So, we decided to recognize the anniversary of the start of the pandemic by doing some activities.
It's been one year since the world was turned upside down. During that year everyone has suffered in one form or another and most people have experienced serious life-changes. As you read in my previous post, we had a major life change and moved across the country during this pandemic which was definitely an interesting and stressful experience.
So, we decided to recognize the anniversary of the start of the pandemic by doing some activities.
We did a few crafts, created a family time capsule, played some games and took our frustrations on a DIY covid piñata. It was a nice way to reflect on this insane year and to have a little bit of fun while still respecting the importance of the day and how it has affected people. We stayed in our pajamas all day and ended our activities by going to the movies covid style and bought the new Disney movie "Raya and the Last Dragon" to watch at home with popcorn and candy.
I also created a collage of photos from our year in quarantine to memorialize it and plan on hanging it somewhere in the house. Even though it was scary and difficult, we had many wonderful times all together.
We made soap jellies kind of like the lush jellies you can buy. They were super easy and the kids thought the result was amazing. We even put little trinkets inside to find. You can find the recipe I used here.
We wrote letters to our future selves and colored "stay at home" coloring pages to put in our time capsule. We also included a trinket that reminded us of this time to look back on later. The plan is not to open the box until at least 10 years from now and I shoved it in the far reaches of our basement storage room. So no one is tempted to peek sooner.
We talked about germs and did several germ activities including making germ cookies, germ removal playdough, designing our own germ and a "find the germs" water activity using velcro balls, soap and a sponge. We also did the glitter + milk + soap experiment.
We played a few minute to win it style games revolving around toilet paper including a toilet paper toss and balancing tp races. Then they attacked the piñata I made. To make it I found a baseball piñata and just hot glued red paper cups around the edges. It looked pretty good!
I look forward to a more normal way of life and am hopeful that we will eventually get there. I've been fully vaccinated and most of my relatives are starting to get the vaccine as well. We'll still have to be cautious because the kids aren't old enough but it is reassuring to know that the adults in my life are safer.
Hey! So...the title of this post pretty much says it all right? Can you imagine? I know if you had asked me at the beginning of 2020 what the new year had in store for me my answer most definitely would not have included a worldwide pandemic, quarantine, face masks or uprooting our entire family to move multiple states away during the Christmas holidays. But, here we are.
After spending months trapped in our home, avoiding people and crowded places I had Marie Kondo'd my house and finished all of my home renovoation projects. My home was finally in a place of contentedness and I revelled in the fact that I didn't have any projects to be tackled. We spent our quarantine in a somewhat weirdly magical state filled with family time, gardening, trips to a secluded creek and a little too much television and food.
Then it was back to school and we struggled with the idea of sending our children into an elementary school that would not require masks for the students. While I had no choice but to return to the classroom at the high school level. We chose to keep them home with a babysitter attending zoom classes. It wasn't ideal but, we were surviving. Then the babysitter situation didn't work out and they had to go back to school. Thankfully, none of us got sick and although life was strange, it was slowly feeling a little less bizarre. Then, our entire life was upended.
Things at my husband's job changed and we found ourselves in need of a fix. The good news? The world was our oyster! Well...the parts of it that would allow Americans to enter. In October of 2020, the majority of developed nations would not allow Americans to enter and the job market for the US wasn't in the best shape. Luckily, my husband is a software developer and I am a Spanish teacher so, we did have options. We settled on Colorado Springs because of the weather, tech jobs and we had friends and family living there. Then the real work began. We listed our finally finished house and began the job searches. It was a miracle that we were both able to find new jobs, sell our home for asking, find a suitable rental and move across the country all in less than two months and right before Christmas during a pandemic.
We chose Colorado Springs but I had never actually been there before. We needed to find a place to live temporarily and I needed to sign my contract so we made a trip over Thanksgiving break to get a feel for the city and do some business. We had a really nice time hiking and visiting with our friends who had moved to the springs a few years ago. I also managed to find us a suitable apartment for temporary living until we bought a house. We went back to Arkansas to finish packing feeling pretty good about the move. That feeling didn't last long though.
We chose a storage trailer system for our move and after a phone consultation they said we would need one large trailer for our entire house. They were wrong. We packed the trailer as full as possible as though we were playing real life Tetris and still had tons of stuff left. We ended up renting a small trailer the day of our move and had to be selective about the items that we took. We made 4 huge donations to our local donation center full of all sorts of furniture and other items that we couldn't take. Moving day was a shit show even though we had been packing for weeks. Our neighbors came over to say bye and saw our disastrous state. They offered their help and worked late into the night to get us out of the house. We had planned on leaving around 2pm but instead we stayed at a hotel and took shifts with the kids to wrap it all up.
