It’s been a hell of a year.

It’s been… a while since my last post, and for that I apologize. It’s been a busy couple of months! We’re going to recap the events of the past 2 months at warp speed, because that’s how fast it’s seemed to go by.

Halloween! To me, it’s always been a holiday for little kids. I like to make the kids’ costumes, but sometimes I don’t have time and we just buy one. Of course, the purchased costumes are expensive and fall apart after a couple of wears, so making one is usually my preference when I can. This year, COVID threw quite the wrench into things. Trick-or-treating was cancelled, and I wasn’t about to make them a costume to wear at home. So they just wore one from a previous year and we decided to have a party at home.

Scratch that, Madeline decided we’d have a party at home. An all day party. With a scavenger hunt. And all the decorations. And Halloween food. With Halloween cookies, and candy, and prizes. She made up her mind, and that was that. It’s hard to argue with a kid who’s been stuck inside since March.

I don’t really do parties, or decorations, or holidays that aren’t Christmas. Just not my thing. But it’s been such a dumpster fire of a year that I figured they needed something to lift their spirits. So we had a Halloween party. And it. was. epic.

I know that word gets thrown around a lot for non-epic events, but this was truly stupendous. Monumental, even. I made the best cookies I’ve ever made. I arranged party games, Halloween-themed meals and snacks, and stayed up way too late the night before filling goody bags with candy and decorating the kitchen and living room so they’d be surprised when they woke up. And we had an all day scavenger hunt. That was one of the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done. I’d give them clues to find a craft hidden somewhere in the house, they’d do the craft, and when they finished I’d give them a clue to find a gift bag filled with candy or a prize. It doesn’t sound like much, but we did this for hours. Literally hours. They loved it, and I never want to do it again. It might not have been so bad, but they’re terrible at clues so I didn’t want to hide everything beforehand or else they’d find everything right away. So I was running around the house during each activity trying to hide things in different places for the next round of clues. And Emmett can’t really do crafts on his own, so I was helping with that. And I still had to make the food. I’m not complaining – it was an amazing day – but, jeeze, never again.

Next was Emmett’s birthday! He’s 8 years old now. It’s crazy. He said he wanted a “beautiful chocolate cake,” so I decided to plan something amazing. Nothing could beat the cake I made for him last year, but I knew it would still be awesome.

Last year’s cake. It was a masterpiece of chocolate cake and delicious, homemade marshmallow fondant. I peaked too soon.

I was planning on some Great British Bake-Off level chocolate work. Ribbons, curls, straws, multiple colors, maybe some homemade chocolate candies, all tempered to give it a glossy shine. I was ready to make it amazing. Of course, Emmett’s birthday came just a few days before Thanksgiving this year, so I had that on my mind, too. I had more big plans for Thanksgiving – lots of cooking, baking, beautiful cookies…. but then we got COVID.

Let me start by saying that we wear masks everywhere. The kids are on board with masks, too. They think it sucks, which it does, but we wear them and silently judge anyone not wearing one in public. We don’t go out much – I work 2 days per week, I get groceries a little more often than every other week (ordinarily I go every other day), and we rarely venture out to go shopping. Even with all that, we got COVID. I blame my work, because it’s been spreading through employees like the plague.

You hear a lot about how most people are either asymptomatic or have symptoms like you would with the flu. Everybody with half a brain knows that the severe cases are a hell of a lot more severe than the flu, but mild cases are supposed to be manageable. Let me tell you, I’ve had the flu, and this was not it. We’re talking a fever, complete with terrible sweating and teeth-chattering chills for a full week, sleeping 18-20 hours per day, body aches and muscle spasms that made me cry, coughing to the point where you have trouble breathing any time you try to move for more than a couple of minutes, and feeling like I was going to pass out and/or throw up any time I tried to stand. I also lost my sense of smell, which was actually a blessing, because I couldn’t physically get myself into the shower.

Aaron also got it, and had basically the same symptoms as me except that his breathing was worse. We contemplated going to the hospital, but we weren’t sure who would drive. His oxygen level kept dipping, but it always came back up after a couple of minutes, so we stayed home and hoped for the best.

But then it was Emmett’s birthday. I was in some sort of fever-dream state, feeling like I would keel over at any minute, and Aaron kept saying, “I bet everything we own that you won’t be able to make a cake.” Because I have the same level of stubbornness and determination as the people who die climbing Everest, I informed him in no uncertain terms that there WOULD be a cake, and it would be BEAUTIFUL. I don’t actually remember making most of it, but it turned out alright. None of that boxed cake mix and jarred frosting for me. It was beautiful and delicious. Not quite my vision, but it served its purpose. Just imagine what it could have looked like if I was mentally present. Also, I managed to wrap his presents somehow, because despite what Aaron said I was NOT about to give my child his birthday presents in a plastic bag. And no, I did not have the ability to make dinner. My stubbornness did not extend that far. We had cake for dinner.

He was happy about it, and that’s all that really matters.

The kids mostly had to fend for themselves. We traded off who slept on the couch and who slept in the bed in case they required the presence of an adult, and we left the snack cabinet open so they could eat whatever they wanted. So it was mostly chips, granola bars and fruit snacks for about a week. We sometimes ordered food to be delivered, but then one of us had to get up to open the door. It was only sometimes worth the effort.

Thanksgiving didn’t really happen. We were starting to improve, but still not really capable of much. Thankfully, a good friend brought us an entire Thanksgiving dinner the following day that kept us going for several days.

Now it’s almost Christmas, and things are starting to look up. We got a tree (it’s a bit of a Charlie Brown tree, lots of open spaces, but that’s alright), we have a few decorations up, and our elf on the shelf has been hiding throughout the house, spying on the children. I’ve decided that we’re going big for Christmas. It’s not like we have anything else going on, and we need something to be happy about.

Oh, and the rabbit, Nibbles, is VERY excited that we brought in a giant stick for him to chew on. It even has the green bits! His favorite! I put up a fence around the tree, but he can still reach some of the branches if he stretches, and he takes every opportunity to do what he does best (nibble).

He thinks he’s so sneaky. I see you, rabbit.

Since my recovery, I’ve been working on a lot of projects. I’m still doing some freelance writing, still teaching online, and my business is still going (though that’s fallen a bit to the wayside with everything else going on). Virtual school for the kids is a perpetual challenge, but we fix problems as they come up (and then new ones come up – it’s this fun game they play of “who can frustrate Mom the most today”). But honestly, it’s not so bad. It sounds like Emmett may get to go back in-person in January at some point, so here’s hoping that doesn’t change.

And finally, for now, here’s the best picture I’ve taken in a long time. It snowed a few days ago (though “snowed” is giving it too much credit – it was more of a dusting that stuck), and Madeline somehow made this amazing snowman. It’s perfect, and 100% Madeline.

Just LOOK at its face. It’s everything that’s right with this world.

So now this is me, signing off for now, wishing you all a very happy Chrismasolsticehanukwanzakah.

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