Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Second week of Quarantine - COVID19

This past week was our second week of living with the Coronavirus COVID19 pandemic in America. The infections have been spreading throughout the world, but have accelerated in the USA and now America has more confirmed cases of infection than any other country in the world. We have continued to isolate ourselves as much as possible. I've been busy with work, and not much has changed with my job. The kids have been staying busy with the schedule Andrea and I put together for them last week and we are excited that they're both going to be starting online classes this next week. In preparation, we got Paige her own laptop. Connor's been enjoying PC gaming lately and although Paige was getting by with one of my old work laptops, it wasn't really fair to her. We shopped online and got her a nice laptop (MSI GF65 - Intel i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB, 15.6" FHD 120Hz IPS) that will allow her to be productive, game, and learn about computers. She was so careful and responsible with the old work laptop that I was confident she would do a good job and would take care of her device. We got everything setup on it and Connor's been cute helping her setup her keybinds and everything for Fortnite. Today, we went through the many emails we've been receiving from the school about online classes and Andrea helped Paige bookmark all of the resources she'd be using for her courses and we setup her printer and made sure she could log in to everything necessary.

Connor and Andrea went through his emails and school stuff as well. Connor really loved watching the videos all of his instructors put together welcoming them back to class after their long break.

I set up the VR this past week for the first time in a few years. Since I got my Oculus Rift, I was disappointed that very few games worth playing have been released. I really enjoyed playing Robo Recall a few years ago, but all the other games I'd tried were pretty lame. This past week Valve released Half Life Alyx and it looked amazing so I dug out the VR set. In the past I'd set it up behind my desk in my office which really didn't provide much opportunity to move, pretty much just stand still and I found myself bonking in to the wall any time I tried to do anything. I got some extensions for all the wires, and while it looks horribly unsightly I set everything up right outside my hallway in the entry area for the house. Andrea's been nice and patient stepping over all the wires and ignoring the mess. I played HL Alyx a few times and I absolutely love it, but unfortunately my brain hates it. I end up motion sick and feel awful after playing it for very long. I've barely played it much, but it's been fun getting everything working again. I tried to get Connor to try a few games, but he's absolutely uninterested.

Paige, on the other hand, is absolutely enthralled with it. She's watched some Youtube videos of people playing "Job Simulator" and she's enjoyed trying all the different jobs in the game.

I took a short video of her playing as a convenience store clerk, at the time I took the video she was rooting around in the freezer and eating all the product. She's hilarious because she gets in to it and opens her mouth and chomps the food as she eats it in the game.

The kids have continued running with me this past week and we've gone on our 6 mile run four times now together. They don't particularly love it, but it's been nice getting them out of the house and around the neighborhood. Connor's getting good at recognizing landmarks and Paige has been so strong setting a fast pace for us. Andrea's been continuing her yoga, leg workouts, arm workouts, and whenever it's not too hot we like to go on walks and bike rides in the evenings.

Andrea and I were talking this afternoon that our pool has probably gotten more use in the past couple of weeks than it had the previous 3 years we've lived in this house. The kids have been going out every day to swim for an hour or so and the water's warm enough that it actually feels pretty good. We got them a big unicorn and they love for me to swim with them and rough them up in the pool, I play the part of the "Hippo" and I try to shake them loose and attack them if they fall off.

The kids have also been staying busy by helping out around the house. We all cleaned the car together last week. This week the kids helped us with yard work, vacuuming, cleaning up, dishes, stripping and making beds, and laundry. It's been an adjustment being home so much, but it also makes us appreciate our house, home, and family. There are a lot of people suffering and struggling in the world right now and we are very fortunate so far. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Quarantine Routine - COVID19

Spring break didn't turn out how we'd planned or hoped and for the past week we've been keeping our distance from people and doing our best to stay virus-free amid the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The kids have been happy so far to be home and we've tried to work on developing a routine to keep everyone busy, happy, and healthy. It's been nice that we don't have to wake up early for middle school and most days we don't set an alarm in the morning.

The kids have a checklist of activities that they need to do each day, but they still have had plenty of time to watch Netflix on their iPads and play video games. Connor's been keeping in touch with his friends by playing Fortnite with them and he's moved from the Xbox to the Nintendo Switch and recently he's been working on mastering the computer.

Next week their school is planning to start some online learning and since Connor's been on the desktop computer so much we ordered a laptop for Paige to use. She's been playing on one of my old work laptops from time to time and has taken very good care of it, so we decided it would be a great opportunity for her to have a nice device of her own.

The weather's still been pretty nice for the most part and it's started to get warm. The kids have spent at least an hour swimming in the afternoon each day and they've gotten creative with things to do in the pool to keep it fun.

