A couple weekends ago we went to the county animal shelter and looked at the cats and kittens they had that were looking for homes. We picked out a tuxedo kitten (~3 months old) and Jess brought her home on Wednesday after she was spayed.
The girls have been ecstatic. Heather went into research mode and checked out books from the library all about cat behavior, how to play with them, how to care for them, and how to train them.
Her name in the shelter was "London" and we decided we better keep it to avoid an endless argument about what her name should be.
She came from the shelter litter-trained (yay!), with most of her vaccinations, and micro-chipped. But she seems to have picked up an illness before coming home because she's been sneezy, a little snotty, and a little lethargic. But we had her checked out on Friday and she seems to be doing a little better today. The vet prescribed some antibiotics and she gave my leg a good scratch while we were trying to give her the first dose (one of her hind legs got loose), but we're figuring out the trick to getting it done without blood.
She likes me (or at least my body heat) and will happily snuggle up on my lap or against my legs while she naps. She'll happily nap next to Jess too. She's still getting used to the girls and the girls are still getting used to her. They're a little too excitable and fast moving to make her fully comfortable.
Here she is sleeping next to me this morning, before her flower collar arrived:
Megan and Chad drove their family across the country in what I can only assume was their own personal version of "Organ Trail" (the zombie-apocalypse-parody game of Oregon Trail--traverse the country, avoid the infected swarms).
I took Wednesday off of work and we met up with them in Fairfield. This would have been before Jess ended up in the ER that evening, see the previous post for that story.
We did the self-guided tour of the Jelly Belly factory:
After the tour we went to Fentons in Vacaville for lunch. It was not apparent to us before ordering our ice cream that their sundaes are massive. So we ended up with a lot of ice cream, but we made a valiant effort to eat what we could. So note, Fentons sundaes are to be shared by at least two people.
After lunch we spent a little time at Nut Tree Plaza in the shopping center where Fentons is. They have a little train to ride, a carousel, a playground, and a real old-fashioned, injury-inducing, merry-go-round. On the carousel, Corinne's wildest dream of riding a flamingo came true:
The high temperature in Fairfield was forecast for 83F, which would be fairly pleasant. I made a mistake in assuming that Vacaville (10 miles north) would be about the same. But Vacaville was 99F and so hanging out at Nut Tree Plaza lost its charm fairly quickly. Once we'd had our fill of the heat we headed back to Livermore and Megan's family headed back to Elk Grove.
With at least the adults vaccinated and pretty much everything being outside we decided to take a trip down to Gilroy Gardens. We figured a Thursday (June 24) would probably not be super busy and then it turned out that the high was only ~77F. So it turned out to be an extremely pleasant day. Not too crowded; nice and cool.
We got there right at the open and managed to get on the paddle boats before the line got long:
Then it was over to the cars:
We wandered throughout the entire park, including a few hidden paths we've never seen before. We got the girls to go on the Timber Twister roller coaster which they both vowed never to do again. We ate ice cream and churros and soft pretzels--and ridiculously expensive pizza for lunch.
And back to the cars for one last ride before heading home:
Season passes at Gilroy Gardens are about the cost of 2 trips, so we were considering whether to make it a staple of our summer or not. After having gone through the whole park and seeing that the girls' interest in the attractions is beginning to wane somewhat we decided it would be a one-time trip this year. So instead of getting season passes, the girls got the sparkly narwhals they were goo-gahing over (which were not as ridiculously expensive as we thought they'd be). We don't know how or why, but our family has a thing for narwhals.
I spent just about all day Saturday trying to get the exterior of the house spruced up and looking decent. Mowed the lawn, washed off the dirt and cobwebs, cleaned the back yard, edged the grass, pulled weeds, etc. It looked pretty nice for the five minutes before the wind blew more leaves off the neighbors tree all over the backyard. This tree loses leaves all year long, so it never stays cleaned up.
The wisteria's blooming landed just about perfectly on this weekend. It blooms before it leaves, which makes it look a bit weird, but you get to see more of the blossoms since they're not blocked by any other growth.
