Fancy Friday – Sept. 17

Just a little behind on posting things like this. We ate on the patio! We also used Mom’s china and crystal and my sterling.

Here is the Fancy Friday picture and one from years ago before we started updating/upgrading/cleaning up the back yard. Not quite the same view but you can definitely tell we’ve made progress!

The Garage was Calling!

Life here has been busy. I am back to in-person teaching (that’s a series of posts I will probably never write!) Needless to say, I’m trying to stay afloat.

John, on the other hand, officially retired June 16th! He has been spending his time on his “Honey Do” list and rereading the Wagons West series of books by Dana Fuller Ross. I think he is on book 6 out of the 30ish books.

Some of the things completed on the Honey Do:

  • reapplying silicone around the toilets
  • installing the threshold between bathroom tile and hall/bedroom
  • installing trim along front edge of shower
  • reattaching fan cover in our bathroom to sit flush with ceiling
  • repainting our bedroom ceiling
  • replacing rollers in the sliding screen door
  • removing a huge bush from the back embankment
  • installing drip system for patio plants

We also decluttered a section of the garage shelves. Since we had a couple of boxes from my mom’s house, I needed to have a place to put them. It’s all the china pieces I don’t have in the house. I’m not sure how often I will need the coffee and tea pots as well as the many serving pieces and tiny coffee cups.

We decluttered 4 boxes of books, 3 camping chairs, and 10 medicine bottles!

MANY years ago we were going to have a vacation house with a library. Basically any book we ever bought we kept with the idea of putting them in a library. All these years later, our vacation home is on wheels and books are easily carried on a kindle/ipad/phone etc. Besides, I quit buying books about 6-7 years ago when I realized I needed to read the ones I had. I’m getting close to done!! These are the hardback copies that didn’t leave when we last decluttered books.

Cleaning out and decluttering Mom’s house

This is not an easy thing to do!

Mom died on Christmas eve 2020 in the midst of the COVID surge – not a direct COVID death – but sort of related. She didn’t want to seek medical care because of COVID and her medical condition worsened over the year.

Now we are attempting to get things cleaned out and settled.

Why didn’t my parents have a will? WHO KNOWS! We have emptied every piece of paper from the house, garage, and storage shed and can’t find one. The finding of all the papers, sorting the papers, analyzing the papers, and shredding the papers has taken me about 10 solid days! When Dad passed, Mom didn’t have to worry about there being no will – surviving spouse and co-owner makes a huge difference in what you can do!

Now what do we need to do? The first thing that came to mind was “Hire an attorney”. This seems like something that should have been taken care of in January 2021. Was it? Nope! One brother thought he could arrange to sell the house with just her death certificate! So we finally have hired one (August 2021) and have a probate court date for the first week of October.

Old sibling issues are coming to the surface, specifically that I don’t know anything because I’m a girl – this was said to me so many times growing up by dad and brothers, it’s amazing that I can actually think at all. Thankfully, they aren’t saying that specifically but it sure comes across loud and clear when a suggestion is made, I’m told how I could possibly know that, they confer with their friends, and then suggest the same thing I said weeks earlier. Frustrating to say the least.

Is any of this estate settling stuff easy with 2 siblings? NO! It’s not easy when everyone agrees and there is a will (or better yet a trust). When you have siblings who can’t agree that the sky is blue, things become complicated quickly. It doesn’t help when one insisted he have power of attorney during mom’s last year, had neighbors sign that they witnessed mom sign (when they didn’t) and thinks that holds over after death. How do you quickly explain this? Not easily!

Was mom a hoarder? Thankfully no, but she saved all kinds of random stuff in boxes that were labeled incorrectly. As an example – box labelled books. It was heavy but not book heavy. Opened it up and it was full of my nephew’s school papers. (My parents had custody of my nephew – he was placed with them at about 6 months of age. He’s an adult now.)

Now the big challenge is going through every other box, drawer, cupboard and figuring out if anything of value exists. We also meet recently to decide if there was anything we wanted. I asked for mom’s china – her brother/my uncle got it for her while in the army during Vietnam – and some of the old pictures. My brothers have already gone through the garage in the 2 years between their deaths and took stuff they wanted.