The kids and I have been jogging recently as well. I went twice with both of them and we do the entire 6 mile route to the south gate of the neighborhood and back. There is a bit of walking and I carry the kids sometimes if they get too whiny, but they've been pretty tough about it for the most part. We chat throughout the run and talk about everything from Roman plumbing, energy technology, computer components, history, the meaning of life, and anything that pops in to our heads.

We've gotten our refrigerator fairly stocked recently and have been cooking at home more than ever. Andrea made some grilled cheese and ham sandwiches the other day and Connor loved them so much we had to make him seconds. We still try to get takeout for lunch each day and although the restaurants have been ordered to close their dining areas, almost all of them are still open for drive-through or carryout.

Andrea's been disappointed that she hasn't been able to get right back in to tennis. She's been so patient with her surgery recovery and was just starting to feel like she was back form recently on the tennis court. Each night we try to go on a long walk or bike ride and she also has been doing a lot of online Youtube workouts including arm exercises, leg exercises and yoga. She has done 17 days of yoga now and is getting more comfortable with it every day.

We've been spending a lot of family time together during the past week. Every night we watch "The Great British Baking Show" and tonight we finished the first season which we'd actually started during Thanksgiving. Although our favorite baker did not win, we enjoyed it and the kids already wanted to start the second season.

We've been tracking the spread of Coronavirus daily and for reference I've posted a screenshot from today's tracker. The website is maintained by John Hopkins and it's been an invaluable resource to keep track of the global spread. Hoping that the numbers start to slow down soon, but so far there's no sign that it will.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Spring Break, Wild Dunes, and the Coronavirus - COVID19

The world changed.

For a few months, I'd been following the news regarding a virus outbreak in China and it has always seemed like some distant threat. In the past couple of weeks the virus spread to Europe and now around the world. China has been dealing with the virus for a while and although they locked down many parts of the country, the virus escaped containment. In Italy the virus has caused tens of thousands of infections, thousands of deaths, and the entire country has shut down. France and Spain followed suit shortly after, shutting down all non-essential businesses. America closed off travel from Europe and our family was left wondering what to do with our spring break plans. We'd originally intended to go on a Disney cruise, but there have been some outbreaks on cruise boats that spread like wildfire and we made plans instead to go to Wild Dunes South Carolina for a quiet vacation to play some tennis, pickleball, and ride some bikes.

The night before we were supposed to set sail on the Disney cruise, Disney announced they were canceling all cruises for the foreseeable future and eventually all the other cruise operators followed suit. We debated whether or not to go to Wild Dunes and decided we might as well give it a try, so we drove up to Charleston on Saturday March 14th 2020.

On Sunday morning we went to the tennis clinics and enjoyed playing tennis with Connor in the adults "Peak Performance" clinic. Saturday afternoon we ate at McAlister's Deli and then we met up with our friends Amy, Derrick, Quinn and Cailyn who also canceled a Disney cruise. We played pickleball together and then we ate dinner at the "Billy G's Smokehouse & Salty Goat Bar" on property and were sure to wipe down the table extra well and we tried to keep our distance from other patrons.

On Monday morning we did the Peak Performance clinic with Quinn. It was awesome that it was just the four of us (Andrea, Connor, Quinn and myself) and we had some very competitive points and the boys played well. In the afternoon we played basketball, the kids rode bikes together and got ice cream.

On Monday evening the president announced that he was ordering a 15 day shutdown and the government pushed for increased social distancing. We decided not to do the tennis clinics for Tuesday morning, so Tuesday I got up and did some work before deciding that it didn't really make sense for us to be at the resort if we weren't going to be doing tennis or able to really do the things we wanted. We packed up the car and drove home in the afternoon.

It was a short stay, but we feel more comfortable at home and we're happy that for now we're safe and healthy. I went to the store this morning to brave the crowds so I could buy food and very importantly toilet paper, which has been in short supply around the country. The kids' school is canceled through April 15 for sure and I'm anticipating that the COVID19 pandemic is going to get much worse before it gets better.

Nice weather for bike riding

The weather's been wonderful lately and Andrea and I have been trying to go on a walk or a bike ride every evening. Last week we went on a ride with Paige and stopped to snap some pics during a rest stop.

Connor's second Middle School tennis match

Connor played in his first match on March 5th and won on line one singles. On Thursday, March 12th, Connor played in his second Middle school tennis match against his friend Quinn.

They had some great points, and Andrea said Connor played well and he ended up winning the match.

It's always tough to have to play a friend, and Quinn's a scrappy and athletic player so it wasn't an easy one for Connor. Great work boys!

Paige level 7 tournament at JCP - 3rd place

Paige played in a level 7 tournament Sunday March 8th at JCP and played 3 singles matches. She won her first match, lost her second, and won her third match. She had some great rallies and worked hard, keeping a good attitude in the 3rd match to come from behind to win in a tiebreak.

Great job Paige!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Shawn's tennis match

I played in a singles tennis match on Saturday and Andrea stopped by to watch towards the end. She took a couple of videos of me playing, which was fun for me to watch since I don't get to see myself on video playing very often. I ended up winning the match 6-1, 6-1.

