decrease.
    1. Does this look like it is decreasing to you?data 1
  3.  This 3rd page was started because I was unable to find data showing increases by state on a week to week basis.  It was sparked because I did a screenshot of the US map showing county infections on CNN.  When I looked a week later, they had changed the scale for the various colors!  How can you make a comparison when you keep changing the scale???  Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate that and did not include the scale on the first one (4/20/2020).  Second one was screenshot on 5/8/2020.  If you look at Colorado, some of the counties decreased in their color intensity.  WHY?  Because CNN changed the scale!  How can I really see a spread and increase if you make it look “mild”.  Also the scale doesn’t make it obvious you are looking at cases per 100,000 of population.
    1. COVID county map 4_20_2020COVID all counties 5_9_2020
  4. I only started my 3rd page on 4/28/2020  You’ll notice I added Los Angeles County to the sheet.  Did you know Los Angeles County has more people than 41 other states?
    1. Interesting when you look at this data based on population.data 2

Day 56 of Isolation – CoronaVirus Test

Our county is offering free CoronaVirus diagnostic tests to any resident.  All you have to do is call – yep, you have to actually call them – and make an appointment.  It will only tell you if you have the virus currently in your nose/throat – depending on which test is administered.  They make sure you know this many times!

When we called to make the appointment, they first ask if you have symptoms.  If you have any, you get moved to the front of the line, usually tested the same day.  We called last Friday and got our appointment for Tuesday.

So on Tuesday, we took a drive to the testing parking lot.  When we finally figured out how to access the parking lot, John rolled down his window to talk to the first person we encounter.  She was kinda rude about telling him to roll up his window.  They tell you to place your government ID on the dash.  They check it and find your “medical file” and place it under the wiper blades.

We then proceeded to the next stop – that person rechecks your ID and makes sure the medical file/paper matches.

Third stop is for the actual test.  The nurse rechecks everything and then has you roll down your window for the test.  We got the throat (oropharyngeal) test.  It was kinda uncomfortable!  Imagine gargling and having someone jab your tonsils at the same time.  Yep, that’s what they do!

There have been minimal studies done comparing the accuracy of the throat test versus the nasal test.  Both can yield false positive and false negative results.  Preliminary studies are very limited.  It seems like the throat test yields more false negative results than the nasal test as more time passes after infection.  More studies definitely need to be completed.

We got the robo-phone call this morning saying we are CoronaVirus negative.  Knowing the testing limitation possibility, we are assuming it is accurate but what if it isn’t?

  • We don’t think we’ve had COVID but the weird dizzy/fatigue issue could have been a mild infection weeks ago.  No way to know unless we have the antibody blood test.
  • We don’t think we are asymptomatic spreaders of the virus if we cough, but what about sneezing?

How much longer are we going to have to maintain Stay-at-Home?  We are both “older” with other conditions that increase our risk of complications.

How much longer are we going to have to wear masks?  Our county still has a mandatory order.

Any one else have the screening test without symptoms?

Days 53, 54, 55 of Isolation

We spent Tuesday and Wednesday nursing Kiddo #2 back to health.  She is starting to feel back to normal.

Thursday was a long work day for both of us.  These darn reports we have to complete are driving us crazy!  We both have to document weekly what each student is doing.  When you have 150+ students, this takes FOREVER!!  I think it is worse because the work is “optional” for the students, so they are very sporadic at completing assignments, and they will turn stuff in weeks after it was assigned.  You never know what they will complete and turn in to the wrong assignment link!  I’m also frustrated with the emails – they don’t use their school email account and don’t bother putting their name on the email.  Parents are just as bad “my son is telling me he did the work.”  Great!  Who is your son?

I received 2 deliveries today from both Kiddos.  Kiddo #1 is jealous of the gift Kiddo #2 got me.  Guess which one she really wants!!

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Day 51 & 52 of Isolation – Getting Kiddo Home

Yesterday and today were spent worrying about kiddo #2 and wondering when she gets to come home.

She had emergency surgery yesterday morning (Sunday).  The doctor called about 10 am to say everything went well and she should be able to go home in a few hours.  His recommendation was to call back about noon and check her status with the nurses.

We called at 12:30 and found out she was still in recovery.  Nurse said she was having a rough time with the after effects of anesthesia.  Her recommendation was to call back in a couple of hours.  When I called Kiddo #2 about 3, she talked about 30 seconds and then had to hang up.  Her stomach was unhappy!!  That continued until about 11pm.  She sent a text and said she was finally able to keep a sip water down!  She was feeling sort of human again!

This morning she called about 7:30 and said the surgery team had put in discharge orders but to give it a few hours before we left home.  We left about 10:15 to trek into Los Angeles.