I think everything else can be trashed or donated. I’m accused of not caring about their belongings. sigh I just don’t want all of it at my house! One brother who has NO computer skills wants to place the stuff for sell online. When I asked who was going to do this, they both just sat there and looked at me like I was crazy. I just know I don’t have the energy to attempt to sell it. We’ve decluttered about 20,000 items from our house and didn’t sell a single thing – it was just too much to deal with. And I surely don’t want it all at my house!

So now I’m off to sort through some of my great-grandfather’s paperwork. As a genealogy fan, these have some value to me but are they worth keeping? Probably not! Photograph and move on will be my mantra.

I survived eating out!

We did it! We ate out at a restaurant. Our friends humored me and we sat outside on the patio. It was a chilly mid-60’s day but they knew I was having “stranger danger”. The patio was still set up for social distancing so I was comfortable removing my mask – it helps I know all 4 of us were “fully” vaccinated.

Next weekend will be another challenge – traveling to our nephew’s memorial service/scattering of ashes out of town. We will be staying in a hotel (oh no!) and eating out after the service.

I never considered myself a germaphobe before this – I sure hope this anxiety passes soon.

California still has masks required until at least June 15. That gives me a month to get used to this new normal!

So, now what?

We are “fully” vaccinated, now what? The newest CDC guidelines say I am free to go maskless and our self-isolation can end.

Do I want to? Should I? And why wouldn’t I continue to wash my hands as a disease prevention method? I love (sarcasm!) how the guidelines mention safety precautions are masks, social distancing of 6 feet, and wash your hands.

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

I am still required to wear a mask at work since the 12-14 year old students on campus aren’t vaccinated and my district doesn’t want to make a change with 2 weeks left. Even if the students get their shot today, it will be mid-June before they are completely vaccinated and our last day on campus for this year is May 28.

Will many of the 12-16 year old students even get vaccinated? How many have younger siblings who won’t be able to get vaccinated? Will be see a weird “spike” in pediatric cases? How many anti-vaccinating people will stop wearing their masks now? How many are teachers I work with? There are even more unanswerable questions rolling around in my head regarding pandemic safety in my classroom.


So I guess my “now what?” answer is this – I will continue to wear a mask IF I go somewhere that I am unable to know the vaccination status of those around me. It’s not like I’m rushing to go do things.

I don’t miss shopping or eating out in restaurants. I really don’t miss going grocery shopping – the idea of ordering ahead and picking it up is so much easier!

I do miss the social aspect of eating out. Tomorrow we are going out to breakfast with friends – first time in forever (well, actually 11 months but who’s keeping track!) Our usual Sunday morning location has had outdoor dining since our last visit (June 2020). To say I was not comfortable is a vast understatement.

Will they maintain outdoor dining for a while? Will the employees be wearing masks? Will the wind blow in the right direction? These and so many more whirl through my head!

Hopefully my “stranger danger” will gradually subside and I can venture out into the world again without a heightened since of doom with every breath.

decluttering the desk drawer

How many of us open a drawer and shudder? I’m famous for overstuffing the drawers and stuff falling out the back when opened. Then you can’t close the darn thing. Here are a few things from the bottom desk drawer.

Now the cords make sense, but why do I have so many dissecting supplies at home? I haven’t done class dissections in years and I’ve never had a microscope at the house! Who knows how long they’ve been lurking in the drawer!

Ube Cake Experiment

We experimented and made ube cake. We purchased the ube extract and powder online and used betty crocker gluten free yellow cake mix as the base. It has a pretty purple color and the taste was ok – not great, not bad. We think making it gluten free with the yellow cake mix might have affected the flavor more than we expected.

Here’s what it looked coming out of the oven. The top didn’t change at all after baking. We topped it with white buttercream frosting. Not weight loss friendly!

How many do I need?

Plastic and paper bags – those disposable bags that we had very few of prior to quarantine. Once California went into lock down a year ago, if you shopped, you could not use your own bags. Most stores are still not allowing you to use your own bags but with a decrease in COVID numbers, I’m hoping we can use our own bags again soon.

They pantry had reached the level of madness. I decluttered 60 of the cheapest, tears after you look at them plastic bags and 20 paper bags. I put another 250 plastic bags into bags of 25 or 50 (you know, those you can actually reuse). Why am I keeping them? Who knows! I even decluttered all the bags from the trunk of the car!

