Michigan's Inland Waterway

After having to cancel a number of plans this spring and summer thanks to the pandemic, Ken and I were so relieved to be able to actually keep our cabin reservation on Mullet Lake.  We had been looking forward to spending the weekend on the boat with our good friends, Jeff and Laura.  We had had a great time last year and knew this year would be equally wonderful.  Given the stress of the last few months, it also felt like a very necessary break from our routine.

If you're not familiar with Michigan's inland waterway, it stretches from Lake Huron to Crooked Lake, which isn't too far distant from Lake Michigan.  I'm not sure if you can get to Round Lake from Crooked Lake because we've never made it past the sand bar area in Crooked Lake.  I don't believe you can navigate completely from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan, though.  

Inland Waterway US MI

The last time we rented a cabin on Mullet Lake it was back in 2006 when Phil and Beth introduced us to this trip.  That year, my cousin Jessica and her husband, Sean, joined us.  The next year we went with a completely different set of friends and opted to stay in our camper at Aloha State Park, which is located on the east side of Mullet Lake.  This went on for a few years and then, for some reason, we just stopped going until our 2019 trip with Jeff and Laura.

The cabin we rented this year was a  definite step up from our 2006 rentals.  No central air conditioning, but otherwise just about perfect for a weekend getaway. It sat right in front of a nice little dock and had a fire pit we could use in the evenings after enjoying a day on the water. 

I didn't take as many photos as I thought I had.  It seems I was more intent on putting together a video compilation. 

If that video doesn't display properly - I've noticed that Blogger seems to be having some issues properly displaying videos and images lately - you can always go directly to Youtube to view it

This weekend was exactly what we needed.  It felt so good to let go of some of the stress that COVID-19 has brought into our lives.  

The Results Are In: His Test Was Negative

What a blessed relief!  After waiting seven days, the doctor finally called to let us know that KC's COVID-19 test results were in and he was negative.  

Everyone was so excited, but perhaps no one more so than this little guy.  After not being touched, held, or kissed by his daddy for eleven days, he was finally able to get all the love and affection he had missed out on during those long days.  

Although, I do have to admit that his mommy was pretty excited, too.  She had, in effect, been a single mom from the moment she went into my dad's camper.  I think those may have been the longest four or five days of her young mom life.  You don't realize how much help you have until no one is allowed to so much as breathe on the baby. 

So, yes, the little man's mama was a happy camper, too.  

Ken and I were, of course, delighted to be done with quarantine protocol.  It was a stressful week and a half.  We tried our best to visit with him from a safe distance, and overall I think we did okay.  Not perfect, but okay.  

image of KC and Allie playing soccer

Exposed and Quarantined

Well, it's happened.  You'd probably think that given everything Ken and I have done over the last couple of months that we would be responsible for our current situation.  But you'd be wrong. 

On a Thursday afternoon, while Ken and I were home working, Allie was upstairs tending to the baby, and Gage was still in bed because he hadn't fallen asleep until around 6 a.m. that morning, we got a phone call from K.C.  He had been in training all day and, about halfway through, it got shut down because one of the attendees had just been notified they had tested positive for COVID.  KC is fairly convinced it was the young woman he had been working with on CPI holds because her phone kept going off and she had to excuse herself to answer it.  Her face fell and she immediately went to find the guy in charge of the training.  They spoke for a few minutes and then she left.  Minutes later, the training was shut down with an announcement that someone in the room had just tested positive for COVID-19 and everyone present would be tested the very next morning at 9 a.m.  KC went out into the parking lot and sent us Snapchat messages asking us to pack up Allie and the baby.  He wanted them gone before he got home.  

I started making a list of everything they would need for an extended visit to her mom's.  When in a panic, make a list!  

Then I remembered a conversation Ken and I had had when the Stay Home, Stay Safe orders had come out.  We had talked about using the camper to quarantine anyone in the family that needed to be quarantined.  We could hook it up to power, fill it with water, and the person could isolate in relative luxury.  

If KC stayed in the camper, Allie and the baby would be safe enough in the house.  So this is what we did.  We got the camper prepared, put food in it, medicine in case it was needed, and some clothes for the boy.  We deliver his dinner but let him fend for himself during breakfast and lunch.  

We also visit from a great distance, which gives him the opportunity to talk to us and to see his little boy. 

Because the camper is in the barn, which effectively stops his cell phone signal, we use Walkie Talkies to communicate with him in the evenings.  

The Walkie Talkie has caused an issue. 

