A pre-birthday hike

Now that we are all in Covid quarantine lock-down mode, it’s been interesting trying to plan a 13th birthday.  We had to cancel our big birthday trip, which was going to be her primary present.  I’ll reschedule it, someday, but I have no idea when that will be.  I ordered a few presents online, plus presents from family, but that’s all we got. I’ll make a cake on Tuesday. We asked Eve if she wanted to do a family outing and she decided on a hike. The forecast for the next few days is yucky, and we’ll be “in school” all week, so we took advantage of the dry weather yesterday and went for a hike up behind the school. There are trails there that the kids have gone up a few times in PE classes, but Alan and I had never been on them.  It was fun.

She’s debating about whether or not to let me take a family pic. It took some convincing, but…

She agreed to pose for JUST ONE photo! :)

I snuck a few others! :)

Look at this crazy landscape!

Huxley came with us too. Looking dapper (and dirty) in his fleece.

Eve drank from the creek, then taught Huxley how to. :)

We had fun exploring the area, on the well marked and not-so well marked trails. Towards the end we found ourselves back on the bike path, where, coincidentally, a guy Alan knows from the conservation committee was pedaling by.  We asked him about the brush clearing and he said there were invasive species in that area that were killing native trees, so last summer they brought up a “brontosaurus” to do massive clearing.  Crazy!  He pointed us to the trails website for more information.

The only down side to the day was the vast number of ticks we had to pick off Huxley!!  He’s wearing a flea and tick collar, but apparently it’s not working anymore! I ordered another one immediately! We all spent the rest of the day feeling like we had creepy crawlies all over us.  Yuck!

Home Learning – Day 2

Hello all, we are on day two of home learning.  Day one passed in a flash.  All the teachers and all the kids and all the parents trying to connect to all the things… kept all of me busy for a very long time! But we got through it, most people got up and running, and most people were happy. I left mid-day for a brief walk in the sunshine, which was great and helped me clear up a support issue that had me stumped. Nothing like a change of scenery to clear your mind! The email influx continued today. Lots of parents, some more patient than others. Some shared their frustrations with the situation. We all concurred and reminded each other to go slow, and take a breath, and we can get through this together.

My kids are enjoying home learning, though it has resulted in a lot more screen time for all of us. Something I don’t love, but they don’t seem to mind. :) Yesterday brought frustration from one and tears from the other, but we got through it, sorted things out, solved the problems, and got through our day.

Once the tech support need lightens I’m going to have to focus on our own schedule at home. If this goes from two weeks to many more, I need to develop a routine that doesn’t involve us on the computers non-stop. Today I was thinking a 4pm family game time would be lovely. Of course today at 4pm I was still working. :/ Then I had to remind myself the same thing I’ve been reminding everyone else. Go slow. Take a breath. We can’t do it all immediately.  We’ll get through this.

The best part of my day, was when I took 10 minutes to check in on my Library lessons.  I found over a dozen kids had left comments about how much they really liked the book I had read (recorded myself reading) and shared with them. They told me about parts of the book they liked, and that it was good I was still reading to them. One kid, completely unprompted by me, recorded herself reading The Book With No Pictures and shared it with me. She said she was reading it for her cousin and thought I would want to see it too.  She giggles the whole way through the book. It was fantastic and I literally LOLed many times! In the middle of tech support hell I hadn’t realized how much I missed the kids.  It was nice to reconnect with some of them, even just virtually.

Here was Eve’s Day 2 Advisory session:

Dog on head? Check! Cat on lap? Check! Full of giggles? OF COURSE!

Or maybe it was later in the Day 1 session?  I can’t keep track. It’s all blending together in my head! Today the governor issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which I guess is a nicer, Vermonty-er way to say shelter-in-place or lock-down. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect my daily life, since we’ve essentially be home since last Wednesday.

Ok, it’s 8pm and this post is pretty rambly. I’m going to (attempt to) step away from the computer for awhile. It snowed a bunch last night. It was cold and wet today. I hope the warm sunshine comes back soon.  G’night all. <3

PS. If you want more (and better) things to read, check out this blog started by my friend and author Andi Diehn.  She is a great writer and her daily posts have been a highlight in my days this past week.  Mere Countrywoman

Minecraft music

While back Lex recreated the song “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, using note blocks in Minecraft.  If you want to know more about note blocks, you’ll have to ask him. :)  He wanted to record it, but we ran in to on technical problem after another, mixed in with sporadic bouts of motivation.  Finally the stars and planets aligned and he got it recorded.  Check it out!

