Sheltering in place in Sonoma, part II

August 11th, 2020

A highlight of our trip to Guerneville was swimming and canoeing in the Russian River. (True, we weren’t technically sheltering in place – but we wore masks and generally stayed away from people.) We had been to this particular beach once, when Zoe was super small, but of course she didn’t remember. And though none of us girls (including Maddie, who tagged along with us) weren’t super excited about the canoe part we wound up having a blast. We even extended our rental time to be out on the water a bit longer…


Sheltering in place in Sonoma

August 7th, 2020

Towards the end of July, we sought out some sun and headed about 1 1/2 hours north. Our destination was the small town of Guerneville in Sonoma County, and we sheltered in place in a new place – called Maristella’s Treehouse. We spent five days lounging around, exploring the rural county, and hanging out by the river (photos coming soon); and I took the family to a place I’ve wanted to visit for years. The Armstrong Redwoods Natural Reserve is similar to the more popular John Muir Woods, but better (i.e. less touristy and crowded), and it didn’t disappoint!


A big (COVID-related) wow

August 2nd, 2020

Wow – it’s been a long time since I last posted! I blame COVID, and the fact that despite the days blending together, the summer has gone super fast. (My busy work schedule hasn’t made it easy to carve out time to write, either…)

We’re still here, still sheltering in place (like everyone), still working and playing and trying to differentiate the weekdays from the weekends. The girls have done a few online camps, but have otherwise kept themselves occupied and surprisingly not bored or irritated over staying (mostly) inside. A few fun get-aways probably have also helped – and I’ll share photos of our adventures here soon!



July 3rd, 2020

To me, nothing says summer quite like this pic!



June 29th, 2020

It’s tough having a birthday during a pandemic – especially when you’re a kid. Avery wasn’t super excited about celebrating her big day, but I think we managed to make it a special one for her regardless. She woke up to presents and a video made by a bunch of family and friends (thank you to those who contributed!), and in the afternoon we surprised her by sending her on a neighborhood scavenger hunt where several friends (in masks) were waiting for her. After a frozen yogurt stop, the girls came back and played games in our backyward.

Avery’s assessment of the activities? “I want a surprise party every year!” she said.


She’s 11!

June 19th, 2020

Avery’s been talking about her birthday for weeks, and it’s finally here. She shared some thoughts on turning 11 with me yesterday afternoon…


End of school year

June 17th, 2020

The school year – certainly one of the strangest ever – has come to a close. Last week, the girls participated in a series of (virtual) end-of-year and good-bye activities, including the very moving candlelight ceremony for 7th and 8th graders. In normal years the 8th graders extinguish their candles and hand off their head-of-school status to the younger grade; this year, Zoe and her classmates held up candles while their older peer provided some words of wisdom over Zoom.

Among the gems: “Enjoy the time you have left at Brandeis – it goes so fast.” “Don’t take seeing your friends or being back at school for granted.” “Really treasure your moments at school and with friends – live in the moment.” “If you wind up going to Israel, have an extra amazing time in our honor.” (The annual 8th grade trip was, obviously, cancelled.)

There were a lot more comments like the above, and quite a few tears, and I was moved by the maturity and insight of these 13- and 14-year-olds. It’s a huge deal that Zoe is about to enter her last year (!) of Brandeis, and I hope she takes their words to heart…


Proud mama

June 10th, 2020

We haven’t posted much lately, but we’re all just plugging along – working and doing school online. While many days feel like Groundhog Day (i.e. the same thing over and over again), the girls have had some stand-out moments.

A few weeks back Zoe was named the MVP of her cross country team during the virtual athletics banquet. (Proud mama fact: This is her second year of winning the award.) And Avery, shown below rehearsing, was asked to represent her class in the “step up” ceremony – a longstanding Brandeis end-of-year tradition. “You were chosen to be an ambassador for 5th grade by consistently demonstrating kindness, empathy and integrity with classmates, other students and your teachers,” she was told. Awwww….


Overheard (Monday version)

June 8th, 2020

“I’m not in the mood…” Avery moaned the other morning as she put her toast in the toaster. “I’m not in the mood for a Monday!”

(Even while sheltering in place, no one’s a fan of Mondays.)


