Vernon Volumes text

Vernon Volumes text

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Wild Dunes - Early Summer getaway

The kids are officially out of school now. This past week they only had a few casual online meetings with classmates, no actual coursework. Since Monday was Memorial Day, we decided to go to Wild Dunes on Saturday (5/23/2020). We drove in on Saturday and did our new routine where we stop outside Pooler and get McAlister's to go and then eat it while the car charges. We went to the airport bathrooms which were near the charger and I snapped a pic of the family with their fashionable masks. Hopefully they're helping, it's hard to know.

For our stay in Wild Dunes, we rented a different house for the first time at 14 Fairway Dunes, which was a bit further East in to the barrier island. The house was a townhome which had a tight 1-car garage where we could charge our car and it was a multi-level setup with two bedrooms downstairs, another bedroom up a half level and then a family room, dining room, and kitchen upstairs. The view off the back of the house was an awesome view of the golfcourse and overlooked one of the greens. It was fun watching the golfers come through and miss all their putts. The house was also nice since there was a small office setup downstairs for me. It worked fairly well, but there was no vent in the office so I had to keep the door open or I'd burn up and feel like I was suffocating. We had terrible cellphone service and had to use the wifi for cell service, but once we got that setup it worked ok from within the house. We all came to really like the house, Paige loved it and it was her favorite house we've stayed in at Wild Dunes.

We played tennis a few times throughout the week. The courts were a one mile ride from the house and on Sunday we did our first clinic with Nick and Paige was with Patrick for a private lesson. When Paige finished her lesson she snapped a few pics and some videos of us playing in our clinic.

I've been working with the kids on video editing and they each put together some clips that Paige took. Fortunately for me, Paige captured a number of points that seemed to feature me while Andrea and Connor didn't have much play time.

During the clinic on Sunday, I pulled a muscle in my right calf and while it didn't prevent me from finishing the clinic, I decided to sit out the clinic on Monday since it was hurting pretty bad.

We took off tennis on Tuesday, got rained out of tennis on Wednesday and by Thursday my leg was feeling pretty good and I did the clinic with Jessie. Unfortunately, in the clinic on Friday with Tory my leg was feeling great and went too hard for a difficult ball and felt it pop. I've been babying it since then, but pretty disappointed that I was recovering well and ended up hurting it all over again.

Overall, the clinics were a lot of fun. Connor is doing awesome hanging in with the adults  and he had some really great points and shots. Andrea, as always, was super steady. During the last couple days she would win a lot of the games consistently and Connor and I would have to come up with all kinds of schemes to beat her. The clinics, as usual, were a lot of fun and it was nice to see some of the pros that we've gotten to know over the years. Unfortunately, Tory will be leaving for a new job in Ohio, so we said goodbye and good luck to her at the end of our clinic on Friday.

Other than tennis, we did some other things around the area throughout the week. We rode bikes quite a bit and on a couple nights we stopped at Huey's Southern Eats for milkshakes while we watched the sun set.

Our big adventure for the trip was a sunset kayak excursion on Wednesday evening 5/27/2020 with Nature Adventures. Our tour guide Eric was a bird enthusiast that managed a local Wild Birds Unlimited store and he was very knowledgeable about the area and especially all the wildlife. We'd been scheduled to do the kayak tour earlier in the week, but with some strong winds we'd pushed it back a few days and were glad we did because it was quite a workout even with calm water and wind.

We paddled around the harbor and eventually through some marshy areas that looked a lot like the marsh back home. It was a pretty long 2 hour tour and Eric chatted with us almost the entire time and we appreciated having someone friendly and competent guiding us through our tour. Afterwards, we ate at Saltwater Cowboy's. We are doing our best with social distancing so sat outside and had a nice view of the water while we ate.

Our trip was great and we had a fun time together and it was nice to get out and do a little bit of traveling. We ate some good food from McAlister's a bunch of times, ate at Page's Okra Grill, had lots of great tennis, and lots of good family time. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

Last day of school for kids - Paige 4th grade and Connor 7th grade

Today was pretty much the last day of school for the kids and we snapped a couple of pictures at the end of the day. There are technically some conferences next week, but kids were required to return any electronics to the school and the grades are all posted and complete. Yesterday, Andrea took Connor by the school to pick up his things and today I took Paige by her school to drop off her library book and to receive her school supplies and say farewell to her teachers.

We typically take pics of the kids with their backpacks on, but they haven't been wearing them or actually going to school for a few months, so that seemed a little silly. Instead, Paige decided to hold her laptop and we made Connor hold his new mechanical keyboard for the pic. It seemed fitting since they've been using them a lot this Spring.

