Debbie Schilling and Tom Bundy's Photos Page: 2020 [Main] [Contact Us] [Events] [Family] [Fun] [Garden] [Misc.] [Photos] [Search] [Site Index] [Travel]

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We got the cutest mini puzzle from Carol for Christmas, with a tiny steer-shaped puzzle piece in the center. Taken on 1/2/20.
Tom went to Dayton to see his brother and mom. He got this photo commemorating the Historic National Road (I-40) while at a rest area on the way.
Here are Mike, Margaret, and Tom.
Tom spent some time cleaning out his mom's basement and came home with a vanload of stuff to sort through. Taken on 1/4/20.
We had a fun game night with friends in early January. Taken on 1/6/20.
Once we no longer had to keep the basement clean, Debbie started to process all of the cargo from Dayton. A very large box contained all of Tom's father's bowling trophies, plus a few trophies for other sports like baseball and volleyball. Over the next couple of weeks, Debbie cleaned them all, photographed each of them in a light box, and created a web page for them. Taken on 1/8/20.
As if helping Greg move in November and December wasn't enough, Tom's company was in the process of moving in January, so many free nights ended up there. Tom occasionally went to check on progress in the new office. Taken on 1/9/20.
Our grandkids both came down with pink eye, so Debbie babysat them for the day. But first, Jill and Debbie took them for a quick diagnosis and prescription at Minute Clinic.
Back at Gram Gram's house, the kids participated in one of their favorite activities: fingerpainting, but always using paintbrushes instead of fingers. These kids have never once tolerated fingerpainting. Taken on 1/9/20.
We had a quick afternoon gathering with Dana when she was in town on business. It had been four years since we last saw her in London. Taken on 1/10/20.
We wished Jesse a happy birthday when Lynn planned a surprise gathering for him at Rackz. Taken on 1/11/20.
We continued to help Greg move things out of his old house, and brought even more boxes to our house to sort, save, recycle, or give to Goodwill. Taken on 1/14/20.
Meanwhile, we were doing the same with the boxes from Tom's mom in Dayton and many more boxes from Tom's company move. Our basement was piled high with stuff for several weeks. Taken on 1/16/20.
Debbie was lucky enough to be selected as Kelly's special visitor on Special Visitor Day at her preschool.
They listened to a story, watched a video, painted a picture, and had marshmallows and punch as a treat. Taken on 1/17/20.
Tom's company move took place over a weekend. Here are the owners overseeing the progress in the new building. Taken on 1/18/20.
With the move completed, we were able to deliver the 2019 version of the company photo collage we create every year. Taken on 1/19/20.
We love adding inside jokes to our basement bar, so we had to buy Russ Hanneman's Tres Comas tequila. If you were a fan of the comedy series, "Silicon Valley," you would want to own this too, especially since the cap is shaped like a comma. Taken on 1/20/20.
In our ongoing efforts to get Claire's weight up, we feed her a lot of toaster oven treats. So it was a frozen food miracle to find these snack mixes that feature four different snack types per bag, which provides our girl with a little variety. Taken on 1/21/20.
We had a portion of our roof repaired, so while we were at it, we replaced the 20-year-old roof in the spa room which required replacing the skylights with it. It took us at least a week and numerous forms of tape to get the interior trim glued back into place. Taken on 1/21/20.
With everyone finally moved into the new office, Tom's colleagues took a moment to be fancy with an old bottle of champagne and even older plastic champagne glasses that were found during the move. Taken on 1/22/20.
One or both of us were at Tom's new office every night for over a week, working on unloading, organizing, and cleaning the new space. A lot of it was drudgery but organizing the bookshelves and technology shelves was great fun. Taken on 1/22/20.
One of the perks of being retired is that Debbie was called in for another day of emergency babysitting and had a lovely day with our adorable grandkids. Here they are coloring some pictures to put up in Mommy's room for her to see the next time she visits Gram Gram's house. Taken on 1/23/20.
Doug and Susan were enjoying a boat cruise out in Seattle featuring Schilling Hard Cider, so they sent pictures throughout the evening so that Debbie could follow along vicariously. Don't feel bad that Debbie didn't get to taste any of these, because Doug brought samples for her when they met up in Arizona three months later. Taken on 1/24/20.
After months of moving stress, Tom was wiped out. Rest, Tom. Rest. Taken on 1/27/20.
Our January gathering with Dean and Audrey was a quick dinner at Freddy's Steakburgers. Delish. Taken on 1/29/20.
Debbie continues to crash the Orchard Development department's Final Friday gatherings. January's gathering was held at Daredevil Hall. Taken on 1/31/20.
The very next day, Debbie headed north to Wisconsin. On her way north, she stopped in Cottage Grove where Cousin Stephanie hosted a houseful of relatives for dinner. Left to right: Tim, Mark, Sara, Emmie, Stephanie, Adam, and Shirley. Taken 2/1/20.
The next morning, Debbie arrived in La Crosse to help out her Uncle Ralph's family, since he had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. However, his health had taken a turn for the worse over the weekend, so plans had to be readjusted quickly. Ralph's family gathered in the lounge outside of intensive care. Heather's daughter Megan had arrived with husband, Craig, and adorable daughter, Emma. Taken 2/2/20.
The next day, Debbie and her Aunt Carol made a round trip to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where they spent about 20 minutes visiting Debbie's stepmother, Becky, and her daughter, Sarah. It was the last time Debbie saw Becky, because she died two months later. Taken 2/3/20.
While her Uncle Ralph remained in the hospital, Debbie spent several days at his home sorting through his finances and paperwork to help prepare her Aunt Bonnie to take it over after his death. The plan had been for Ralph and Debbie to do this together, but Ralph's hospitalization prevented this. After a particularly long day, the afternoon sun threw a spotlight on this portrait of Debbie's father, who had died seven months earlier. Taken on 2/6/20.
Sadly, Ralph died on February 7, and his funeral was held three days later. Immediately afterward, Debbie headed back to Indy (accompanied by her cousin Sharlot), arriving 11 days after she left. Taken 2/10/20.
You'd think we were done with Tom's office move, but no. All of the photo collages we've created for past years needed to be mounted in the hallway, which Tom did while Debbie was in Wisconsin. With limited space, we compressed some of the early years by placing two years' of memories into one frame. Taken on 2/3/20.
Debbie returned in time to host a dinner for friends. Jess had postponed it a couple of days for Debbie and also arranged for guests to bring food, with Jess bringing a delicious tray of lasagna.
Jessica and David were thrilled to finally receive their Bundlings Frequent Guest drink tags, a highly coveted item that needs to be earned. Taken on 2/12/20.
Another perk of retirement is to be able to help out friends during the work day, so Debbie spent a lot of time in January and February going to Greg's house to supervise service appointments for him. This time, it was to fix some plumbing work. Taken on 2/13/20.
It was a brutally cold Valentine's Day, and we spent it by having Thai food and then buying a used van for Jill's birthday.
We didn't need to finance it so the longest part of the process was waiting for the dealership to clean the van before presenting it to us.