Worried that he might become sick during the night and need assistance, I took it to bed with me.  He had complained earlier in the day that he had diarrhea and felt light-headed.  It should be noted that he had eaten four bacon/sausage/egg/cheese sandwiches for dinner the night before and that morning's upset stomach might have had more to do with his gluttony than with COVID; it's really all a guessing game right now while we wait for test results.  Still, given that he has passed out on me more than once while sick, I worry about him passing out and hurting himself.  Hitting his head on something.  Falling down the steps in the camper and breaking a bone.  

My imagination is not always my friend.  

So...I took the Walkie Talkie into the bedroom with me just in case the diarrhea and light-headedness returned and got worse.  I was reading on my Kindle with Ken sleeping next to me when the thing squawked twice.  I got out of bed and tried to see what KC wanted.  No answer.  I tried again. No answer.  Panic started to set in, so I grabbed a mask and went out to the barn.  I banged on the camper door and called his name.  No answer.  Worried, I decide I'm going in to make sure he's not injured.  He wasn't in the living room area or the tiny bathroom.  I opened the bedroom door and turned on the lights to find him sound asleep.  No idea why the Walkie Talkie had squawked like someone was trying to say something. 

I left the camper right away.  I threw away my mask.  Washed my hands.  Then I used hand sanitizer on my hands, arms, legs.  I changed into a fresh pair of jammies and then went to bed. 

The next morning I told Allie about what had happened.  As one might imagine, she got very alarmed, worried that I had brought COVID into the house.  Her worry doubled when Ken went to check on KC a little bit later.  Now three of us are potentially exposed and she has a three-month-old to worry about.  We all do.  He's so little and vulnerable.  Although Ken and I both felt that we were as safe as we could be, we can't deny the risk.  

In the end, we asked my dad to drop off his camper for her and the baby.  She didn't feel safe anywhere and we're hoping this will help ease her mind and make her feel a bit more protected.  

Now we wait on test results.  KC's first test was administered too soon according to our family doctor, so he's on his way to get a follow-up test that will hopefully be more accurate.  We don't know how long it will take to get his results from either test, but we hope its soon.  This is incredibly stressful and worrisome.

The Pandemic Continues

That's right.  Four months later and the world is still struggling to get the pandemic under control.  I thought I might highlight a few of the more notable things that have happened in those four months on both a national scale and on a much more personal level.  

Let's start with some national highlights. 
  • As of today, the New York Times is reporting the U.S. has had a total of 3.5 million cases and 137,319 deaths.  
  • As of today, The New York Times is reporting that Michigan has had a total of 79,081 cases and 6,333 deaths.  
  • No one really trusts the case counts or, as strange as this may seem, the death counts. 
    • Why are the case counts suspect?  Not all states are reporting lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, some are reporting suspected cases as well, which is allowed by CDC guidelines.  Additionally, the numbers may be inflated by duplicate counts for individuals that are tested more than once. 
    • The death count should be a no brainer but I have family members that actually know of a couple that died from the injuries sustained in a car accident but their death certificates indicate the cause was COVID.   
  • In April, the Pentagon released some UFO pictures. Yes, you read that correctly.  
  • In May, headlines warned of "murder hornets".  (They are not expected in Michigan for decades, so not really high on the list of things to get anxious about..)
  • Murder hornets fade into obscurity because George Floyd's death sparks nationwide protests and riots. There are even calls for defunding the police, which doesn't actually mean disbanding the police just reallocating resources so that police aren't responding to situations that might be better suited to social workers, mental health professionals, or other first responders.   
  • In June, the Supreme Court makes a couple of landmark decisions. 
    • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is expanded to provide protection to LGBTQ individuals.
    • Upholds DACA.
  • In mid-July, a company announces it's ready to move on to the final stage of vaccine testing for COVID-19.
  • To wear a mask or not to wear a mask is a big point of contention. So much so that people have been murdered over a difference of opinion. 
And these are just the major news stories I remember hearing about.  I'm sure there is a lot I have missed or forgotten to mention.  It's been a crazy year.  There's a lot to track!

While all that was happening in the state and across the nation, things here at home were moving much slower.  The little man grew month by month.

KC and Allie both went back to work.  He went back to being a direct care worker in a residential home and she went back to Subway.  Subway lasted until the local Brewery asked her if she'd like to return to work in their event center - yes, people are throwing birthday parties and getting married even with the pandemic still making national headlines. 

In fact, we had a wedding to attend.  We planned to only attend the wedding and skip the reception because the reception was supposed to be held inside.  However, the day before the wedding, the bride and groom found out the entire event had to be held outside or canceled.  An outside reception seemed less problematic, so we stayed.  The picture I took below was from our vantage point at a distant picnic table. There were six of us at the table:  me, Ken, Jaime, Megan, Lee Ann, and Aunt Linda.  