After two days of driving, countless energy drinks and road food. We made it to the apartment and celebrated with Chinese food. We began house hunting the next day with a realtor we had already been in contact with and had lined up houses for us. After a week of looking we found two houses we liked but got spooked about the housing market and thought we wouldn't get our favorite house due to two other offers. So, we made a mistake and bought a brand new house that we thought was great until buyers remorse set in that night. I literally had a melt down because I realized it was totally wrong and didn't have a bathtub in the master! I take baths multiple times per week and was seriously hyperventilating about this monumentally bad decision we had just made.
Luckily, our realter was able to get our earnest money back and we suffered no penalties! We then made an offer on our dream home and hoped for the best. Out of three offers, they accepted ours! We were elated and relieved!
Even though it's been a whirlwind of a time, we genuinely think it will all be for the better for many reasons. including improved health for my allergy ridden four year old. Did you know that Colorado is one of the top places to live for allergy sufferers in the U.S? His eczema has cleared up almost entirely and he no longer has to take daily allergy medications. We are also excited about how stinkin' pretty it is here and all of the future family hikes we will be going on. We are also looking forward to the educational opportunities provided here and are already really happy with our new school.
So, I'm now an elementary Spanish teacher and tech coach which is a huge change but is definitely an exciting one. They literally created this job for me and it is as close to my dream job as I could hope for. I get to teach Spanish to little people who are still excited to learn and haven't developed a jaded mindset towards learning like many teenagers. They're also really fun. I use a puppet to teach content with who lives in a magic box and is named CocoLoco. The kids love it. The other half of my week I am a dedicated teacher tech coach and I get to help with technology issues as well as inspiration for projects and other cool stuff. It's an exciting change and I couldn't be happier. My new co-workers are also super nice and have welcomed me and my kids with open arms. Did I mention it's a Spanish immersion school? It is so refreshing not to be the only language teacher and for my kids to have the opportunity to learn and use the language regularly.
Not to sound to mushy and overly positive but, after this insanely upsetting year it just goes to show that out of darkness can come light. My life has completely changed. It was an extremely unsettling and worry-filled time but, now that we have had the opportunity to get comfortable with our new life, I am glad for the changes.
Going forward I think we will be happier and we will be able to live our best lives. I am also aware at how lucky we have actually been. Even though we had to make changes, those changes happened quickly and financially we did not suffer unlike many during these difficult times and I will be forever grateful for our good fortune.
I'm sure we all have stores that are funny when looking back but at the time were anything but. I recently experienced one of these and thought others might find my experience extremely entertaining. I know I would.
Last weekend, my husband was trying to finish putting up Christmas lights that never got completed the previous weekend because, you know, kids. So, anyway, while I'm hanging wreaths on the windows and keeping an eye on the kids playing in the driveway, he was out there muttering to himself in a grumpy manner about how I didn't get all the lights he needed and how he couldn't do it the way he wanted with what he had blah, blah, blah. So I'm like, "Well, sweetie...why don't you just go to Wal-Mart right now and get whatever it is that you need. I'll watch the kids. Enjoy yourself." and he's like, "Ok. I think I will!"
So, off he goes to Wal-Mart. It was getting dark so I brought the kids in and began to clean up from a weekend of not cleaning up and after about thirty minutes went to look for my phone to see if he had called since I always leave it on silent and wouldn't have heard it. Instantly, I remember that while outside I set my phone on the back of his car when I was hanging up the wreaths and I NEVER PICKED IT BACK UP!!! I'm now in a panic at the realization that I probably do not have a functional phone any longer and begin to feel sad for its likely shattered state on the side of the road somewhere. I run to double check that it's not in the garage. No luck. So, I grabbed my daughter's iPod and call my husband.
I don't know if the same is true for you but, at our nearest Wal-Mart if you are inside the store the phone service is almost non-existent. So after a frustrating exchange of broken and static-filled sentences followed by numerous texts he is able to understand what I'm telling him. While he left Wal-Mart to look, I left the house to run up the street and check the area near the stop sign thinking maybe it slipped off there. I tell my almost nine year old to lock the door behind me and that I am just running up the street to check. Her one job is to ensure that her little brothers do not leave the house in pursuit of me. As I'm leaving my front door, I tell my neighbors, who are in their front yard putting up lights, the situation as well.
I run up the stop sign (which I can see from my front door btw) and am frantically searching in the dark but to no avail. Then I think, "What if it fell off at the next stop sign?!". It is a bit further down the road and I would hate to not check only to find out later that it had been laying in the middle of the road waiting for me. So, I begin to literally sprint to the next stop sign. All the while trying to reassure myself that the kids are fine but secretly worrying that they are not and that I am the worst mother ever for leaving them in their safe warm house for 4 minutes.
