Apr 27, 2020

Fam Prom 2020

4/27/2020 — cori

Our goal with Fam Prom was not to replace Prom, because that experience is irreplaceable, but to give him happy memories associated with Prom, even if those memories involved dancing with his crazy family. If nothing else, it was fun to dress up.

Since most restaurants are open for pick-up still, we decided to order from our favorite Mexican restaurant for this special night. Thank you Blue Agave for giving us plenty of energy to dance like it's 1999.

 And it wouldn't be Prom without a punch bowl and small desserts. 

I think that might have been Bennett's favorite part of the night.


 Of course we got plenty of snarky looks. This is where the "cool kids" hung out. Notice the absence of Chuck and I. 

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but we have zero clue how to dance. We have no rhythm, no bounce (which we just learned from our tutorial was super important), no natural sense of what "cool" looks like while your dancing, no beat, no idea what to do with our hands while our feet move, no nothing. And since Prom is mostly about dancing (as well as the punch bowl) we decided that we would watch these terrific dance tutorials on YouTube and then incorporate them into the playlist that Chloe and Bennett worked hard to agree upon. You guys!! This guy was awesome! He's a great teacher. Granted, the only thing I can do when I dance is count, but I feel we learned some smooth moves and are in a better position not to embarrass ourselves. 

This is WITH the tutorial.

Even Bennett and Chloe danced together for 7 whole seconds.

I took a picture in case the video went by too fast for you.

Of course, Bennett had some dance moves up his sleeve that were were unaware of.

He was full of surprises.

Chloe and I closed the place down with our final dance that was nothing we learned on our tutorial. We were free-styling it at this point. We found our rhythm.

This looks like a happy Prom boy with old, crazy parents. 

We ended the night watching "Hitch." This was this exact scene we had in mind when we were doing our dance tutorials. Some people are blessed with natural dance moves. Others of us are not.

Apr 25, 2020

Quarantine - Week 6

4/25/2020 — cori

This would be the theme of this week. We all felt pretty blue, tired, down, sad, blah.  All the feelings of the past 6 weeks started welling up to the surface for all of us. All the psychologists say that we are all going through collective grief during this time. Grief has many stages and we don't necessarily process them in a linear fashion.

Even Ninja is affected.

It certainly didn't help that Chloe's car broke down for the second time right after picking it up from the dealer earlier in the week. The last post talks about this in detail. It ended up turning out great in the end, but it only caused lots of frustration and sadness on the front end of it all.

Monday was gorgeous, sunny, hot, and cloudless. Chloe and I basked in it. Literally. We are working hard on our tans here and doing it comfortably, I might add. No hard ground or itchy grass for us.

The rest of the week was chilly, windy, and cloudy. It felt like this going for a walk.

So the best thing to do when you can't stand being outside for any length of time is to paint. We decided to all try doing a rendition of Van Gogh's "Wheat Field with Crows."

 Gorgeous, right?!

Then there were our versions. Van Gogh makes it look so easy and simple. When in reality it is so complex and hard. Layering of colors, textures, brush strokes, movement....those are hard to do! But it was fun trying.

We're still reading the same books from last week. We finished our Netflix series (which doesn't help with our mood, btw). We did all our exercising, school, and work. Somehow the days go by. I'm shocked that it's week six. I'm glad I started keeping a record of each week because they are a blur to me now. They seem indistinguishable.

We ate food again. Not in this order. I reserve the right to change it up, much to my family's delight. And I'm not the only cooker in this house. We are lucky to have Chuck, concoction maker extraordinaire. He's also our Chief Sauce Maker. He makes the best sauces.

And I'll indulge you in a sneak peak of the decorations for Fam Prom 2020. I am determined to make Prom special for Bennett even if he has to have it with his family. This is going down tonight people. It's going to be a night to remember!

Apr 23, 2020

The Rebirth of Chloe's Car

4/23/2020 — cori

We are awesome parents (read dripping with sarcasm). We surprised Chloe with a car for her birthday that promptly died 5 days later.  Like we needed this little hiccup during this exact time of life. We are quite well known for making lemonade out of lemons. If everything went perfectly all the time, you'd never have any interesting stories to tell. Trust me, we are not short on stories.

