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Day 102 of Isolation: Family and Fishie Friends

My oldest son came for a visit again. As usual, this gave me great anxiety as he’s been isolating with friends since the beginning because he has asthma and our cats cause his allergies to get out of control (and eventually trigger asthma attacks). Plus, having him here is just one more way to infect each other.

But he needed my help ordering anniversary gifts for his girlfriend. Their two-year anniversary is on the 4th, and he had a couple things picked out but needed access to my Paypal where my dad sent his graduation money. Instead of me doing the ordering on my phone with the links he sent and possibly screwing it all up then dying of guilt, I told him to come over, set it all up, and I’d enter the Paypal info.

That worked out well enough, although I’m worried his gifts won’t be here by next Saturday even with express shipping. I told him to have a backup gift to give her on that day just in case.

While he was here, his older sister insisted he take care of his fish tank which has been horribly neglected the last four months. The water was so green with algae, you could barely find the fish and all of the pretty, colorful fish he got for his birthday had all died. Despite being told they were all male when they were bought, he’s got quite a few baby fish in the tank that are still thriving.

So the two started taking the water out (it was absolutely disgusting) but then she had to go to work so I helped as best I could with my fatigue setting in. We got the tank cleaned up, the pump cleaned out (although we didn’t have enough new bits so had to reuse some of the old filters), and rinsed off all of the decorations.

I added some anti-algae stuff we got for the 14yos betta tank and hoped fort he best as we added clean water and put the fish back in. We also rearranged everything and put new rocks in.

The fish seemed a little confused, especially the big orange one that is very jumpy and just hides inside one of the structures most of the time. It doesn’t like that the other fish are now hanging around its house.

I don’t have pictures of the before but here are some of the after once the filter kicked in and cleared out the last of the green water.





In the last one, you can kind of see the orange one (I don’t know its name) hiding inside the rocks. He usually goes underneath it where you can’t see him. He’s very anti-social.

Anyway, after getting the tank cleaned up, I decided to make dinner since he was here. I had some “carne picada” that my husband picked up the other day that I had planned to make some kind of steak tacos with, but I forgot I used all of the flour tortillas when I made enchiladas a couple weeks ago.

Instead, I just cooked the meat up like I would steak or hamburger with a ton of garlic, onion powder and a little Montreal steak seasoning then tossed in some sliced onions (we sadly had no green peppers). We ate it with swiss cheese on fancy hot dog rolls that were supposed to be for the 4th. So, makeshift Philly-style steak sandwiches. Had Kraft mac & cheese on the side with some leftover peas and some french fries.

It turned out really good. I wish I’d had two, but I’m supposed to be watching what I eat. After everyone except the oldest (she was at work) had some, there was enough for two sandwiches left. By morning that was gone. Oh well.

Will definitely be buying more of that cut for sandwiches.

All in all, it turned out to be a pleasant day.

Day 85 of Isolation: Graduation

It’s official… I’m the mother of a high school graduate!


Okay, it’s not super impressive, but he’s the first of my kids to graduate (my oldest dropped out junior year). And I’m just so very proud of him. The Class of 2020 had their entire lives and futures turned upside down in the matter of weeks but took it like champs. I know my son’s girlfriend was particularly upset that their senior play had to be canceled and that they missed prom (my son was less upset about that–he hates dances).

I actually tuned into the live stream of their virtual gradation. I’m not sure why because I dread all of the speeches–it’s just tedious when you’re sitting in a hot gym and uncomfortable bleachers–but I think I needed some kind of closure on this part of my life, especially since I could see or congratulate my son in person because of isolation.

Their class had four valedictorians. I’m not sure if that’s normal at their school or just because the pandemic messed grades up and this was the only fair way to do it, but each senior made a beautiful speech about surviving in the face of adversity which this class had to really learn on the fly back in March.

It’s a devastating blow to have all of your hopes and plans for the near and far future fall apart or suddenly be uncertain. As I listened to their speeches and those of the principal, superintendent, and teachers, it made me think of what all of this has really meant for them. It’s not just the loss of prom and a graduation ceremony. It’s so much more.

No one knows what the fall will bring. Will the college-bound be moving into their dorms come August like they’d planned? Or will they be settling down at home as adults, waiting to do another year of school–of college–online? Those, like my son, that had planned to find jobs after graduation to save money for whatever their future might bring are suddenly looking at nearly 20% unemployment because everything is closed. And when things do open back up, there will be thousands of people clamoring for the same jobs because they have families to support and are desperate.

