Coming out of this year of intense parenting seems as good a time as any to revive this blog about parenting.
I just reread the last post from 2018 and was reminded how insane that year was. We didn’t get back into our house until the end of July that year. Then shortly thereafter, my parents decided to get divorced (for those of you who have known me a long time: yes, for real real, actually legally divorced) so that was some personal stuff to wade through. The rest of 2018 and 2019 was actually mostly good stuff? I think? I mean I was in therapy for both my broken brain and broken body. (Oh yeah – at some point in all of this, I fell down the stairs at my mom’s house… I’m fine, but it took a little work to bounce back and avoid chronic pain). I also performed in a play which made me feel more alive and proud of myself.
Then of course, 2020 came.
There is content ad nauseam about how this past year has been tough on parents on kids on teachers. And it has. It was a lot to take in. I got into that a little at the end of my birthday post on this other blog I started in an attempt to put non-mommy, non-performer thoughts out into the world. We’ll see how that goes, so far I’m having trouble consistently setting aside time for thinking & writing & creating.
Which leads me to admitting that lately, as we hit and passed the one year mark in this new reality – and as I entered the last year of my 30’s – I have been wallowing and feeling small and useless to the bigger world as I huddle in my tiny world, going through my day-in & day-out, making meals & folding laundry, singing lullabies and reading stories, and of course, falling into my smart phone & climbing back out of it.
This blog post is about all the AWESOME mommy magic things I did for my kids throughout the 2020 lockdown. Because I need to remind myself I am actually awesome. In hopes I can convince myself to continue to be awesome.
First, we decided to go on to Spring Break at my fathers house in Pensacola Beach, FL. Brian went to the Gulf Breeze Publix in his N95 mask and I cooked every meal that trip at my fathers house on the beach. We built sandcastles, drew with chalk, played cards, and goofed off. We attempted our first zoom meeting while there – a dance break with my improv team. I do not have a picture of that, which is a shame, because I’m sure it was a comical sight.
We came back home to a “safer at home” Nashville and the girls’ preschool was desperately doing their best to pivot to a virtual situation, but let’s be honest – virtual preschool is not a thing anyone wants to do. It was frankly just easier for me to do my own thing when it came to crafts and activities. The best part was the teachers reading stories on camera. The music teacher’s husband was actually a video producer so music class was a smoother situation. We discovered Cosmic Kids Yoga. We tried to continue ballet classes virtually but that fizzled quickly.
(… And no, I never took down our Christmas tree. Not until January 2021)
We threw Brian a birthday party.
We had a front yard tea party for Mimi’s birthday.
We set up princess camp, went on nature hunts in our yard (I have never been more thankful for our partially wooded acre-sized lot), set up a make-shift “TV” for streaming content, and built Lego worlds.
We did all the Easter: counting carrots collages, bunnies out of model magic, doll baskets out of pipe cleaners, an alphabet egg hunt and upper/lowercase match game, jelly bean color sort, egg dye art, egg shell art. And the Easter bunny came of course.
After Easter we kept up the pace: More yoga. Zoom tea party. Backyard splash pad. More princess camp. Bought a slack line. Playing with food. Screen time limits be damned – we set up a bigger monitor for streaming. Jumped on the chalk art social media trend.
Then “virtual school” was officially over and all the planned camps were officially canceled and Brian switched firms and went back into work in person beginning in June. Meaning he was (and still is) gone from 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday.
That oh-my-God-it’s-all-me-parenting-all-week-for-all-the-weeks realization really launched me into my “channel every scrap of creative energy I have into children’s entertainment” stride.
So, fueled by Pinterest and Amazon Prime, I started peppering our summer with theme days.
Disney Princess Week: I did one princess story per day with activities and meals (I had bought a cookbook called “Cook Me A Story” earlier in the year). And of course watching each movie.
Rapunzel: Bread braids, a new rope swing, chameleon watercolor & lantern crafts, & ice cream towers.
Sleeping Beauty: Sleeping Fruity Smoothies, Leaning Birthday Cake Building, Slaying the Dragon Fruit. I also made a full-on medieval feast for dinner that night, but there are no pics!
Snow White: Crafting magic mirrors & eating apples.
The Frog Princess: Frog-face eggs and a weird jello slime drink (no pics of that either). I drew a chalk bayou on the drive way with kind of a lily pad hop-scotch to jump through while practicing counting to 20, which was waaaay more of a hit than I anticipated – they did it over & over & over.
For Cinderella, I made them do chores! And we made a watermelon chariot.
… I’m realizing I did not take enough pictures, but they are already requesting to do it all again this summer so I guess stay tuned & I’ll make legit blog posts to truly chronicle my brain workings to create over-kill themed days. There was also definitely a mermaid day and a pirate treasure hunt day of which I apparently took zero pictures. Too in character I guess… I do at least remember pirate day involved hiding a Blue Tooth speaker in the back yard to for sound effects during the treasure hunt and mermaid day involved making our own underwater-themed snow globes.
Our last theme day before school started was Dinosaur Day: tissue box dinosaur feet & roar practice, dino shape block creation, vinegar & baking soda fizzy dino eggs, build-your-dino waffles.
Then, in August Libby started Kindergarten virtually. I set up a learning center at the end of our galley kitchen.
Maggie started the 4s in September in person, in masks.
I did still have two more theme days in me for the girls birthdays (they each were allowed one friend from school):
Doggy Day: Dog bowls of cereal, dog waffles, slow-cooker pot roast in dog bowls.
Unicorn Day: Rainbow noodles, coloring sheets, dress up & unicorn hoppers.
And we kept on keeping on. Libby did virtual school, in-person masked school, then virtual again, then back masked. Maggie stayed in person, but with some extra break days after fall break then after winter break. Now here we are looking at the last couple weeks of school, staring straight on til summer.
Honestly: I’m tired. I’m ready to be something other than “mommy” and get back to some of the things I used to do. But I’m also pretty proud of myself for all the stuff we did to get through such a strange year.
AND as I mentioned, I *might* just bring back some theme days in 2021. And maybe beyond. Maybe this will be a new summer family tradition & eventually the girls can plan & execute their own ideas for theme days with their friends.
All I know for certain is I’m fully vaccinated now and I’m looking forward to the possibility of at least a somewhat “normal” summer!