He’s working on another song now. I’ll post it when it’s ready. You can also subscribe to his Youtube channel (it doesn’t get a lot of action, don’t worry) to see his work when he first posts it.

The world has gone crazy! (Coronavirus takes over)

Wow! What a whirlwind week it has been!  Exactly one week ago we were in school, wondering what the status of school in Vermont would be for the foreseeable future. Other schools in other states had started closing down due to the rapid spread of the Cornonavirus (aka COVID-19).  Because of my role, the principal had asked me a few days earlier to look into a few tech-related questions associated with closing school and transitioning to elearning. Friday afternoon he was pulled into a meeting at the Superintendents office and the Governor of VT was scheduled to speak in the evening.  We were all (mentally) prepared to be shut down.  But nope, Governor Scott said that schools will remain open. By Saturday schools within an hour from us had started closing and by Sunday the state of NH closed down their schools. Governor Scott made an announcement Sunday evening saying that schools in Vermont would also be closing and had to be closed by Wednesday, and that parents could optionally keep their kids home all week. There was a lot of confusion about the whole thing and we all waited anxiously for word on Sunday night about what the plan for Monday would be. It felt like a surreal snow day situation. Late Sunday night we got word that school would be open for students on Monday and Tuesday, then support staff would stay through Thursday and teachers would stay through Friday. We went in Monday to about half the student population, and by Monday night we were all feeling the rush. Our Wednesday staff meeting got canceled, the professional development I was supposed to do all morning on Wednesday got moved up to Tuesday with the boss finding coverage wherever he could for me and the other teachers. I had sub coverage on Monday and Tuesday while I rushed around, getting things setup, getting accounts made and Chromebooks organized and staff supported. It was wild. Kids had cracked and bleeding hands from washing so often. The run on Purell and toilet paper was a constant source of amazement and conversation. On Tuesday we had about 25% of the student body and staff was told we would have Wednesday to finish prepping, but that’s it. By 5pm Tuesday, when many of us were still there, prepping and handing out Chromebooks, we got a message from the Superintendent that staff should stay home Wednesday, but admin would be there for the whole duration. As of Thursday, admin were told to stay home full time too. It was crazy! Like every minute things were changing and even sometimes when it wasn’t officially changed, we all had the feeling that it would be changing and were acting accordingly. It was nuts.

Now we are all home. The time is sort of a blur. The kids are in “vacation” mode and I’m in email hell. Flipping a whole district from school-based to “home learning” is a big undertaking, and to do it in three days is insane! The internet is exploding with companies offering free services for closed schools, free books, free video chat, free apps, free this free that.  All that’s great, but trying to keep track of any of it is insane. I’m now supporting 300+ people remotely, learning how to use new products on the fly so I can support teachers who are asking how to use them, trying to prep library lessons, and (kinda) keeping track of my own kids. Trying to stay on top of emails. It’s nuts.  All the gyms have closed and some have switched to Livestreaming workouts. Karate has closed, but is now doing workouts in a Zoom session (like a virtual conference where everyone is wearing a gi and armed with bos and sais). Even drum lessons will be done remotely starting Monday. That should be interesting.

Also, my kids are supposed to be elearning too! Lots of emails from their schools and their teachers. “Home Learning” doesn’t officially start until Monday, a fact which both kids remind me of, frequently. Next week will bring more emails as parents and students try logging in and using all the new tools for the first time. I’m hoping by the end of next week things will settle down. My boss was nice enough to lower his library expectations (though I have not) so I can focus on the tech.

Hopefully by next week we’ll have settled in to this new normal. We are currently closed until April 6th, but the general consensus is that we’ll be closed (much) longer than that. The unknown makes everything even harder to plan for. What a weird and surreal experience.

On a lighter note, I’m so thankful that I work with kind and flexible coworkers, that the technology exists to make this type of transition happen, and that my own family is healthy and well and not worried for our own health or financial stability. I’m thankful that the weather is warming and the days are getting longer. Can you imagine if this had happened in January?! At least now we can get outside, take the dog for a walk (the hilariously naked dog), and breath in the sunshine and fresh air.

Hang in there world, friends, and family. We’ll all get through this and I’ll see you on the other side. <3

And now, your moment of zen…

Huxley joins Eve for her morning Advisory meeting.