My son is 18 and has been living at a friend’s house with his family during isolation. They’ve been kind enough to let him stay for the last three months rent-free because they were in school, but now that they’ve graduated he’ll be moving back home instead of into his own place until he can find a job. Except finding a job when you’re high risk (asthma) is, well, high risk. I’m terrified for his future, but like the rest of the Class of 2020, he’s determined to make the best of a bad situation.

All I can do is hope things work out and support him best I can through these uncertain times he’s found himself in. I tried to teach him how to adult the best I could, but I never thought he’d be adulting in the middle of a pandemic and nation-wide civil unrest the likes of we haven’t seen since my father’s generation.

So here’s to the Class of 2020… may they find the brightness in their futures that their present is currently lacking. They’ve faced this bit of adversity so I know they can take anything this crazy life throws at them.

Day 67 of Isolation: A Visit

My oldest son is eighteen and has severe asthma thanks to our cats. Since this makes him high risk with regards to COVID-19, he decided to go stay with catless friend once school closed in March. He’s been there ever since and hasn’t had to use his inhaler or meds at all the entire time (which is amazing because he used his inhaler once or twice a day at home).

Anyway, I’ve seen him once for like two minutes in the last two months until today.

He stopped by on his way back from the high school to show me his cap and gown he picked up. I made him put it all on because I don’t know if we’ll actually get a graduation or not.


He’s the first of my kids to graduate high school. My oldest dropped out her junior year at 16 (even though that’s illegal in our state). I’m not sure what the medal is for, but the ropes are for his ASL class.

Apparently, they’re going to have an online ceremony on the official graduation day of June 6, but he doesn’t want to do it. They’re also prepping for a live event in August if we’re allowed to gather in groups by then. I’m thinking it might just be the graduates and not family because I don’t see us being in that phase of opening by then.

It was nice seeing him after all these months. The girls think he’s gotten taller (he’s 6’3″) and commented on his hair which desperately needs to be cut. I thought it looked nice. We chatted for a few minutes and then he had to go.

He did leave this in the yard, though, as a reminder that he exists (one of his sisters said she forgot about him, lol).


It’s really weird to think about because he was planning on moving in with this friend after graduation, preferably after finding a job so he could pay them rent (they’re letting him stay free since he’s high risk and can’t work right now). He was saving up for a program to work on ships at sea. Now he says he might do that to start but then go to some maritime college later to become an engineer. At least he has goals which is more than my other kids have (except maybe the 14yo who wants to be an interior decorator).

Pretty soon, he’ll be living on the other side of the country or out at sea for months at a time (a friend of his is doing the program he wants to do and was gone for most of the last year). Not seeing him is going to be the norm now. He’s all grown up. Okay, I’m gonna cry now.

I’m so proud of him and hope things work out with his schooling if this apocalypse doesn’t take us all first.

Happy Birthday Owen

My oldest son turned 16 today. He wants to get a job so he can save up to take driver’s ed. Not ready for this.



(taken on the first day of school last month)

Look how tall he is? Almost to the top of the garage door! Getting close to 6’1″.


Throwback Thursday

July 4, 2014

Owen, age 12

Throwback Thursday

First day of school 2008


Owen (1st), Meagan (3rd), Brenna (kindergarten), Nora (age 2)

They looked so adorable in their uniforms, but I’m glad they are out of that Catholic school.

Throwback Thursday

My oldest daughter, Meagan, shared this picture on Facebook of her and three of her siblings in 2010 with this comment:

currently my favorite picture of all time. i wish jack was old enough at the time to get in on this, its just so darn cute. me and my lifelong friends. so thankful that i get to live and grow with my best friends


August 2010–we had just moved to this house a week before after a five-day, cross-country trek. In the back: Brenna (7 1/2) and Meagan (10). In the front: Owen (8 1/2) and Nora (4). Jack was a month old.

And here’s the most recent pic I have of all five of them together at Owen’s 8th grade graduation in June.


From left to right: Nora (1o), Owen (14), Jack (almost 6), Meagan (almost 16) and Brenna (13).