If the van looks a little familiar, it should, because it is identical in every way to the one we own - same year, same trim, same color, same features. Taken on 2/14/20.
With time running out, we headed to Ohio for the last weekend of the Destination Moon exhibit at Cincinnati Museum Center.
It was great to see the Apollo command module up close.
This little display was very cool: Buzz Aldrin's gold-plated extravehicular helmet visor and thermal-insulated gloves. A well-positioned magnifying glass called attention to the printing on the side of the glove. Taken on 2/15/20.
We returned from Cincinnati with just minutes to spare before both the Norwegian and Swedish song contest for Eurovision started. Of course, Debbie watched them both at the same time. Taken on 2/15/20.
Jill and Jared came by to celebrate her birthday with us. We pulled out an old time capsule from 1999 for Jill to open along with her gifts.
She also checked out the new-to-her van, but we still had to wait for paperwork before we could give it to her 10 days later. Taken on 2/16/20.
Back in the basement, Debbie still wasn't done processing all of the stuff that Tom brought back from Dayton. Last up: the boxes of vintage Christmas stuff from Tom's youth. Each treasure got its turn in the light box before being saved, tossed, or boxed up for Goodwill. This classic was a keeper. Taken on 2/17/20.
We learned from another parent of an adult with Rett Syndrome that she had gotten her daughter rediagnosed correctly after getting a genetic screen for 100 different disorders that include autism and intellectual disability as symptoms, so Debbie took Claire to her family doctor to get the test ordered. We paid for it out of pocket but check back later on this page to hear how worth it that was. Taken on 2/20/20.
We'll admit it. We are addicted to Portal Knights on Playstation 4. So when a new release comes out, we won't be coming out of our basement until we have spent hours playing it. Taken on 2/20/20.
Our friend Phil came over and this is the only photo we took. Taken on 2/22/20.
Here's Claire all bundled up for a road trip to her sister's house. Taken on 2/26/20.
Debbie attended February's Final Friday get-together at Bar Louie. Taken on 2/28/20.
It was a very sad event when we attended Ben III's funeral.
The funeral was held in the Brebeuf high school gymnasium and there was a large attendance of current and former Orchard Software employees. Taken on 2/29/20.
Every four years, a magical night happens: Audrey and Dean's quadrennial Leap Year Party! Our clever hosts put on a Price Is Right-themed party and lucky guests got to be contestants. So much fun! Taken on 2/29/20.
For the first time ever, Debbie cooked a meal using Beyond Beef. This taco "meat" was surprisingly realistic once we got past the initial shock of how it looked uncooked. Taken on 3/1/20.
Debbie came back from Wisconsin with a large box of her cousin's family photos. It took a couple of days, but she got all of them scanned and packed to return the next time she was in Wisconsin. Taken on 3/3/20.
That same day, Debbie continued her never-ending task of sorting and scanning all of the photos she inherited over the years from her grandparents. Here are all of the photos she has accumulated having to do with Schilling Electric Company, which her grandfather founded in Galesville in the 1930s. These photos were turned into the first of many posts to a Galesville-specific Facebook group over several months, where they were well-received. Taken on 3/3/20.
When Aldi has whole lobsters available for purchase, Debbie gets to have lobster for lunch. Taken on 3/4/20.
After a fun happy hour with Erin and Jess, we all got out our phones to plan our next get-together in April; this time with the boys. Little did we know that we'd be meeting virtually the next time we saw each other. Taken on 3/4/20.
By now, Debbie was committed to finishing the never-ending project of sorting and scanning her grandparents' photos. The challenging job of sorting and dating all the rest of the pictures took over the dining room table for a week or two. Taken on 3/6/20.
We had our March gathering with Audrey and Dean early in the month, which turns out to have been a really good idea. We had a delicious dinner at Pies and Pints. Taken on 3/6/20.
We went down to Franklin to pick up our grandtots for an overnight stay while their mother finished getting her house ready for Johnny's birthday party the next day. First, we stopped at Meijer to pick up some bottled water for the party, plus some berries for us and just maybe, a copy of Frozen II on DVD.
It was a nice spring afternoon for playing with bubbles.
Kelly convinced Gram Gram to get out the Easter toys and have a very early Easter egg hunt in the basement before bedtime. This turned out to be very fortunate timing, with a pandemic starting to take shape on the horizon. Taken on 3/7/20.
The next morning, we headed down to Franklin for Johnny's birthday party, where a pancake bar was on the menu.
New Indiana residents Koree and Kelsey were among the party guests. Johnny was thrilled with his Lego and Spiderman presents.
As is tradition, Johnny had to pose holding his birthday card with his age on it.
All the kids wanted to be nearby when it was time for birthday cake.
Johnny was overjoyed to get a Spiderman costume from Mommy. Taken on 3/8/20.
At the birthday party, Claire's grandmother loaned Debbie her recipe boxes so she could scan the recipes and share them with family members. It just took a couple hours and we ended up with some classic recipes. Taken on 3/9/20.
So, yeah, make sure you don't have a plastic bag of hot dog buns sitting on your stove when you turn on the wrong burner for dinner, because it won't end well. Taken on 3/9/20.
By early March, the pandemic was raging in other parts of the world and just starting to heat up here in the US. Cousin Rachel was heartbroken when she learned that Norway had closed its borders so the trip she was looking forward to was cancelled. So we decided to send her on a virtual trip instead. Here are some more of her Norwegian adventures: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Created on 3/12/20.
That same night, we learned that the 4D Summit had been cancelled, scheduled for the first week of April. We had planned a full week in Chicago around it, all of which got cancelled over the next few days as well. Taken 3/12/20.
We return again to the grandparent photo project. Debbie spent several days scanning old portraits and scrapbooks in the study. Taken on 3/13/20.
Over the weekend, the United States had woken up to the pandemic. Fortunately, we had stocked up on groceries and freezing bottles of milk for Claire over the previous two weeks, so it wasn't a problem to run into empty milk and bread displays on our last trip to the grocery store for a while. Taken on 3/16/20.
On March 24, Debbie got the first of dozens of screenshots of the Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 dashboard. The numbers were radically different by December 1.
Debbie's first experience with virtual gatherings was a Zoom happy hour which replaced a gathering scheduled to occur in real life. Taken on 3/25/20.
It went so well that Debbie hosted a Zoom reunion for her Schilling relatives. Taken on 3/28/20.
After a couple of weeks of eating every single meal in our home, Debbie ventured to Aldi for a quick grocery run. Imagine her joy to find a genuine Racine Kringle right here in Indiana! Taken on 3/30/20.
Like everyone else, we tried our hand at making handmade bread, using that fool-proof recipe at the very front of our bread-baking cookbook. Yeah, it failed, yet we still enjoyed its overly dense, difficult-to-chew taste. Taken on 3/30/20.
Doug sent Debbie a screenshot of a TV show or movie he was watching. That 70s-era needlepoint sure looks familiar because it matches the one their mother made and displayed on their living room wall when they were kids. Debbie owns it now. Taken on 3/31/20.
Adventures in Pandemic Cooking: trying out that old jar of shakshuka sauce that has been in the pantry forever. We opted for cooking scrambled eggs on top of the sauce instead of poaching them, which is the traditional preparation. Weird but good! Taken on 4/1/20.