I am sprinting in the dark to the next stop sign. I am not dressed for this. It is cold. It is also uphill. My dog shows up and keeps running into the road at oncoming cars. I make it to the stop sign and search. Nothing. I've now lost hope. It sucks. That phone was paid off and perfectly functional. I was not planning on getting a new one for awhile. I'm now sprinting back to the house while mentally running through all of the ways my children could have gotten into trouble while I was taking a frantic, late night sprint through the neighborhood. I've now made it back to my house. I'm a bit sweaty and just a tad out of breath. The neighbors are still putting up lights. They don't say anything and I think to myself, "Cool, everything worked out. The kids are fine." Then, I opened my front door and found the next door neighbor's daughter sitting on my couch surrounded by my three kids.
Apparently, mere moments after the start of my mad sprint to the next stop sign, the kids all exited the house in search of me. As they neared the end of the driveway (we live on a cul-de-sac with very little traffic btw.) my neighbor intervened and had her daughter escort them back into the house to care for them while I finished up my late night, impromptu exercise.
I WAS MORTIFIED. The moment the neighbor left I let into my daughter. "You had ONE job!" Of course she had her reasons for ignoring my directions and traipsing into the street with her brothers. But, it was over. It had happened. I'm a terrible mother. "We are not telling Dad about this." I informed them in a very quietly scary voice. They all slowly nodded in understanding recognizing that was the only appropriate response at this moment in time. Moments later, Daddy arrived home and instantly asked about the kids walking into the street solo. The neighbors were still out front when he arrived and totally sold me out.
He was surprisingly jovial about it and did not condemn my parenting skills. Additionally, he had found my phone and it was completely unscathed. He had the good sense to use Find My Friends to see what my phone was up to and saw it pinging on the side of the road. He left Wal-Mart and headed in that direction. So as he's off ACTUALLY rescuing my phone, I was sprinting uphill in the dark completely unaware that my late night cardio was futile. Well, as he is driving towards it, it begins to MOVE! He called it and a lady answered. She had found it in the street and almost run over it. (I have no idea how that even happens. It was dark guys. How do you see a phone laying in the middle of the road and actually stop to get it?! Cray.) She was nearby and he popped over to reclaim it for me. And it has absolutely NO damage. It's a freaking Christmas miracle.
So, at the time, this was definitely not fun and was quite stressful. But, looking back I can appreciate how ridiculous it all was and the fact that it has a happy ending makes it easy to reflect upon it with humor. I'm thankful for good neighbors and kind strangers who helped make the ending a good one and I will definitely think twice about placing my phone on the back of my husbands car or expecting my daughter to follow my directions in the future.
As a Spanish teacher, I always spend the week of Cinco de Mayo teaching my students about the holiday and allowing them to make piñatas. This year instead of paper maché we made paper bag piñatas. They were incredibly easy and gave us more time to learn about Mexican culture and make more crafts. We discussed the history of the sarapé (you might also know it as a poncho) and the sombrero. Then we made some for ourselves to wear during our fiesta! My students, who are ages 15-18 loved the activities and left with a better understanding of the holiday. I also brought the crafts and knowledge home for my kids who also loved them!
If you are one of those people that likes to throw the term "cultural appropriation" around in regards to Americans wearing sombreros on Cinco de Mayo, I have an opinion I'd like to share with you.
Sombreros and sarapés are a part of Mexican history. During the Battle of Puebla (The event that Cinco de Mayo celebrates.) Mexicans actually did wear sombreros and sarapés. Of course they are not part of the general attire now but, we, as Americans don't walk around in Pilgrim garb anymore either. However, we are not offended at Thanksgiving when children dress up like pilgrims. I think that if we teach our children how to respect others culture while learning about it that there is no harm in enjoying that culture. The act of making these items, putting time, effort and care into a project based on the culture of someone else can actually help you understand and appreciate that culture more. Just as with everything, be respectful and develop an understanding of the culture. Don't just steal it and mock it with stereotypical behavior.
If we are always worrying about offending someone by even bringing up the items labelled as "stereotypical" in someone's culture then we may never be able to become comfortable with them or understand them. Opening up the conversation and allowing children to explore and investigate is the only way for them to learn.
Ok, now, if you don't agree then you can stop reading since you probably think I'm a horrible person for making these crafts. Otherwise, keep on to learn how to make the crafts as well as get links to the information I used to teach my students about the holiday and Mexican culture.
Paper Bag Piñata
You will need:
- paper bag
- hole punch
- tissue paper and/or streamers
1. Fill your bag with candy (not too much!) Then fold down the top and staple.
2. Decorate! Use whatever you like! My students got pretty creative and made things varying from a penguin to an emoji!
3. Punch a hole in the top and string it.
4. Bust it! With my students, we hung it in a tree outside of the school. For my kids I just held it out for them. You can also blind fold and spin the hitter for extra fun and cultural appropriateness.