The Easter Bunny visited the house mid-morning while the girls were watching TV. Corinne had been planning for at least a week that we would all sit together and read Humbug Rabbit on Easter morning. So we did that and then the girls realized there were eggs outside and the game was afoot.
And a mere 15 minutes later the eggs had been collected.
Now I'm making a triple-batch of rolls to have with dinner. Jess was working on deviled eggs, but became annoyed that the guaranteed-to-work Instant Pot recipe for hard-boiled eggs failed to live up to its guarantee. And everyone has had too much candy already.
Leading into Christmas the epidemiological situation escalated continually. This was expected since a lot of travel happened for Thanksgiving despite warnings and public-health orders. We got this emergency alert notification on the 18th:
Jess went out for a final grocery trip on either the 21st or 22nd and then we hunkered down. The new lock-down orders cancelled social-bubble buddies so we didn't hang out with friends. They also closed pretty much any entertainment centers (including zoos) and reduced store-occupancy limits. However, I don't know if anyone was enforcing any of these requirements. And if they weren't then it was really only so much hot air.
On the day of final-outings, Jess made a trip to the pharmacy to pick up one of her medications and said that the outlet-mall parking lot (which she could see on her way) was packed. Which just boggles my mind. Maybe because it's an "open air" mall people thought that made it safe? I don't know, but unsurprisingly the situation continues to deteriorate.
But, on to happier things.
I suppose this is a bit of gallows humor given that our family has remained unaffected by Covid-19 (other than inconvenience), but we got these ornaments to commemorate the year that we won't likely ever forget.
Mom sent us this one:
And this cartoon sums things up for our family pretty well:
We wanted to try and really make things feel different than the 9 months we've spent cooped up at home so this year we put the Christmas tree in the family room and bought some garland to put up around the house and Jess made bows out of ribbon to put up. This really spread out the Christmas cheer which previously had been pretty isolated to the living room.
We bought artificial wreaths to put on the interior doors throughout the house. I bought a poinsettia, which I don't normally do. And we even got out Jess' "Christmas Mouse" night-light thing (see picture of fireplace below). We've never set that up before. It has two, small 10-watt incandescent bulbs in the base which then glow through translucent bits of plastic. But because the lights are in the base and quite weak only the bottom part would glow and it was still quite dim. I decided to upgrade it to the 21st century. I bought a length of cuttable LED lighting with a dimmer switch and replaced the incandescent bulbs with the LED strip wrapped all around the wreath. Now the whole things glows quite nicely, is dimmable, and probably uses 1/10th the electricity.
On the 23rd my siblings and parents played Trivial Pursuit via video conference while I worked on my bûche de Noël. On Christmas Eve I spent most of the day baking baguettes, rolls, and cinnamon rolls and Jess made another chocolate-cream pie and sweet-potato casserole. For dinner we had cheese fondue (with the baguettes, crackers, and fruits). I read The Polar Express and Heather read The Night Before Christmas. And the girls opened presents from each other: lightfuries for both of them!
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day involved long-lived, casual video conferences with many of my family members to try and help make people feel connected to what's happening when most of us weren't going to travel and congregate.
On Christmas morning the girls woke up at their usual 5 o'clock time. Since this is a normal time for them we felt it would be cruel to tell them to wait and let us sleep longer. So up we got--very, very tiredly.
Santa puts up streamers at the end of the hallway to remind the girls the need to wait before diving into new, exciting things they see. So they very excitedly peer into the room to evaluate the situation.
I've had a hammock in a box for at least 13 years. Never used because I never had anywhere to put it. Jess said she wanted a hammock stand for Christmas and that's just what she got (thanks Mom & Dad). So now we have a place to put the hammock, and now we just need a (real) place to put the hammock stand. For now it moves between the kitchen and the family room.
I found these customizable mugs at Uncommon Goods and designed a set for Jess. I think they're neat. Jess has a stack of books, I'm holding a camera, Heather is painting on an easel, and Corinne is wearing reindeer horns.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit uses a small R/C car to bring the racing action into our own home. You set up a course and then drive it using the Switch which produces an augmented reality race via a camera on the car. It's a clever set up.
It was a good day, if exhausting. And every day since then has been more playing.