When we arrived, the valet parking attendant said to pull forward to the pharmacy line.  The hospital doesn’t normally have a drive-through pharmacy – it was a pop up canopy with someone who takes your information and then goes in and gets you the prescription so you don’t have to!  Since we were picking up a discharging patient, we didn’t have to pay the $16 valet fee.  By the time Kiddo was wheeled out, the pharmacy tech was at our car with her meds!  Win-Win

Now getting her car from the parking structure wasn’t as straightforward.  When we got to the structure, her ID didn’t activate the gate – the drugs prevented her from remembering that she can only access that one during the weekend!  So John jumps out and hikes up to the 3rd floor.  Only to find he left her car key in my car!  This “quick” diversion ended up taking us 30 minutes!

A quick trip to her apartment to drop off her car, pick up a few things and then ride home.  The highways in California SUCK!  Road construction is always happening.  Every bump had her moaning.  About an hour later we make it home.  She is currently drugged and sleeping.  Hopefully she feels better tomorrow!

Day 50 of Isolation – Medical Drama

Today started just like every other Saturday.  A little bit of yard work in the morning with plans to have a relaxing afternoon – that is until Kiddo #2 calls about 1 pm.   Kiddo #2 is currently working nights so a call during the middle of the day is ODD!

She is crying and telling me she was awakened by severe right epigastric pain and thinks she should go to the emergency room.  “Will you stay on the phone while I drive there?”  Of course!!

No matter how old the kiddos are, they are still your babies.  We live about an hour away (assuming there is no traffic!) but it might as well be 3000.  With Stay at Home orders in place, we could go get her and take her to the emergency room.  Unreasonable since she lives 3/4 of a mile from the hospital where she works.  Visitors are not allowed to stay with patients and they even have eliminated you from waiting in the emergency room waiting area unless you are the patient or the patient is a minor, then only 1 parent/guardian may stay.

She made it to the emergency room with mommy on speaker phone the entire time she was getting dressed, driving there, and checking in.  She said there were no patients waiting!  They took her immediately to the back.  She called about an hour later and they had already taken labs (and she looked at the results online with her work phone) and that looks normal.  They said they were going to take her for a scan, thinking it might be her gall bladder.

Sure enough – it’s her gall bladder with gall stones and fluid around the gall bladder.  Recommendation is gall bladder removal surgery.  After talking it over, she is going to have the surgery tomorrow.  If she waits and has it as an “elective” surgery, it could be up to 6 months before they get to her with the backlog of elective surgeries.

On a positive

  • we will go pick her up tomorrow afternoon and she will be with us while she recovers.
  • she will get a rapid Coronavirus test and will find out if she is an asymptomatic virus spewer

Why do our kiddos have medical emergencies at the most inopportune times?

Day 49 of Isolation

I finally woke up about 10:30 this morning.  We decided to do a grocery shopping trip – ol’ mother Hubbard cupboards were looking a little sparse.

Our local market is still out of toilet paper, paper towels, and anything resembling Lysol with a sanitizing/disinfecting property.  All of the cleaners were limited, including dish soap and dishwasher soap.  There was no toilet bowl cleaner.  They did have 1 bottle of Lysol shower disinfectant, so I picked it up.  If we get desperate, I’ll use shower cleaner where ever we need it!

Most food items were starting to look closer to normal.  The meat section was looking a little sparse – there were no chicken breasts but plenty of thighs.  Plenty of steak but limited ground round.  The soup aisle was looking pretty sparse – a very limited amount of canned soup and ramen packages.  There was no yeast, minimal flour, and no granulated sugar – thankfully we needed powdered sugar this trip!

The produce section looked normal as did the frozen section.  There were plenty of ice cream choices.  We did pick up a few frozen premade meals – just in case we don’t want a sandwich.  There were plenty of bread choices as well – it looked normal to me.

There was also plenty of hair dye.  A few weeks ago this was a hot item!

The dairy section looked normal except for the butter section.  Butter/margarine choices were limited.  We usually buy 3 different types:  for spreading – Smart Balance light with Flaxseed oil;  for general cooking – Smart Balance original;  and when you must use it, real butter.  They only had the original Smart Balance in a supersized container.  No butter or the Light Smart Balance.  Eggs were normal.

So after an exciting trip to spend $425, we are basically set for the month.  We should only need a trip in about 2 weeks to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables.  It shouldn’t cost nearly the amount we spent today.

How are your markets looking?  Any weird shortages in your area?

 

Day 48 of Isolation – Paying Bills

I got paid today!!  John gets paid tomorrow.  By the time his check hits the checking account, mine is basically gone – I try to leave about $100 in the account just in case something happens during the night and we don’t get his check.