While I was dealing with the bags, kiddo #2 decluttered the rest of the pantry, consolidating open containers from when she moved in and just straightening up the shelves. Another 20 items gone.

100 items removed from the pantry!!

Fancy Friday 2 April 2021

I can’t believe another week has passed. Tonight’s dinner was a Japanese curry dish I love to make. I generously use S & B Curry Powder to season.

Amazon.com : S&B Curry Powder, Oriental, 3 oz (85 g) (Pack of 2) : Grocery &  Gourmet Food

We used stewing beef, onion, carrots, celery, potato, bell peppers (green, yellow, and red), and butternut squash this time. I also use cornstarch and cream in the sauce. We served it over cauliflower rice. YUM!

You’ll also notice new placemats and the new soup spoons! Bed Bath and Beyond and a person on ebay made a few dollars on us this week!

Fancy Friday 26 March 2021

This week I experimented with the placemat, napkin, and tablecloth combination. Not really liking the outcome but we did use our fine china (Noritake pattern Shenandoah) and sterling silver flatware (International Silver pattern Prelude). I think I need to look for some new placemats or tablecloths.

I am so surprised at how much it would cost to replace the china and flatware – each place setting of the dinnerware is about $75 and we have service for 12 with added bowls (for 12) and 2 extra plates and a bunch of serving pieces (about $1500 to replace). The flatware runs about $170 for each 4 piece place setting with added serving pieces (about $2000 to replace).

So why the rundown on the cost of replacements?

While we were eating this extra yummy flank steak with ginger, onions, and green beans, the spoons just aren’t big enough. When we use our stainless flatware, we use the soup spoons for this dinner. These teaspoons just don’t cut it!

I started looking into purchasing soup spoons in our sterling pattern. They are running about $55 each on ebay and Replacements.com. Buying 12 is out of the question at this time but I might be able to swing 6. I’ll need to ponder this a little more.

Spring Break Decluttering 2021

Spring break has sprung! John was off 3 March to 19 March. Barb was off 22 March to 26 March.

In the last 28 years, we have had spring break together TWICE! It will be nice to have spring break together next year. Why you ask – John is RETIRING in June! No more trying to coordinate schedules for holidays, vacations, etc!

Basically, all we did were chores around the house when we weren’t relaxing and taking a quick trip to visit the grandbabies!

And what is a spring break without some decluttering?!? Can you tell I was playing with the picture collage app??

  • a few clothes and shoes
  • knickknacks
  • books
  • computer case
  • puzzles
  • unused candle

Back to Campus

I’m a little behind on posts – I’ve had to return to in-person teaching in the afternoons while still doing the virtual teaching for every student each morning. That has added a layer of stress to our household. First it was the uncertainty of whether we would be returning to worrying about what precautions will actually be followed to worrying about the time factor and what I’m supposed to do with the returning students.

55+ Coronavirus Memes — Funny Coronavirus Memes

Should I teach in the morning at home and commute during my lunch? We end morning teaching at noon. Initially the district wanted us on campus by 12:30. Now I can make it – we live just a few miles away with no traffic along the way. I plan for 10 minutes but it never takes that long even if I have to wait for a train. Just a day before we reported, they made report time 12:45 (when the students arrive and report to our rooms.)

I found they are actually taking measures to ensure the safety of everyone when I returned to campus! I was hesitant, to say the least. They installed contactless water bottle refilling stations and gave each student a water bottle. Each student was also given a cloth mask, a pencil box filled with supplies that will stay in my room, and a notebook if they need paper. They labeled the desks for the M/T groups and Th/F groups so each student has their own seat and can leave their supplies to minimize contamination.

Syndicated cartoon gallery: Back to school 2020 | Columnists |  tulsaworld.com

The district has opted to have the afternoon session be voluntary – as of this writing I have 2 students on Monday and Tuesday and 3 students on Thursday and Friday. That’s not the stressful part – what am I going to do with them is! Should I have them catch up in their classes? do social emotional activities? All of the above? Something else I haven’t thought of yet?

