Thanksgiving 2021

November 27, 2021 7:50 pm

On Monday afternoon we went for a hike at Morgan Territory. I like it there. It has some very New England-y sections: trees, mossy rocks, and meandering trails. So much more enjoyable to hike than trails across open terrain in the sun. Corinne ran just about the entire hike (2+ miles!) and only complained about her legs being tired near the end, but she never sat down and refused to move without being carried. So that made it even more pleasant. We brought a couple of walkie-talkies the girls have and Corinne spent most of the time running ahead and talking to us with the radio, which she thought was a blast. Heather wore butterfly wings, because why not?

Mount Diablo in the background

On Wednesday, Corinne helped me make a triple-layer, salted-caramel cheesecake and Heather made pumpkin pie filling while I supervised (I made the pie crust).

And on Thanksgiving we got to enjoy our new dining set for quite the feast. We could actually put the food on the table with us and have a centerpiece!

Corinne wasn't feeling well. She was running a fever and was complaining of nausea and she fell asleep on the couch during the day. She ate most of one roll for dinner and went to bed before dessert. So that took a bit of the excitement out of the day for her. Jess took her for a COVID test Friday morning which came back negative and she's fine now.

We tried a new single-strand braiding technique for the rolls this year which is kind of fun. Clearly we have a little work to do on consistency though.

I spent Friday putting up Christmas lights outside and Jess took down the fall decorations inside. We're going to have to work for our tree this year. None of the local places seem to be carrying grand firs. So we'll have to drive at least 30 minutes somewhere to get one if we want one.

Dining Set!

November 6, 2021 10:06 am

Erin gave me a table and chairs she was replacing back when I was in grad school. We've been using that table ever since. I bought replacement chairs in 2015 because the chairs I received from Erin had essentially fallen apart by that point. But now it's time for something new!

A new dining set (large enough to eat dinner at while putting food on the table; and to play games at without running out of space) has been on our list for a years and we finally worked our way down to it. We put an order in with Canadel through a local distributor (Roney's Furniture in San Leandro) at the beginning of June.

In the past we bought our nightstands and dresser from Roney's and were really happy with the non-pushy workers, their knowledge of the products, and quality of the furniture. So it was our first stop looking for a dining set.

I made a reconnaissance trip by myself to get the preliminary information about how ordering a dining set works from them and what options are available. They directed me to the Canadel website which has all the customization options with a visualizer showing what your finished product would look like. Super handy for visualization-challenged people like us. We played around with that and narrowed down our ideas.

Then we made another trip to Roney's to finalize decisions and put our order in. Roney's happens to be just around the corner from a Ghirardelli Factory Outlet, so when we reached our decision-making breaking point (stains, fabrics, fabric colors, chair styles, table-edge styles, table-leg styles, etc.) we went and got ice cream to reset our energy levels.

We made our decisions, placed the order, and were given an estimate of 2 months due to everyone's logistics being all messed up. And then we waited.

And waited.

2 months came and went and Jess called for an update. No information except that the manufacturer hasn't been able to make it yet.

2 more months came and went and Jess called for another update. Manufacturer still hadn't made them yet, they've been waiting on a part. But they hoped to ship it by the end of October.

The end of October was busy for us with Jess' parents visiting, Heather's birthday, and Halloween. So Nov 2 Jess called again to ask if there was an update and the worker at Roney's told her it was coming off the truck that very moment. They would inspect it first, but would we like to schedule the delivery for the next day? Yes!

Not shown are the two counter stools. Same color and fabric.

The table has a leaf which stores underneath and nice metal-geared tracks on which the halves slide apart.

The worker at Roney's steered us toward these chairs. Actually he steered us to a different design first as the most comfortable dining chair ever. And it was incredibly comfortable, but it had these wing-tip points at the corners which would almost certainly get dug into drywall (especially in our not palatial space) or hurt when run into by children.

So we asked what was similar, but without that pointiness and he suggested these. They are still super comfortable. So much more comfortable than the chairs we had. Spending extended periods of time playing games should be quite pleasant now.

We didn't think it was going to be an issue when we ordered in June, but we're very excited to have our new furniture in time for Thanksgiving. And it should last us for every Thanksgiving we have from here on out.