The owner of the dealership we bought the car from was a genuinely kind man. He wanted to make this right and he did. He found a "newer" engine (only 100,000 miles vs the 172,000 of her original one) and installed that, along with a new clutch and all the thousand little other things attached to that. I'm not one for details, I just want the car to go. He had it ready sooner than he estimated. He was very apologetic. We were thankful.

Fast forward to Chloe instantly driving it around the neighborhood again. Granted, she's very nervous about stalling out since the last time it stalled out it never woke up. She somehow felt this horrible coincidence was her fault even though the problem had nothing to do with learning how to drive a stick shift. The engine sounded wonderful and she said the clutch felt much smoother.

Until it wasn't....You would think that would be the end of the story. Nice guy fixes car for rock bottom price and girl is happy again. That's what the headline should read. But sometimes, you do get hit by lightning twice.

About the 3rd day of driving, we were waiting at an intersection in the neighborhood and the car started idling really low, like it was about to stall out any minute. Then it did. Then we had to go around a round-a-bout very slowly since there were lots of children nearby riding their bikes. It stalled out again. Chloe's worst fear. She refused to drive it again after that, even though it had nothing to do with her shifting abilities.

Again...we called super nice guy and he said bring it right back and he would check it out and fix it for free. Come to find out, it had 3 old coils that weren't doing something right. I don't know, I never really grasp the part where they explain the problem. Anywho, he fixed it in one day and called us back and said, "Your daughter's chariot is ready and it is running like a million dollars." (See I remember the important details.) And he didn't say it sarcastically. He genuinely wants her to feel safe and happy in her car and for it to treat her right.

Not only did we give Chloe a car, we gave her a great story to tell at parties. Win/win.

Apr 18, 2020

Quarantine - Week 5

4/18/2020 — cori
This was me last week.

This is me this week.

The weather will consume a large part of my narrative this week because it sucked! And it's amazing how all important the weather is when you're stuck inside all day, every day for an entire week (or forever for that matter - names of days are optional at this point). Add to that the early week and end of the week spring snow storm and you have the makings for honest to goodness depression. No sun in sight, people. It was bad. And cold. And gray. And cold. You get the idea. 

Actually, I lied. The sun did come out on Friday after the 8+ inches of snow we accumulated the day before. But it was frigid. I forgot all about spring, and bird sounds, and feeling warm - those were distant memories. But on a quick run up to the grocery store, I drove past this amazing site and had to get out of the car to behold the beauty of nature in all her splendor. Even though I still wanted to be grouchy because...snow. I couldn't. Not when the sun's reflection off the snow and water created beautiful art right before my eyes. I appreciate art in all its forms. Even when it involves freezing temperatures and snow (believe it or not).

 The weather afforded us plenty of time paint this week - twice to be exact. 

I find the puzzle choice this week rather coincidental. This one was finished in record time by Dad and Bennett. This was our fantasy destination this week. The weather seeps into every area of our life.

It also gave the kids oodles of time to devote to the world of Minecraft.

This is actually a joint effort of Chloe and Bennett.

They just prefer to work in different rooms. This is an incredibly creative city they are creating. It involves a roller coaster, water ways, outdoor markets, and stunning architecture. They spent several hours a day building this world from scratch in a desert biome, mind you. The kids can build a world in any environment and they chose the sunniest, hottest place they could find. See...the weather invades our every thought in this house - even how we play video games. 

One of the sweetest things to happen this week was this. Chloe's friend Maggie turned 16. Their group of friends decided to surprise her with a drive-by. There was a line of 7 cars waiting to drop off gifts and well wishes on this special day.

Lucky for us, book club resumed again via Google Hangouts. We were enjoying it in style. 

I am rather proud of this accomplishment. It proves I've been diligent about learning something new everyday for 4 weeks. This is how Duolingo encourages you to stay the course.