Tom sure wasn't expecting to see ants rolled up in his toilet paper on April Fools Day. His blood-curdling scream was worth the five minutes it took Debbie to get out a bag of plastic ants and hide them in his bathroom. Taken on 4/1/20.
We had some ducks stop by on a frosty spring morning. Taken on 4/2/20.
We had a fun evening playing some games with Jill and Jared using House Party. Taken on 4/2/20.
Claire enjoyed some time in our swim spa shortly before we drained it for the season. Taken on 4/4/20.
Debbie made some infused vodka for a family reunion fundraiser last fall and we drank the last two shots of what was leftover. Taken on 4/4/20.
Cheers! It's our April gathering with Audrey and Dean! Taken on 4/5/20.
On April 7, our world was changed forever when Claire was correctly re-diagnosed as having Phelan-McDermid Syndrome after years of being misdiagnosed as having Rett Syndrome, despite not having the correct genetic mutation. A much wider genetic screen discovered the deletions on gene 22q13. We were thrilled to finally have a concrete answer.
With the garden blooming so nicely, we brought some of the beauty inside. Taken on 4/8/20.
You know it is a pandemic miracle when Aunt Bonnie is using FaceTime! Taken on 4/8/20.
The first hail storm of the season is always a heart-racer. We had just put up our canopy on the patio and had to rush to take it down, but obviously, we were too busy to take a picture. Instead, we got a photo while the hail was pummeling the fire pit cover to shreds. Taken on 4/8/20.
By early April, COVID-19 had firmly taken hold of Indiana. Taken on 4/9/20.
Minnesota DNR has an eagle cam set up and we enjoyed watching every few days as the three eaglets hatched and grew larger. Taken on 4/9/20.
Debbie had a great chat with her cousin Laura on House Party. This pandemic was turning out to be great for being in contact more often with family. Taken on 4/10/20.
Sheltering in place is great when you have wine and a happy marriage. Taken on 4/11/20.
We had a fun conversation with Doug and Susan over Zoom, not realizing that we'd see them two weeks later in Arizona. Taken on 4/11/20.
We were going about two weeks between grocery store visits. Here's the socially-distanced line waiting to get into Aldi when it opened on a Monday morning. Taken on 4/13/20.
Pandemic entertainment sure was different. Every Friday for several months, Andrew Lloyd Webber posted a full Broadway show online as a fundraiser for performers, and Debbie was there to watch it (and donate). Taken on 4/17/20.
Remember that outing being planned back in early March? It happened on schedule but it was virtual. We played online games, did shots together, and had way too much fun. Taken on 4/18/20.
After seeing pictures of hot dogs with pasta cooked in them, Debbie had to try it but all we had were cocktail sausages. Behold the end result. Taken on 4/19/20.
Debbie's stepmother died on April 16, and exactly a week later, we had driven to Arizona to oversee the cleanup of Debbie's dad's condo. We raced to get there at the same time as Debbie's stepbrothers. Dan and David were at the condo with us to pack up their rental van on 4/23/20, ...
... then stepsister Katy and her husband Guy arrived the next day to do the same thing.
In all, it was an amazing trip, partly because it was surreal to go on a road trip during a pandemic, and partly because we got to spend several days of our trip with Doug and Susan, including Susan's birthday. Read all about the trip here. Taken 4/24/20.
While we were in Arizona, Claire's dad was taking good care of her. He sent this picture of Claire enjoying a sunny spring weekend. Taken on 4/24/20.
One of the very first pandemic-produced shows we watched (after "SNL at Home") was "A Parks and Recreation Special." It wove a clever story around scenes filmed at the actors' homes. Taken 4/30/20.
With professional haircuts out of the question, we took turns giving each other haircuts. Here is the very first part of Debbie's haircut. Taken on 5/2/20.
We had to delay Dean's birthday party because of our unexpected road trip to Arizona, but it was worth the wait. We dropped off half of a party at their house, complete with shrink-wrapped shotglasses, bottled shots, confetti, streamers, activities, snack cakes, and birthday gifts, then celebrated together on Zoom. Taken on 5/2/20.
Later that evening, Debbie joined a Zoom gathering of fellow Phelan-McDermid parents. Taken on 5/2/20.
It was Claire's turn for a Covid-cut. Her hair grows quickly and about once a year, she goes drastically shorter.
Mom's haircut skills are a little rusty so she ended up taking a little too much length off for Claire's hair to still fit in a ponytail, but it turned out cute anyway. Taken on 5/3/20.
We got to babysit the kids for a night. It was the first time we had seen them since quarantine had begun. Johnny spotted the bowl of Nerf guns we acquired during Tom's company move and asked very sweetly to play with them, so Gram Gram goggled up the kids and let them aim for the basement disco ball.
It was a little late in the spring for our annual garden photo shoot, but the columbines were in full bloom.
Trying to get two small children to look directly into the sun for a photo is nearly impossible
It had gotten cloudy later in the day when Grandpa was done working, so we put on light coats when we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Taken on 5/4/20.
The next morning, Kelly and Gram Gram made chocolate cake for Mommy for Mother's Day.
We baked four mini-cakes. Kelly and Johnny both decorated one for practice and sampling, then a second one to give to Mommy to freeze until Mother's Day. Taken on 5/5/20.
We also took the opportunity to get a picture of the kids in their Norwegian sweaters ...
... to save for Syttende Mai (17 May, Norway's Constitution Day), 12 days later. Taken on 5/5/20.
In this brave new pandemic world, Tom had his annual checkup with his doctor via videoconference. Taken on 5/6/20.
Debbie got out of the house briefly to respond to a Find-a-Grave photo request. A genealogist wanted some closer photos of this gravestone to see the insciption on it better. Taken on 5/6/20.
This was the Fourth Annual Papperdelle For Dinner Day, in honor of our friend Cory, so we observed with bay scallops and bacon in alfredo sauce. Taken on 5/7/20.
Speaking of cooking, we were lucky recipients of several food deliveries from Greg when dropping off or picking up Claire. This was bacon-wrapped pork, stuffed with jalapeños and cream cheese. Taken on 5/10/20.
Debbie was heartbroken when Eurovision was cancelled, but the void was filled with amazing online Eurovision Home Concerts, featuring Eurovision performers at home performing one of their own songs and covering another Eurovision song. Here is Norway's KEiiNO performing Spirit in the Sky. Taken on 5/11/20.
The pandemic giveth and it taketh away. But it gaveth us a fantastic interactive Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt special. Taken on 5/12/20.
Mmmmm, more delicious food from Greg. We had never tried pork belly before and Greg had lots to share with us. Scalloped potatoes on the side made it even better. Taken on 5/13/20.
Another Saturday, another Phelan-McDermid parent online gathering. This time, we played Cards for Quarantine and had a great time. Taken on 5/16/20.
Are we all still quarantined? Yes! Then let's have another online Schilling gathering! Taken on 5/17/20.
