Teacher of the Year!!

Wha, what?!

Every year in the spring teachers in the building nominate someone for Teacher of the Year. We all have a chance to nominate, then there is a vote, then the winner is announced at the District-wide Back-to-School Breakfast at the beginning of the year.

This year, Covid-19 hit and all norms went right out the window! I maybe thought about Teacher of the Year briefly when I realized we weren’t doing the District Breakfast, but that was about it.  I assumed we were not doing it this year due to Covid.  There is A LOT we are not doing this year because of Covid! But you know what they say about assuming…

At our first official staff meeting, held virtually, of course, the principal announced the two longevity awards (for teachers who have been in the district for a long time) and then said this:  Video

I had no idea! If I even suspected, I would have done my hair and not been eating an apple! :)  The one day I woke up late, threw my hair in a ponytail, and tossed some random foods in my lunch box… turns out to be the day the whole school is looking at me!  LOL.

I feel pretty dang appreciated though!

Later in the evening I logged into the high school performing arts department’s Welcome Back zoom meeting for parents and students. When the music teachers pulled up the website to show parents, they also gave me a shout-out for all the work I’ve done on it and how awesome it is.

I work hard, for sure, and I never feel taken advantage of, but it is pretty nice to get the accolades!  And the plaque!

First day of school — corona style!

Students returned to school today for the first time since March 17th! Teachers returned for in-service three weeks ago, which seems like a lot of time, but boy did it go fast! There is a lot to do and even more decisions to make when you are opening school during a pandemic! But things were done and decisions were made and today we welcomed kids back with smiling eyes and lots of air hugs! It was weird and good and crazy and hard. Kids were on their best behaviors, for today, as we all navigated this new world together. I hope that behavior continues, though I’ve been around long enough to know that’s not a realistic hope!

On the home front, Eve has decided to participate in the fully-remote option and Lex has decided to do the hybrid options.  This meant that today Lex went to school and Eve was home. I made a deal with a neighbor friend that she would bring Lex to school and I’d pick her kids up with Lex at the end of the day. It was very weird leaving this morning and hoping that my kids would both get themselves to “school” on time. We did lots of prepping and planning, and it all paid off! Both kids got where they needed to be, did what they needed to do, and reported back that they had good days.  Whew!

First day photos are a little weird this year.  In hindsight, I wish I had made a #2020 or #coronatime (or something!) sign that they could have held with the pictures, but I didn’t.  Oh well.  I think Eve’s outfit says it all though. :)

We need to work on our group selfies. :)

I tried to take a picture of how exhausted I felt at 7pm, after a full day of school, kid pickup, and then an hour Remote Academy Zoom call (I’m running 4th grade for Remote Academy this year!). My phone decided to do portrait mode. I think it couldn’t handle my exhausted face! LOL.

2020 – the year when school supplies included masks, thermometers, and tick tweezers! 😲😱

What we did this weekend

We had a creative weekend.  Lex finished a song he’s been working on in Garage Band (an iPad app): Aria Sweden

I finished a hat I’ve been working on:

I also started my back-to-school bulletin board:

And Eve decided to celebrate Will Solace‘s birthday with a cake and greeting.

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Happy birthday Will

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Lake life

We celebrated Rosy’s 40th, Grandpa Tom’s 70th, and Meme and Tom’s 40th in a big celebration at the lake last week. It was so much fun. The house was beautiful. I could happily sit on the deck and watch the water for days and days.

This is a terrible picture. :) At the last minute we decided to bring the dog as well. The car was packed, the kids were crammed in, somehow Eve got the front seat (and a huge, blurry hand in this picture), and we headed to the lake!

We had a beautiful house, right on the lake. If it were my house I would have cut down a few trees, but it is not my house, so I just enjoyed the trees as part of the view.

I love how the and the sky play so well together and look different every day.

Tuesday night was the peak for the Perseid meteor shower. The kids and I decided to stay up until midnight (when the real show was supposed to begin). We played Apples to Apples, our standard “stay up to midnight” game. Then we went down to the dock. It was beautiful. We laid on the dock, discussing the constellations, enjoying the weather and the water. We saw a few meteors, but just as midnight rolled around, the clouds decided to join us, and they rolled in too, think and heavy. Sigh. Even without seeing the official “shower,” we still had a great night.