Taboo was played multiple times. It is a maddening game about trying to get your partner to say a specific word without using certain (key) words to describe it. Certain teams are better than others. Chuck and I don't make a great team. Surprisingly, Chloe and Bennett are fantastic teammates. Considering this is a game primarily about communication - I'm shocked! The word could be "elephant" and the only clue Chloe would give would be, "the opposite of a hippo" and Bennett would guess "elephant." I tell you, it's maddening. 

Another game we gave considerable time to this week was Codenames. Again, this is another "word guessing partner game" where you are trying to get your partner to chose several words that relate to each other. And again, Chuck and I are THE WORST partners for this game. We simply cannot convey the message to each other and it makes me want to pull out all my hair. Thus, only Chloe and I can be partners. In full disclosure, I'm horrible at this game too. I like fast-paced card games that require eye hand coordination (like nertz). But Bennett has taken that away from me too. If there is a game, he will win it. As a rather competitive person, I don't like that and resort to trash talking. But I can never seem to penetrate his mind.

This is the book I chose to read this week. It is over 500 pages at 8 point font. It's a monster, but a very interesting one. As one who loves social justice, this is a perspective that is necessary and important to read. We must question everything, even the version of history that's been promulgated through our schooling. If we only learn the side of history that originates with the victors, we've only heard one side. We need to balance that out with the version of history as explained by the oppressed, outcast, forgotten. I'll be chewing on this book for at least another week.

Again...we ate food every day. This menu never ceases to amaze me. I honestly have no idea how we have come up with this many meals to eat at home consistently. And that doesn't even count lunch! My people don't just eat a sandwich and chips. I've got people frying things up on the stove left and right during lunchtime! Can you believe it?! And we still don't run out of food. Maybe that's because I have to go to the store twice a week just to keep enough fruit and vegetables in stock. The most incredible part of all this to me is: we've done this as vegetarians this whole time. The few bites of chicken in the chicken soup is the first meat I've had in months. The only other meat allowance that Chuck and Bennett will never give up is pepperoni on their homemade pizzas. I'm so proud of my people and how they've chosen to eat healthy when it's super easy not to right now.

This is us. Every. Single. Night. I'm usually in the spot under that red blanket. For some reason, Chuck loves the floor. He actually chooses the floor. There's plenty of room on the sofa, but he's a floor guy. We just go with it. Anyways...this is where we wait out the last few hours of the endless day. This week it involved 2 episodes of "All American" every night. And yes, that is a giant bear sitting on the sofa with Chloe. We all have our 'thing.' 

Speaking of our 'thing'...one of Chloe's things is to change outfits 3-5 times a day. I have no earthly idea why. But this is what her closet usually looks like. Clothes strewn everywhere. This is a rather mild version, usually the piles are much higher and fewer clothes are actually hanging on hangers. By the way, did you know it's optional to hang your clothes up inside out or outside right?  I did not. It actually never crossed my mind until I witnessed each of my children do it. Please don't judge my parenting abilities based on the way my kids keep their closets. 

This was supposed to be Bennett's UCCS Orientation Day. Since all university campuses are still closed, it became an online orientation. Not what he was hoping for, but informative none-the-less.

Lastly, the "Husband of the Year" decided I needed a pedicure today and spent an hour pampering my feet. There are no words. He's simply the best.

Apr 11, 2020

Quarantine - Week 4

4/11/2020 — cori
I absolutely cannot believe we've been doing this for 4 weeks. At the end of each day I think to myself, "Wow, we made it through another day. Amazing." I don't know how it happens. We just keep finding things to learn, do, create, clean, cook, talk about. It just goes to show, people can adjust to anything.

The week commenced with this sweet girl turning 16. Sunday was a fabulous day! It was wonderful to have a day that was different from the monotony of every other day that blurs into each other while staying home 24/7. As the last post details, we ate out for the first time (curbside pick up) and surprised Chloe with a car on this special day. She spent the next 4 days learning how to drive a manual transmission car. She succeeded shockingly fast! She was very motivated. 

