Quarantine Chronicles: A Family Fun Fair

When COVID-19 entered our world, and by “our” I mean the little world the world of the Full Plate Family because COVID-19 entered the larger world a long time prior to that, we decided to meet the cancellations with the best attitude we could. We educated the kids about why everything was being cancelled. They accepted it with some tears and sadness, but they embraced the change remarkably well.

I did not do nearly as well. The first major loss was the elementary school Fun Fair. I look forward to this day more than the kids do. I love the schmaltz of it all. The silly games, the face painting, the hot dogs, the powdered lemonade, the pure exhaustion of the kids when the day is all done. I love all of it.

I understood why it was necessary to cancel it. I grieved it. Then I started planning our own Fun Fair. This became the first of our Saturday at home adventures, our Family Fun Fair.

Texts were created.
Games were played. Remember Bozo the Clown? We played his Grand Prize Game. No Schwinn for the win here though. Bummer.
There was face painting.
A Jenga Tournament
Popcorn and juice from the snack booth
And, cookie decorating!

It was so much fun! We’re going to try to do a couple of these a month during what will likely be a long break from school. We’re trying to keep the kids from becoming too sad about what they’ll miss while we’re away from their friends.

AJ, Ally, Bowen, Brady, Bread and Butter, Cam, Cate, Deafness, FPD, FPM, Gigi, Isabel, Jax, Juliana, Megafamily

Quarantine Chronicles

Here we all are, still staying home (you are, right? Please tell me you are?). This was the view from where I am. Well, it was a few days ago. Spring has sprung on what was supposed to be an uneventful, exciting school year.

Ally and I returned from Paris, and we all went back to school. FPD and I work in the same elementary school now. He is a Bilingual Resource Specialist (BRS), bringing his Spanish language skills to our school’s front office. He’s there half days and then goes to pick up the kids from their various schools. Well, he did, right up until mid-March, when life ground to a halt that even I, as the School Nurse, didn’t predict.

Now, here we are, all of us, at home. The other half of both of our jobs, his hospital interpreting gig, and my early childhood centers, no longer able to pay us, are at risk. We are hanging on, but we are in a space, yet again, where I could never have imagined this stress for our family. We have had life-changing, stressful moments before for sure. This is one for the record books too. We are a family of 14, 4 of us in the category defined as ‘high risk’, all staying at home as much as humanly possible.

Food has been hard to come by. All the supply chains are stressed in our area, and all others, I’m sure. Toilet paper was an issue. We figured it out, but for the first time, we had to access our local food pantries. We have had to do this more because we couldn’t buy enough food to feed the kids. Limits in our local grocery stores made this impossible without going store to store and exposing ourselves multiple times, and possibly bringing home the virus to Tess, Gigi, and Isabel.

As we transitioned to virtual learning, we all struggled. Joe and I are supporting the elementary school we serve while also supporting our own 12 children. The older 7 are relatively independent in their learning, but their mental health is a concern. We have had children who have struggled significantly with PTSD, Depression, and Anxiety. Everything is heightened right now. We had to transition to virtual therapy sessions, some as many as 3 times/week to keep kids out of the hospital for mental health crises. The younger 5 all have a varied level of independence, from being able to do it on their own, to needing monitoring to make sure they don’t wander onto YouTube, to needing someone right beside them to navigate the learning platforms. We have two kids who are Deaf. That presents an extra barrier to access that requires a ton of creativity and a whole lot of advocacy.

When school closed, there was a three week transition before virtual learning officially began. We didn’t miss a day, not because I am that concerned about their academics, but because the routine is vital. They needed a schedule. That has saved us.

These most basic of needs, food and routine, were made possible by our village. So many people rallied for us. Toilet paper got dropped off on our front porch. People sent gift cards. Other parents and co-workers texted us locations that had milk in stock. Friends of friends reached out to people they knew who are working in the grocery supply chain so that we could order food above the limits. Farmers who were dumping their milk are delivering it to our house now. Friends and co-workers emptied their chest freezers and dropped off ham, jarred food, and other frozen goodies they had stored away.

The teachers that teach our kids, and those we just know through work, helped us keep our littles entertained and distracted with awesome learning tools that were dropped off on our porch, or with online resources that were shared with us. I wouldn’t have made it through those three weeks without you. Working and educating the kids all while staying home is no joke. It has caused so much stress for Joe and I.