Both kids finished the year on the A honor roll, and we're super proud of them for being so adaptable, flexible, and for staying focused and working hard throughout this weird time. Great work kids!

Quick link to the first day of school post from August 2019:

Side-by-side with the first and last day of school pics.

Connor's keyboard and Fortnite

With being home a lot, Connor's had plenty of time to enjoy Fortnite. I feel like I should update the blog about Fortnite since it's back in our family with a vengeance. Paige plays from time to time, but she really likes to play a variety of games. Connor, on the other hand, pretty much exclusively plays Fortnite. Connor got very good on the Xbox, and he enjoyed playing on the Switch for a while, but in the past few months he's switched over to playing on the PC and he's gotten extremely good at it. He's actually at the point where he's legitimately so good at it that it's really impressive. I will wander in to the kids' office sometimes and watch him play out a game and it's pretty entertaining.

When I play Fortnite with the kids, I mostly focus on the shooting and fighting, but Fortnite is really all about the building. A good player will build these crazy structures, edit them, shoot the enemy, re-edit them and then build more and more objects in 360 degrees around themselves. I watched Connor tonight win a game and he was keeping track of multiple players around him, inputting multiple commands per second, and constantly staying one step ahead of his opponents. The kids like to watch Youtube videos of pro players and Connor loves to hear all the keypresses and inputs when a player is really going nuts and battling. He recently wanted to spend some of his own money to get a new keyboard and we did some shopping online and he decided he wanted the "Razer Huntsman Gaming Keyboard: Fastest Keyboard Switches Ever - Clicky Optical Switches" keyboard. It came on Tuesday this week and he's been getting used to it and I took a video of him practice fighting with one of his buddies. You can really hear all the inputs and clicks while he's playing.

Since school came to an end, and since Connor has been such a good student working from home, we decided to pay for the keyboard for him as a reward for a great academic year. Hopefully it will win him some Victory Royales!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Schoolwork and Haircuts

Last week was surprisingly uneventful. We all did some tennis clinics, the kids continued working from home and are almost done with their school year. Some businesses were allowed to re-open and we all got haircuts, which was kind of odd to do while wearing protective masks. When Paige got done with her haircut the lady did a cute braid and Andre snapped a picture of it when she got home.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Mother's Day weekend

This Sunday is Mother's Day and we had nice cool weather in Florida. It was supposed to rain on Sunday, but for the most part it's been beautiful so far and the rain ended up south of us. Saturday morning I went for a run, then a walk with Andrea. In the afternoon we went to the beach and Andrea went for a long walk while the kids played in the ocean for a little while. The water was cool, but actually not as cold as I'd expected. The unfortunate issue is that it was super windy down in the sand. It was actually not too bad if you weren't on the beach, but the wind did kind of make it a little miserable after a while. The kids ended up cold and we didn't stay all that long.

On Sunday, for Mother's Day, Andrea and I played at the club in a couple of drill clinics. We picked up Valley Smoke BBQ for our lunch and we set the table and used real plates to make it fancy for Mommy. Andrea's been having a lot of tension and pain in her back and neck, so we got her a massage gun for Mother's Day and thankfully it showed up on time, it was actually scheduled to show up tomorrow but arrived a little early.

We are very thankful for Andrea and that she's healthy and happy. Last Mother's Day we had just learned about Andrea's breast cancer diagnosis and it honestly feels like a lifetime ago, she's been through so much since then. Happy Mother's Day Andrea, you are so strong and we love you so much!

Trivia and online game time with family

A few times last week we had online game time with family. We've been doing trivia most nights, and unfortunately I'm not much help and neither our my kids. However, we still like to join in just to see everyone and talk. Tonight, we're scheduled to do something different, sounds like a drawing thing which might be fun. Paige likes to see everyone and to play with all the different video overlay tools that allow us to put on virtual mustaches, sunglasses, or different backgrounds. This Thursday I setup my DSLR on a tripod for our video connection and snapped a pic of Paige and myself while we were goofing off with everyone.

Week 8 of quarantine - COVID19 update - 5-10-2020

Week 8 of the quarantine was this past week and I'm not sure what to say about it honestly. America is trying to re-open to some degree and get back to some sense of normalcy. I can't figure out what information to believe. Some sources would have you believe that everything is fine and you'd be foolish to stay at home any longer. Other sources report that the virus is spreading rapidly and we are all in big trouble, especially if we loosen restrictions on travel and socialization.