And then on Thursday, this happened. Chloe and I were coming back from another run around the neighborhood (and by run, I mean in the car, not on our own two legs) when it stalled out at a stop sign around the corner from the house. The engine turned over, but never started. We weren't too worried at first. You expect little problems in an old car. We'd just bring it to our mechanic and get it fixed. That is until the mechanic called back and gave us bad news, "It's the engine. You need a new one. The timing chain within the engine caused valve damage. It's going to cost $4000 to fix." *SIGH* That's more than we paid for the car. So...great birthday present.

We called the guy we bought it from and he said to bring it to him. That he wants to try to make this right. That happens on Monday. We'll see how this works out. Chloe is taking it well, although really misses driving Jax (the name she picked for it). On the up side, the mechanic said that even if we had brought it in to him to inspect before we bought it, he said it would have passed beautifully. It needed a few small repairs, nothing costly. It was a great car. We just had bad luck. Timing belt issues seem to plague us. We had two other cars throughout our marriage this also happened to. I guess you'll hear how this saga ends during next week's update. 

One take away from the whole situation so far is, we can't control what happened, but we can control our reaction to it. We've chosen not to worry, not to be angry, not to blame anybody. It was just bad luck, plain and simple. Things will work out, they always do; just maybe not the way you thought they would, or planned they would, or wanted them to. That's why we have to live with our hands open. We can't hold on too tightly. We have to stay open and flexible and bend to life.

In other news....Chuck and the kids finished this puzzle. I've learned that I'm not a "puzzle person." It's best for all of us for me to stay far away from this activity. We also still play the daily game (or 7) of darts and the nightly game of spike ball.

Have I mentioned recently how I have the most amazing husband in the whole wide world? Well if not, you're in for a treat. On Wednesday, we scrapped the Menu and he created a little oasis in our room for just he and I to have a little date night. Is that not the most romantic thing?!

We had the joy of 2 whole uninterrupted hours locked in our room, away from the kids, to just sit and talk about any and everything and play games (this one is cribbage, one of my favorites). I have really missed going out on dates. During house arrest, you are forced to get creative because life becomes so mundane without the variety of life that comes with being out and about and around other people.

The foods we ate this week. The first time in a month that we had something other than homemade food. We are super grateful that we haven't run out of money and/or food. I will never complain about eating at home all the time. But in honor of Chloe's birthday, it was definitely nice to splurge.

The Grass Monster strikes again! This girl. EVERY. DAY! She loves rolling all around the grass and then expects to come in. She sits there and barks at us like, "Hey, I said I wanted to come in. What don't you understand?" She's clueless about her 'situation.' I used to brush her off like 10 times a day. Bennett couldn't stand brushing her anymore and resorted to blowing her off with the leaf blower. Much more efficient!

Because of the above picture. She was treated to a nice outdoor bath to help make her smell like a lady again. She did not appreciate the fact that she's the only one of us who are able to 'get our hair done' during this stay-at-home-period.

Because it was a beautiful day, and because we are expecting more bad weather next week, we took a drive up to Horsetooth Reservoir and got out to breathe in the fresh mountain air and take a few pix. I just adore this guy. It still feels like we're just playing house.

I wanted to try out what all the cool kids are doing. 

As for this week's book, Bennett and I are reading "The Poisonwood Bible." He's reading it for Lit class and I'm just plain late to the party. He told me I would love it and that might have just been the biggest understatement he's ever made! I usually fly through books. But this one. This! One! It has some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read. The story itself is incredible. The characters are so perfectly written and expressed. I adore this book, the story, the message, the characters, the Congolese people. Why didn't I read it years ago?! I'm almost finished, but not in a hurry. I want it to last as long as possible because I know I'll be so sad when it's over. 

The kids started back to school this week, except for it was all online. The first 3 weeks was an extended Spring Break. But now they're back to business. I think they secretly enjoy having something they have to do. They both have expressed the sentiment, "I never thought I'd say this, but I actually miss school." 

I have to keep reminding myself of this. And because it's important, I will keep you abreast of our weekly weather situation. I'm pleased to say we had mostly sunny skies with a high in the mid-70s. Happy Days. There were a few scattered partly cloudy days, but by then, my tan was improving and it didn't get me as down as it usually does.

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