The next night we went back again, a little earlier, and saw another handful of meteors. No one was in the mood to stay up until midnight, but we did have a second night on the doc, this time with Rose and Joyce.

It’s hard to take pictures in the dark! :) See Huxley in there too, lying on the dock with his people. <3

Sunrise-ish. I’m not really an “up with the sun” kinda person!

We did lots of canoeing, kayaking, and floating.  By “we” I mean the whole group.  I just did the kayaking.  The stairs down to the beach were STEEP and the shoreline itself was very rocky, so it wasn’t the best conditions for swimming, but we had fun anyway.

Lex in the kayak, pulling the Birthday Girl Rose in a float. :) Eve is further out in another kayak and J is on a paddle board.

We had a few afternoon showers early in the week. One resulted in a full rainbow! I love how the whole inside of the rainbow arc is yellow/orange. So cool!

Sunsets are more my speed. :)

On Thursday we had a few extra friends over for the official party.  It was a Tye-Dye theme.  Eve and I made funfetti cake, we tie-dyed shirts, and painted rocks.  There was some grilling of food and roasting of marshmallows.

Funfetti – per the birthday girl’s request.

A doctor, a nurse, AND an artist! What can’t this girl do?!

The shirts came out AMAZING!!! Especially hanging in the sun to dry. :)

A beautiful rainbow shirt made by a sullen sulking teenager. :)

Clemson in the house?!

Joyce is a master fire maker. She brought her A game and whipped up a few mighty fine fires. :) I brought the s’mores!

Alas, our time at the lake could not go on forever (and some of us were missing our air conditioning!) so when the week ended we packed up and headed home.  Back to the ferry (oh yea, we took a ferry both ways!) and our side of the lake.

A roadside vista I just HAD to pull over for!

I would be remiss to end this post without mentioning the one thing that was a topic of conversation ALL WEEK.  The TRAIN!  There were train tracks right behind the house and the trains went by several times a day… but mostly at night! The first night we were there I wasn’t aware of the train and woke up at 3am feeling like the train was in my bedroom!!  It was soooo loud!  That morning I got up (too early) and read the house reviews on the website.  Every one mentioned the train.  Somehow I missed that. 🙄  What’s even crazier though, is that every comment said the trains were no big deal.  I was like WHAT?!? But, believe it or not, by the end of the week they WERE no big deal! I was sleeping through most of them by the end of the week, something that seemed impossible on Monday. The train gave us lots to talk about, even though I didn’t get any picture.  The geekier among us counted cars, researched car lengths, and estimated train lengths.  A little summer math, just for fun. 😊

We all agreed that this is the 1st Annual lake side vacation, but also that we need to find a house with easier beach access.  I’m looking forward to next year’s getaway already! 💖

Driving!

Lex got his learners permit in the mail this week! He was pretty excited. Alan took him out to drive a few times in parking lots, and I took him out today. He even drove on our neighborhood streets today! 😲😲 He only hit one small curb and I only freaked a tiny bit once when he got *very* close to a parked car. Overall, job well done! He’s eager to keep practicing. Apparently I’ll need to keep practicing my nerves of steel as well! LOL.

Thoughts about back to school

We are exactly four weeks out from when I’m supposed to start back at school and five weeks until the kids’ official first day back. Assuming nothing changes. In a normal year I would be making plans, we would be checking school supply lists and back to school shopping, I’d be writing lesson plans and we would be trying to cram as much fun into the remaining few weeks. And by “fun” I mean relaxation! :)

This year is a big who knows! I’ve been reading the articles online, listening to the news, talking to my teacher colleagues, and trying to find the balance between relaxation and panic. Panic! Not even taking it account politics and racial tensions, back to school planning is overwhelming.