PVPV Carnival

Paige's school had their carnival on Saturday and we braved the cold and windy weather to support the school and to have some fun. Paige found her friend Yasmine and Emma and they climbed the rock wall, played on the blow up things, and did the cake walk and got some cupcakes. Afterwards, Paige went with Emma and Yasmine to Ulta and Chik-Fil-A.

Connor found some of his middle school friends and they played some basketball together.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Field Day! 4th Grade - Paige with Ms Link's class

Today was 4th grade field day at Paige's school and she wore her coral colored shirt and participated with her class. The day started off with the 1 mile relay race and Paige ran her leg super fast and helped the team narrowly squeak out a win. Paige's friend Rebecca caught up to the blue team on the last lap and barely got ahead at the finish line, so close!

Next up was the 50 yard dash, which Paige didn't do, and then Paige's best event the 100 yard dash. Paige came in the top 3 in her qualifying heat and in the final heat she came in 3rd place. She did awesome, there are some super fast kids in her grade.

We loved to see Paige goofing off with her friends and class and watching everyone compete. It was a beautiful day for it, not too cold or hot and the rain that had been in the forecast all week held off until the evening. Paige competed in the potato sack race and her class won the tug of war event, which is always a favorite.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Connor's 13th birthday

Connor turned 13 today! It's hard to believe that we are the parents of a teenager, but here we are. Today was a Monday, which kind of stinks for a birthday day, but we tried to make it as enjoyable as possible for Connor. Last night after we played pickleball, we stopped by Krispy Kreme to pick up some donuts so he'd have a yummy breakfast and a sweet treat for after dinner.

After Connor got home from school he relaxed and played some video games with friends and then he picked McDonald's cheeseburgers for dinner followed by the last of the Krispy Kreme donuts. We sang him "Happy Birthday" and then Connor opened his gifts he'd gotten in the mail and the gifts from our family (Airpods!).

Happy Birthday Connor! We're so proud of the smart, kind, thoughtful and funny young man he's grown up to be. We hope his teenage years are wonderful!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

i9 Flag Football - Connor's last game

Connor had his last game of the season yesterday. His team ended up with an ok record for the year and didn't get far in the playoffs, but they did win their final game. Towards the end of the season, the coach took a more active role in play calling and organization and it made a big difference in their overall performance. 

Paige brought along her friend Yasmine yesterday for the day.

After the game, the coach talked with the boys, handed out their medals and some shirts with their team name.

Connor's Escape Room 13th Birthday Party

This past Friday on February 28th, we celebrated Connor's 13th birthday with some of his friends by going to an Escape Room Birthday party. In the afternoon after school, his friends got dropped off at the house. Before we left, the boys played basketball and knockout in the driveway and then they played football out front.

Football was supposed to be two hand touch, but inevitably Connor and some of his friends ended up in the damp grass and with muddy clothes. Before we set out, we snapped a picture together and then we all jumped on board the big white 12 passenger van we'd rented for the day.

I drove the boys to the escape room and we all signed in and snapped a pic before we started.

The escape room was divided up in to multiple sections and there were 10 tasks we had to complete to escape the room. Connor insisted that I didn't help, but after a few minutes we all realized that it was going to be pretty challenging and we were in for a struggle. It didn't help that when we started everything was wildly unorganized and the boys all were opening things up randomly and items were being tossed everywhere. We finally had to use a clue (only three clues are provided) and got the first step done which opened up the next room and we made really good progress for a little while and random groups of boys found different clues and solved different things. It was hard at that point for me to wrap my mind around everything that had been done and needed to be done. We ended up getting pretty close, but couldn't solve the final puzzle and ran out of time.

After our escape room challenge, we drove over to Cantina Laredo and thankfully Andrea realized that the private room hadn't been reserved, so they let us use it without having to commit to spending the minimum charge for food and drink. Andrea had the room setup really nicely with balloons, decorations, and a big tray of donuts. As soon as the boys arrived they excitedly dug in to the donuts and they were all eaten before we even got our drink order placed. 

Dinner was good, and thankfully we had the private room, because the boys were pretty loud. We watched some Wheel of Fortune, Judge Judy, and Jeopardy together and then snapped a few pictures.

After dinner, the boys ran around the outside area near the restaurant. Pickup was at 8:30 at our house and we decided to just let them run off some energy outside the restaurant before I drove them home, which worked out marvelously. The night was crazy at times, it was hard to keep the pre-teen boys organized and together, and out of trouble, but we did it. I managed to get them all to the van and home again and we all survived! I asked Connor to rate the party on a 1-10 scale and he happily replied that it was a 10. I'm glad he enjoyed it, and it was fun to meet some of his friends we hadn't met before and see them all together.

 Happy birthday Connor!