One of our new Phelan-McDermid parent friends was designing a new video controller for his son to use, and he needed someone to 3D print his designed. We volunteered, and mailed him updated 3D prints of his designs nearly weekly over several months. Taken on 5/18/20.
On March 26, Tom started wearing a different funny hat to his client's daily status meetings. Two months later, he still hadn't repeated and still had many more hats left to go. Taken on 5/20/20.
Tom went into his office for the first time since he started working from home on 3/24/20. Among the many things that were different in the world was this note that his office elevator now had self-cleaning buttons. Taken on 5/22/20.
Doug sent Debbie a picture of the large selection of Schilling Cider available for purchase in his home state of Washington. Absolutely none of this is available in Indiana. Taken on 5/22/20.
With our social life reduced to online meetings, we had another gathering with Jill and Jared. Taken on 5/23/20.
Audrey suggested that we do an online scavenger hunt for our May gathering.
We took pictures of things, answered trivia questions, made videos, had a great time, and ended up in third place by the time we were finished. Taken on 5/24/20.
A month later, we got t-shirts from Let's Roam commemorating the day.
At the end of May, we went on our second pandemic road trip, this time to northern Minnesota to pick up things from Debbie's father's cabin. We drove up to the Twin Cities and spent two nights there, just as the demonstrations and riots were taking place. From there, we drove up to Bemidji and back in one day.
At the cemetery near Bob's cabin, we saw the headstone that had been installed on his grave sometime earlier this spring.
We stopped by Vining, Minnesota, on our way back ot the Twin Cities where we saw a park full of sculptures created by Ken Nyberg, father of astronaut Karen Nyberg. The timing of our visit was perfect, because Karen's husband, astronaut Doug Hurley, would be launching the next day on the crewed Dragon mission.
On our drive home, we stopped to pick up and drop off things with three different sets of relatives. At Heather's house, we dropped off a box of scanned photos and picked up several more boxes and bags of photos to scan. Proper social distancing was observed each time. Read all about the trip here. Taken May 28 - 30, 2020.
Two days later, demonstrations and riots had spread across the country and the Indianapolis area was under a curfew. Taken on 6/1/20.
Not long after that, Tom spotted an unusual comment in the delivery tracking of a package on its way to him: "Civil demonstration delayed your package in transit. Delivery will be rescheduled. Check back for updates." Taken on 6/4/20.
We put up a Mason bee nest this spring and were rewarded with our first visits from leafcutter bees building cocoons. Taken on 6/4/20.
Being Portal Knights addicts, we were thrilled to finally beat all of the hard mode bosses after well over a year of playing. Taken on 6/4/20.
While in Wisconsin, Debbie had picked up a fresh batch of unsorted pictures from her cousin Heather and started to tackle the project. Taken on 6/4/20.
By the next day, she had twenty years of Heather's family portraits gathered, weeded, and sorted by date.
The stacks of random photos, envelopes of prints, and childhood portraits took a while to get organized, but making order out of chaos is fun for Debbie. Taken on 6/5/20.
Over the next week, slides and photos were scanned and memory books were organized and photographed. Taken on 6/12/20.
We had a nice overnight visit with the cutest grandkids on the planet. We found some pretty flowers to bring inside. Taken on 6/6/20.
The next day, we worked on one of Kelly's Kiwi Crates, creating a rocket launcher and decorating kites, which we took outside to fly.
The highlight of the day was playing in Gram Gram and Grandpa's inflatable pool, playing "Go Away/Come Back," which is the most hilarious game ever when you are 4 and 5 years old. Taken on 6/7/20.
We had driven to Minnesota to pick up Debbie's father's van. Since then, we repaired the windshield, changed the oil, deep-cleaned it, got two recalls fixed, and filled the tank. We sent it home with Jill, just as her late grandfather had wanted. Taken on 6/7/20.
Ahhhhh, yes, it is heavenly to float in the pool and relax. Taken on 6/11/20.
Debbie received a copy of this wonderful children's book, "The Apron," from her stepbrother-in-law, Guy, the author of the book. It's the sweetest book. Taken on 6/12/20.
The very next day, his wife (Debbie's stepsister) sent her a box of treasures from the cabin that Debbie had missed when going through it a couple of weeks ealier. Taken on 6/13/20.
Some of those treasures are now stored in Debbie's great-grandfather's safe which we brought back from the cabin in Minnesota.
It weighs a ton and has very little space, but it is large enough to hold Debbie's father's first two wedding rings. Taken on 6/16/20.
Greg smoked a whole bunch of BBQ pork, with half seasoned Kansas City-style and the other half seasoned Carolina-style, then invited us over for a delicious dinner of pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, and cherry pie on his patio. Taken on 6/13/20.
After years of wondering what had become of a young girl named Kim, who her late mother used to visit, Debbie found her full name in an old address book of her father's. In less than an hour of online research, Debbie had learned about Kim's life, including when she died and that she had married a fellow resident of the care facility where she lied. Debbie printed these pictures and wrote to Kim's in-laws. Taken on 6/15/20.
A couple of weeks later, Debbie received a lovely letter and some pictures from Kim's mother-in-law.
Our new Phelan-McDermid parent friend, Andy, thanked us for our help with his video controller 3D prints by sending us a working system for Claire to try, activated by a simple keyfob. It didn't take her long to figure out that she needed to click the button to move the player from one video to the next, stopping every time on "Under the Sea," her favorite Disney video ever. Taken on 6/19/20.
Jill stopped by for a quick visit on Father's Day before heading to her dad's, so we had a quick afternoon beverage. Taken on 6/21/20.
Even Claire's quarterly conferences with her case manager and her day program director were now taking place via Zoom. Claire's last day at her day program was March 16, so this was the second conference since then. The first had taken place via phone, but this was a Zoom world now. Taken on 6/22/20.
After eating home cooking or fast food for months, we splurged and got take out from Red Lobster. What a nice treat! Taken on 6/22/20.
Debbie picked up some Twizzlers for Tom on an Aldi run. Or did she? Taken on 6/28/20.
With June racing by and no June gathering with Audrey and Dean on the books, we decided that if each couple watched the newly-released "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga" and raised a toast with our Eurovision shot glasses, it would count as having watched the film together, which we all did. Taken on 6/28/20.
Tom got a new hat from his mother for his birthday just in time to do some yardwork in the sun. Taken on 7/2/20.
For Tom's birthday, Audrey and Dean provided a birthday-in-a-bag for us like we had done for Dean. There were party decorations, plates, straws, beverages, activity boxes, and presents, all with a Trip to Mars theme.
We donned alien glasses and funny headwear ...
... played games, and Tom opened his excellent presents.
Dessert was s'mores, complete with tiny fireplace-like votive holders for us to roast our marshmallows on sticks. So clever! Taken on 7/2/20.
We rolled out of bed the next morning and onto the couch to watch "Hamilton" on Disney+. Filmed with the original cast four years earlier, it was a performance well worth the wait. Taken on 7/3/20.
Happy Fourth of July! Debbie's Uncle Mark started off the festivities by sending us this patriotic picture of himself.
