Friday, August 14, 2020

No More Candyland?

It felt like the end of an era.

On July 26, a Sunday evening, I had some free time and asked my two youngest children if they would like to play a game--"maybe Candyland?", I suggested.

In the past, this would have been met with enthusiasm, and the ancient Candyland game (the one I had played when I was a very young child) would have been carried up cheerfully from the game closet downstairs.  But on this particular evening, Moriah and Benjamin said, "We don't want to play Candyland. Could we play Skip Bo instead?"

Well, yes.  We could, and we did.  I enjoy a good game of Skip Bo, to be sure!  But my heart seized up a little.

When did my littlest guy get big enough to actually play a game like Skip Bo?  Have we outgrown our Candyland years?

Friday, May 15, 2020

To Remember This Time: Days 21-50 (All of April!)

Well, well, well.  As it turns out, I was unable to keep up my pace of blogging and fell far behind.  Is anyone surprised by this?  :)

So, I'm going to do things differently.  In this case, I'm tackling all of April.  Easy peasy, right?  :)  Since I'm covering a lot of ground, I won't be able to do it in as much detail as I had been attempting in my previous posts during COVID-19; but by using my wall calendar, my planner, my Facebook posts, and my cellphone photos, I'll be able to jot down some thoughts about our daily life during this historic pandemic.  It's better than nothing, I think.  :)

Before I start, let me make a note about food.  My daily planner (I've used The Well-Planned Day for years) has a spot for writing dinner menus, so I try to remember to quickly scribble down what we've eaten that day.  Rather than using it for advance planning, I use it after the fact as a record.  But it's my planner, so that's allowed.  ;-)  During this quarantine, I've discovered a few things about food.  First, our schedule is so relaxed now that we tend to stay up late and sleep in, so sometimes breakfast is eaten so late that no one is hungry when normal lunchtime rolls around.  Some of us have even discovered that two(ish) meals a day, rather than three, are sufficient.  Of course, there are still some that quite enjoy three meals a day.  ;-)  Second, some days I found joy in spending time preparing a tasty, balanced meal for the family.  Other days, I didn't feel like cooking AT ALL and couldn't believe people were hungry again so soon!  I mean, do we really need to eat dinner every day??  ;-)  So some days, I just scrounged to find something to put on the table.  Also, some days we ate a big(ger) late lunch, so we weren't very hungry in the evening.  Third, we wondered, when this pandemic broke out, if food supplies would soon be limited, but so far, so good.  We haven't noticed any particular shortage of food (although early on, sometimes quantities were limited, so the store put a limit on how many each customer could buy, which was mildly inconvenient but not catastrophic by any stretch of the imagination).  If a grocery store was out of an item we were looking for, it was easy enough to find something else to substitute.  I'm grateful that the supply chain stayed as intact as it did.

Well, let's dive in, shall we?  :)

Wednesday, April 1 (Day 21)
This was my 44th birthday--hooray!  If I make time in the coming days, I'll come back and write about this day in more detail...but no promises.  ;-)  (You will also see this same "guarantee" on April 9 and April 17--haha!)  :)

Scheduled items: virtual staff meeting in the morning (an opportunity for the leadership of our congregation to meet together to make plans, discuss any situations that need help, and be inspired), virtual midweek church service in the evening

Dinner: tacos that Jeff made for my birthday

Also of note: at the beginning of this confinement, we were given these chairs and end table, and we had fun rearranging the living room so that they could be right in front of the big picture window.  I have LOVED this spot--both for my own times of sitting there and also for the many times other family members have enjoyed it.  We've left the mancala board out on it much of the time, and it has enticed people to play many games.  We've discovered that Moriah is actually pretty good at it!  She's even been known to beat her biggest brother occasionally.  ;-)

Thursday, April 2 (Day 22)
After the excitement of my birthday the day before, it was nice to spend some time doing "normal" activities, like reading aloud to the kids from Little Women (our current read-aloud that we are slowly making our way through). Of course, this day did have one unusual event in it: the baking of my birthday cake that "should" have happened the day before, but didn't.  ;-)

Scheduled items: virtual d-time (discipleship time) with our good friends Ben and Melanie in the evening

Dinner: Ground beef grand style, green beans, birthday cake

I stayed up super late this night to write a blog post.