COVID-19: Part 64

9:36 am
  • Rancho Las Positas Elementary School known cases on site: 9
  • Livermore cases: 6,476; eligible vaccination rate: 81.6%
  • Alameda County cases: 114,592; deaths: 1,397; eligible vaccination rate: 84.6%
  • U.S. cases: 46,268,000+; deaths: 749,000+; eligible vaccination rate: 68.2%

Still over 1,000 people a day dying from COVID in the U.S. This has been ongoing since mid-August after a lovely lull that started about April and reached a nadir in early July. It's currently trending downward; hopefully it stays that way. Last year at this time we were climbing our way back up to a new high. I'm not optimistic about the winter. Still too many irresponsible people who refuse to be vaccinated, refuse to wear masks, and refuse to modify their behavior in any way to reduce spreading the virus. Multiple safe, effective, freely-available vaccines have been readily available nationwide for at least 5 months, and the nationwide vaccination rate of eligible persons hasn't even topped 70%. What an unnecessary loss of life.

Pfizer's vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization for children 5-11 this week. The above "eligible" rates are still for age 12+ as the reporting websites haven't added a 5+ category yet. We should see the overall eligible vaccination rate take a hit now that millions more have become eligible, but haven't had time to be vaccinated yet.

Our girls have an appointment for Nov 11 to get their first dose. They'll receive their second dose Dec 2 and be considered fully vaccinated Dec 16. Hooray! There are still stupid people saying things like, "kids don't need to be vaccinated, COVID hardly even affects them." Yet, the CDC has recorded 620 deaths of children 0-17 from COVID-19. I would prefer my children not be added to that list of the unlucky few--or the 4,325 kids hospitalized or the unknown amount of kids with lingering long-term effects. Especially when a safe and highly-effective vaccine is freely and readily available.

Updated guidance made me eligible for a booster shot due to lower efficacy of the Janssen vaccine compared to the mRNA vaccines. I got a Pfizer booster shot on Nov 3. Other than mild fatigue I didn't have any side effects (unlike my Janssen shot).

The Lab, following Federal requirements, has moved from vaccination-or-testing to vaccination required (or medical/religious exemption which will likely require regularly testing). The original deadline was to be fully vaccinated by Dec 8, but it looks like that deadline got pushed to Jan 4.

Halloween 2021

9:07 am

Just some quick pictures from Halloween.

I made another Halloween trifle. Brownies, orange-colored vanilla cream, more brownies, Cool Whip, and decoratives on top (Reese's Pieces, gummy worms, candy corn, and candy eyes).

Heather was a dragon and Corinne was a bat.

Both girls did actually help clean out the pumpkins this year for the jack-o-lanterns. Heather's design is cat eyes wearing a mask. Corinne designed the goofy face in the middle. I designed the cat face. (I executed all the designs.)

And here's the house decked out:

Ghosties hanging from fishing line, faux-fire lights in the sconces, flicker bulbs strung up in the pergola, and this year's new entry: the inflatable dragon (hiding in the back next to the garage side door).

Heather's Birthday 2021

October 30, 2021 10:00 am

A busy, busy day for Heather's birthday. School for the girls, of course. And work for me. Last year Heather had been a little disappointed at my treasure hunt. It was all very mental and she prefers to have some physical tasks as well. So this year was a mix of physical and mental challenges.

Once I was home from work (meaning I wrapped up my last meeting and could leave my closet) we let the games begin. Her presents had been locked up by some mischievous minion and only by completing her challenges and assembling clues could she possibly discover the code to unlock the box.

She started with the Strings of Despair! 7 strings criss-crossed the front yard connecting the numbers 1-7 to letters on the other side. Some went through the leaf pile that Corinne made last weekend.

With the mapping of numbers to letters in hand, she next had to cross the Chasm of Chaos! She must cross the bottomless pit via the rickety ladder, while collecting clues along the way. The rung wrapped in blue has broken off and fallen into the abyss and she must cross without it.

Aside: We got some great color on our tree this fall. Just look at it in the background there!

The clues from the Chasm of Chaos connected colors to numbers. Next she needed to use her assembled information to determine how to safely cross the Mines of Mystery!

Using the letter/number pairs from the Strings of Despair she was able to determine the safe path through the minefield and collect the color of the dud mines along the way. Next she needed to decode the colors of the mines into numbers using the information from the Chasm of Chaos. The decoded colors revealed the combination to the lock.

After presents it was time to go to gymnastics. After gymnastics we were going to pick up dinner from First Street Ale House to eat before cake. But Heather came stumbling back into the house in tears less than halfway through class. She had apparently injured her neck while doing a somersault and was in considerable pain. So we postponed our birthday dinner plans until the next night and grabbed McDonald's. After some ibuprofen, food, and rest she was up for cake.

Per Heather's request, Jess made a vanilla cake with chocolate-cream filling, chocolate frosting, and some crumbled Andes mints on top.