Here’s what else Meagan had to say about her siblings:

ive been around these kiddos forever. no matter who walks in n out of my life, these fuckers are the ones who will always stick. i dont even want to think of us all starting our own lives and separating. its scary. ive lived with them my whole life, i hate to think one day i might have a hard time getting ahold of them because we let distance or time get in the way


This from a girl that has always said she hates being at home because there are too many people in the house and she can’t stand any of us. I guess she’s getting wise in her “old” age.

I look at the second picture and can hardly believe these are my kids. Three teenagers–two of them in high school in the fall. Am I old enough to have a sixteen-year-old? When I think about them, I still picture those little kids in the first picture.

Or like this:

February 2004

Brenna (15 months), Meagan (3 1/2) and Owen (2). So little.

Happy Halloween

Meagan as a nerd.

Owen as a zombie

Brenna as a zombie

Nora as a hippie (all clothes the girls own, I love that top)

Jack as Tigger (wearing the same costume the other 4 kids wore their first time out trick or treating)

The kids: Owen (10), Jack (15 months), Brenna (almost 9–next week) and Nora (5 1/2).  Meagan took off with her friends before I could get one of all 5 kids.

Halloweens of past

My little history post got me thinking about Halloween and how I can still pretty easily remember what the kids wore each year thanks mostly to the pictures.  It’s a lot to remember, though.  Five kids over 11 years of costumes.  So this post is to put those memories to words and pictures.

And to show off my awesome costume making skills.  Enjoy.

Halloween 2000: Meagan was only 4 months old and I was so sick with the flu I couldn’t talk.  But the weather in Chicago was GORGEOUS.  I mean I don’t recall ever having weather like that when I was a kid.  Heck, when I was growing up you bought or made costumes 4 sizes too big because you had to fit your heavy winter coat (and, sometimes snowpants) under it.  But in 2000 it was in the upper 60s and my neighbors were passing out candy so I dressed Meagan in this orange shirt we bought her at the GAP.  Yes, I remember the shirt exactly (it had little pictures of pumpkins printed on the front with one square made of that ridged material that creates the illusion of movement…or, in this case, makes the scratchy noise that entertained her for hours as a baby).  I remember this because Jack still wears that shirt.  We bought it earlier that month on the sales racks for like $4 along with a yellow one (it had a duck on the front).  I regret with all my heart we were too broke to buy more because 11 years and 4 kids later they are still being worn.  The printed pictures have worn off but the fabric is in perfect condition.  Anyway, we sat outside with the neighbors for an hour or so.

Halloween 2001: Meagan had just turned 16 months and Owen was turning 1 month the next day.  We got Meagan the Tigger costume.  One of those cheesy one piece outfits that has a picture of the character on the stomach.  But it was cute and cheap and Meagan was only one so what would she care, lol.  Hubby had to work so I pulled out our brand new double stroller and dressed Meagan up as the cutest Tigger ever and put the orange shirt on Owen (and, to show how much bigger he is than the girls–the 6-12 month size shirt fit him at 1 month the way it fit Meagan at 4 months, lol).  We just walked up and down our block and a neighbor girl took Meagan up and down the stairs to get her candy.  Then we went home.  I was exhausted just with that.

Meagan as Tigger: 15 months old

Halloween 2002: Meagan was 2 and Owen was 13 months (minus 1 day).  This was the most hilarious Halloween ever.  Initially I had no plans to take the kids out, what with me being 9 months pregnant with Brenna and all, but hubby happened to get off work early and was kind of upset that we weren’t going since he missed the year before.  Then I remembered a costume that my mom had made me as a kid and dug it out of the box in the basement.  Owen had to squeeze into the Tigger costume which is a 12 month size.  At 13 months he was already wearing mostly 24month clothes so it didn’t fit.  He was not amused.  We went around the block with me carrying my 26lbs toddler and trying to help Meagan up and down steps.  The stares we got were priceless.  I’m sure some people wondered if my gigantic belly was a costume, especially with 2 toddlers in tow.  It was kind of cool and I couldn’t even zip my coat up I was so huge.  Brenna was born 8 days later.

Owen as Tigger, 13 months; and Meagan as Raggedy Ann, 2

Halloween 2003: Meagan was 3, Owen was 2 and Brenna was almost 1.  This was another gorgeous Halloween.  The weather was spectacular and I think it got into the 70s.  We dressed the kids up and took them to Brookfield Zoo for the day.  It was a blast but we missed the candy they hand out when it gets dark.  Instead we went home and took the kids trick or treating around the neighborhood.  Meagan was Raggedy Ann again because I didn’t have the time or energy or money to make her a new costume.  She didn’t seem to care.  Owen was Bob the Builder wearing his own overalls and his little tool kit and hard hat he got for his birthday earlier in the month.  Brenna wore the Tigger costume which was a little big on her since at 12 months she was still wearing 9 month clothes (my kids are so very different it’s funny).