Friday, April 3 (Day 23)
I hope to write more about this day in a coming post.  To give you a sneak preview, we were blessed with an enormous amount of food and supplies, packaged in big trash bags and placed at our front step.  It left our jaws on the floor and tears in our eyes.  Truly unbelievable, in the real sense of the word.  Here is just a portion of the gifts that we were surprised with...
 Moriah and I had fun playing one of the new games that was included.

More about this later, I hope.  :)

Scheduled items: virtual Bibletalk in the evening (at least 28 people tuned into our Zoom session, from North Carolina, Hawaii, and other places--sometimes the limitations of technology frustrate us, and I would much prefer to actually be face-to-face with our Bibletalk guests, but one huge advantage of meeting virtually is that people from all over the world can join!)

Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwiches, apple salad, and assorted leftovers

Saturday, April 4 (Day 24)
We were still trying to absorb the massive gift from the day before (and find places to put all the items-haha!).  We actually received another package on this day--a birthday gift for me from my dear friend Cathi: these comfy cozy slippers!  When they arrived, I had no idea that in the coming weeks and months, I would be wearing slippers so much of the time!  :)
Scheduled items: virtual d-time with our good friends Steve and Grace in the evening

Dinner: Potato soup, garlic bread

Tobin's family night activity: hide and seek (it had been so many years since I had done this that I had forgotten how much fun it can be!)

After the kids were in bed, I stayed up late to write on my blog.

Sunday, April 5 (Day 25) - Palm Sunday
Scheduled items: online church service in the morning, followed in the early afternoon by a leaders meeting

Later that afternoon, the weather was so warm and beautiful outside that I couldn't resist taking the four younger kids and going for a walk around the block--twice!  On the first circuit, Shav took the skateboard and Tobin, the pogo stick.  He did not actually bounce the entire way around though.  ;-)  Moriah and I were wearing our matching dresses.  :)


On sort of the opposite end of our block, someone had a lilac bush that was growing close enough to the sidewalk that I could get a good picture of it as we passed.  I still miss the gorgeous lilacs that grew in the backyard of our old house.
On returning home, we were greeted by these cheerful tulips.  If we can't have lilacs, at least we can have tulips.  :)
Our friend Ben came by and blessed us tremendously by giving Shav a bike he had fixed up and gotten ready for him.  Ben loves biking so much that he wants to make sure many other people get to enjoy it, too; and now, thanks to him, Shav has joined the ranks of having a super "big-boy" bike, like his older brothers.  :)
Benjamin, meanwhile, thought it was fun to sit on top of the pick-up truck.  :)

This evening, for the first time, we gave a yard concert.  :)  We grabbed some folding chairs, a music stand, my guitar, a box of harmonicas, a box drum and our djembe, and probably a few other instruments, too.  We started playing and singing, and Jeff did a Facebook Live video of it.  As neighbors walked by with their dogs or just for fresh air and exercise, those of us who didn't have instruments in our hands would wave to them.  We had a blast; and if it brought a smile to the faces of passersby or a few of our friends on Facebook, it was well worth it.  :)

Dinner: Ham (and presumably, some other good food, but I haven't got a clue what it was)  :)

Monday, April 6 (Day 26)
One of the two days in April that didn't have a scheduled activity in it!  I'm always grateful for days like these.  :)

Dinner: Leftover ham, baked corn, sauteed fennel (my first time ever preparing fennel, which was a gift from our good friend Brandie)