How we’ve been keeping busy, part 2

June 1st, 2020

Not much has changed since the last time I reported on our status. We still do a lot of reading, lounging in our backyard, and just general hanging out; we’ve also been doing some gardening as a family (Avery bought a little lemon tree for the backyard). And with the shelter in place lifting slightly, we’ve been getting out of the house a bit more: One weekend we headed down to Half Moon Bay to do some plant shopping and outside dining, and we also visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden (which recently opened to visitors) last weekend. Maddie remains thrilled that we’re all together 24/7!



May 20th, 2020

Distance learning is going okay for the girls, but an ongoing challenge is ensuring each of them has their own, quiet space to work. “Can you be a little more quiet?” I heard Avery holler to her sister one afternoon. “I’m trying to math over here!”


A break from sheltering in place

May 17th, 2020

Sheltering in place is going fine overall, but that doesn’t mean we all don’t crave a return to normalcy or some outside time once in awhile. And so when Q asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day last weekend, my answer was clear: to get out of the house!

The four of us headed down to Los Gatos, where it was sunny and warm and most of the parks were open. (Avery’s comment when we began the 50-minute drive: “I forgot what it felt like riding in the car.”) Staying a safe distance away from others and donning masks, we took a walk with Maddie, who was thrilled to run and roll around in the grass, and picnicked in the park. It reminded me of our pre-COVID days, and the icing on the cake was when we got home and the girls cooked me and Q a three-course dinner. Pretty much a perfect family day!


How we’ve been keeping busy

April 29th, 2020

So how we have been keeping ourselves occupied while we shelter in place (aren’t aren’t working or in school)? Aside from the aforementioned movie marathon and charade games, we:

-set up an elaborate indoor mini golf course
-made a lot of dance videos
-did various research projects (based on Zoe’s direction I did a project on therapy dogs and am now writing about the first female U.S. senator)
-took long walks (including Starbucks runs) with Maddie
-baked a berry pie – from scratch
-hung out in our backyard on sunny days
-celebrated Passover virtually
-read a lot

Let’s see what the next month brings.


Thoughts from a sheltering-at-home mom

April 19th, 2020

So, I didn’t intend to stop blogging. We went to Mexico for a family trip in late Jan. just before my last post, and when I got back things at work got incredibly busy. I kept planning to post an update – obviously there were things to share, including our vacation photos – and then: COVID-19 hit. For about seven weeks I found myself working at a pace I didn’t think was humanly possible; I worked long hours seven days a week and didn’t have the physical or emotional energy to do much other than focus on the pandemic. And so, here we are…

The Bay Area has been sheltering in place for just over a month now, and aside from last week’s spring break the girls have been doing distance learning since then as well. (There was a bit of an adjustment period to the new school format, especially for Avery, but now things are going pretty well.) My work is still bananas – let’s say that working for a health care institution during a global pandemic has been quite the experience – but it’s more manageable than it has been. And Q’s keeping busy with his work, too.

You read a lot about people’s feelings of anxiety and isolation over what’s happening, and I know that having smaller kids during this time is particularly challenging. But I can honestly say that things here aren’t that bad: The four of us have fallen into a nice staying-at-home rhythm. No fights, no major issues. The girls have been keeping themselves entertained and have gone entire days without getting dressed (which they love) – and I’m happy to avoid a commute that was starting to stretch to over an hour. Of course, the most important thing is that none of us or our loved ones have gotten sick.

There’s been a silver lining to being stuck at home, and it’s the extra family time that we all now have. We’re simply almost always together. We eat as a family more than ever before (Zoe cooks dinner several times a week), we’re playing tons of games (charades is our new fave), and we recently finished a major movie marathon (22 Marvel movies, concluding with last year’s excellent “Avengers: Endgame”). The pace of our new life, when I’m not working, is just slower and sweeter – and I don’t hate it. In fact, I’m going to do what I can to keep it going well after we’re through this thing.


Oompa, loompa, doompadee doo

January 24th, 2020

For their first-semester elective, both girls chose to work on the school musical. Zoe was on the crew (stage manager) and Avery was both on the crew and in the cast (candy girl and oompa loompa). Most of the work was during school hours, but things got really busy after winter break – with numerous rehearsals and three (very sweet) performances at the Jewish Community High School.

They both had a lot of fun and I’ve gotta say: I think the stage just may be Avery’s place!