For my entire life as a parent, I have put the needs of my own kids first. I have done everything I could to make sure they are supported and cared for. I left a high paying job to be home with them. I got into teaching to be available after school and during the summers. I have worked very, very hard to make sure they are successful human beings. I don’t regret a single second of it, but now I wonder if my plans are backfiring. My kids did really well with remote learning. Eve is happier now that she has been in a long time! She was really struggling with middle school and since we switched to remote learning she has been so much more relaxed. She’s even wearing light gray clothes, instead of all black. :) Lex missed band class, but otherwise did really well with remote learning too. None of us are interested in wearing masks for 8 hrs a day. Lex has opted to continue remote karate and drum lessons so as not to have to wear a mask in those settings. If I didn’t have to go back to school, I’m 90% sure I’d keep them home in the fall. The other 10% is because I would actually let them have input if it was an option, but it’s not an option because I have to go back to school. I have to go back to school and be surrounded by small children who won’t be able to social distance and won’t wear masks effectively for a full school day.

We are lucky that our COVID-19 rates are very low in Vermont, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune. I have such mixed emotions about school. I understand that kids need to be in school so parents can work (that darn economy!) and that they miss seeing each other. I understand that some kids don’t have the family support at home to be successful with remote learning. I understand. I also know that school will NOT look like school as we know it. We will be wearing masks. We will be social distancing. We will have Plexiglas barriers and one-way hallways. When kids come back and want to hug their friends and teachers, we will have to say no. When they want to hold a friend’s hand. No. When they want to sit next to me for a story. No. When they are feeling sad and need a hug. No. No?

I know a lot of kids needs the structure and stability of school (and safety, unfortunately). I know a lot of families need the childcare that school provides. I also know that nothing will be the same when students walk in the door on the first day of school. Nothing can be the same. We will all do our best, but I hope it’s enough. And I hope my working with kids doesn’t bring the virus into our home.

Who knew teaching was such a high-risk job? Sheesh.

Summer in the country

We had a nice visit to the country this summer.  We stayed a little longer than usual, just because. We spent lots of time doing nothing, and a little time doing stuff.  It was great. We celebrated Mema’s birthday, did some hotel pool swimming, played games, took a hike with Julie and her girls, and ate s’mores. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking though.

Mommy (or daddy?) is back to feed the babies. Both parents took turns. They are hard working birdies.

Their birdhouse/wind-chimes had a family of wrens living in it! We had a great time watching the busy parents work non-stop to feed these babies!

At the pond. Possibly the most photogenic pond ever.

Catching frogs. The froggies were practically hopping into Eve’s hands!

Look at these teeny tiny frogs! So cute! So many!

Harry Potter Clue. It was Pettigrew! That rat!

Who’s hungry?!

S’mores!

#yum

Girls, dogs, and sparklers.

Sparklers

Just the three of us. <3

Settlers of Catan. Joyce’s favorite game! :) We played the Seafarer expansion pack just for her.

Post swim snuggles. LOL.

Happy Birthday Mema!!!!

Huxley got to the top of the hill and decided he was done.

All pink, no filter.

Look at that beautiful water-less waterfall!!

Hanging out behind the waterfall. All that’s missing is the water!

On top of the world, with old friends.

I can see my car from here! Barely.

I really, really want to love this picture, but UGH! Who is that gray-haired old lady in the middle?!

Sisters! One definitely needs to up her hiking game!

Lunch at the lake, in the pavilion.

World’s best cheese cake with expertly macerated strawberries! :)

Huxley DOES NOT want to be left behind again!

Heading home.

Life is good.

So begins a new chapter

This post is probably a week (or month) over due, but it’s taken me awhile to figure it out. Probably everyone who reads this blog already knows what’s going on, but I feel the need to write about it anyway.

Back in March Alan and I decided to separate. It was a hard decision that came after working with several different therapists over time and a lot of soul searching about what we really want in life. Twenty plus years of partnership is hard to throw away on a whim, however we both still have a long life ahead.

We made the decision right before COVID-19 shut down the world, which left us quarantining together for months instead of separating quickly. It was hard, sometimes, and nice other times, but overall I think it was good. We told the kids and they handled it well. It was a weird world for awhile, going from busy days and hardly seeing each other, to no plans and lots of togetherness day after day after day.

We decided early on that I would stay in the house with the kids and he would get an apartment in town.  Over the course of quarantining Alan started dating online and met someone.  Last week, while I was in Franklin with the kids, he moved in with her. He told me, and the kids, about it ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise. The kids had a few questions, but once it was established that this new woman has dogs and bakes croissants, all was ok.