Concert Grande

Concert Grande was last night. Concert Grande is a once a year event where the high school and middle school band and chorus perform together. Each has a few of their own songs, then they have a few combined. Lex was looking forward to it, but also a little nervous because for the big band (high school and middle) they had two drummers, Lex and a friend of ours named Solly. They don’t get to practice altogether until the dress rehearsal the morning of the show. He was pretty happy about how it went overall. He was also excited to perform a piece composed and directed by a a very talented high school senior. Lex said she wrote an amazing song and great parts for percussion. I don’t know about all of that, but it was a good song and the audience loved it! This young lady also recently had a piece she’d composed performed by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at the Vermont State House. That’s quite an accomplishment!  Back to my drummer boy….

FIRST Robotics Competition

After many years with FIRST Lego League (FLL), Lex has moved up to the big leagues!  FLL is for kids in grades 4-8 and the next step FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is for grades 9-12. He joined the team for pre-season this fall and has been loving it ever since. The season officially kicked off in January and they had their first competition this weekend. They are Team 95 – The Grasshoppers!

Lex has spent most of his time on the robot construction (versus programming or driving). He comes home after practices and tells me about the problems they came across and how they solved them. He loves it! At the competition he helped with repairs between matches, and scouted the other teams to help determine who they wanted to partner with for the second day.

The team took a bus to the event after school on Thursday. Alan drove down that night, checked into the hotel, and watched the event on Friday.  Eve and I went down Friday after school and watched the event live on Saturday.  We all enjoyed watching it live streaming on Twitch when we couldn’t be there in person! :)

The guys in blue, under the #95, are the drive team for The Grasshoppers. They control the robot during the competition.

This is their robot in action.

Handsome boy.

There is a strict rule that you have to wear eye protection in the pit area. Eve somehow went from refusing to wear any eye protection to insisting on wearing ALL of the eye protection.

She can be silly sometimes. :)

I couldn’t help noticing that the other teams had lots more swag than our team has. Flags and banners and buttons and signs.  Eve and I immediately got to work planning for the next event. At the beginning of the season I offered to help with their website. They immediately took me up on the offer. I think I have PR/Marketing in my blood. :)

The Grasshoppers were knocked out of the competition in the semi-finals because one of their alliance teams knocked over an opponents robot. There was some debate about how intentional the action was and how top heave the opponent’s robot was, but the judges ruled it a foul and they got no points for the round. It was sad. I heard lots of grumbling from the parents (myself included), but nothing from the kids. Lex had nothing but positive things to say. I was impressed!

When the award ceremony came, the kids weren’t sure if they’d get anything since they didn’t make it past the semi-finals.  Everyone has excited when they won the Industrial Design Award and the judges mentioned the “singular,” a specific part of the Grasshoppers’ robot that had impressed them.

This part looks a lot like FLL! :) Line up for a long row of high-fives, trophy and team photo at the end.

He even let me take a picture of him with the trophy! I’m a lucky mom! :)

The team has another meet in two weeks, and a third (if they qualify) in April. I’ve already designed some buttons to have available for the next meet! Lots of other teams were giving out buttons and our team had none. However, our team did give out a package of Keebler Grasshopper cookies to each team. :) Apparently that’s a tradition.

Happy

Happy Sunday. We are officially on winter vacation this week and loving every moment of it. For the past few hours the kids and I have been reading on the couches, interrupted only by dog walks, cat throwup, and the occasional snacks and tea breaks. Poor Alan doesn’t have a week of vacation ahead of him and somehow our calmness has motivated him to work. He installed a cool power strip under the island counter and is now repairing the guest bath toilet that I didn’t even know needed repair.

The real point of this post though is that I had surgery again on Friday, to open up the subglottic stenosis in my trachea. Almost exactly a year from the last surgery. They call it a dilation procedure, not surgery, but it all seems the same to me. Early morning at the hospital, IV, general anesthesia for an hour, recovery, etc. It’s worth it though, because now I can breath again!

Don’t I look ready? :)

The doctors took good care of me and Alan was there to see me in and out. The nurse didn’t like the look of my veins (they never do) so she called in Wayne, the pro, who got it on the first try with no pain and minimal bruising. The anesthesiology team read my file from last time and I think they were working extra hard to make sure everything went well this time! I don’t even remember leaving the prep room or returning to the recovery room. The best part is, other than the open airway, of course, is that whatever the doctor did differently, my tongue isn’t numb this time! The other two times I ended up with one side of my tongue numb for about 10 days. It was a very weird sensation. This time, nothing! Yay! I did have to wear my glasses all afternoon because my eyes were super dry, which is not a problem I usually have, but fortunately I just got new glasses so wearing them wasn’t bad at all.  Also, I napped a lot. :)

Evening snuggle

Friday was also Valentine’s Day, which we don’t do much for around here. We never even got around to decorating this year. I left the kids a small display on the piano, but that was about it. Which was fine for all of us.