Tuesday, April 7 (Day 27)
The most significant part of this day was that our very dear friend Todd Collier died. He led the congregation we were part of before we moved to NoVa, and without a doubt, he loved deeply.  We have so many special memories with him: sharing Christmases together, his presence on the day Josiah and David were baptized, his encouragement of the teens to participate in the Dayton Muddler together (and the rest of us non-runners had a table along the course where we handed out drinks to the runners), his delight in baby Benjamin (and Benjamin's delight in Todd).  It doesn't seem real that he's gone.  Even though he had nearly a decade-long fight against cancer and his passing wasn't a surprise, it just does not seem real.  As a matter of fact, just a few hours ago as I was talking with Tobin and Shav about some serious matters, the thought popped into my head, "It would be so good for them to talk to Todd about this"...followed immediately by the realization that they can't.  The separation that the curtain of death brings upon us can feel very cold and cruel sometimes.  This picture of Todd holding Benjamin is from Christmas Day 2015--and Todd's beloved wife Julia is in the picture, too.  We mourn, but not as those who have no hope.


Scheduled items: Women's Bible study in the evening, taught by our women's ministry leader (and my good friend) Cathi; she's teaching a series on "Famous but Nameless" women from the Bible

Also of interest: it was on this day that I stopped writing "virtual" or "online" in front of the activities on my calendar; there's no need now since everything is done that way and will likely be for quite a while longer!

Dinner: Ham & beans

Moriah's family night activity: Hide and seek

Wednesday, April 8 (Day 28)
Scheduled items: d-time with Lujack and Cathi in the morning, midweek in the evening

In between those two events, we started a fairly large project: filming a skit for the welcome and introduction for our church service.  We scrounged in our rag pile for clothes we could use for costumes, dug out the "rock" that had been part of the kids' Halloween costumes last fall (Tobin, Shav, and Moriah had been rock, paper, scissors, which was a huge hit!), went to a nearby park that had a rock-like structure that we could use for the tomb, and started filming.
Beautiful "Mary" took a selfie.  :)
We didn't get all the filming done this day, but made a good start!

Dinner: Leftovers

Thursday, April 9 (Day 29) - Moriah's 8th birthday!
I plan to write more about this some other time, but suffice it to say, it was a grand day of celebrating our sweet daughter.  :)

Scheduled items: Bible study with my friend GA in the afternoon

We--all of us except Jeff, Josiah, and Benjamin--also went back to the park and did more filming this evening.  It was chillier than the previous evening, but we made more progress and were grateful for that.

Dinner, each item being chosen by Moriah: Wild chicken casserole, fruit salad, funnel cakes (which was Moriah's choice of dessert instead of birthday cake)

Friday, April 10 (Day 30)
Moriah spent quite a bit of time enjoying her birthday gifts, including this easel.  :)
In the late afternoon, we headed back to the park to finish filming everything we needed for our Easter skit; and David then did a masterful job of editing it and making it all fit together and flow.  His video-making skills have increased dramatically, and we are all so grateful for that!!

Scheduled items: d-time with Melanie in the afternoon, Bibletalk in the evening (at least 27 guests tuned in)

Dinner: Misc. (which basically means I have no idea)  :)

Saturday, April 11 (Day 31)
Scheduled items: marriage devotional for the married couples in our congregation (Jeff and I taught a lesson, and then we had a great discussion together), d-time with Steve and Grace in the evening

Tobin enjoyed Moriah's new birthday easel (dry erase board on one side, chalkboard on the other.  :)

Dinner: ? (no record of it exists in my planner, but I'm sure we ate something...clearly, we didn't starve)  ;-)

Sunday, April 12 (Day 32) - Easter
Scheduled items: church service in the morning, and we had the great fun of watching the "world premiere" (haha--so lofty-sounding!!) skit and welcome for it!

Benjamin was a sleepy bunny in the morning, and I relished the cuddles. 
 Moriah noticed I was taking pictures...
 ...so she smiled, too.  :)
 It certainly wasn't a typical Easter in any way, but no matter how unusual the circumstances, the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead cannot be stopped or hindered in any way!!

