Saying Goodbye to Ninny


On June 26, 2020, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Ninny (my mother-in-law and Little Lewie's grandmother).  If 2020 wasn't hard enough, Ninny learned just five weeks earlier that she had stage four stomach and uterine Cancer.  The news was a blow to all of us, but we never would have guessed that just a short five weeks later, she would be joining her husband (Papa) in heaven.

Ninny was a staple at all of our family gatherings--picnics, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, weddings, baptisms, and First Communions (to name a few).  Little Lewie was her fourth grandchild (out of six grandchildren), and Ninny even had one great grandchild.  She LOVED kids, and needless to say, she LOVED watching Lewie as a baby when I started going back to work on a part-time basis.  Her house was filled with goodies (cookies, cupcakes, ice cream), and in the background, some sort of cartoon would be playing on TV.  Anytime Little Lewie visited, he'd ask for her special cinnamon toast. (I personally loved her coffee and cheese cake.)  Of course, Florence knew how to cook just about anything Italian, too.

When I started dating Lew, Florence's first question to me was "How old are you?"  My husband had been in two serious relationships before me--one with a woman about ten years older and another with a girl ten years younger.  She had seemed relieved when I told her I was only five years younger than Lew; of course, neither of us thought at the time that we would become relatives through marriage.

Through the years, I learned more and more about Florence; she loved telling stories and could talk for hours through the night.  There were stories about how she and her husband met; stories about her three children; stories about moving to Pennsylvania and Massachusetts; stories about living in different neighborhoods of Waterbury, CT; stories about how many bones my husband broke throughout his childhood; stories about her strange neighbors; stories about her children's friends; stories about her ceramics studio; and stories about when she worked as a recreational therapist at Abbott Terrace Health Center.  Yes, when she grabbed a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, that was the cue to sit back and relax because I knew I would be visiting for a while.

After Papa's death, Florence was crushed.  The two of them had been married for close to 50 years; she no longer had her life partner.  (Of course, before his death, Papa had been sick for ten of those years, and Florence was his caregiver, visiting nurse, and wife all rolled up into one.)  Unfortunately, most of the years I knew Florence was during this very difficult time; her heart was troubled and so the only time we'd get a few glimpses of her old self would be during the holidays.

Before Papa's illness, she was funny, generous, free-spirited, spiritual, artsy, and sometimes even the life of the party.  She loved painting and ceramics, flowers, nature, photos, and loose flowy clothes.  She adored spoiling her grandchildren, and she loved when her children would tease her--especially about her long-winded stories or her martyr syndrome complex.  (Florence would sacrifice anything for her children and grandchildren, and she wasn't shy in letting us know about it either.)

Yes, the Coronavirus has changed everything this year, but so has Ninny's death.  My husband went from anxious/lifesaving mode in June to pure grief and sadness in July.  We're all sad.  The saying, "Time heals all wounds" is fitting here.  I wish there was some sort of magic pill we could take to make everything happy and carefree again, but unfortunately, I know that can only come with time.

I end this post with my husband's favorite picture of his mom.  As the story goes, my husband was in a popular cover band in South Carolina during his graduate school days.  One of his favorite life moments is when he was able to tour with the band in Connecticut, and all of his friends and family came out to see him.  (I didn't know him then.)  His mom was so proud of him that she rushed the stage and kissed his cheek while he was playing; the evidence is in this photo here...

She was super proud of my husband and his musical talent...  I think she was proud of his choice in a wife, too!

5th Grade Graduation - 2020 COVID Style


Last week, Little Lewie, yes, the little tyke you see waiting for the bus, graduated from 5th Grade!

He had a joyous five years of elementary school, and in what seemed like the blink of an eye, it all ended.  Boom.  Like that.  Over.  Done.  Finished.