Our budget seems to be doing ok – we aren’t eating out at all or spending any money on auto gas.  Our savings account sure did seem happy to get a little extra!

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Wishing we had a stack of $100 bills like this!!

 

April was a costly food month all the same, $1400 for the 2 of us and kiddo #2 for 10 days.  We had a big trip to Costco, a big shopping trip to Stater Bros, and several trips to Walmart in March that I used the Walmart card for that needed to be paid with April’s budget – oops – that explains the extra money in March.  We are now getting low on stuff and will need to make another big trip this weekend.

I sure hope people follow the mandatory mask order.  Our county extended the mandatory mask order to June 19th.  I’m assuming this date was picked because that is when the no school, no gatherings order is currently set to expire.

Hopefully everyone is doing ok financially.  Can you believe over 30 million people have filed for unemployment?!?!

Day 47 of Isolation

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We received our stimulus check deposit!!   Gotta love the cartoon – I feel like all of them!!

Of course, it will probably need to be paid back at tax time next year.  That’s what happened last time we got stimulus checks.  They “give” you money (your tax dollars), and then when you do your taxes a year from now, you need to indicate this amount as having been “refunded” in advance.  Last time, we owed the stimulus amount and about the same amount we paid the previous year.  Not much help when you spend the stimulus check for essentials.

This time we are putting it into savings and hoping we don’t need to use it.  We’ve been pretty diligent on saving for summer this year – maybe saving more than we will use if we can’t leave home.  In case you didn’t realize, when teachers are off for the summer, they don’t get paid.  Many take on summer jobs to make ends meet.  How many are going to be able to do that this year?  This is such a unique time with so many uncertainties.

We hope everyone is doing ok with all this.  Stay safe!

 

 

 

Days 45 & 46 of Isolation

I really need to use the schedule feature!  I start the post and then forget to go back and hit publish!

Days are really starting to blur together for me.  In the old days, different mornings had different activities, even if it was stopping to get breakfast on the way to work.  It made each day slightly different.  Now, every morning seems the same.  At the beginning of all this, it had an ending date 3 weeks away, sameness was ok.  Then it shifted to 6 weeks, sameness is ok.  Now, will this ever end?

The current morning routine feels just like a typical Saturday.  If we have work obligations, the meetings aren’t early in the morning so there is no need to set alarms or rush (now that I don’t sleep beyond noon!)

Some might think that since we get 9 weeks off every summer, we would be used to this.  We aren’t!  Our usual summer time off doesn’t have this sameness.  We are going from place to place and doing different things in different places.  If it is a driving day, you get up and prep the RV for travel.  If it is a relax day, you relax.  If it is an outing day, you do the outing.  Every day isn’t planned out in detail but you have different routines depending on the day and usually know before that morning what is generally happening.

I need to figure out a way to shake things up.  Any suggestions on how you have modified your mornings to make each day a little different during this uniquely different time?

 

 

Day 44 of Isolation – Violating Orders

Today was a day of “violation”.  Our friends, “K” and “N”, called and asked us to join them at the indoor shooting range (air conditioned!)  When we arrived, the range was only putting people into every third stall so John and “K” shared a lane and “N” and I stayed outside to talk (we weren’t allowed to hang out inside.)  Usually we are able to get 2 lanes next to each other and the 4 of us go between the 2 lanes depending on which gun you want to shoot.

The range has been open to law enforcement all along and recently opened to the general public – like the golf courses and beaches!

I’m not sure why the guys could share a lane and be closer than 6 feet but walls between lanes aren’t enough of a barrier to use more lanes.

So we had multiple social distancing violations as well as the stay at home order violation.  Since this is the first time we’ve violated the orders in 6 weeks, I’m only feeling a little guilty.  We did wear our masks though so no violation there!

 

Day 41 and 42 of Isolation – teachers gotta work

Thursday and Friday’s have become major work days.  Between meetings with colleagues, students, grading, generating distant learning “optional” review lessons, and tallying which students submitted work or looked at your webpage for admin, and doing the write up admin wants, there is little time for anything else on these days.  The other days of the week are a little more relaxed with few meetings, etc.

I wish there was a way to encourage student learning when everything they do is optional.  I really wish the district hadn’t put that out there.  Of course, some teachers told their students about the optional status – what were they thinking?? Wouldn’t it be better for more of the students to stay engages intellectually?

John’s district is still having them do their official weekly PLC (professional learning community) meetings virtually and submit the meeting minutes.  Thankfully, my district said all of these type of meetings are cancelled and my union negotiated a weekly limit on meetings – I have never been so happy!  I’m on the District Science Committee as a curriculum writer and was having major anxiety that they were going to have us work on making distant learning modules for every one.  My school site has an awesome 7th grade science team.  We share all the time BUT making a few of us modify everything we’ve worked on over the years for distant learning would be unreasonable.  Again, thankfully, my district realized this is a unique situation that would need more time and thought to implement.