For the first time, we finally tried out the George Foreman grill our friends gave us when they tired of it. We will probably tire of it as well, but for now, we were happy with the results. Add some sweet corn and you have an All-American Fourth of July meal.
With the pandemic going on, the City of Carmel decided to cancel its huge Fourth of July event downtown and host three displays of fireworks around town instead of one central one. We were lucky to be just a couple of blocks from the display nearest us, so we set up our folding chairs on the sidewalk.
Our view was fantastic and Claire seemed to enjoy the show. Taken on 7/4/20.
The latest iteration of our friend Andy's video controller for his son had a secret message for us inside the bottom half of the controller. If you look closely at the right side, it says "THX DS + TB."
You can see it in the printed copies if you know where to look. Taken on 7/6/20.
For several years, Debbie had been trying to find the exact location of the house where her grandfather lived as a child near Burträsk, Sweden. She had seen it when she visited Sweden in 1985 but could only recall that the general location.
Scrutinizing the area around Burträsk using Google Maps had failed, so Debbie contacted her late cousin Kristina's husband, David, for help. He asked his contacts in Burträsk and discovered that one of his colleagues not only knew where it was, but that her daughter owned the house. Here's an aerial view of it in Bodbysund using a Swedish map site which had better detail than Google Maps.
Here's how the house looked back in the mid-1910s. This is a painting of a black-and-white photograph that now belongs to Debbie's Aunt Ruth. Debbie's grandfather, Sigurd, is the twin boy in blue on the right. Cousin Karl took a photo of the painting on 7/8/20, ...
... so that Debbie could get it framed and put in our Scandinavian ancestry-themed guest room.
Our local McDonald's drive-thru had a pandemic-related notice about the shortage of US coins. It made us realize that since the pandemic started, we hadn't used currency or coins other than on the two road trips we had taken. Taken on 7/10/20.
We needed to go into the Device IQ office to sign an owners' document, so we stopped by on a weekend. Even with a small office of only five employees, Tom was continuing to work from home rather than expose his colleagues and himself to anymore risk than necessary. Taken on 7/12/20.
It was like looking at a civilization from another era. Chairs, tables, and couches were set up for social interaction that probably won't occur again for a very long time.
The break room won't be hosting group lunches anytime soon. Taken on 7/12/20.
Debbie's Aunt Carol sent her an update on the Trempealeau, Wisconsin, catfish and its various stages of mask-wearing. It had a new mask that stayed in place better, and a new set of dates for Catfish Days for 2021, since the 2020 event had been cancelled. Taken on 7/14/20.
Claire got a new Leapfrog toy for her birthday. She was overjoyed with it and shook with excitement when she pulled it out of the gift bag.
We had also made some updates to the video player system our friend Andy sent her. Tom adjusted the software to make it have adjustable delays and to ignore additional clicks, and Debbie created lots of playable files from her favorite videos. Claire quickly remembered how to activate the system but made it clear that she wanted her new birthday toy back. Taken on 7/14/20.
We also bought Claire an egg swing chair. Tom assembled it for her and she tried it out. She was unimpressed but she didn't immediately try to get out, so we'll call that a success.
Even Debbie fits in it! Taken on 7/15/20.
On July 1, Debbie and Doug officially inherited two Arizona condos from their father and stepmother. One condo was put on the market in July but the other condo can't be sold yet because it has a lifetime tenant who included a French Toast recipe with his July rent check.
Of course, we had to try it, so the night before, Debbie assembled it and refrigerated it, then baked it the next morning. She used frozen strawberries instead of blueberries and it turned out delicious.
Claire absolutely loved it. Taken on 7/16/20.
We decided to play our entire collection of Ticket to Ride games and expansion maps during the month of July. Of course, we had to play the United States version on the Fourth of July.
We bought some adorable plastic trunks to hold the game pieces in place of plastic bags. These made it easier and more fun to use with the expansion maps, ...
... such as this Japan map.
Debbie and her brother listed one of their condos for sale on July 8 and had an accepted offer on July 14. Here's the professional photograph of the living room.
Here's another attempt to get Claire to like her new egg chair. It was unsuccessful but she was adorable in it for a couple of seconds. Taken 7/20/20.
Another month, another fun online gathering with friends. Taken 7/21/20.
Debbie decided to try clear aligners to straighten her front teeth and was excited to find an online-only option. So she made her teeth molds and sent them in on 7/22/20.
Three weeks later, her aligners arrived in the mail. Two hours of using them convinced her that this was a very, very bad idea. Lesson learned.
The Arizona condo sold very quickly so we needed to move furniture out of it before the new owners took possession. Cousin Rachel came to the rescue and oversaw the giveaway of all of the furniture to neighbors and a junk hauler. Taken 7/25/20.
We spent a lot of time daydreaming about safe travel via minivan during the pandemic, so Debbie worked out a way to configure our van so that we could travel with Claire comfortably, including a safe space to be able to change her and to have her sleep if we need to stop at night. Taken 7/25/20.
The day before our 24th anniversary, we ordered Red Lobster to go. With our previous anniversary restaurants no longer in business, we decided that this would be our new celebration dinner option. Oh, those cheddar biscuits...
We spent our actual anniversary visiting Tom's mom for the first time since the pandemic started. Tom had gotten a negative COVID-19 test when he was diagnosed with strep throat, so we knew the risk was very low. We spent some time going through her house learning the history behind the family treasures we have.
Tom and Margaret went through some treasures in the basement together. Taken 7/26/20.
With Claire newly diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, we were referred to St. Vincent's Genetics department for genetic counseling.
We opted to do further genetic testing to learn more about the size of the deletion of her 22nd chromosome, whether or not she has any other genetic mutations, and whether or not she has Ring-22. Claire managed to tolerate her mask for almost three hours of meeting, waiting, and blood draws (but she was quick to pull it off when Mom wasn't looking). A few weeks later, her results told us that Claire does have Ring-22 but does not have any other detected genetic abnormalities. Taken 7/28/20.
We finished out our month of Ticket to Ride games by playing a special pandemic version available for free download from the designer of the original game. This printable version involved building routes between different rooms in your own home - hilarious! Taken 7/29/20.
Our adorable granddaughter, Kelly, was going to start kindergarten with e-learning soon, so her mother wanted her to get comfortable with an online meeting format. So, we planned and taught an hour-long session, starting first with practice turning on and off our video and microphones, which was lots of fun.
We talked about compasses and learned about north-south-east-west. We opened up Google Earth and showed her the globe and then zoomed into her house. We talked about which direction the different sides of her house faced.
We finished up with some fun by looking at WindowSwap, a fun website that randomly displays windows in people's homes around the world. We talked about what we saw that was the same as where we lived and what was different. Taken 7/31/20.
Our friend, Greg, cooked up some more tasty food for us. This time, it was brisket and potato wedges. Taken 8/2/20.
What a treat to get a surprise package of delicious homemade jam from cousin Dawn! She sent a jar each of strawberry and raspberry jam. Taken 8/3/20.
With COVID-19 case counts rising, we got creative about our grocery shopping and discovered that if you shop at 10:00 PM on a weeknight, you have Meijer almost completely to yourself. Taken 8/3/20.