Yesterday we hung out some more, doing not much, reading, watching TV and a movie (most of which I slept through) and taking care of the neighbor’s dogs while they are off cruising in warmer climates! Eve has three pet sitting jobs this vacation. One every day for nine days, and the other two are just single days. She does love her pets!

I hope the rest of you had a nice Valentine’s Day, Friday, weekend, and week ahead! I’m reading a really scary book, so I have to finish it before bedtime tonight.  It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. :)

From the camera…

Alan and the kids are watching Pirates of the Caribbean… part eleven or twelve.  These movies go on forever!  I finished with my lesson plans for the upcoming week, and felt inspired to write  a blog post.  Unfortunately nothing terrible blog-worthy is going on these days.  I went to my camera for inspiration. Most of the pictures are from school. :/

I found a few though! :)

Lex took a 3D printing class last semester and made some pretty cool things, including his Minecraft avatar! (he’s going to paint the head yellow since it’s supposed to yellow and they had no yellow filament)

Eve just whipped up this lovely painting, while having a snack, listening to her audio book, and rambling to me. She’s multi-talented!

I found a fun idea on the internet (what did people do before the internet?!?) and made it happen at school.

The kids LOVE it! I have 22 teachers who gave me their two five books and now have their faces on display. :)

This dog is weird. He likes to eat with his head IN the bowl.

He also loves in toy.

I got new glasses. Eve got a new wig. We tried to put them both on and make a fun picture. It didn’t work. I like the glasses, but the wig is not my style!

Twinsies!

I thought it best to end the pictures with the handsome men, not the crazy women.  :)

On other topics, Lex is rocking his robotics team and they have their first competition at the end of February.  I’m sure you’ll see lots of pictures from that!  He’s also continuing with drum lessons and karate, and currently working on light design for a high school play.  He had pink eye last weekend (ugh) and says he feels feverish now. We just had two snow days in a row (Thursday and Friday), making for a 4-day weekend, and I’m hoping a fever doesn’t extend his weekend even longer!

Eve has been drawing up a storm and listening to all the audio books she can. She is an amazing artist! She’s considering doing the middle school play this year, but she’s not sure. She came home last week and said she signed up for an audition, but then we learned auditions are Monday afternoon, the same day she has a dentist appointment. :/ I’ll see if she’s up for auditioning after that, but I’m not holding my breath.

I just booked a trip to Quebec City to celebrate Eve’s 13th birthday! I kept asking what she wanted and she kept saying “Canada!” I can’t get her all of Canada, but I can take her there for the weekend. She opted to bring her bestie along as well. I’m excited!

I’m scheduled for surgery (again!) this Friday, Feb 14th. I’m not excited about that! I’ve done all the tests, had scans and x-rays, and blood work and breath tests and all that jazz, yet no one can figure out why this keeps happening.  My next step is an impedance study (scheduled for April vacation) and then maybe a trip to Boston for a 3rd opinion this summer.  Yuck.

Ok, my battery is about to die!  Love y’all!!  Bye. :)

 

Falafels and lentil soup

A few weeks ago Eve said that she wanted to try falafels and asked if I would make them for dinner.  Apparently Magnus Chase loves falafels. Good to know, right? We bought supplies and it took me a few weeks to get to it, but today was the day.  I was fully expecting her to not try them, assuming I was too slow and the mood had passed. But nope, she ate them!  She even liked them!  Actually, officially she said, “they’re ok.”  I’m calling that a win! I’m also going to take her to a local restaurant that makes super delicious falafels and have her try the authentic version.  Maybe I should have started with that. :)

Sometimes I cook. :)

I was getting ready for grocery shopping today and Eve added lentils to the list. When I asked why (actually, I think I said “Lentils? What?!?”) she said she had a craving for lentil soup. I showed her the can of lentil soup we have in the pantry, but she said no, she wants the soup with the tiny pastas that I used to make a the old house.  It was one of Alan’s favorite meals too. And vegan!  The forecast for tomorrow is chilly and rainy, to the point of flooding.  Guess what’s on the dinner menu?! :)

I think there’s hope for Eve in the food department. <3