Back to School

The first day of school has come again. Every year I find it so stressful to plan and prep and get ready for back to school. There is always so much to do and pressure (from myself) to make everything perfect. Yesterday, our one and only paid day to set up our classrooms, I got to the point where I was just like, “the kids are coming, whether we’re ready or not.” And this morning they did come. They were happy and smiling (most of them) and generally glad to be there. Taller and in higher grades, but pretty much the same kids we said “see ya later” to back in June. By the end of day one it felt like the same old thing. I’m not sure if that’s good or not, but it is what it is.

On the home front I’ve got a senior, a junior, and a sophomore! The senior was pretty indifferent about going and said his day was “fine.” He’s happy to be back in band and happy that they’ll be doing pep band again. The junior is happy to be with his friends, but was super annoyed that the busses still aren’t running on schedule! It was a big problem last year due to driver shortages and we were hoping it would be fixed by this year, but apparently not. The sophomore was a little excited about her new classes, but last night she got anxious and had trouble sleeping. This morning I had to drag her out of bed and the afternoon report was that school is stupid and her classes are lame and she can’t believe she has two more years of this. Day one. Whee!

I meant to take a selfie of all of us together, but (as you can see) some of them weren’t too pleased about the photos, so I didn’t want to push my luck. I decided to take a selfie of just myself when I got to school, but when I got there I was already later than I wanted to be and the parking lot was full of people, so my selfie didn’t turn out great. I tried again in the afternoon. It came out a little better. :)

Meyer Lemon

My little Meyer Lemon tree (aka Oscar!) made a lemon. It’s a cute little thing. I put the plant outside earlier this summer and it was doing very well, but the fruit wasn’t yellowing. Last week the plant got dry and the fruit started yellowing, but also seemed to be shriveling and drying. I watered it really well and today noticed that it looked better and yellow. I squeezed it gently to see if it felt softish or dry, and it came off in my hand! Eve and I were pretty surprised and happy. :)

It wasn’t big enough to do much with, but I squeezed it, sampled it, and put it on fresh avocado. Yum!

Oscar has more buds and one other tiny, green lemon currently growing. As summer comes to an end I’ll bring it back inside for the winter. Hopefully it survives another transition.

Medical update

This is a boring post mostly for my own reference. I went back to the doctor on Monday (8/22) for a throat checkup. I’m starting to feel symptoms again (harder to breath, light snoring, noisier breathing) and wanted to do the injections again. The doctor did the scope thing and compared it to six months ago. He said he didn’t see a noticeable difference in scar tissue buildup, but if I was feeling symptomatic again it was good to do the steroid treatment to prevent further growth. I agreed. I obviously don’t enjoy the steroid treatment process, but I do like the reassurance that we are doing everything possible to prevent the need for future surgeries!

I started working this week (in-service, no students yet) and my voice quality has been very bad. I think it’s because I’ve been talking a lot and kind of loudly due to the crowds of our district meetings. I hope the poor voice quality is a side-effect of the injections, not something else. I’m going to rest it this weekend and hopefully it will be fresh and good by Tuesday when students return and I start teaching all day every day!

County Fair

Eve made plans with friends to go to the county fair last weekend. The fair was a little too far away for me to drop them and leave, so I decided to hang out. Then my friend (the mom of one of Eve’s friends) decided to tag along too, with the rest of their family. So we all went to the fair. Right when it was time to go, Eve ran upstairs and changed into her Gary Graham carnival-inspired dress. :)

We spent a ton of money, ate crappy food, got hot and sweaty and dusty, and overall had a great time! It’s neat now that the kids are old enough to make their own plans. I love Eve’s friends. They keep me laughing.

H(late)BD Rosy!

We got to celebrate the big 4-2 with Rosy and co this year. She hosted a lovely birthday/housewarming gathering.

We were going to stay an extra day to go to the DelCo fair and demo derby, but we bailed. I realized that I am lame the week before the week before school starts. After two years of bailing on family vacations that week, I’ve decided that going forward I need to be home the week before in-service starts. By that point in the summer I have people emailing me updates to the district websites and I’m starting to get planning emails and in-service schedules and it all feels like to much to be on vacation. So going forward I’ll plan better and not lamely bail on family vacations. :)

Happy Birthday Rosy!! We love you. Thanks for opening your house to my crazy crew.

RPI

We visited Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) this afternoon. Our third in-person college tour. It’s interesting to see how each school greets prospective students, what information they focus on at the visits, what parts of the campus they show, etc.