Did you know I know how to play Among Us? I have a group of kids how come to virtual office hours so they can play Among Us and talk to each other while they play. I’m really not liking the new ship! With the return to class, my Among Us playing will be reduced significantly – whatever am I to do???

Flamingo Hat Among Us Gifts & Merchandise | Redbubble

Fancy Friday 12 Mar 2021

I am really enjoying our restful fancy Friday dinners – I don’t even mind washing the good china and silver afterwards.

Tonight’s menu: Grilled chicken, roasted acorn squash, and Pineapple Passion rum punch! I know, not the combination you would find at a fine restaurant but it works for us!

I think the acorn squash is just about out of season but the rum punch never goes out of season! We experienced this punch at the Kilohana Plantation in Lihue, Kauaʻi several years ago and recently found a local distributor. They also have great food here!

Book – Annie, Between the States

I don’t often write about what I am reading but this one deserves mention. This book is considered a “young adult” historical fiction novel set in the Civil War by L.M. Elliott. I really enjoyed reading it. I appreciate that the author included more information about the war at the end of the novel for those curious about the “accuracy” of events as well as a bibliography.

I would give it a PG rating due to death, maiming, and war. It would be appropriate for teens to read.

Here is the synopsis taken from Goodreads site:

  • Annie Sinclair’s Virginia home is in the battle path of the Civil War. Her brothers, Laurence and Jamie, fight to defend the South, while Annie and her mother tend to wounded soldiers. When she develops a romantic connection with a Union Army lieutenant, Annie’s view of the war broadens. Then an accusation calls her loyalty into question. A nation and a heart divided force Annie to choose her own course.

Better than Fancy Friday 19 Mar 2021

We are eating dinner tonight with the grandbabies! Now that we are both vaccinated and kiddo #1 received her first shot, they invited us up for the weekend. No pictures but I will tell you it was a WONDERFUL experience!

While there, I got to take Grandkiddo #1 to her “ballet” class. Here’s a picture of her being a ribbon dancer! It was a tad chilly outside for class.

COVID vaccine! And the week after

We both received our 2nd vaccine shot on 19 Feb. We are grateful for the ability to get the vaccine as educators.

When kiddo #2 received her second Pfizer shot, she missed 2 days of work due to her immune response so we were expecting the worse and hoping for the best since we were getting Moderna.

John almost never gets sick – he must have a really robust immune system! I, on the other hand, catch everything that wanders into my classroom. I am basically fighting something from about week 2 of school until we finally end in May/June. After all these years, you would think I’ve caught every germ already! This last 11 months of self-isolation have been amazing from this standpoint – I’ve not been sick since last March 2020! I was dreading this second shot.

We finished teaching at noon on Friday and had the second shot done by 1:15. It was very organized for the entire process. We decided to skip Fancy Friday for this week.

Friday:

  • John – no symptoms
  • Barb – headache and arm soreness started about 5pm

Saturday:

  • John woke about 6 am feeling tired (not his usual!) and arm soreness but no fever. As the day went on, John felt feverish (99.5), took a nap and was feeling normal
  • Barb – chills started about 2 am, by 8 am fever was 101.7, body aches, tiredness – I basically slept all day. My arm now had a goose egg sized red spot. Tenderness doesn’t even begin to describe it! Took all I had to drink 8 ounces of water.

Sunday:

  • John back to normal with some arm tenderness.
  • Barb still running a fever (100.6), arm soreness, and fatigue. My immune response is still in overdrive. I was able to get up for a little while but after about 30 minutes on the couch, I had to go back to bed.

Monday:

  • John’s arm is still tender but only when he touches it. No soreness when moving his arm.
  • Barb on the other hand, still running a slight fever in the morning, arm goose egg finally goes down in size. Fatigue and sweating is driving me crazy! Finally feeling “normal” by evening. This has been like having the flu – I can’t even imagine what having COVID would be like if this is my body’s response to the vaccine.

Tuesday:

  • John’s arm doesn’t hurt at all – everything back to normal
  • Barb still tired. Arm still hurts to move it and swelling is decreasing. I have to sit through a district meeting – I really wanted a nap by lunch but can’t.