We received news that his school would have a Drive Thru 5th Grade Promotion.  (In my day, it was called a graduation.)  One by one, a line of cars would drive through and stop at two tables.  At the first table, students would be able to say goodbye to the DARE Officer that taught them throughout the year.  At the second table, they could pick up their Certificate of Promotion and take a quick picture with their teacher (as long as they wore a mask and tried to social distance themselves).

At first, I thought the process would be so quick, I wouldn't have time to be emotional.  However, as we gathered in line (which went pretty fast), and we saw Principal Mur****, I lost it.  I mean, I really lost it.  My husband, who started out by making fun of me, soon started crying, too.  The only one in the car that didn't cry was Little Lewie.  He said he was too angry at COVID-19 to be sad, and of course, I promised him that one day, perhaps next year, we would return to his elementary school to "properly" say goodbye to his teachers--with hugs and everything.  (It's a nice thought.)

When we drove home and I wiped the tears from my eyes, Little Lewie and I looked at his yearbook together and some of the other "goodies" he received--his certificate, an Amazon gift card, and a treat bag that said "I wish we had s'more time together" (with just enough ingredients to make a s'more).  I was thrilled to see that his teacher put many of Lewie's pictures into the yearbook, like these...

I got choked up another time.  Elementary school was a place of many milestones...his first science fair, history fair, and geography fair; his first art show; his first winter concert; his first 5-K; his first school friends; his first Junior Achievement class (with his parents as teachers); his first real playground and gym class; his first game of dodge ball; his first school bus ride, etc. etc.  All the memories came charging full force.  I would miss his school principal, his teachers, his counselor, and especially his fifth grade teachers, who communicated with us on a weekly basis once we started learning from home.  Everyone had been so patient, kind, understanding, compassionate, and helpful.  I still feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude when I think of these special years.  The teachers made them magical.

We ended the day with a special dinner and Grammy's homemade chocolate cake!  Then, a week later, we had a "Celebrate Lewie Night."  Here we spent an hour watching a slideshow of all the 5th graders (set to music); a "congratulations speech" by his superintendent, principal, and teachers; and a recording of his concert music.  I know I'm going to sound a little boastful when I say that I thought Little Lewie's recording was the best.  (Honestly, I was so proud of him; his hours of trumpet practice really showed!)

Now, after all the hours of "homeschooling"-- reading, writing, math, science, history, trumpet practice and art--everything has all come crashing to an end, a deafening silence, a void.  Normally Lewie would be starting camp right now with new adventures awaiting him.  There would be preparation for our next National Park trip to Glacier National Park, too.  Instead, we're home--me with the equivalent of "Zoom Meetings," Lewie with x-box, and my husband with work and some unhappy family news.  It will be a "different" summer, but I hope to use this time to create new memories...ones that will be unique to this time but just as happy and fulfilling.  We'll celebrate again when hugs and real goodbyes are allowed.

A Normal School Day in Quarantine


Since mid-March, the State of Connecticut has been under "lock-down" orders with only essential workers being able to attend their jobs.

Since schools and colleges were the first to close, I was lucky to begin working from home right away (I work at a college). Lewie was dismissed from school (on Friday the 13th), and he (along with his teachers) had to quickly get acclimated to online learning.  At first it was difficult; his teachers were sending dozens of emails a day with requests for assignments.  I'm almost sure we missed a few of them as many of the assignments didn't have clear instructions on when and where we should submit them.

It was about week three of the quarantine when everything "clicked."  His teachers all met and decided to send "daily plans," and in these plans, Lewie and I could decide how to schedule his day.  If some days were "light" on work, he could work on his art and music projects that were also due for that week.  If a day had more work than usual, then we would save some for the following day or the weekend if necessary.  His teachers were flexible about late submissions, and later, we would learn that he wouldn't receive a final report card, so getting perfect grades weren't necessary.  Instead,  I offered a generous allowance if he would do the following everyday - Monday through Friday.
  1. Wake up early, take a shower, and get dressed.
  2. Begin school work at 9 a.m.
  3. Attend any and all virtual classroom meetings scheduled for the day.
  4. Complete his work by 2 or 3 p.m. (with a lunch break and a few snack breaks in-between).
  5. Take a walk with me three times per week.
  6. Help me with chores when asked.
The rest of the afternoons and weekends were, more or less, free time, except for practicing his trumpet.  