I can’t speak for Alan, but I have been full of emotions. Overall this is a very good thing. I’m looking forward to the open road ahead, full of decisions I make myself! That is a novel concept for me. I’ve done a little (very little, so far) rearranging, taken the kids on hikes, and sat around doing nothing. It has been great! Sometimes the realization that I no longer have a partner in life pops into my head, but then I remember that I’m awesome and strong and ready to take on the world!

I had this eloquent post written in my head last week, but by the time I got around to writing it down, it was not so eloquent. As usual. I feel like I could actually write a book about the last few months, but instead I’m going to leave it as this summary post.  

Gardening and baking and parading, oh my!

School’s out for summer!  School’s out for… well, just for summer.  It will, hopefully, restart again in the fall!  We shall see.  It’s all pretty up in the air! I’m on the planning committee for reopening and we are working on several different plans, with the expectation that none will be fully correct.  It’s an exciting time to be alive, I suppose.  Or exhausting. Depending on the hour.

This past weekend I took a little break from the computer and spent a fair amount of time outside.  I cleaned the entire porch, including washing (with a cloth!) the walls and ceiling and sweeping away all the cobwebs and gunk.  I also, with Eve’s help, made the garden out front!  We half-assed planted hostas a few weeks months ago, and I’ve been waiting on the garden edging I ordered ever since.  Finally it arrived and I felt motivated and, voila, a garden!!

My lovely garden with hostas and Morning Glories (hopefully!)

That same day I saw a neighbor friend posted pictures of her yard sale.  The first thing that jumped out at me was a bread machine.  Mine broke awhile ago and life has been busy anyway, but this one was brand new and $2!!  I immediately asked her to hold it for me, and I dragged Eve and the dog over to pick it up.

Not the best picture, but the bread was delicious!

That was all weekend stuff.  On Friday, before the weekend, we had a parade celebration for two retiring teachers.  My lunch crowd met for breakfast at a park beforehand.  We had take out breakfast that wasn’t good, shivered in the morning breeze, and relished every second we were seeing each other in person!  Then we headed to the rendezvous place and met up with all the other teachers (and some retired teachers and district teachers and others who wanted to celebrate). We decorated our cars and formed a long car parade that drove past the school, then around behind the school, and then right up to the front step where we took turns handing our beloved retiring teachers cards and flowers and gifts.  The principal took pictutres, and the PE teacher set up some cranking music on her sound system, and the two retiring teachers were blown away!  Most of us parked in the lot afterwards, and when the parade was over we all sang the DBS song.  It was not pretty, but it was amazing!  There were some tears shed. Many tears shed.  Then a few of us drove to their homes and decorated their lawns.  It was a fun and busy day.

We gathered for a picture before the parade rolled out!

Then we weekend happened.  See above.

Then, on Monday, my bucket was so filled!!  It was our last day of school, teacher in-service, and I was going to check in all fo the books and Chromebooks that had been returned, shelve the books, and *maybe* clean the Chromebooks.  Guess what?!  Four AMAZING co-workers offered to help!  I said thank you, but it’s going to be hot and sweaty (broken AC in the library) and dirty, but they said, “that’s ok” and they came anyway!!  Two had done a lot of the collecting of Chomebooks when we closed back in March and had gotten first hand experience with what a PITA the carts are, and the other two didn’t have a lot to do on the final day, so they all helped me!!  We got all of the books shelved, all of the computers checked in and CLEANED, and everything stored away.  My library has never looked so “done” at the end of a year.  We also ordered delivery for lunch and sat at the picnic tables in the sunshine.  I even got some time to just “be” in the space, look around, see what other things need doing, and AND went home at a reasonable time feeling satisfied instead of stressed.  It was the best final day ever!

Now begins summer vacation.  We started it with a trip to the dentist and a referral to a dental surgeon for BOTH kids.  :/  But Eve got kuddos for how well she’s been brushing her teeth, so that was good news.  And no cavities for either of them!

We have another week at home to chill (or sweat, as the temps are supposed to be in the 90s!) then we’re off to Franklin where we will definitely sweat and we will relax and we will love every minute of it!

I gave my preschool neighbor two lawn rakes I found in the garage. My kids have certainly outgrown them by now! We came home from the dentist to find this. :)

Happy Summer!!!