By Thursday, my tiredness and headache is still lingering and my arm is tender. My immune response lasted a full week. Friday everything was back to normal but by Friday night I was exhausted! I was in bed by 9:30!

Moral of the story: John had typical response and Barb’s immune response went crazy – I keep imagining what my body’s response would have been if I had COVID.

Fancy Friday 12 Feb 2021

Just a little behind in the Fancy Friday posts.

This Fancy Friday is a gluten free order from PF Chang’s! Take out on the good china and eating it with the sterling! This is a great end to the week.

Chang’s lettuce wraps, egg drop soup, Chang’s spicy chicken, Singapore street noodles, shrimp with lobster sauce, and ginger chicken with broccoli. Brown rice was also in there somewhere!

Decluttering the Desktop

I spent 2 days decluttering this shelving unit on my desktop (and a shelf on the bookshelf and a drawer in the desk got a quick decluttering to allow for some stuff to be moved.)

John removed the top portion of the shelving unit and reassembled it.

118 items removed!! Still not perfect but so much better!

How many of you start decluttering stuff from one area only to find you are also decluttering another area when you decide to move something to a different/better location?

Before vs After

Some of the stuff

More stuff and books from a different bookshelf.

2020 Decluttering Update

We decluttered 2051 items during 2020! Our decluttering “grandtotal” since we began in 2014 is 19002!

This might be one of the few positives for the last 10 months – this and our new grandbaby!

We began our mindshift in mid-2014 with a desire to simplify our lives (physical, financial, emotional) with one aspect being the removal of clutter from the house. The decluttering gods must have know, since our house flooded in 2015 and we removed 11827 items that year.

We have debated if we should continue to count the stuff that leaves the house and every year initially decide we are done counting, until I declutter something and start mentally keeping track. This year it wasn’t even debated – I just printed out a new page!

Our lives are definitely simpler than they were in 2014. We both learned to say NO to extra obligations at work – this is probably the biggest change for both of us. We also decided to think more about our purchases before making them. That, in turn, helped simplify our finances.

This journey in Decluttering the Stuff has been life changing!

Cheap vs Quality

I know! I know! I know!

Yes, I know sometimes going cheap is a waste of money. There are so many examples of this that I should know better.

Well, here’s one of my “cheap” vs “quality” stories.

I began using my china teacups about 2 years ago. I even took one to school to drink my hot tea in. The students were intrigued with the idea of “fancy” cups for my hot tea. I did find them a little small but at work, that is a positive in case I spill – less mess to clean up. At home, I just make more cups in an evening. Does anyone use their saucers?

At home, I put the china teacup into the dishwasher (top shelf) without another thought. My china pattern, Noritake Shenandoah, has a platinum rim and are dishwasher safe on the china/delicate cycle. I never use that cycle unless the entire load is china/crystal from a holiday meal. The teacups have never shown signs of the platinum rim chipping or fading as you can see in the above photo. The one at school looks just like new and is hand washed every afternoon before I leave – well back in the day when we had school at school.

About a year ago, I purchased some white coffee china mugs from Bed Bath & Beyond. I figured as long as they looked ok, it was better to buy the “cheap” ones. They were $11.99 each but with a 20% off coupon, they were $9.59 each. They have a larger volume than the teacups that came with my china (14 oz vs 8 oz cups). The white mugs can also be used with the Christmas dishes as well as dessert plates from John’s Nana. Win Win! (I also considered Lenox Federal Platinum white china mugs – they retail for $34.99 each and are the ones Kiddo #1 has – no problems with platinum rim on hers.)

Well, here is a picture of the “cheap” china mug vs the “quality” teacup. I cycle through the cups so one is not used more than the other, usually because the other is in the dishwasher. The other picture is one I’ve regularly used compared to a new rarely used mug.

If these were my “good” china, I surely would be upset at the quality! This is ridiculous!

Is it worth returning them? Nope, I’ll still drink from them. I figure when one finally has the platinum gone, I’ll move to the next one. By the time we can entertain again, maybe all 6 will be without a platinum rim and guests won’t have any idea! Maybe I should purchase the 6 Lenox mugs I originally nixed because of cost next time we are near a Lenox outlet – definitely cheaper than $34.99 each there.

Do you have any examples of “cheap” vs “quality” items?

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.