Meagan as Raggedy Ann (again), 3; Brenna as Tigger, 1; and Owen as Bob the Builder, 2

Halloween 2004: Meagan was 4, Owen was 3 and Brenna was going on 2.  This was the year I decided to sew my own costumes.  Yeah, somehow I managed to do that with 2 toddlers and a preschooler at home.  I started by making Brenna a cute little clown costume but as soon as I got it done Meagan wanted one, too.  So back to the fabric store I went for more fabric because it absolutely had to match, lol.  Owen was a cowboy and I made him the duster to wear over his jeans and flannel shirt.  His cousin happened to give him a pair of cowboy boots.  I found the cowboy hat at Wal-mart.  I spent a lot more on fabric and stuff to make the costumes than it would have cost to buy crappy ones at the store.  But I wanted to be able to pass the costumes (and memories) down to my grandkids like the costume my mom made me when I was little.  I got so many compliments on the costumes.  Especially the duster.  People were surprised to find out I made it.  I was so proud.  The weather also turned out fantastic again.  We took the kids to the zoo in the morning and then trick or treating around the neighborhood when it got dark.

Meagan as a clown, 4; Owen as a cowboy, 3 and Brenna as a clown, almost 2

Halloween 2005: Meagan was 5, Owen was 4, Brenna was almost 3.  We actually didn’t go out this year.  We had moved to Pennsylvania and we were so broke.  I started making Meagan a witch costume but I got sick.  It ended up not being an issue because the town we lived in did trick or treating the Thursday before Halloween.  That night it was like 40F and raining.  And all three kids were sick (not as sick as me but were coughing and had runny noses).  So we didn’t go out.  They didn’t really seem to notice.

Halloween 2006: Meagan was 6, Owen was 5, Brenna was almost 4 and Nora was almost 7 months.  This was our 2nd year in PA and the weather turned out much better on trick or treat night.  The first year I thought the town’s celebration was screwy but it turned out so nice.  At 6pm on the Thursday before Halloween the sirens went off and everyone came out.  For 2 hours everyone trick or treated then at 8pm the sirens went off again and everyone went home.  The police and volunteer fire department were out with lights flashing to keep order.  I don’t remember being on any street that didn’t have a cop car going by.  The weather was great and it was a lot of fun.  On Halloween they did a little parade and costume contest for the kids.  On Thursday it was like in the upper 60s that night.  On Halloween it was only like 50F so it worked out great.  I made the kids costumes again this year and got a lot of compliments along with stares and comments about me being out alone with 4 small kids, lol.  Meagan was a witch, Owen was Batman, Brenna was a clown and Nora wore the Tigger costume.

Meagan as a witch, 6 years old

Owen as Batman, 5

Brenna as a clown, almost 4 (made from vintage fabric that my gramma had in a box)

Nora in the Tigger costume, 6 1/2 months old

Halloween 2007: Meagan was 7, Owen was 6, Brenna was almost 5 and Nora was 18 months.  We were back in Chicago this year.  The weather was awful.  I remember this was the year hubby took off work and it was freaking FREEZING.  We had our winter coats and hats on and only made it a few blocks before everyone was miserable.  There were barely any people out.  So we headed home and were surprised to find my dad had ordered pizza.  It was awesome to come home shivering to find our favorite steaming hot pizza waiting.  Meagan designed her own costume and I made it.  She was a devil.  Owen wore this cheap-o Darth Vader costume.  The kind of things you buy in a store.  But someone had given it to us and it fit.  Using the cape from his Batman costume and a plastic lightsaber he looked pretty good (he refused to get the mask).  Brenna was a cowgirl wearing one of her own dresses and her cowboy boots.  And Nora wore the clown costume I made for Brenna in 2003.