As much as it was difficult to get used to homeschooling while working from home, I started enjoying it--a lot!  I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and here was my chance.  Granted, when day dreaming about homeschooling, I always pictured Little Lewie and I going on day trips to local history, science, and art museums.  Unfortunately, going to museums wouldn't be a reality, but still, we could go on hour-long walks, take frequent breaks, and enjoy each other's company.   I wouldn't have my usual work schedule--the one that keeps me in the office until 6, 7, or 8 p.m. each night--and I didn't have the one hour commute to work each day.  All of a sudden, I had TIME to spend with my family.  

I want to remember this moment, so here was a typical day:

First, we would begin with the pledge and the morning announcements.  (Our principal made sure to incorporate it as the first post in Schoology every morning.  She said it was important to maintain as much of the regular school routine at home for kids as possible, so they could have some semblance of normalcy.)  Here was a typical post. 

Please stand for the The Pledge of Allegiance.
And now let’s have a moment of silence.  
Now let’s say the School Pledge together:
At Laurel ***** School we treat each other with respect, take responsibility for our learning and strive for a safe and positive school for all. 
Please be seated.  And now for our Words of Wisdom. 
© Project Wisdom, Inc. 2018
Good morning, Laurel *****. This is Mrs. M***** with a few words of wisdom. 

During this time when we are all spending so much time at home and with our families, we thought we would share this. It was written by Kitty O’Meara and posted on Facebook by the Domestic Curator.

 “And the people stayed home. 
And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, 
and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. 
And listened more deeply. 
Some meditated, some prayed, and some danced ….
And the people began to think differently …. 
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, 
they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and imagined new dreams, 
and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, 
as they had been healed." 

Let’s use this time to heal, think differently, dream new dreams, and make new choices. With something to think about, this is Mrs. M***** . Make it a great (distance learning) day . . . or not. The choice is yours.

Each morning, Lewie and I would spend a few minutes discussing the Words of Wisdom for the day.  They were always so inspirational--reminding children to dream, imagine and create and to be kind, honest, and thoughtful about their everyday choices.  (I couldn't help but think we would all live in a nicer word if adults followed this philosophy, too!)

The next part of our morning routine would usually follow this order--Reading, Writing, Science, Math, and History.  Lewie and I would have to read a Newsela article and either annotate, answer Power Words questions, take a quiz, or write a summary.  In Science, we would have fun GenerationGenius videos to watch with questions to answer.  Some of our favorite lessons were on the water cycle, weathering and erosion, and the Earth's orbit and rotation.  Granted, I didn't have to watch these lessons with Lewie.  He still would have learned and earned good grades, but I WANTED to watch them because I was learning, too.  Interestingly enough, many of the topics that were discussed in Science went right along with our National Park trips.  For example, when they talked about the process of weathering and erosion, they used the Grand Canyon as an example.  We enjoyed reminiscing about our Grand Canyon trip and what it looked like in real life!

Math would usually come next.  In the beginning, I was able to help Lewie understand some of the lessons, but by Week 4, Lewie was using a system to multiply that was foreign to me, and I found myself incapable of helping him with the assignments.  By this time, his math teacher was now scheduling "virtual tutoring sessions" on Monday and Tuesday at 1 p.m. each week, so I'd have Lewie join those if he was confused.  Since I have a love/hate relationship with math, I wasn't sad to drop the responsibility and leave it to Lewie's teacher.