If you want to learn about the art of making piñatas in Mexico you can watch this video.
You will need:
- brown craft paper
- tissue paper and/or streamers
1. Cut a piece of craft paper that is the appropriate width for your torso.
2. Fold in half and cut a half circle. (This will be the neck hole.)
3. Decorate! Some students made a themed sarapé others simply decorated with streamers and tissue paper. Some even added paper flowers. My children used crayons to draw a pattern and color it in.
If you want to learn about the history of the sarapé you can read about it here.
Paper Plate Sombrero
You will need:
- paper plate (I used white to make it easier to decorate but you can use colored ones too.)
- paper cup
- hot glue
- hole punch
- streamers and/or tissue paper, ribbon etc.
1. Hot glue the cup to the plate. The lip of the cup will be glued to the top, center of the plate.
2. Decorate! Some students had streamers dangling down. Others made paper flowers or covered it in streamers and tissue paper.
3. Punch hole in either side and add a string.
If you would like to learn about the history of the sombrero click here.
Thanks for visiting!
I don't know about you but I love Amazon Prime. It is seriously a life changer. So, I decided to write an ode expressing my adoration for it and all it does for me.
Oh Amazon Prime!
The dryer has broken,
I need a new part,
Under ten dollars,
I add it to my cart.
Oh Amazon Prime!
Baby wipes are a constant need,
Subcribe and Save is there for me
Each month they arrive after just one click
Poopy bottoms no more
You were just the trick!
Oh Amazon Prime!
A simple search,
That yellow check mark,
Cozy pajamas while sitting on the couch
The store or online, the differences are stark.
Oh Amazon Prime!
My life is changed
You cost so little, yet so much gained.
Without you shopping would be a hastle
But now items arrive quickly at my castle.
I am in no way affiliated with Amazon and did not receive any compensation for this post. I genuinely love Amazon Prime. While sitting in my living room on Christmas Eve I felt the need to express how happy it has made me. I was able to purchase almost all of my Christmas presents with free two-day shipping, I can read reviews about the item and easily compare items to select the best one, and they have just about anything you could want including a new part for my dryer. It is really just the best and my life is better because it exists. Because as a mother of three putting on actual clothes and makeup, and dressing all three kids in something other than underwear or pajamas in order to go to the store is just not something I want to do anymore.
I know it's been a month since I last posted but, I have a good excuse! I had my baby! If you've been following my blog you know that we decided to be surprised about the gender. So, surprise!
We are thrilled and even though the labor didn't go as planned we are both healthy and that is what is most important. I intended to have a natural labor without epidural like I managed with my first son. However, because I was attempting a second VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) I ended up with a complication. When the baby began to show signs of distress and the labor was not progressing as it should have and instead had regressed my doctor told me that he was concerned and urged me to have a c-section. I was upset because I had to have a c-section with my daughter due to her breach position and I did not handle it well. But, I knew if my doctor was suggesting it that I didn't really have a choice because he knew how much I didn't want that and allowed me to labor for 27 hours with my other son. When they got into surgery they found that the cord was wrapped around the baby's neck and feet, and that my c-section scar had burst open and part of the cord was sticking out of the opening! They also found that he was 9 lbs. So, I had some major factors working against me and had we not gone ahead with a cesarean we both could have died.
On a lighter note, what do you think of the birth announcement? Knowing I was about to have a baby I began looking into apps for creating one and discovered one called "Birth Announcement". It was a pre-created image with editable content areas. For only $3 I was able to get this customized announcement that only took a few moments to make and looks pretty awesome.
Well, now that I'll be off for a bit I plan on getting a lot of things done in the crafting and home decor department as soon as I'm feeling capable. So, check back soon to see what fun things I'm up to!
Picking this blog back-up with renewed vigor inspired me to also begin writing again. When I was a kid I was always writing stories and it continued to college, where I wrote for the campus newspaper. Since then I've been busy with lesson planning, kids and life and haven't written much. So, I've submitted several articles to various sites and two have been accepted so far! One was just published on bluntMoms and the other has been published on The Good Mother Project. It is a very rewarding feeling to have had two articles accepted in one month and I hope the trend continues. If not, I'll be posting more articles here. Writing is very cathartic for me and whether they are published on bigger sites or not, I will still enjoy the process. You can check out my two articles titled: "Mean Girls: High School Isn't the End" and "Mother-in-Law: Not Always a Nemesis". Enjoy!
Rachel is a mother of three, elementary Spanish teacher and part-time blogger who loves crafting, creating fun and engaging activities for her children and students and hanging with her friends and family. She blogs about what she's doing and her interests at any given time which vary. She's a little OCD and always looking for her next project. Her husband calls it, "focusing her crazy", but she just calls it fun.