Monday, March 16, 2020

Time

Quite often, in the evening hours, I sit and wonder where the day went.  It didn't always used to be this way.  I remember those endless afternoons spent roaming around outside with my brothers and the neighborhood kids.  Weekends spent reading book after book.  Watching Lifetime movie after Lifetime movie.  Now there's the morning rush to shepherd the kids off to school, the after school activities, dance classes, appointments, dinner prep, kitchen cleanup.  Blink and the day is gone like a bullet train to the future.

Suddenly, at the end of last week, that train hit its breaks and everything slowed down.  Wednesday afternoon, our public school system canceled upcoming field trips and outings.  Thursday, cancelations for sports and activities began rolling.  A rumor started that our schools were going to shut down for two weeks.  Online drama ensued.  What is your source?  You shouldn't be spreading rumors.  I have a reliable source.  I can't work from home.  Who is going to watch my kids?  Everyone needs to keep their kids at home and not treat this like a vacation.  Anyone up for the trampoline park?  Scroll, refresh.  Scroll, refresh.

Friday afternoon, with the release of school, an announcement was finally made "canceling" school for two weeks.  Teachers were not given any time to prepare for remote learning.  We were left with instructions to keep an eye out for further updates.  It's like someone hit the pause button and no one knows when life will begin moving forward again.

Text messages began pouring in last night after dinner.  School closed until April 7th.  What?  Says who?  Where is this coming from?  Press conference.  Governor Baker.  All Massachusetts schools will remain closed until April 7th.  No gatherings of more than 25 people.  Restaurants are only allowed to provide take-out or delivery services.

Time is now moving at a snail's pace because I want this to be over.  I want it to be May, June, July. . . the future.  I don't like this unknowing.

I consider myself a realist.  I assess the situation for what it is.  Back in January, February, I was flummoxed with the fact that people were still traveling to China, even though the odds of being infected were low.  Look up how many people live in China.  Over a billion.  How many people in China have contracted COVID-19?  Approximately 80,000.  You do the math.

What is the rate of stillbirth in the United States?  1 in 160 births.

How many babies are born in the United States with spina bifida each year?  1,645 babies.

A statistic is just a number until it happens to you.

Both of my parents are high risk.  My brother with an inflammatory disease afflicting his lungs is high risk.  Right now, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Everyone loves a meal plan.

Here's what we have coming up for this week:

Sunday - Baked cod, roasted baby red potatoes, asparagus

Monday - Homemade chicken, broccoli, ziti

Tuesday - Taco bowls

Wednesday - Broccoli cheddar quiche with hash browns

Thursday - Homemade meatball subs.  The meatballs are homemade too.  Take forever to make but are so very tasty.

Friday - Pizza!

Saturday - ? maybe take-out or go out

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Weekly Meal Planning

When it comes to domestic duties, I do not enjoy meal planning or cooking, but I do so because it saves money and I feel like we definitely eat healthier.  I also do not like to waste food and aim to toss out as little as possible.  

During the school year, we always do our main grocery shopping over the weekend, and then pick up any forgotten items during the week.

This week is a little different because it's school vacation week with a holiday and there is no dance.

Sunday - My brother is visiting from out of state so all of my siblings and kids are gathering at my parents' tonight for dinner.

Monday - We plan to eat out.

Tuesday - Thin-sliced chicken cutlets (I usually bread and saute), roasted broccoli, broccoli and cheddar rice, cranberry sauce.

Wednesday - Ribs in the crock-pot, mashed potatoes, baked beans, peas.

Thursday - Ravioli with red sauce, rolls, side salad.

Friday - Because someone from our family is at the dance studio over a four hour period, we always do pizza on Friday nights.  We like pizza and it's, by far, the easiest meal for us on this day.  There is no dance this week so I think I'm going to do a Greek salad with chicken.

Saturday - Probably pizza.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

{Disney} Hollywood Studios FYIs

This is for anyone planning an upcoming trip to Disney World, or for those who may be headed there in the future and like to stay on top of the changes.  If you have no interest in Disney, it's okay to close out.

Changes to FastPass Tiers and New Attraction!