RPI is apparently a pretty prestigious engineering school, but we all kind of agreed that they didn’t put their best foot forward. The tour started with a luke-warm welcome at the admissions building, an old building with even older white guys pictures hanging on the walls. It was clear their heritage was important, however the dirty/broken bathrooms and abundance of sticky sanitizer everywhere did nothing to enhance the perception of prestige.

The student leading the tour was friendly and knowledgeable about many things, but she glossed over the two areas of interest for my group, comp sci and physics. She was a chemistry major and apparently knew little about the other majors. The campus is sprawling and full of old, old buildings. The school was founding in 1824 and the buildings look the part. Many have their build date carved above the entrances. She took us through dark hallways and into a basement-ish classroom. She showed us a dorm that was very institutional looking, small and dark, and not at all inviting. One of the parents asked if it was an older dorm and the tour guide said “Yes, our newer dorms are bigger and air conditioned.” Umm… why are you showing us this scary prison dorm then?!?

They had one really nice, new building that was impressive. She said it was built with money from an anonymous donor, with the stipulation that it would be used for offices, not classrooms. What?! It was a nice looking building though, and the tour maybe should have started there. They also have a really nice auditorium space with lots of opportunities for music and performances, including stage and tech crews. That caught Lex’s attention.

Back through some other old buildings, then the tour guide left us in the parking lot. It was weird. We weren’t entirely sure what to make of the whole thing, but definitely didn’t walk away feeling amazing about RPI.

After charging up at the mall (the car and the people) we continued on our route to Rosy’s house. It was a long drive and we were all very tired.

Lex is ready to start filling out the Common App to apply to WPI and Champlain. We are also going to tour MIT this fall, so he might add that to the list as well. He was undecided about RPI as of this afternoon.

My rock star’s final HPAC

So many years ago tiny little Lex joined the Hartford Performing Arts Camp and today he did his final HPAC performance. It was a little bittersweet, but mostly just AMAZING!! He has come so far and I love everything about him. I found myself recording every song. You can watch the playlist on YouTube, if you want to.

I grinned from ear to ear throughout the whole show. This evening he took a little stroll with me down memory lane as we watch the videos from the first year and remembered how it all began. He then pointed out that he’s currently wearing the green HPAC shirt from that first show! It was too big then and it’s a little small now, but he still loves it. It felt like a poetic way to wrap up his HPAC experience. I will be forever grateful to the music teachers at all three schools for guiding Lex through his musical discovery and setting him on what will hopefully be a life-long journey. 💗

Book Club!

Big news in my social life — I started a book club! Inspired by Rosy and her exclusive book club, I emailed a few friends and started a club. Tonight was our first meeting. I picked the book (Luster, by Raven Leilani) and hosted the event.

This morning one friend texted and said her hubby had just returned from Dallas with a raging case of Covid. Damn COVID! Always getting in the way. We had a little group text discussion and decided the show must go on. Fortunately the weather was beautiful so I set up an outdoor hangout.

It was a really nice evening. We sat outside and talked books. Luster and all the other books we had on our minds at the time. It felt so adult and lovely. :) Our next get together is in September and we’ll be reading Burial Rights, by Hannah Kent. I’m looking forward to it already!

Lake House 2023

Welcome to the Hoff House!

For our lake house this summer we found a sweet little place in Vermont, not too far from home. The house was really nice, the view was beautiful, and the wildlife was abundant! There were a few little flaws (slippery pine needles and noisy bunkbeds), but overall it was a beautiful week.

Our craft project this year was painted pots. Arts and Crafts director Rosy did a great job organizing and I made vinyl stickers to mark the occasion.

My goal for the week was to try the paddle board. I did it once before, many years ago, with Eve, but with the two of us on the board together it got silly and neither of us could stand up. This week I gave it a more honest effort and did it!! Multiple times! I am pretty proud of myself! (and love all the support and encouragement I got from the family 💖

I’m not sure it was the perfect house, but it sure was an awesome week!

Community Wildflower Garden

Last year Eve came up with the idea for a beautiful wildflower garden. Because we live in an area with shared common grounds, I floated the idea by the neighbors and everyone loved it. Eve, being Eve, went no further with it.

This spring one of the neighbors reached out to Eve and asked if they could work on the garden together, starting with a simpler plan. The neighbor also has a little more garden knowledge than us, or at least a little more garden ambition! She rented a rototiller and the two of them dug up a large patch of land in the side yard. Two weeks later (today), they re-tilled and planted seeds. A few other neighbors came out to join in the fun as well. I popped in and out for moral support and to take pictures. :) Eve wasn’t excited for the hard work and hot sun, but I think she will be excited when the garden starts to grow. I’ll let her get some decorative stuff for it as well, which is the part she really wants. :)