We did have fun visiting with family and dancing under the pavilion.  I still don't understand why these young couples spend money on a DJ when they don't seem to be interested in dancing at all.  The bridal party did the traditional dances and maybe a line dance or two, but for the most part, it was really only three or four of us out there dancing most of the night.  This was fine given the fact that social distancing is still highly recommended.

Earlier this summer, after waiting impatiently for the governor to lift restrictions a bit, we were finally able to get the camper out and head off on some low-key adventures. We were even able to work from the camper on a couple of instances.

Oh, yeah.  Ken and I have been working from home since the pandemic started.  Now that campgrounds are open, we have been testing our cell phone signals to determine if our hotspots will work or not.  Most often, they do not.  However, we have identified a few places where we can work remotely from the comfort of our home on wheels.

I'd like to think this will be my last pandemic update, but I don't think it will be.  The numbers are rising in states where restrictions have been lifted and I suspect Michigan will reinstate some of the earlier restrictions that have been lifted in the last couple of months.  

I'm a Grammy!

He has arrived and he is perfect!

Our Stay Home, Stay Safe Experience

Despite the sun shining and the warming temperatures, there are days when I feel as if I've stepped out of the real world and into an alternate reality, a version of our world with a slightly more dystopian setting.  University and college courses have all gone online.  K-12 schools have been cancelled for the remainder of the school year.  Restaurants and bars have been shut down unless they can provide a walk-in/walk-out food service.  Small businesses have shut their doors, laying off employees until the world rights itself.  Social gatherings of any size and for any reason have been banned by handful of governors across the nation and its expected more will follow suit.

Birthday parties: cancelled. 
Retirement parties: cancelled. 
Bridal showers: cancelled.
Friday night card games with friends: cancelled
Bachelorette and bachelor parties: cancelled. 
Weddings: cancelled.
Baby showers: cancelled.

That last one hits close to home.  This coming Sunday we were supposed to be hosting a baby shower for Allie.  When Governor Whitmer announced the Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order, we made the difficult decision to cancel the shower.  Instead of gathering with friends and family to celebrate the anticipated arrival of this new addition to the family,  gifts have been arriving steadily from concerned friends and family members that want to make sure the new parents and their little bundle of joy have everything they need.  There were so many deliveries that I actually felt a bit guilty and decided to put together a little something for the USPS, UPS, and FedEx drivers; I included an explanation and thanked them for their service.  Maybe they won't think we're complete jerks that are simply passing our time at home by shopping online..

While none of this may be happening the way we envisioned, the most important thing is that the little man (yes, it's a boy!) arrives happy and healthy.  And stays that way.  That's the mantra that gets us through the disappointment that things aren't happening the way we had originally planned.

Healthy baby, healthy mama.

That's what's truly important. 

Given that we are expecting a little bundle of joy to enter our lives sometime in the next four weeks, we are doing our very best to honor the Stay Home, Stay Safe order.  Ken and I have been working from home for two and three weeks respectively.  Gage had just started working as a busboy at a nearby brewery and was laid off until normal business resumes.  Allie took a voluntary layoff from Subway.  The only one working outside the home is KC because he's considered an essential worker; he is an aide at a residential facility.

Trust me, as soon as he walks through the door, I'm on him to strip out of his scrubs.  While he goes to take a shower, I throw his clothes into the washer using hot water.  I don't bleach them, though, because they're black and I don't think he wants to wear gray scrubs because of his mom's neurotic need to disinfect.

Maybe I should use bleach anyway.   Is hot water and soap enough?

While KC is at work taking care of those that depend on him and his coworkers to keep their world as routine as possible under the circumstances, the rest of us are doing our part.  Ken and I work off our laptops.  Allie does homework.  And Gage sleeps away the daylight hours, saving up all his energy for late night gaming sessions with his friends. 


2020 Seniors

I only have three seniors that I've photographed this year: my nephew Mikey, my little cousin Harmony, and my best friend's niece, Jessie.  I wish I could say that I'm done editing all of their photos, but I wasn't able to focus on their pictures until after Christmas.  I spent most of the fall editing hundreds and hundreds of wedding photos.

Have I mentioned that I hate photographing weddings?  Well, I do.   They require so much time!  Not only do they require you to spend anywhere from 8-12 hours photographing everything and everyone on the day of the wedding, but then you have to weed out and edit hundreds of pictures.  Even if your brides are patient and kind, which mine were, there's a lot pressure to get pictures of the big day to them as soon as possible. 

Of course, high school seniors do have a couple of deadlines that I need to keep track of, too.  The first of which is the yearbook deadline.  The more photos they have to choose from at that time, the better.  In an ideal world, I would have had ALL of their pictures edited by the end of December, leaving them plenty of time to decide on their choice.  Unfortunately, thanks to those pesky weddings, that didn't happen and I feel bad about that.  