Debbie's stepsiblings inherited her father and stepmother's Minnesota lake home and put it on the market. Here's the "dollhouse" view of the home when it was on the market. That top floor is really the second floor of the separate garage building. The siblings sold the property a couple of weeks later to their cousin for $100,000 over its appraisal value.
More scanning! This time, it was Debbie's maternal grandparents' photo albums and travel journal from their 1937 honeymoon in Sweden. Taken 8/11/20.
We headed back to Dayton when Tom's brother, Mike, was in town for a visit. We stopped by Forest Hills Memorial Gardens to pay our respect to his father, Bruce. To Tom's left are the headstones of his Uncle Ron and his grandparents.
Here's Bruce's headstone.
Margaret got out five boxes of photos for us to take home and scan.
For the second time in a month, we got to eat delicious pizza from Marion's Piazza.
Here are Margaret and two of her sons.
That evening, Debbie gleefully dug into the boxes of photos. Taken 8/16/20.
The next day, she was well into sorting the photos into preliminary stacks.
We discovered that Tom's mom must have been a movie star when she was younger.
Here are all of the school and family portraits from Tom's childhood. It's fun to figure out which identical twin is which until that awkward moment when you run across a set of portraits where one twin was accidentally included twice. Taken 8/17/20.
Jill took some photos of our adorable grandkids on Kelly's first day of kindergarten and Johnny's first day of preschool.
Time to do some e-learning! Taken 8/17/20.
Since early in the pandemic, Tom had been wearing a different hat for every daily team meeting. Seventy hats later, he had run out, but he saved the very best one for last. Taken 8/18/20.
Pretty butterfly! Taken 8/22/20.
We went to Jill's for a couple of nights to help watch the kids. Before Jill headed out in the morning, Kelly cuddled with her mom.
We got the kids up, fed, and through their e-learning for the day. It's always a joy to spend time with them. Taken 8/24/20.
A half year into the pandemic in the US, there was inexplicably still no tapioca on grocery store shelves. How are we supposed to make rhubarb crisp or rhubarb pies without tapioca? How? Taken 8/27/20.
Here's a typical screenshot from a day in the life of a work-from-home employee during 2020. Taken 8/27/20.
It is a solemn rule that we will get together with Audrey and Dean once a month, so with just a few days left in August, we had a Zoom party with the t-shirts we received for participating in an online scavenger hunt back in May. Taken 8/29/20.
Greg's latest food delivery was a tasty strawberry risotto. Taken 9/1/20.
Debbie was getting close to being done sorting and scanning Tom's family photos, so she pulled out his high school memorabilia while she was at it.
Nearly three weeks later, Tom's family photos were scanned, organized, packed, and stored on thumb drives that we mailed to his mother and siblings. Taken 9/4/20.
Although we had been on two road trips during the pandemic, we took our first vacation by heading to Chicago for six days. We took socially-distanced tours of Frank Lloyd Wright's Home and Studio, ...
... and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.
We spent a sunny day walking from our Grant Park-facing hotel along the waterfront to Navy Pier and back past the Bean. It was surreal to see so few people on the streets.
The highlight of our trip was a two-night stay in Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House. Read all about the trip here.
Meanwhile, back at home, Greg took Claire and the grandkids to a park. Kelly loved helping out by pushing her Aunt Claire in her wheelchair. Taken 9/7/20.
Speaking of Greg, he really outdid himself with this food delivery of delicious braised oxtail. It's great to have a good cook just up the road. Taken 9/15/20.
Having done so much of our shopping at Aldi during the pandemic, we finally tried some of Aldi's off-brand beers. Guess what? They taste like beer and we liked them. Taken 9/17/20.
Jill needed us to watch the grandkids while she had an appointment so we met her in the parking lot and had a fun 20-minute playdate in the back of our van. Taken 9/18/20.
Oooh, spider! This yellow garden spider was beautiful but he was a little too large for Tom's liking. Taken 9/19/20.
Tom started playing Vader Immortal on our PS4. He is now fully prepared to take on any Jedi challenge that might face our household. Taken 9/20/20.
After Tom's final consulting client was notified, we were finally able to go public with the news that Tom was retiring. That called for a celebration shot, so we tried our bay seasoning-flavored vodka. The jury is still out on that one. Taken 9/25/20.
We were thrilled to meet Jared's adorable kids for the first time when they came over for a visit. We enjoyed showing them the many fun things in Gram Gram and Grandpa's house. Taken 9/26/20.
The next evening, we had some socially-distanced fun with Jill and Jared by playing Cards for Quarantine together online. Taken 9/27/20.
We saw them for the third day in a row when we had a fun Zoom gathering with Debbie's relatives the next day. Taken 9/28/20.
Another late evening trip to Meijer yielded an exciting find: Caffeine Free Diet Coke! It wasn't in 12-pack form like we prefer, but after several months of not finding any, we were fine with 20 oz. bottles. Taken 9/29/20.
We planned a neon-and-blacklight-themed birthday party for Audrey. Here are her wrapped presents, which we delivered to her before the party along with dinner from McAlister's, neon party place settings and decorations, and a couple of blacklights.
Here's our party setup.
Cheers, Audrey! Taken 10/3/20.
A beautiful October afternoon calls for a beer-and-cheese break on the patio. Take 10/5/20.
While chatting with Phil, his cat came up to say hello. Taken 10/6/20.
Debbie loves being retired and doesn't miss working at Orchard except for days like this when her former colleagues post photos of the excellent Orchard-branded socks they received in the mail. Taken 10/10/20.
Hooray for online gatherings with friends! Taken 10/11/20.
We went to the county fairgrounds to do early voting. The lines moved quickly and people respected social distancing, ...
... so we were done in about 40 minutes. Taken 10/12/20.
Debbie received one final box of family treasures from stepsister Katy. This round included lots of old family portraits, including an 8x10 of her high school portrait. Taken 10/15/20.
We still had a big assortment of Schilling ciders that Doug gave us when we saw him in Arizona in April, so we decided to stop saving them and enjoy a sampler. Taken 10/16/20.
Kelly had a socially-distanced drive-by birthday party so we decorated our van and dropped off her birthday presents.
She offered her guests their choice of Frozen 2-themed gluten-free cupcake, chocolate bar, or lollipop.
Kelly, Johnny, Liam, and Bennett enjoyed playing in a bounce house between guest visits.
Later on, Kelly opened her presents via Facebook Live. Here she is with the birthday card and gifts from us, ...
... and here's a picture Jill took a few days later for us of Kelly and her birthday card for our collection of birthday pictures we've taken over the years with this style of card.
On the way home, we took a detour through downtown Indianapolis so we could add some photos to our other collections. Here's one of the Indiana bison statues from the 2016 Indiana Association of United Ways' Bison-tennial Art Project.
We finally took a picture of the Indiana State Capitol.
Here's another bison statue. Taken 10/17/20.
Jill and Jared took their kiddos to a pumpkin patch the next day and got this fantastic family photo. Taken 10/18/20.
Claire had her annual checkup and was a trooper about wearing her mask again. She only pulled it off a couple of times. Taken 10/22/20.