History was saved for last. It wasn't one of Lewie's favorite subjects, but I tried to make it fun for him.  To be honest, I LOVED reading his history book lessons and helping him with his assignments because we were learning about my favorite time in history--early Colonial America.  We started with the Great Explorers and quickly moved to lessons about the first settlements made in Virginia and Massachusetts by the Puritans and the Pilgrims.  (I have a list of early settlements I want to visit in real life.)  Right now we're reading about the lifestyle and the economy during the 1700's.  It's hard for me to believe there were fewer than 100,000 Native Americans and Europeans living in the U.S. when today there's close to 328 million! 

Lewie's art, music, and gym assignments were completed at various times throughout the week.  Here are the last four art projects Lewie had to do:

Finally, our favorite activity of the week came from Lewie's gym teacher.  In his first video sessions, he taught us how to exercise with lunges, push-ups, mountain climbers, and burpees.  However, by week 3, he was incorporating all these exercises into movie themes like Star Wars, The Lion King, Toy Story, Beauty and the Beast, etc.  My personal favorite was the "Gym Wars" on May 4th (May the 4th be With You!)  Here Lewie was training (using proper fitness exercises and form) to defeat Darth Mur***.

Here is sample of the humor:
Episode X
The Galactic Empire is back and stronger than ever.
Chancellor Corona has released a deadly plague amongst the Resistance.
All storm troopers and members of the First Order are immune to the virus.
The force seems to be weakening and Darth Mur*** is on the attack.
Aboard his spaceship, COVID-19, he seeks to put an end to the Resistance once and for all.
Little does he know, a new generation of Jedi hopefuls are waiting in the wings.

The intro of the video is definitely worth a view, or at least a peak,.  Lewie and I couldn't stop laughing as Darth Vader was named after Principal Mur***.  His teacher provides Jedi training in his bathrobe, and his lightsaber is nothing more than a vacuum attachment (crevice tool).  

In his other videos, like The Lion King or Toy Story, we are watching certain video clips and testing our memory and sensory skills.  Doing exercises is linked to how many images (like a candle) we see in a clip or whether we answer questions correctly about a scene.  By far, his videos were a hit with the kids and especially our family.  (Now if I can only motivate myself to do a few more crunches in real life.  The frequent "work breaks" at home have been more like "treat breaks" or "chocolate breaks.")

Schooling at home has had its struggles and rewards, its tears and its smiles, and its disengagement and its excitement.  These days, Lewie's main goal is to get through these last few weeks of school, so he can officially call himself a fifth grade graduate.  There are lots of distractions with the warm weather, a new puppy, and friends wanting to "game" with him online, but we'll get to the finish line.  We'll get to the finish line and remember this year as the year of "family," "dreams," and "home."

It's Puppy Time!


For Mother's Day, our family did the unthinkable, the unimaginable.  That's right.  We adopted a puppy!!  We have had a puppyless family for more than 20 years--not beccause we don't love dogs, but because we haven't had the time for them.  With my mom, hubby, and I working full-time, our attention was placed on finding after-school activities and camp to keep Little Lewie supervised; we didn't have the time or money to have to worry about activities for a pet, too.

The first few weeks of the pandemic, hubby and my mom started to have "side conversations" about getting a dog.  Before speaking with me, they worked out a schedule where (when we return back to normal), he would stay home with the dog in the mornings, and my mom would be home for Little Lewie and the dog in the early afternoon.  I was chopped out of the conversation because well, quite honestly, during the week, I'm always at work, sometimes not coming home until 9 p.m. at night.

When I was finally included in this conversation, I brushed off the idea.  We're a traveling family.  We like to go places and do things--we don't want the extra worry of "what do we do with Fido?"  But, as I started to think about it some more, I realized that Fido could come with me for walks (which would make me feel safer), and Fido could be home with my mom to keep her company when we travel.  Plus, wouldn't Little Lewie enjoy growing up with a family dog?

Once I started my search on Petfinder, I was hooked.  I quickly formed a list of all of my favorite dogs, and just as quickly as I was adding these precious pups to my list, they were being removed from the site.  It was clear that everyone was/is deciding to adopt pets during the pandemic.  Only the doggies with the health problems were sticking around, and I was getting way too emotional as I read their stories. I wanted to find a good home for all of them!!  The adoption process--filling out the long applications, not hearing back, or hearing we were "second" on the list--was taking an emotional toll.