I’m assuming we are not going back on August 6th with normalcy.  I was pondering the 6 feet social distancing rule and the seating arrangement in my room.  That would allow me to have 9 students in the room at a time.  How would I sanitize desks during passing period?  What about lab equipment?  Goggles?  Pencil sharpener?   How do you do group work?  It would also prevent me from: wandering the aisles while they work; greeting them at the door; having “private” conversations with individual students; and working individually with them.  How will the district handle this??  WHO KNOWS!  Another reason I am so glad I’m not an administrator!

Have any teachers out there heard their district plans yet for reopening school?

And now a meme:  Only thing missing are face masks!!  Dated picture but …

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from https://me.me/i/social-distancing-at-school-1dd7a09ccdcd4683ada530fddf10f745

Week 6 Isolation Watching

Movies

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

  • Frozen
  • Ghostbusters – 2016 version
  • Gone in 60 Seconds – Nicholas Cage version
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Almost Famous
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet

 

Shows

  • Current episodes of:
    • Survivor – last week’s episode as well
    • Bless this Mess – last week’s episode as well

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      Our TV!
    • Killing Eve
  • Naked and Afraid
  • Band of Brothers
  • Last Man Standing
  • Forged in Fire: Cutting Deeper; Samurai Showdown – History Channel
  • Outlander
  • 1999 NFL Super Bowl

 

Day 39 & 40 of Isolation

On Tuesday, we briefly heard rodent noises around noon.  Nothing since then.

My AVID students were so cute on Tuesday for our meeting – David played his harmonica (Silent Night no less!) and they wanted to play Kahoot.  When we finished the first game, they wanted more – I found one “All About Animal Poop”.  It took them a few questions before someone asked if all the questions are about poop.  Of course it was David!

Capture
partial screenshot of the Kahoot we played.

On Wednesday, I attended a virtual DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) “meeting”.  Since the by-laws don’t allow for actual meetings where voting takes place, our April meeting was cancelled and we got together today for a “social” hour.

New officer positions will be voted on whenever we can get together.  It was suggested today we just meet in a random parking lot.  Our quorum is 12 members.  If all of the board shows up, they only need a few of us non-officer members to show up and give our thumbs up for the election.  It could work IF enough non-officers show up.

You know things are getting TV desperate – John is currently watching the 1999 Super Bowl!

We got a few more weeds pulled over the last 2 days and contemplated removing the fencing for the dog run.  We’ve lived here 30 years and have NEVER used the pen.  It is on the far side of the house in a nice shaded area.  I think I want to put some seating over there so when it is warm, there is a nice cool place to hang out, especially if this isolating madness continues.  It helped that it is supposed to be 100 F. this weekend.

So that is our update.  How are you doing?

Day 38 of Isolation – flowers!

I walked out the front door this afternoon for the first time in a couple of days and was struck by the beauty of these blossoms!  These bulbs were at my Grandmother’s place.  When she died in 1993, I “inherited” her dwarf lemon tree and these bulbs.  The lemon tree was transplanted from a pot to our patio flowerbed.  The bulbs were planted here.  We really should thin them out but we haven’t done anything with them in 26 years (no fertilizer or thinning). I think it can wait.  You can also barely see the ornamental garlic in the next planter going down the steps to the street.

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While pulling weeds this morning in the back, we also found some wild violets growing the the back corner.  We know it is a weed but we are going to keep it!  Something different in that corner instead of grass.

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Day 37 of Isolation – unwanted visitor

Just another night in Isolation until I heard a weird noise about 1 am this morning.  I turned off the TV to listen and try to figure it out.

At first I thought it was John and his CPAP making the noise. As I walked into our bedroom, I realized the noise was coming from the attic.  The dog was sitting there staring at the ceiling when I turned on the light.

Being the “helpless” female that I am, I woke John up so he could hear the noise too. I know he couldn’t do anything about it at that time, but I didn’t want to be “alone” if it chewed its way through the ceiling.

It would stop for a few minutes every time John used the broom handle on the ceiling. After about an hour, there was no more noise. We either scared it to death, it left, or it fell asleep. I’m hoping for death!

Our unwanted visitor came back about 6:30 in the same location.  Guess we didn’t scare it to death.  And now I’m tired and cranky!

John went to Home Depot this morning at 7 am to purchase supplies – traps, poison, sticky pads so we can Declutter the UNWANTED Visitor.  All 3 were placed in the attic.  Now we wait.  He said it was obvious something was having fun up there!  No droppings or babies visible thankfully.

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Picture from Wikipedia (Brown Rat)