Tom was the hero of the day when he found this stash of golden goodness at our local CVS. We promise to never take this product for granted again! Taken 10/24/20.
Our Arizona condo tenant, Ralph, sent a recipe for delicious rømmegrøt bars with his October check, so we gave them a try. Taken 10/24/20.
Surprisingly, Tom doesn't mind raking leaves all that much, but that's probably because he really loves shredding them.
An hour later, that pile has been reduced to leaf dust, ready to be raked along the back of the yard and turned into lovely soil for next year. Taken 10/25/20.
Oh no! Our granddaughter is growing up too quickly! She lost her first tooth on 10/29/20.
The next day, our girl dressed up as Princess Peach with her family for a pre-Halloween outing to the Children's Museum. Taken 10/30/20.
For Halloween, we joined the many families on our street who came up with creative ways to put out Halloween candy for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. We had candy and toys at the edge of the driveway, ...
... while we kept a safe distance away at the entrance to our garage, fully masked and hatted. We enjoyed nice conversations with the two families who moved in on either side of us in the previous year. Taken 10/31/20.
Tenant Ralph sent a corn dish recipe with his November check, so we tried it a few weeks later. It looks strange because of the sour cream splotches on top, but it was really good. Taken 11/12/20.
For Liam's birthday, we dropped off his presents then waited in the doorway with our masks on while he opened them. Even briefly, it's always fun to see our favorite kids. Taken 11/13/20.
A couple of days later, Liam asked his daddy if he could show Gram Gram the volcano t-shirt he got for his birthday. Heart warmed! Taken 11/19/20.
Debbie spent nearly every day in November scanning her grandparents' memorabilia. This gem from the 1950s was in one of the newspapers they had saved. It features a house in St. Paul that still exists, so Debbie mailed it to the current residents. Taken 11/13/20.
Debbie scanned hundreds of documents, including these vintage real estate titles and deeds dating back to the 1800s. Taken 11/19/20.
When all of the photos were scanned and sorted, Debbie offered a lot of the family treasures to her relatives. Here are a few of the stacks of heirlooms put aside to be delivered later. Taken 11/20/20.
We were thrilled to receive three bottles of hot sauce made by our late friend, Rick, sent by his partner, Jan. She knew how much Tom had enjoyed a bottle Rick had given us years ago, so she was kind enough to share a few of the last sauces he made before he died in July 2019. Taken 11/24/20.
Oh my! Tom's hair was getting a little long and was starting to look like his father's did back in the 70s. A month earlier, we found an old can of styling mousse in the back of the bathroom cupboard so he was able to tame this look with vintage product until we finally snapped and gave him a COVID cut. Taken 11/25/20.
Eight months into the pandemic, sweatpants and flannel pants weren't enough for our leisure wear needs, so we stocked up on several pairs of fleece pants for the whole family. These things are sawft. So sawft. 11/25/20 05:13:28 PM
It was just the two of us for Thanksgiving dinner (we feed Claire separately for meals), so we made a simple meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, broccoli rice casserole, rolls, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Just one problem: since the pandemic was causing everyone to have small groups for Thanksgiving, there were no small turkeys available so we bought a 20-pounder for $7. Yes, just seven dollars. So we spatchcocked it, our preferred method of preparation, and stood by in horror as it dripped all over our oven and filled it with smoke. It turns out that we've never spatchcocked a turkey that large before and we didn't have a large enough pan to contain all of the drippings. So we managed to salvage the legs, thighs, and wings, but had to dump the rest of the partially cooked turkey. Pandemic problems. Taken 11/26/20.
A couple of days later, we bought another huge $7 turkey and cooked it in a roasting bag instead. Thanksgiving: The Sequel turned out much better than the original. Taken 11/29/20.
Back to the Schilling family memorabilia. Cousin Melissa mailed us this box filled to the top with all of the letters Debbie's grandparents wrote to each other during their 2 1/2 year courtship.
It turns out that those two were very prolific: there were over 300 letters to scan. But it was fascinating to read the story of how they fell in love and decided to get married. A handful were written by her grandfather's sister, so Debbie mailed those to her daughter to share. Taken 11/27/20.
We went into Tom's office to scan a particularly large double-sided genealogy document and Tom took a moment to look around at his now-empty office. He had long since cleared out all personal items since he would not be returning to work there before he retired a month later. Taken 11/28/20.
Eight and a half months after the COVID-19 pandemic became real to most Americans, Debbie had slowed down to only taking monthly screenshots of the Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 dashboard. In that time, the case count rose from 392,331 on March 24, to 63,384,168 on December 1. Let that sink in for a minute.
Claire sat on Tom's lap and got some help holding her bottle during breakfast. Taken 12/3/20.
A former colleague asked Debbie to be a speaker for her college's webinar on Accessibility and Representation in Computer Science.
Even now, public speaking is terrifying to Debbie, but it was a very positive experience.
The other speakers were very interesting, and there was a great Q&A session and social session with the students who attended afterward. Taken 12/4/20.
Back to Schilling memorabilia again. Debbie was so close to being done and then cousin Heather sent her boxes of slides, some of which dated back to when they were kids living in San Diego. So all of those had to be sorted and scanned and added to the digital collection. Taken 12/3/20.
Finally, the project was done! Debbie made 18 identical flash drives containing over 13,000 files in 274 folders, then sent them to her cousins, siblings, aunts, and uncles in time for Christmas. What a relief to finally have a project of this magnitude complete! Taken 12/8/20.
Our friend Darrin held a virtual Christmas cookie party, so Debbie made a batch of white chocolate cranberry almond cookies to photograph for the online event. Taken 12/10/20.
We gave up on the van conversion travel idea and ordered a new Class B motorhome in early October. With a pandemic raging, everyone had the same idea to buy a motorhome, so there was a nationwide backlog of orders. We were lucky enough to buy one that had already been ordered and would be off the line in early November, but RV parts were in short supply, so delivery was delayed a month. Finally, the big day arrived and we picked up our new Thor Sequence 20A.
We had a relatively warm and sunny December weekend to park it in our driveway and start setting it up.
Claire gave it a try and decided that her seat in the dinette area suited her just fine. (Ignore the bandana she is chewing on. That's just what she does.) Taken 12/11/20.
The next day, we loaded up and headed 90 minutes north to Mississinewa Lake Campground so we could test it out. We had the entire campground to ourselves, which was just perfect.
We boiled water in our brand new hotpot and treated ourselves to some hot chocolate, ...
... then a delicious dinner of freeze-dried spaghetti with meat sauce. Debbie grew up backpacking and eating this type of food. It turns out that it is also delicious when served in a warm, comfortable environment - no backpacking required!
On our way north, we stopped by Audrey and Dean's to pick up a bag full of party supplies, because Debbie's birthday was the very next day. When we opened the bag, it was immediately apparent that the theme was pinball - this was going to be fun!
They had packed pre-mixed shots in a chilled container for us to start with. Then there were many fun pinball-themed gifts to open as we had a great time hanging out virtually.
The next morning, we got a photo of our beautiful rig surrounded by a whole campground of emptiness.