As we told more and more people about how we wanted to adopt a puppy or a young dog, we started getting "inside" information about how we could get to the top of the list.  As it turned out, a place in New Milford, CT,, was bringing in lots of rescue pups from down South all the time.  My sister-in-law knew a "foster mom" for one of the puppies, and my work colleague knew someone that volunteered there.   We were encouraged to fill out an application, and within four days, we received news that we were pre-approved.  That same day, an email blast was sent out saying approximately 30+ puppies were arriving in Connecticut that Saturday (May 9th).  They sent pictures, and we'd have to call (first-come, first serve) to put a deposit on a dog right away.  Our hearts were focused on these two pics:

My husband's first pick was little Reisling (above), but we soon learned that because she was part Shar-pei and Austrailian Shepard, she would be a handful and not necessarily an easy-going family dog.  We then focused on the Lab mixes from Sulpher Springs, TX.  By the time we received a call-back from our voicemail, there was only Pat Benetar and Bruce Dickenson left.  We quickly swiped up Bruce and felt lucky he hadn't been taken yet.  The meet-and-greet would be that very same Saturday, right before Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 9th felt more like Feb. 9th.  It was cold and windy (in the 30's most of the day), and there were sun showers, except instead of rain, sleet and hail came down while the sun would peak out from between the clouds.  Everyone commented on how weird the weather was...  With our masks, we were asked to stand outside in a caged in area while they brought Bruce to us.  I volunteered to hold him and place him inside my coat as they forewarned us that having come from Texas, he wouldn't be used to this freezing weather.  They handed me this shivering 8-week old pup, and he looked at me with his big brown eyes and gave me a few doggy kisses right on the nose.

I was enamored.  The rest of the meet-and-greet--the adoption paperwork, the visit inside the facility (with masks), and the car-ride home--were a blur.  The rest of the day, the next day, and the week, now have been about helping this little peanut get acclimated to his new home while learning the boundaries...   Welcome to the family, Bruce!!   You sure are a handful, but we're so glad you're now part of our pack!!

A Peaceful Easter


Easter was different this year to say the least, which, of course, is all part of "the new norm."  Usually we go to Easter Mass at our church, followed by dinner with family at the Mattabesett Canoe Club, which overlooks the scenic Connecticut River.  Yes, this year, there would be no elaborate baskets from the Easter Bunny, no wearing our "Sunday best" to Easter Mass, and no "all you can eat" buffet where we stuff ourselves with breakfast, dinner, and dessert all in one sitting.

Instead, everything this year would be...quiet and simple.

First, I made a last minute decision that the Easter Bunny would make an appearance.  In Lewie's mind, the Easter Bunny is a tradition, even if he's at the age where he doesn't truly "believe" a magical bunny visits the house.  In years past, I would make trips to the mall, local gift shops, and even a gourmet candy store to buy unique items for Lewie's basket.  Granted, Lewie never seemed to care that his chocolate bunny, chocolate nonpareils, and marshmallow eggs were organic and gluten free, but I sure enjoyed making the baskets look like they came from a fancy catalog.  The books, toys, or little tokens would also be carefully picked out to follow the theme for the season...such as Lewie's interest in trains one year or in Iron Man the next.

This year, the Easter Bunny would go rouge.  Actually, I (I mean he) had no choice.  The mall and the little shops were closed, and even if they weren't, I wouldn't feel safe going to multiple places, which causes greater risk of exposure.  Candy and the two gift cards all came from our local grocery store.  The basket, however, did come from a local farm market, which included a chocolate covered caramel apple, a cotton candy cone, and yummy chocolate covered pretzels.   With the basket already made, all I had to do was slip in the two gift cards with some Kit Kats, a few Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and some Cadbury Mini-Eggs.  Voila!  It was the easiest basket ever, and yet, my kid was just as happy as any Easter!  Eggs, of course, were hidden around the living room, too.