*  FastPass+ booked for visits on or after February 19, the tier structure has changed.  Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Slinky Dog Dash will be the two Tier 1 choices (until March 4th.)  All other rides and attractions will be in Tier 2.

* Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway is scheduled to open on March 4th.  This has also been added as the third Tier 1 option for visits on or after March 4th.

* As a reminder, guests can make one FP+ selection from Tier 1 and two from Tier 2.  After guests have used their FastPasses for the day, they may book another. (And another after they use that.)  I always give the tip of making your FastPasses for earlier in the day so you can add more.

* So which should you choose?  What's the best strategy?  The general consensus is that Runaway Railway is going to be the most popular Tier 1 selection for some time.  It's the newest ride and the curiosity factor will make it more attractive to guests.  In addition, there is no height restriction on Runaway Railway.  Both Slinky Dog Dash and Smugglers Run have a height requirement of 38 inches.  Presumably, families with little ones will pick Runaway Railway as their Tier 1 FP+.

* Because Runaway Railway is new, no one knows what the boarding situation will be.  Slinky Dog Dash, for example, is slow to board, which is why it has long standby lines.  From what I've read, standby times for Smugglers Run have been somewhat reasonable thus far.  Unfortunately, some are predicting that standby times for Smugglers Run will increase now as FP+ riders will have priority.

* Personally, I think I'd go with Runaway Railway for our Tier 1 choice.  We've already experienced Slinky Dog Dash, and while we'd like to ride it again, it's generally agreed that seeing something new is more fun.  We are not Star Wars fans at all, but still interested in checking out Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.  If the standby time for Smugglers Run is under an hour, we'd definitely wait in line.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ

* Last spring, Disney announced the addition of a new table service restaurant to Toy Story Land.  Roundup Rodeo BBQ is scheduled to open in 2020, which is a pretty big range of time.  Construction on the building began earlier last month but no further updates have been provided by Disney.  If you're planning to visit Hollywood Studios later in 2020, keep in mind that there may be a new restaurant to check out.  Personally, I feel like table service restaurant choices at Hollywood Studios are weak and I can't wait for this one to open.

Final Thoughts on Planning

* I know planning a Disney vacation can seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be.  Keep in mind that despite what some may tell you, you do not need to have every minute of your day planned out.  We like to do a mix of planning and winging it.  We always have our three FastPasses booked for the day and then we fill in based on wait times, which are so easy to check with the My Disney Experience app.  

* Reading planning blogs and websites is helpful but I also find trip reports to be useful.  You can read in detail on how to plan your vacation but planning can be quite different from reality.  Seeing what others did or did not plan and how their Disney vacation went can help you in thinking about what to expect.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Our New England Winter (thus far)

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As much as I dislike this cold weather, there's something almost magical when our world is covered in a fresh coat of snow.

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The beginning of December was quite stormy for us, and we fully expected that to continue through the winter based on long term forecasts and predictions, but it has remained somewhat mild thus far, which is not completely unusual.  Snow totals, temperature, everything can vary so much year to year.

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I often wonder if the cold air would be more tolerable if there was light.  There's a lot of darkness here during the winter months.  In December, the sun sets at 4:15 in the afternoon.  We awaken in the morning to complete darkness.  At least now the sun sets just after 5:00, but there is still so much darkness.  The sun hangs low in the sky, barely skimming over the tops of the old pines in the neighbor's yard.  When the sky is clear, I like to leave the van in the driveway to use solar energy to heat it up, versus sitting up at the school with it running.  Those days are few and far between right now.

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It was pretty for the holiday season.

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We woke up a couple of weeks ago to a dead furnace.  Rich and Allie had noticed that the temperature seemed off before we all went to bed so the heat had been off all night.  Thankfully, we have space heaters and an HVAC guy.  Because our basement was finished after the house was constructed, there's a separate heating unit down there.  It's an electric wall unit, like one you would find in a hotel room.  So I spent the morning taking care of stuff down there.

If you're a new homeowner in a cold climate, I would recommend finding a reliable HVAC person before you need one.  And keeping a space heater in storage.

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School snow day count = 1