As our local school district launched virtual learning, and we are now three weeks into that, there is a new routine, and I have the capacity to plan some fun things for the kids again. Tess requested ‘Fun Friday.’ We end school a little early each Friday and do something together as a family. This week we had a popcorn party.

Saturdays are now themed. We launched this with Disney Day, last Saturday. I can’t wait to upload pictures of that to the blog. Today, we are having ‘Maker Day.’ Gigi and Isa have ‘Fab Lab’ at their school. It is a space filled with every day objects that the kids can re-purpose into their very own creations. They miss ‘Fab Lab’. So, today is all about bringing Fab Lab to us. I will make sure to document this as well.

I hope you all are home, healthy and staying safe. As always, if you are a parent in crisis, and in need of mental health resources, or just someone to talk to, please reach out. We are all in this together.

Ally, FPM

One More Day in Paris

Today was our last day in Paris. We made the very most of it by walking 9.5 miles around the city.

Yes, 9.5 miles.

We made a choice not to use the subway today. We wanted to wander, and wander we did, straight up to Sacré-Coeur.

And back down again.

We bought gifts for everyone at home, scoped out the stop we’ll catch our bus to the airport, and stopped for a coffee where James Baldwin used to sip coffee and write.

I drank my last glass of wine as I looked out over the Eiffel Tower.

Paris, you have been amazing to us.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t believe it’s done, but can’t wait to see her babies!

Ally, FPM

Sainte-Chapelle and Senior Photos

Today we went to Saint-Chapelle and waited in precisely zero lines to get inside. The Paris Pass is totally worth it.

We moved from there to Senior photos. By October, Ally has to submit her Senior photos for her last year of high school. We have spoken forever about taking these in Paris.

After much discussion, we decided to head back to the Pyramides at the Louvre. I had originally said no to this because of the crowds. But, Ally really had her heart set on it. And, when she has her heart set on something, I try to make it happen.

We made it happen. I may have had to use small orange cones to block off this space, indicating that we were some sort of professional photo shoot.

Aren’t we?

–FullPlateMom, who is sorry, not sorry.

Ally, FPM

Palaces and Paris at Night

Ally and I were super brave and rode the Metro and then the BUS (I KNOW! THE BUS!) to Versailles. We’re actually not super brave to anyone but the Concierge at our hotel and I think she’s just messing with us now because we refuse to use the car service from the hotel, accept taxi help, or buy a tour.

We arrived at Versailles as it was opening and the lines for the main house were queing up.

No thanks. It was a sunny, gorgeous day. We headed straight for the gardens.

We made the correct choice. It was a GORGEOUS, sunny day. We loved every second of it.

After that, we headed to Marie Antoinette’s Palace.

**This might be the only pic of me on the entire trip. Ally prefers to shoot landscapes rather than people**

There are only so much furniture one can look at though, so we stuck to the out of doors.

We headed back to the hotel, ate and went right back out again for our river cruise! When we boarded the boat the Eiffel Tower looked like this…

As the boat docked…

Oh my gosh. This city is amazing.

And, just because we can’t have a day without a story, we had our first odd Metro experience. We now look like we know what we’re doing (I said LOOK like, because I still can’t find the subway stop a good 50% of the time) when we’re riding. We run down the stairs, glance for the number and the direction the line is headed and sprint off to our destination. The Metro here is amazing. We love it.

While waiting for our train, a man came up to us and asked us a question, only it wasn’t in English, or Spanish, or ASL. So, I’m out of luck. Those are my only language skills. I told him “Sorry, English only.” He replied something about “Brazil” and then “Portugués?” So, I told him, in Spanish, that I only speak Spanish, and not Portuguese, at all.

He proceeded to insist that I was Brazilian and that I spoke Portuguese. Sir, I promise you, I do not. I speak only as much as Spanish and Portuguese overlap. He kept telling me I was Brazilian. I kept pointing at myself and saying “No, no soy Brasileña. Soy Americana. Lo siento!”

He was not having it.

So, I gave him directions, off the map on the wall, solely in Spanish. At the end, he thanked me, in Portuguese.

Y’all, I can’t make this stuff up. Ally and I have started saying “Yeah, that’s so Paris 2019.”

–FullPlateMom, who is a magnet for this stuff.