After spending a morning of looking for eggs and an Easter basket (and filling up on chocolate candy), we tuned into Facebook to watch our priest and deacon conduct Easter Mass at our church.  There were no people, of course, but the choral director was there to play music, and the alter was decked out with beautiful Easter Lilies (just as if we had been there in person).  There we sat, in our pj's at the kitchen table, watching mass like it was a show on Netflix.  Unfortunately, the sound was a bit muffled, and so it didn't always keep our full-attention; we closed the mass early when the image froze.

The rest of the day was leisurely.  Lew, Little Lewie, and I took a walk by a nearby farm, we ate dinner next door at my mom's side of the house (she made chicken parm), and I took pictures of Lewie outside by our vinca and daffodils, which were in full bloom.

At six o'clock, our family agreed to do a Zoom video chat, but the time kept on getting pushed back.  By eight o'clock, finally, most of our family from Delaware, Oregon, and CT "zoomed in" to speak with one another.  It was funny!  With everyone talking all at once, it was hard to pick a conversation and run with it.  At times, my mom and I would say something, and we didn't even think anyone could hear us on the other end.  My youngest cousin (who is still three years older than me) and his seven year-old daughter kept on entertaining us with their antics.  In one minute on the full screen, we'd see the two of them battling with lightsabers; the next minute, they'd be wearing scary masks.  (We concluded his apartment was a toy-lover's dream.)  Then, my oldest cousin, made us laugh until we cried with his silly comments and off-color humor.  It was truly like having all seventeen of them in our living room, only better.

Yes, Easter this year was not the "same;" we didn't follow our typical tradition.  However, I would argue that holidays do not need to be the "same" to be wonderful.  I loved our Easter this year.  We had a chance to enjoy the beautiful 60 degree sunshine (and some yummy chocolate eggs) while seeing our church and our family on a computer screen.  In some ways, our family felt more connected because even our family from Oregon and Delaware were able to join (which is never the case for Easter).

Yes, I can't wait until I can physically be with everyone and give them a big gigantic hug, but until then, I will count my blessings and pray for those who are either suffering from this terrible pandemic or out there saving lives and taking care of all of us.

It's a New Kind of Normal


As I just finished reading my last blog post, I was struck by 1) how long it's been since I last wrote (I never take a full month break between my posts), and 2) how different my, our, reality is since just a few weeks ago.

Our "new normal" started on Friday the Thirteenth (that is, Friday, March 13th).   This is when Lewie would have his last day of 5th grade, and I would have my last day at work.   Information was coming to us from all directions.  From Lewie's school, there were the books, homework sheets, and instructions for Lewie's "new" online curriculum.   From my workplace, there would be a new work-from-home policy, and my on-campus class would be converted to distance learning.   Then, from our governor, there would be the daily updates of our own state shutdown.  Social distancing would become the norm, and the #IStayHomeFor Challenge would be the latest trend among the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

I Stay Home for my Mom!
I Stay Home for these Guys...
I am not complaining about this sudden shift to staying home; I feel blessed that our governor acted on it quickly, and if we follow all the protocols to keep ourselves safe, we "should" be able to stay away.  I'm especially thankful because my 75 year-old mom (who has asthma) lives right next door in our duplex house.  We have an obligation to stay healthy not just for us, but, more importantly, for her.  Still, my husband likes to drive places, which has caused anxiety over the last few weeks.  This is where I need to trust that he is doing the right thing and have faith that we will pull through this.  Trust and faith have become my new motto (since control and fear don't work).