Dinner: chalupas (not the typical Easter food) and cherry delight...I felt delight all right when I ate my piece  :)
 In the evening, we again did a yard concert, just like last Sunday...but this one was shorter because it started to rain!  Later, we watched the presentation of Jesus from Sight and Sound Theatres, and it was spectacular (and free during Easter weekend!).  Once and only once have we gotten to go as a family to the Sight and Sound in Lancaster, PA, to see a show--it was probably in 2015, and was the Christmas show.  I had heard so many good things about Sight and Sound that I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype, but I was proven wrong: IT WAS SO GOOD.  Watching Jesus on the computer wasn't nearly as good as seeing it live, but it was still fantastic and a really wonderful way to close out our Resurrection Day celebration.

Benjamin, however, fell asleep during it.  ;-)
After the family went to bed, I stayed up late to write a blog post--and that was the last one until now, as a matter of fact!  :)

Monday, April 13 (Day 33)
It was a beautiful day, and I had to run outside with my phone to snag some pictures of the beautiful dogwood that is outside our dining room windows.  :)



 Moriah drew some more on her birthday gift.  :)
Scheduled items: Bible study with my friend Jessica in the evening

Dinner: Chalupa burritos (basically yesterday's meal, but wrapped in a tortilla this time)  :)

Tuesday, April 14 (Day 34)
One very special part of this day was that Audrey, an older lady who lives here in Annandale, saw my post on nextdoor.com about wanting lilacs to do a photo shoot with my daughter (it's been a tradition since Moriah was born!), and she called and invited us to come over to her yard to cut some.  Hopefully a blog post will be forthcoming about this at some point!  :)

 Also of note: Tobin drew this lion and submitted it to Nature Friend magazine. When I posted about it on Facebook, it got 249 reactions and 73 comments--perhaps the most of anything I've ever posted?  It quickly became clear that we weren't the only ones who thought Tobin's drawing was terrific!!  :)

Scheduled items: Cathi's women's Bible study in the evening, followed by a good conversation about the Bible with Jessica

Dinner: Stuffed shells, cantaloupe

Wednesday, April 15 (Day 35)
Scheduled items: staff meeting in the morning, midweek in the evening

Also of note: Jeff got out his tools and gave haircuts to the boys this evening.  They needed it.  :)
 And Tobin sought to encourage me in my massive project of cleaning and organizing the music corner of our family room--involving moving huge piles of music, the piano, the shelf for music books, vacuuming underneath (and finding all kinds of interesting things--like one of Tobin's flip-flops; now he has a complete pair again!), and beginning the gigantic project of putting the music books back in an organized fashion.  Confession time: I still haven't finished that project.  Shame on me!  ;-)
Also of note: the soft pedal on the piano had gotten stuck, so while I had it moved out from the wall, Jeff opened up the piano and was able to fix that.  My hero.  :)

Dinner: Cashew chicken, rice

Thursday, April 16 (Day 36)
Because I did some organizing work with music the day before, I was inspired to teach Tobin a piano lesson today! I could find the right music books!  I could even find the piano--haha!  :)  It was great fun.  :)

I finished reading Stepping Heavenward, a wonderful book that I had previously read quite a few years ago but was glad to reread and glean more wisdom from.

I also snuggled with my sleepy baby :)...but don't call him a baby because if you do, he will correct you.  ;-)

Scheduled items: d-time with Ben and Melanie

Dinner: Little Caesar's pizza (because even though I'm at home all day, sometimes I still don't feel like cooking)  ;-)

Friday, April 17 (Day 37) - David's 15th birthday
The big event was, of course, David's birthday!!!  He's so mature that I had been feeling for a while that he was already 15--haha!  But today made it official.  :)

Scheduled items: d-group (discipleship group) with Cathi and the women she disciples in the early afternoon, Bibletalk in the evening (at least 27 people tuned in)

Dinner, each item being chosen by David: Wild chicken casserole (just like Moriah requested for her birthday!), caprese salad, jello salad, chocolate fudge birthday cake (that he made himself)