Meagan as a she-devil (designed by her), 7 years old

Owen as Darth Vader, 6 years old

Brenna as a cowgirl, almost 5 years old

Nora as a clown, 1 1/2 years old

Halloween 2008: Meagan was 8, Owen was 7, Brenna was almost 6 and Nora was 2 1/2.  All of the good weather we had those first years went away.  It wasn’t super cold this year but chilly enough that the kids needed jackets.  I went out with my friend and her three girls (who were 9, 7 1/2 and 20 months old).  She really knew the best routes to go and we got so much freaking candy I didn’t know what to do with it all, lol (I ate most of it).  Meagan threw a huge fit about wearing her costume to school and ended up not dressing up.  She was like the only kid in uniform all because she was afraid they would make fun of her hippie costume.  She looked absolutely adorable and my dad thought it was pretty good (that coming from someone that lived through the era) but I don’t have pictures because she refused to get dressed and stand for the photoshoot.  She threw one of her patented tantrums and almost didn’t get to go trick or treating.  Owen wore his Darth Vader costume again, Brenna wore the witch costume I made Meagan in 2006 and Nora was a mummy.  I just made strips from some muslin I had and wrapped her up.  She looked really cute but I didn’t have time to sew the strips together so it all fell apart by the time we got home.

Brenna as a witch, almost 6; Owen as Darth Vader, 7; and Nora as a mummy, 2 1/2

Halloween 2009: Meagan was 9, Owen was 8, Brenna was almost 7 and Nora was 3 1/2.  Another cold year.  I remember this year because I took the kids out along with my friend’s older two girls (who were 10 and 8 1/2) because her youngest (3) had swine flu.  It wouldn’t have been bad but her oldest daughter has a mouth.  We got about 3 blocks from their house and I almost took her back home because she made fun of Brenna repeatedly for her speech problems.  Poor Brenna is just the sweetest, most caring kid ever and she can’t help the way she talks.  She couldn’t understand why an older kid was making fun of her.  A 10yo making fun of a 6yo.  That’s just wrong.  But we kept going despite how annoying this kid is.  I love my friend and her kids but she can be so annoying.  Owen didn’t go with us because an hour after he got to school I got a call that he wasn’t feeling well.  When I went to pick him up he was white as a sheet and shaking like crazy.  It was our first case of the flu for one of the kids.  Poor kid.  He ended up passing out candy on Halloween because he was feeling a little better but not well enough to be out in the cold all night.  And that was after I worked really hard on his costume.  He was going to be a SWAT guy.  I made the vest for him and it turned out really good.  Meagan was a rock star, I believe, using her own clothes.  But she threw a huge fit so I have no pictures of her again.  Brenna wore the hippie costume (with a slight change from what Meagan chose) and Nora wore the clown costume I made Brenna in 2006.

Brenna as a hippie, almost 7

Nora as clown, 3 1/2

Halloween 2010: Meagan was 10, Owen was 9, Brenna was almost 8, Nora was 4 1/2 and Jack was 3 1/2 months.  It was our first year in Washington so I didn’t know how things were going to go but everything turned out great.  Our neighborhood is so friendly and quiet.  There were tons of kids out.  Meagan opted to go out with her friend, Jamie, and her sister and cousin.  It’s the first year I allowed one of the kids to go on their own (they went sans parents).  The rest of us started out with Owen’s friend Connor and his dad and sister (Teagan, Nora’s friend).  But the kids were getting too far ahead for Nora so Owen and Brenna went off with them.  Me, hubby, Nora and Jack in the stroller took our time just walking around our loop.  That was enough for me.  Meagan was a rock star.  Her friend did up her hair and makeup (it was crazy).  Owen was an old man wearing some clothes I picked up at the Salvation Army when I was in college.  Brenna wore the devil costume with some stretch pants underneath.  She looked really cute.  Nora wore the witch costume from 2006 and Jack had on this cute Halloween jammies my niece found him at a yard sale and a pumpkin hat I knitted him up real quick the night before.

Owen as an old man, 9; Nora as a witch, 4 1/2; Brenna as a devil, almost 8; and Meagan as a rock star, 10

I’m not sure what the kids are going to be this year.  The odds are nerd, hippie and baby are going to come up.  They have to make do with what we have on hand and they’ve outgrown all the costumes I’ve made over the years.  Jack is going to wear the Tigger costume just like all the other kids.  Last year I was afraid it wouldn’t fit him but he ended up being small like the girls were so, even though he is 15 months, the 12 month costume will still fit him.  Hopefully the weather will be nice this year like last year (the kids just wore light jackets).

Happy 4th of July!

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