For the first few weeks of our "stay-at-home" adventure, life was messy.  The school curriculum was overwhelming (too many posts and assignments with little direction), my work-from-home schedule was making me ignore my son for 7+ hours a day, and my husband's sleep and work schedule took a back seat to some serious mental health challenges.  (ADHD and bipolar mania do not work well for staying in one place.)  The house quickly became overrun by "life," too.  With all of us under one roof, it became more challenging to keep up with dirty dishes, laundry, floors, counter tops, and more.  (Even now, I'm still having a hard time keeping up!)

Now that I am at the end of "Stay-at-home" Week 3, I'm feeling a little more confident.  My supervisor at work allows me to work with my son during the morning, so I can help him with his schoolwork.  Then from 1 p.m. until 12 a.m., I answer emails, participate in meet-ups, and get my "work" done with breaks in-between.  It's not perfect, but on most days, I get to exercise, help Lewie with school, take a walk, perform my job duties, and spend an hour or two watching Netflix with my husband.  On Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., I even have a scheduled "Houseparty" meet-up with two of my close friends--friends that I normally see once every two months.  (Now we see each other online once per week!)

Yes, our new kind of normal is not perfect;  I have friends and acquaintances who are currently suffering from health issues (i.e. contracting the virus), mental health concerns, job loss, or the loss of a loved one.  Even in our house, there is anxiety, which admittedly can run high at times.  Still, in the midst of all this unknown, we do find time to laugh, to take walks, and to ground each other.  There are glimpses of hope, whether it's the 104 year-old man that survived the Coronavirus (in addition to the Spanish flu and World War II) or the everyday heroes that are volunteering their time to help the sick, the elderly, the hungry, and the compromised.  Yes, during these times, I'll continue to focus on the good.  We will get through this TOGETHER.

Winter Happenings


Admittedly, this winter has been a tough one.  While the weather has been mild with no snow for January and February, germs are still around, and boy do they linger!  I've been battling what seems to be the same cold for close to 12 weeks, and this week I came down with some sort of virus with flu-like symptoms.

The constant exhaustion, head congestion, sore eyes, achy muscles, dull headache, and upset stomach have definitely interfered with some of our weekend plans.  My exercise routine has been placed on hiatus, too.  Lewie has had a few colds, but thankfully, both my boys (husband and son) have been relatively healthy.

Here are a few things we've been up to this winter 2020.

1) Little Lewie and I made an unexpected visit to the Fairfield University Bookstore to greet my long-time, bloggy friend and her daughter.  They are always involved with interesting projects; this January, they spent countless hours making bookmarks to support the wildlife in Australia that had been devastated by the raging bush fires that have been burning since July 1.

Between selling bookmarks, raising awareness through local TV and radio interviews, and creating a GoFundMe page, my friend's daughter has raised $3,500 and counting.  Of course, we had to stop by and buy some of her adorable bookmarks!

2)  On a cold weekend in February, we decided to go to a bowling fundraiser.  I'm proud to say I beat my two boys with a score of 100!  We had so much fun that Lewie decided he wanted to buy Wii Sports, so we could continue the bowling fun at home.  After tracking down a refurbished disc, we've been playing the game ever since.  Now, Little Lewie is the grand champion at bowling, with my husband second, and me in third place.  (At least I know I can kick butt at "real" bowling.)

They wanted to show off their bowling shoes.

3)  During Lewie's February break, we visited some friends for dinner on Valentine's Day, we spent a morning Roller Skating, and then we made our annual trip snow tubing at Ski Butternut.  This time, our snow tubing trip included Lewie's best friend Ryan with his mom!  Last year he came with us and said he would have rated the day a perfect 10 except his parents weren't able to come.  This year, I forgot to ask about his rating, but I'm pretty sure we may have earned that perfect 10.  Here's to creating a new annual tradition, which now includes both of our families!

Now I'm back to a weekend at home, nursing a cold and some sort of stomach bug.  Lewie went to his cousin's "paint party" for her 9th birthday today, and tomorrow he plans on spending time with our beloved Aunty Kiki.  If I'm able to kick this illness and scrub down the house, it would be fun to have her over for a game of Wii bowling.  We shall see what tomorrow brings...