For our part, we're doing our best to limit social interaction with anyone but we're trying to be reasonable and still do some things that are low risk. We have been getting our prescriptions delivered, use pickup service at Target, and we made an Instacart subscription so our Publix orders are all delivered. Some restaurants have re-opened their dining areas and Andrea and I went to Cruisers twice this last week and ate at one of their outside tables, which are setup in the parking lot. We're still not comfortable with eating inside. This past week Andrea and the kids took part in some tennis drill clinics for exercise, but they are careful how they're handling the balls and the clinics have a reduced number of people on the courts.

We've gone for a number of walks on the beach and I've been running a lot to try and manage my stress levels. Paige went with me on her bike this last week, the kids definitely don't enjoy running the full distance with me, but it's an easy bike ride for them. We have seen a lot of snakes out lately and we snapped a pic of Paige near one that was in the road.

Overall cases around the world is over 4 million now and there are over 1.3 million in the USA and deaths in the US are near 80,000. I'm not sure if I'll continue to update the blog with Coronavirus data since it seems like this will be going on a long, long, long time. I don't want the blog to turn in to a Coronavirus blog. That said, it is still a huge factor in our daily life, so I'm not sure.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Paige's 10th birthday

Thursday was Paige's 10th birthday and we did our best to make it special and meaningful for her. On Wednesday night we had her sleep in Connor's room while I put together her new chair and desk that Andrea picked out. It had been delivered a while ago and the boxes had been covered up in the garage, so we were happy that it was in great shape and all the pieces were present. Andrea got her desk organized and on Thursday morning I went out to pick up her balloons so we could decorate the room. On our run last week Paige had actually been lamenting the fact that Connor had taken over the desk downstairs and that she'd been relegated to her little wooden table and chair for the past couple months, so the desk is definitely something she needed and that she will use.

We took a short video of the big reveal and she was surprised.

After her desk and chair reveal, we did some work and schoolwork while Andrea went out to get Paige's goodies and her cake. I picked up food from Cantina Laredo and Andrea set up her goodies and the gifts that had been mailed to her.

After dinner, Paige opened her gifts and then we lit 10 candles on Paige's cake and sang her "Happy Birthday".

Overall, I think her birthday was as good as we could have made it considering the circumstances. We'd planned to have her birthday at Jax Cooking School like her friend Cailyn had done earlier this year ( Unfortunately, with this situation, that wasn't possible. Instead of getting a refund for our deposit, we had them make Paige's cake, which turned out really nicely. It had strawberry filling and cake with lots of sprinkles. We also had them make us beef stroganoff and some sides so we got a really tasty family meal.

Week 7 of quarantine - COVID19 update - 5-2-2020

This past week was our 7th week of isolating at home, but things are slowly starting to change. The peak of infections and deaths in some parts of the country seems to have passed and in our area of Florida their are relatively few cases. This past week for the first time we got out of the house and did some new activities. Connor, Paige, and Andrea went to some tennis clinics during the week and I went on Saturday to our tennis club to do the 9 and 10am tennis clinics with Andrea. The clinics have less people than normal in them and the pros are trying to keep people somewhat separated. We're careful about picking up balls and Andrea has even been bringing one of our tennis ball pickup tubes with her so she's sure that she's touching them as little as possible. It's more risky than not doing anything, but we're hoping that if we're cautious that it's a reasonable amount of risk and it's a healthy activity.

In the neighborhood we continue to go on bike rides and walks at least once a day. Paige likes to bring Stitch with us and we enjoy our conversations.

Andrea and I have gone for walks on the beach a few times and around the neighborhood a lot. She's been motivated to "close her rings" on her new watch, which means she meets the exercise and activity goals for the day. So far she's done it every day and on one day this week she was well over 300% of her goal activity level before the day was even over. By 1:12 she had already played 4 hours of tennis and gotten quite the workout.

I've continued working from home, as usual. There have been more meetings online with lots of other people working from home. I was thinking of actually buying a webcam for my PC so I could do a video conference if needed, but found a program that allowed me to utilize my DSLR for the task. I did set it up to make sure it worked, but I'd rather not get in the habit of doing video calls, but at least I know I could do it if I need to.

The kids are getting along great and they get on each others' nerves, but for the most part they're good buddies. The other night we were doing our story time with Bongo the elephant and he was bragging about his big ears and chonky belly, so Connor and Paige stuffed their shirts with pillows and used Paige's butterfly as ears to show him up.

Total cases in America are over 1.1 million today and in the world it's 3.4 million. More people have died in the last few weeks in America than died in combat in the Vietnam war. Pretty crazy stuff.