Sunday, September 20, 2020

Seventeen and counting

The girls celebrated their seventeenth birthday for almost an entire week. We started by taking them to the Chicago Riverwalk for dinner. We walked around the Loop for a while before heading home.

Their actual birthday was very quiet. The brunette twin had golf practice. The blond twin had a swim meet. She was very excited when she came home. She won both her heats. Both girls brought their teams treats.

Birthday calls came in. Birthday cards arrived in the mailbox. 

They talked about having friends over for a low-key party. When we threw the big Sweet 16 bash last year, we told them it was the last birthday party. It was one last big birthday celebration with their family and friends. We would do something to celebrate their 17th year, but not a party.

Of course, all the pronouncements went out the window with Covid-19. They don't have that many opportunities to see their friends. We planned an outdoor get together with a few friends. Daddy found  Monical's pizza close enough to get some frozen pizzas. We bought ice cream cakes. They put out bean bag games and a volleyball net. 

We built a fire in the fire pit when it turned a bit colder. Ally & friends snuggled under blankets near the end of the night. 

It was a small sense of normalcy in a very abnormal time. It was good to see all the girls laughing and chatting and hanging out. It was a good way to celebrate number 17.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Teacher's pet

One fun things that has come from eLearning is Holly's rise as a class pet. She has joined both girls for their classes. Sometimes the teachers even invited her to be on camera.

It's another thing the teachers are doing to help the students adjust to eLearning. The students are sharing their pets and their stories with each other. It doesn't sound like much, but the girls love when Holly joins their class. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

eLearning begins

 August has been a long, long month. The girls were supposed to start golf and swim practice at the beginning of the month. Their coaches sent email after email after email trying to keep us informed. Finally the IHSA decision came out. The coaches could schedule practices and competitions. One puzzle piece fell into place.

School was another situation. The school board decided to start with either a fully remote or a hybrid schedule. The hybrid model had one quarter of the students who chose the hybrid model in the school one day a week based upon last names. 

Students had to choose how to attend. We talked to the girls about each option. They went back and forth about what they wanted to do. 

I reminded them that they were living through history and it might be a good idea to go to school one day a week. The reality was that the schools were not going to be open for a whole semester. They might was well go while they could.

Both girls were still going back and forth when the district decided to go fully remote. The rumor was that some staff tested Covid-19 positive. 

We were not sure how this affected their sports. There were some changes, but not as many as there might have been. We were grateful for this sense of normalcy.

The teachers worked hard to make sure parents and students were kept informed. The girls were excited about the first day of school, even though it was online. We took a traditional first day of school picture on the front porch. Holly joined them as she had every other year.

There were some first day glitches, but overall it went well. The girls were happy to be back with their friends, even if it looked different than expected.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

First in class

Both girls are participating in IEA this year. The blond twin reignited her horseback riding interest during quarantine. Horseback riding was one of the few activities available when other interests shut down. It is good for a lot of things, including social distancing. 

The girls' barn has a terrific IEA program. The barn hosts several competitions each year. Last year, the brunette twin did very well during her two IEA shows at her barn. 

This year, the Covid-19 restrictions meant the show would be very different. Visitors were limited. The teams were more separated and there was much less mingling among teams. Everyone wore a mask. Competitors were to ride and leave. 

It sounded harsh when we received all the restrictions. It turned out that we're much more resilient than we think. 

Both shows were held in the outdoor arena. The teams staked out part of the property, setting up picnics, chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Several teams had matching masks, which was something our team decided to do for the next competition. It was different, but it was still a great time.

The brunette twin won her first blue ribbon on a horse she had never ridden before. She said that she thought jumping was her strength, but maybe flat was her hidden talent. 

The blond twin placed in three of her four competitions. She was both pleased that she did so well and disappointed that she didn't place in all four. 

Overall the girls were very happy. They had plans to improve before the October show and set new goals. The barn did a wonderful job pulling off two days of shows under difficult conditions. It was a nice sense of normalcy in our crazy new world. 

Friday, July 31, 2020

Quarantine with a different view

We rented a house in Michigan for a week. We didn't make big plans. We walked along White Lake, swam in Lake Michigan, hiked local forests and spent time sitting on a swing staring at beautiful sunsets.

People kept asking how we picked the house. We had two requirements. First, it had to be on the water. Second, it had to have carpeting. We were travelling with Holly, who needs carpeting to run around. She slips and slides on hardwood or tile. 

The house was adorable. We brought in groceries so we could eat at home most of the time. We did try to support local businesses, like the Dog and Suds, one meal a day. Otherwise, we were homebodies.

The girls played with Holly in the water, using the house's dock across the street. Holly loved being in White Lake with her girls. She came out a wet, smelly, dirty dog. It was fun for all.

A few miles away we found a small Lake Michigan beach that was not crowded. We went back a few times to enjoy the water and relax. 

We visited local attractions, spending as much time as possible near the water. 

It was a lovely week in a charming town. We were all happy to be able to quarantine with a water view. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Michigan State University

 We had planned to spend this summer visiting colleges. Covid-19 killed those plans. It wasn't really safe to spend weekends driving here and there through coronavirus hot spots.

We were planning our Michigan escape when we realized that Michigan State University wasn't that far from our vacation house. We left early to take advantage of the proximity.

It was so hot in East Lansing. We were sweating before we left our air conditioned cars. 

The girls were so happy to be walking the campus. MSU is high on the brunette twin's list. The school has her (current) major and a solid horseback riding team. 

I had to admit that it was nice to be on a college campus. There were just a few students around, mostly relaxing under trees with friends. It was a sense of normalcy in a crazy summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Back in the water

We were talking to the blond twin about her swim club's new plan to start practices again. She's ready to get back in the pool, especially since the girls high school swim season starts in about 10 weeks. 

The club has access to an outdoor pool from 7:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. They are breaking up the teams so there are fewer swimmers in the water at any time. Each swimmer can spend one hour in the pool. Swimmers will practice two nights a week.

When the official email came across, we told the blond twin that her practice time was from 9:00 until 10:30. She looked at us and said, "9:00? Why?" She did not seem happy and we stared at her for a minute.

I looked at her and said, "9:00 p.m. You don't have to get up early."

She smiled and said, "Night practice. Good."