We stayed up late this night watching the first of the Hobbit movies, which was a first for me (but not for some of the other members of the family)!  It was so much fun that we then watched the other two Hobbit movies--not on this night!  But on upcoming nights, we treated ourselves to that.  Don't ask me exactly which nights though.  ;-)

Saturday, April 18 (Day 38)
Scheduled items: drive-by 50th birthday party for Cathi in DC in the afternoon, d-time with Steve and Grace in the evening

That drive-by party for Cathi was really, really special.  It was a joy to get out of the house...to drive through beautiful springtime DC...to see the faces (through car windows and behind masks) of beloved friends...and to honor a woman of wisdom who labors unceasingly for the Lord and for our congregation.  I am so glad we were able to be a part of that!
Dinner: Roast/potatoes/carrots, frozen berries

Sunday, April 19 (Day 39)
Scheduled items: church service in the morning, followed by leaders meeting

Dinner: ?

I do not have much at all recorded about this day. I guess it was a good one??  I'm going to assume that anyway.  :)  We did Benjamin's family night this evening, and he wanted to play a bunch of rounds of tag (all the kids together outside), followed by three rounds of hide and seek inside (with all the family, even Jeff and I). 

Monday, April 20 (Day 40)
The other day in April that had no scheduled items!  Woohoo!!  :)

Jeff made cookies...
 ...I unearthed an old family photo from 2008...
 ...and for Jeff's family night, we played Boggle.  :)

Dinner: BLTs, lentil stew

Tuesday, April 21 (Day 41)
Scheduled items: Cathi's women's Bible study

Dinner: Chipotle from Janet Green

This dinner was an amazing blessing!  Our kind, generous friend Janet told us she wanted to bring us dinner, and so she did.  Delicious food from Chipotle--a family favorite!  Even sweeter than the gift of food was the sight of her beautiful face and the brief in-person conversation we got to have on the front lawn.  We are lifetime members of the Janet Green Fan Club!  :)

Wednesday, April 22 (Day 42)
Scheduled items: d-time with LuJack and Cathi in the morning, a phonecall with my friend Christina in the afternoon, midweek in the evening, followed by d-group with our Virginia group

More beauty captured today...in the form of splendid irises that grow here in our flowerbeds, not planted by me but certainly appreciated by me...


 ...and the beauty of friendship, as a thoughtful friend from Harrisonburg, Selena, sent this very cool card to Benjamin!  :)

Dinner: Pork roast, rice, celery sticks, strawberry shortcake (made by Jeff!)

Thursday, April 23 (Day 43)
Scheduled items: Bible study with GA

Dinner: Chicken nuggets, leftover strawberry shortcake

Also of note: Tobin and Shav are looking forward to starting the First Principles Bible studies that we use to prepare people for baptism, and one of the challenges they had been given was to read the gospel of Luke.  They were so inspired to complete this challenge quickly that they stayed up until after 4:00 am this morning, reading Luke--all of their own initiative!  They weren't able to finish it then, so today they read more and both were able to complete it.  And then Jeff gave them an informal quiz to see if they actually comprehended anything as they read it at such a high rate of speed; and sure enough, they did!  They both passed the quiz with flying colors.  :)
We are so grateful for their hearts for God and His Word!!

Friday, April 24 (Day 44)
I gave Tobin another piano lesson today (only a week and a day after his last one!), which is some kind of record.  Probably also qualifies as a certifiable miracle.  ;-)

Scheduled items: 1:30 am (yes, very early in the morning!) we tuned in to a Bibletalk in Hawaii led by the brother of our friend Jessica!  it was fun and enlightening to see how that group does their virtual Bibletalks--definitely worth staying up so late for!  :)  In addition to that, we tuned into a special event this afternoon as our friend Joe was appointed as a cyberevangelist for our DC congregation, and then we had regular Bibletalk in the evening (at least 32 people tuned in).

Dinner: Potato wedges, green beans, strawberries

Josiah's family night activity: Bible Challenge, which led to a LONG discussion between him and Jeff about whether Luke was a Jew or a Gentile. 