Not that I haven't been editing their photos.  They each have several they can choose from that I think would make beautiful yearbook selections. 

Even so, I still have a few hundred photos to finish up for both girls.  My nephew is nearly done, thank goodness!  Being a boy, he only wanted one very quick session.  Frankly, had I just taken pictures of him with his car and him with his girl, he would have been happy.  His mom rightly wanted a few of just him.

As for the girls, they have more outfit and location changes, many of which I've yet to edit.  My goal is to get everything to their moms by the end of February...wish me luck!

That Boy is Growing

With the holidays being past, my writing conference attended, and our Virginia trip behind us, there's nothing really left to distract me from Baby Watch 2020.   Tomorrow will mark the beginning of Week 28.  

That leaves...12 weeks to go.  Wow.  Three more months and baby will be here!

Mama is doing good even though she got diagnosed with gestational diabetes a week or so ago.  I was so surprised by this.  She is a tiny little thing, eats fairly healthy for a college student, and wasn't really having any major symptoms.  The only complaints she really had were early on when she kept getting dizzy spells.  I put that down to hormone changes, especially after they seemed to disappear or lessen a great deal after the first trimester. 

We're doing the best we can to help her succeed with the diet she's been given.  We'll know more after next week when she attends her diabetes instructional class. We should have a better idea then of the types of foods we can stock for her.

As the due date is fast approaching, we've also started working on redoing KC's bedroom.  Until he's done with college and able to support the three of them, he's going to be living at home with a baby in his room.  We started with putting together the very same crib he and his brother used as infants. It's in great shape and we were only missing one little spring, which is impressive given that it had been stuffed in the back corner of our attic for nearly 18 years.  (I'm sure Gage used it for a year or two after we moved in to this house.)

Next on the agenda...shelves!  With all the baby supplies they're going to need to store in his bedroom, he definitely needed some shelving put up.  Got to have a place to store all those diapers!

Changing Up My Annual Reading Challenge!

I'm going to change things up a bit this year and actually list the books I want to finally get to in 2020.  These are books that have been gathering dust in my basement bins as well as e-books that have been buried in my Kindle Cloud.

As per usual, I want to read 75 books in 2020.  But instead of letting myself pick out something to read based on their appeal in that moment, I want to make sure these books finally get read.

Let's start with the Kindle books first.  I have so many that I have bought from the Kindle Daily Deals listings that I really, really want to read.  Some of them are stand alone novels, but most of them are part of a trilogy or series.  In trying to determine which e-books to add to my Must Read in 2020 List, I've decided that any full trilogy must be on the list.  Let's see what we get!

I've already read The Bone Witch.  Just need to complete the trilogy.
I don't even know how long I've had these ones.  Yep, 2020 is the year!

I've heard so many people talk about this trilogy that I'm eager to read it, too. 

Another series that I've heard so much about.  

Now for some stand alone e-books.  I have so many to choose from that I think I will aim to read these twenty!  Wish me luck!

I tried to add a variety of genres to the stand alone selections.  I know that while I prefer science fiction and fantasy, I also need a palate cleanser from time to time.  I think the most daunting book in the stand alone collection is Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon; it's a massive beast at 1,168 pages!

Now for the paperback and hard covers that I want to read in 2020.  Getting that physical TBR down is even more important than working my way through the ebooks, but I have come to the realization that eye strain is a real issue nowadays.  So, I'm going to be reasonable about this.  While I hope these aren't the only books I read off the physical TBR, I'm prioritizing these titles. 

To help with this particular goal, I've moved all of these up to my bedroom and set aside a spot for them in the shelving in my desk.  It looks so neat and tidy!  I'm hoping it inspires me to read through these quickly!

Things Change

This is rough one to write about but I feel that nearly five years of laughter, tears, snuggles, and shenanigans deserve a moment of reflection.  Writing this might make me cry, but I've come to realize that future Krista will really appreciate looking back on the memories these two kids created as they grew from children into adults.

Yesterday, after a great deal of soul searching, these two decided that they had not grown together but apart, that they want different things out of their future spouses.  It was heartbreaking.  Is heartbreaking. 

But I am proud of them for being mature enough to be honest with themselves and with each other because it might have been easier to stay together and let resentment and frustration color their futures.

In honor of all they have shared, I thought I'd post a collection of pictures of them from over the years.  I have no intention of sharing this post with them during these difficult days of adjusting to be single for the first time since the end of 8th Grade.  But perhaps someday they will look back on these formative years and thank each other for all the lessons they taught each other about who they are as individuals and who they can and can't be in a relationship.

I love them both and wish them nothing but future happiness in whatever new relationships they enter into. 

We will miss having you in our family, Addi.