The End of Elementary School for Heather

June 10, 2023 2:46 pm

Heather finished up elementary school this year which came with a bunch of end-of-year activities. Here's a smattering of them.

On April 21 she had her "Walk Through the American Revolution" play for which she was Benedict Arnold:

On May 5 was the Rancho Color Run, which included Corinne:

On May 30 Heather had her first violin concert:

And a video of part of the concert (sorry for the shakiness, I was standing in the back hand-holding the camera with a zoom lens):

June 2nd was the 5th grade recognition assembly:

And the last day of school was June 8:

That afternoon and evening we invited some of the girls' friends to go to Lost Worlds (family fun center) and have a little party to celebrate.

COVID-19: Part 69

May 11, 2023 1:13 pm

Almost a full year since my last COVID-19 update post.

Today, May 11, 2023, marks the official end of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency declaration:

The CDC reports the total number of deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 as 1,131,819. Even as the emergency declaration ends, we're still recording ~1,000 deaths a week from COVID-19. But that's the lowest weekly figure recorded since March 2020.

According to the CDC, 81.4% of the overall population received at least one vaccine dose but only 16.9% have kept that up to date with the latest vaccine updates available.

As far as we know none of myself, Jess, Heather, or Corinne ever became infected by the virus. We've tested ourselves when we've had respiratory symptoms, but never had a positive test. It seems more likely that we've had asymptomatic cases rather than never being infected, but who knows--perhaps we were of the lucky group for whom the vaccines were highly effective and any contact was prevented from taking hold. We've kept our doses up to date whenever new boosters have become available.

So what does that mean in our lives? (A reader in the future might ask.)

Life has been basically back to normal--at least for our family (probably not for the families of the 1.1+ million people who died--for whom a pre-pandemic normal will never return).

The girls have had regular school and activities. We've had them wear masks when community transmission levels were "high" (according to the CDC criteria), but that hasn't been true for months now.

When out and about there are people around who still regularly wear masks. Not a lot, but it's also not particularly unusual to see. I taught Mathcounts in person this past year and I estimate that 1 out of 15-20 students that I saw on campus was still wearing a mask (Mathcounts ended at the end of March, so maybe that number has fallen since then).

I'm still working mainly from my closet. In fact I'm supposed to be losing my office on site any day now because I don't use it often enough. Just waiting to get the notification.

So I guess that essentially wraps things up. Here's to hoping we don't do that again within my lifetime. It wasn't fun.

A Hike in Morgan Territory

April 30, 2023 4:29 pm

I wanted to get a good hike in before it turns hot and everything dries up. It was hot this week, but cooled down today so I went up the Morgan Territory Regional Preserve and did a ~3.5 mile hike. The wind was howling which was sending waves throughout the grass. The trails had dried up, but all the grasses were still green and just starting to dry out in patches. With a high around 70F it made for a pleasant hike, if a little breezier than ideal.

I got some nice pictures too.

Easter 2023

April 10, 2023 7:04 pm

After a long, wet, and cool winter Spring finally decided to show up. Our foxglove and wisteria are doing quite well at the moment.

I spent Saturday cleaning up the outside of the house. Finally got the backyard cleaned up from all the windstorms we've been having. It was quite a mess, but now it actually looks alright.

I planted pumpkins and wildflowers in the planter box. The pumpkins have sprouted, maybe we'll actually get one to grow this year.

I planted an elderberry tree last year, which then got fried by a heatwave. I figured it was gone, but it's trying to regrow from the roots now, so it may yet survive.

We dyed Easter eggs on Saturday evening and the Easter Bunny stopped by on Sunday morning. Then we made cake pops, because why not?

This little critter was hanging out on one of our heavenly bamboo plants:

Corinne's 8th Birthday

March 19, 2023 3:19 pm

Sometime last year Heather had asked if she could help with the next birthday adventure. So as Corinne's was coming up I asked if she still wanted to help. She was very excited to plan an entire adventure for Corinne.

Heather was sick the final weekend before Corinne's birthday, so Jess and I ended up assisting with final prep work. But, in general, the entire thing was Heather's design with some consulting from me to smooth out rough spots and clarify tasks.

It all revolved around a story book which Heather wrote and assembled. The book provided the narrative and character interactions and Corinne was instructed to turn to specific pages during the adventure to continue the story.

The overall theme was a My Little Pony adventure. She helped each of the ponies with some task which provided her with clues to the encoded message Pinkie Pie found where Corinne's presents were supposed to be. Once all the clues were collected it became clear that Queen Chrysalis had ordered the presents taken. With the assembled ponies and the collected elements of harmony she was able to defeat Queen Chrysalis and recover her presents.

Reading the introduction in the story book:

Baking a cake with Pinkie Pie revealing the first 2 clues to the coded message:

Helping Fluttershy rescue stranded animals revealed the number 13 which was the next page in the adventure:

Apple Jack needed her baskets, but couldn't remember how to disable the anti-pranking alarm system. Corinne needed to retrieve them without touching the streamers and found a note with more clues.

Rarity couldn't remember the combination to her lock where she kept her notebook and Corinne needed to sew the pattern which Rarity created as a back up. Once sewn, the pattern marked the numbers 3-1-7-8.

She also needed to clear the clouds that Rainbow Dash forgot to take care of, which recovered another clue and Twilight Sparkle knew a book with helpful information in it (not shown).

Queen Chrysalis was confronted at her hive (in the backyard) and the presents were recovered from the bench.

Then it was time to open presents! At the moment she is all about Squishmallows and reading.

We went to dinner at her choice of restaurant, which was Taco Bell. And after dinner, cake!

Jess whipped up the crochet crown for her to wear to school since she didn't have anything super green to wear and wanted something.