Saturday, April 25 (Day 45)
Scheduled items: d-time with Ben and Melanie in the evening, followed by d-time with Steve and Grace

Dinner: Pierogies, leftovers

I have no clue what else happened today!  :)

Sunday, April 26 (Day 46)
Scheduled items: church service (campus Sunday), followed by leaders meeting

The campus service was great!  Josiah got to make an appearance in the special performance they did for the welcome, and our friend Dale preached a great sermon.

Dinner: Spaghetti, white chocolate strawberry pie

Also of note: Benjamin had fun playing the piano.  :)


 David's family night activity: Settlers of Catan.  :)


Monday, April 27 (Day 47)
Tobin and Shav's first official Bible study from the First Principles series!  They set their alarms, woke up early, had their quiet times, ate breakfast, changed clothes (Tobin dressed up!), and still had plenty of time before the 8:30 am study.  They were eager and ready!!
Scheduled items: Bible study in the evening with a woman named Roneisha whom I had never met before, but she's a friend of a friend

Dinner: Hamburger/potato skillet, strawberries

Tuesday, April 28 (Day 48)
Scheduled items: Bible study in the morning with a woman named Debbie Ramsey, another friend of a friend

Dinner: Sausage & bean soup, garlic bread

Evening activity: a game of Monopoly that became hilarious (as so many of our games do)...Jeff even ended up live-streaming some of it on Facebook...why?...so people could see firsthand how ridiculous we are, I guess!  ;-) 


 Benjamin has learned how to do selfies, so he is the one responsible for the picture below.  Maybe he just wanted to show off his baby blue eyes.  :)

Wednesday, April 29 (Day 49)
Scheduled items: staff meeting in the morning, a Boggle game with our dear friend Conset (we used Zoom to connect and play this) in the afternoon, and midweek in the evening

A wonderful highlight of this day was going with Jeff to a creek to explore and play in the water.  It is not far from our house; but when we're at this spot, we feel far away from the city and almost can imagine that we're back in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  :)


 Also of note: Moriah with a couple of completed puzzles.
Dinner: Quesadillas, carrot sticks

Thursday, April 30 (Day 50)
Scheduled items: Bible study with GA in the afternoon, Bible study with Roneisha in the evening

More sleepy baby snuggle buddy time :)

 Benjamin with fun little sticker books Selena sent him :)

 A new game for family night (Shav's, maybe?)...a Star Wars Monopoly game, given to us by some great friends at church--Randy, Mike, and others--who came one day this month and dropped off amazing gifts of games and toys, as well as some essentials like toilet paper and milk.  I tell you what, we have been blown away by the kindness and generosity that has surrounded us this month!

Dinner: Boiled potatoes (sweet and regular) and assorted toppings

I don't want to close out the record of April 2020 without mentioning one sorrow of this month.  Jeff's mom, who lives with Jeff's sister in Alpine, California, was supposed to fly east and spend about 6 weeks with us, from about the middle of April to the end of May; but even though airline tickets were remarkably cheap(!), we all knew there was no way in the world it would be a good idea for her to come.  We had gotten our guest room ready (moving Tobin and Shav downstairs to part of the family room that we turned into a bedroom for them gave us an "extra" room upstairs to use for a guest room), and I felt a pang in my heart sometimes as I walked by, saw the quilt spread on the bed, and realized that the special guest we had hoped could come to fill the room wasn't able to.  As it turned out, we used that room a lot this month!  It became Josiah's favorite spot for online Bible studies, campus devotionals, and other virtual events; and other members of the family used it for such things, too.  So the room wasn't wasted!  But we missed our much-anticipated visit from Grandma Fisher.

What a month!  Never have we ever experienced such a time as this!  The three things that top my gratitude list are 1) the amazing ways God has provided for our every need and so much surplus besides, using dear friends who have poured out blessing upon blessing on us, 2) the good health God has given us from, especially protection from this coronavirus, and 3) the precious times of having fun and making memories with our children.  This month has been an absolute gift, and we will never forget it.