Breakfast was instant oatmeal, Diet Coke over ice, and hot tea for Tom. It was a perfect way to start Debbie's birthday.
When we got home, we ordered Red Lobster for dinner, including dessert, because birthday cake is mandatory. Taken 12/13/20.
It was hard to put our baby away the next day, but it was nice to finally use the heated storage bay that we had been paying for since mid-November. Taken 12/14/20.
With a selection of red and green apples, plus some old bottles of vodka we'd like to get rid of, it made sense to make some apple-infused vodka for Christmas. Here's how it looked on Day One before the apples started to look gross. The end result four days later was very tasty. Taken 12/17/20.
In a pandemic world, we got to enjoy grandson Johnny's preschool holiday program online. A standout in his bright red shoes, he was clearly the most talented performer of the bunch. Taken 12/17/20.
We ordered five extra 3M gift boxes this year via Doug so Tom could give them to his Device IQ colleagues.
We also filled a tin with gifts for the annual gift exchange. We went with a pandemic theme, including snacks, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and a tiny 6-pack of Malört.
Instead of a holiday party at an upscale restaurant for the employees and their spouses, they downscaled it to a socially-distanced lunch delivered to the office.
Tom's colleagues took a few minutes to celebrate Tom's retirement and surprised him with some great gifts, ...
... including this vintage framed Alan Shepard quote: "Hard work and honesty always win!" Taken 12/18/20.
The next day, we printed the last few pictures from the holiday lunch, added them to the ones we had already printed, and created this year's Device IQ photo collage. To make room for a new year, we had to collapse two previous years into one frame, so that's 2012 and 2013 combined in the frame on the left in this photo. Taken 12/19/20.
We give a handful of special gift boxes to some family and friends. Debbie's Aunt Carol usually shares hers with her brother and sister-in law at minimum, but this year, she embarked on a tour that involved at least six socially-distanced stops over two weeks, showing off the gift box and its contents to everyone she saw. Here are cousins Heather and Ron who were lucky enough to be the first stop. Taken 12/19/20 because Carol can't ever wait until Christmas to open the box!
We order a custom calendar every year, and we updated our 2021 calendar to include our new almost-grandkids. Here's the addition of Liam.
We also updated our Christmas stocking display to include Jared, Liam, and Bennett. Taken 12/19/20.
Jared has a December birthday like Debbie. We had dropped off his birthday gift and picked up Debbie's gift on his doorstep when we went to pick up our RV the previous week. Then we celebrated with him and Jill online, just as we had for Debbie's birthday a few days earlier. Taken 12/19/20.
The next day, we went to the storage facility to do more setup on the RV, then decided to drive it instead when we swapped Christmas presents with Jill and Jared. Kelly and Johnny got to check it out thoroughly, including the amazing pop top.
They made sure that the main bed area was in good working condition, both above and below.
Then they struck their best supermodel poses for the camera. Taken 12/20/20.
We had clear skies the night before the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, so Tom got to use his telescope and try out his phone adapter for taking photos. It was hard to get a good picture of the planets, ...
... but his moon photo turned out great. Taken 12/20/20.
This fall, we started the slow process of finding a group home for Claire. When a potential match was found, we had a virtual tour of the facility because, of course, there was still a pandemic raging. Taken 12/22/20.
Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!
We enjoyed a small drink of that apple-infused vodka we made and a light Christmas Eve dinner of cheese, sausage, and crackers.
Claire stopped by for a quick hug, ..
... before chowing down on some peanut blossom cookies.
We opened our gifts from Carol while she was on the phone, then wore our warm new Elmaro Winery hats while we played a round of Quirkle. We made time to watch "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," of course. Taken 12/24/20.
We awoke Christmas morning to this adorable photo of our grandkids and almost-grandkids. Definitely the cutest kids ever.
We made a pot of glögg and spent the day enjoying it and relaxing.
Claire enjoyed some lefse, the food of her people. It was from the last bag of lefse that Ron and Heather had given us in February. That's good rationing right there.
We look forward to watching the Queen's Address each Christmas Day and got a smile from seeing clips of the Queen on Zoom meetings during the year.
We put on festive headwear ...
... for our Facetime Christmas gift opening with Jill, Jared, and the kids. When the tots were done opening their gifts, they ran off to play while the adults opened their gifts to each other.
Later that afternoon, we had a nice long visit with Carol again, ...
... so it was nearly 8:00 PM by the time we got dinner made: ham, rolls, oven potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce. Taken 12/26/20.
Even though Tom had to work on both Saturday and Sunday of his last week before retirement, we managed to fit in a few rounds of Cat and Mouth, one of the birthday gifts Debbie got from Audrey and Dean.
We also drank a toast to Debbie's Uncle Mark for his birthday. Taken 12/26/20.
Audrey and Dean stopped by to drop off and pick up Christmas presents from our garage, and they brought some retirement gifts with them too, so we added them to Tom's retirement shrine in the living room. Audrey is very good at creatively wrapping beautiful gifts. Taken 12/28/20.
Debbie brought Claire in and picked her up from her potential new group home. She was there to have dinner with the staff and residents to see how she would react. Everyone was very nice and two of the residents were especially fond of Claire. One told Debbie that she'd look after Claire for her, and another asked to be seated next to Claire at dinner and later asked Debbie when Claire could come back to visit again. Taken 12/28/20.
Later that evening, the package that we had mailed on December 9th finally showed up at its destination 19 days later, ...
... so we opened presents with Doug, Susan, and Stewart via Zoom. Jill and Jared joined us a little later as well. One of the best things about the pandemic is how much it has encouraged us to see our loved ones online. Taken 12/28/20.
Finally! The big day is here! It was Tom's last day of employment, so he modeled the new hat he had gotten from his friend, Tony. It says "Retired 2020: Not My Problem Anymore."
But he still had to make it through one last day. Work, Tom, work!
Meanwhile, Debbie went outside to take a cool (literally) picture of the Saturn-like bird feeder Jill gave us for Christmas.
Tom was going to sign off at 2:30 for the rest of his life when he got a call from one of his clients who kept him on the phone for another half hour.
Finally, Tom was able to unhook his client computer, package it up, and bring it to FedEx to ship. Then, and only then, could he truly be retired. At 3:30 PM, it was official.
We picked up an early dinner at Red Lobster, which was now our official celebrate-anything takeout food option, then we headed downstairs for an official retirement shot.
We spent the evening relaxing, playing games,and getting ready for our 10:00 PM New Years Eve date with Audrey and Dean. As you can see, there would be three distinct phases of the gathering: Christmas gifts, New Year's Eve merriment, and Tom's retirement.
First up: Tom's retirement. Audrey and Dean got him some great gifts with our new RV in mind.
Next: Christmas gifts. Debbie cried with joy when she opened a case of 24 - TWO DOZEN! - Rocky Road candy bars, one of her favorites and one that is hard to find. Friends who make a note when you mention how much you like an obscure candy bar are the very best kind of friends to have.
After an outfit and headwear change, it was time to ring in the new year with our best friends. Here's hoping that next year we'll be back to doing it in person again!

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