Merry Christmas – 2020 style!

Merry Christmas! We did it. Christmas in a pandemic, divorce, foster care lifestyle. For the most part, everyone had fun!  The pictures are a bit limited (due to the third item above), but here are a few.

Make your own pizzas for Christmas Eve dinner.

The kids got creative with stuffed crust pizza!

This cutie wanted pizza too! 

Santa made it! With help from family and friends, we had a well stocked Christmas with gifts that wrapped around the tree.

Merry Christmas, Eve. :)

Lex, trying to figure out his dad’s present labels.

We had a great time with these beautiful wooden puzzles from Mema.

Some of the pieces are animal shaped. That was a fun discovery.

I made the traditional Christmas lasagna with a side of veggies. Eve made her now-traditional holiday frog bread. I got out the fancy table cloth and napkins….

… The kids ate nothing but frog bread! A nice balance to the candy they (we) ate all day. :)

It was different this year, for sure, and I missed the Collier family like crazy, but with the extra kids around we all did ok. :)

Here’s to a happy, healthy, family-filled 2021!!

What’s Making Me Happy

Christmas this year will be very different, for many reasons, but I’m determined to make it a great Christmas anyway. I am basking in the love I feel all around me, and the love I am able to share. Here are a few holiday memories we are making.

Can you guess what audio book we were listening to while making gingerbread cookies last week?

We have been playing a lot of board games lately! Although I’m not very competitive, I do ok sometimes. :)

We couldn’t have a holiday party at school this year, but our “Sunshine Committee” put together a safe, festive, inviting holiday Hot Cocoa Bar. It warmed my heart and my stomach!

Every last detail was thought of, right down to the to-go mugs for those of us who were on the go!

The super adorable preschooler on our street has been offering free snowballs all week. Sometimes people leave him little thank you gifts in exchange. 💖

Not exactly Christmas related, but we got a lot of snow last week and there are a lot of big boots in my mudroom! I tried to organize them. Jasmine “helped” in her own special way. :)

 

A few of our musical neighbors organized a socially-distanced holiday caroling event. It was mostly fun. :) The teenagers were not interested at all and I’m a terrible singer, but it was a lovely idea and reminded me once again how awesome my new neighborhood is.

Speaking of neighbors, there has been a lot of porch deliveries all week, with candy and trail mix and fun ornaments going around. :)

Eve and I took a little Christmas Eve drive with a loaded sleigh. She is my favorite co-pilot in the world and quick with the camera when we see cool things — like this blue driftwood horse.

A quick, masked, in-state, out-doors holiday gift swap. So many rules this year, but we snuck in a few hugs. I can’t wait to spend unmasked time with these amazing people again, in post-covid times!

The house is warm and filled with goodies. The children are happy. The Alan is here for the day. The Tessa is at peace. This Christmas will be different, but it will be ok.

🎄 Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a happy (Covid-free) 2021. 💖💖

Friends

I have the nicest friends in the world. In case anyone was wondering. I have been mostly out of school this whole week, going in just a little bit some days (foster care reasons) and each time I go in I find a new little note on my desk. ❤❤ Here are just a few of the sweet, supportive notes:

And a few funny ones too. :)

This afternoon another friend brought over a fully constructed gingerbread house, frosting to decorate, and homemade lemon curd. And a bag of “extras” for nibbling on!

She said she might so Eve and I bought candy last week — just in case. :) Today she did and we had so much fun decorating it!

I have the best friends. Have I mentioned that already? :)

We are starting to feel a little Christmasy here.

Thanksgiving 2020

Like everything else this year, Thanksgiving looked a little different than usual. We were home, per Governor Scott’s orders, and down one dad but up two kids. A totally different mix than the usual Collier crowd!

We each picked a dish to make and ended up with breaded, fried, softly spiced tofu, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cheddar bread, “frog” bread, pumpkin pie with blue crust and blue whipped cream, and apple pie. Weird, but all delicious!

We started with a pumpkin pie and ended up with tartlets in blue pie crust and topped with blue whipped cream with blue sprinkles. Guess who was in charge of dessert?

I found a recipe for “breaded, fried, softly spiced tofu” and gave it a try. It was super yummy! Everyone (except Lex, of course) even ate it and several of us had it for leftovers today. Success!

Not too shabby for a Thanksgiving dinner in quarantine. :)

Lex made loaves of cheddar bread, but Eve deemed that too boring, so she decided to make green frog bread instead. We all enjoyed this experiment.

We had a fun day with new experiences. I felt like such an adult getting a full Thanksgiving meal on the table at a reasonable dinner hour. Having four kids laughing and enjoying themselves around the table made it even better. <3

Huxley Update

This poor guy went to the vet today for a neutering. He is so silly and love car rides and loves the vet’s office. I wonder if that will change now! :)  The surgery went well, but the vet said he immediately started worrying at his sutures as he came out of anesthesia, so they coned him. I was expecting that. Poor puppy.

Wisdom teeth

On Wednesday Lex had six wisdom teeth removed! Six! I said, “No wonder you’re so smart!” He was not amused. :) He had four that had cut through, and two others behind them, still in the gums. The dentist gave us the whole run down of all the possible things that could happen during recovery, but Lex got through it with minimal problems. The dentist talked about face swelling, bruising, bleeding, etc. He did have bleeding the first day, of course, and the regular meds to knock him out. He slept for most of the day Wednesday, then played some Minecraft quietly. I tried to keep him from talking, since he had gauze shoved in his mouth. :)  I kept him home from school on Thursday, but he decided to do some remote learning anyway. Friday (a remote day), he was exhausted and skipped his classes. I don’t think he realized that he was supposed to take both days off!

It has been weird having him in charge of his own medications. We reviewed it a bunch of times, then I left him Thursday to dose himself. He did great and has continued ever since. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you realized (again!) how fast the kids are growing up!

PS. There are no photos because he asked me not to take pictures. He was worried that he would do weird things, like you see people do on YouTube after a dentist visit. He was worried he would do that, and wanted to be sure I wouldn’t take any pictures or videos. :)  A valid concern! I was good though and didn’t take any pictures. :)

Oh what a week! (and it’s only Tuesday!)

The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotion and activity. As you may have heard, presidential election results came in and sanity, civility, honesty, and kindness won! Hallelujah!

On Saturday Eve and I went for a long walk in the beautiful sunshine. I feel like we haven’t done that in quite awhile. We went down to the river, around the village, and back up the hill.

This tree used to have two big bumps. I was surprised to find that the innards of one had fallen out (rotted out?), so now it has a bump and a handle. :)

Then I made an awesome boozy birthday cake for my friend Elizabeth. It’s her 50th birthday (today!) and she has been super bummed about covid-restrictions squashing all her birthday ideas. So I baked her a cake and invited a friend along to delver. The three of us saw outside in the amazingly beautiful September November day, enjoying the cake and each other’s company.

Chocolate Devil’s Food cake with a Bailey’s Irish Cream butter cream frosting and a chocolate ganache filling. Sooooo good!

Sunday evening I got an email from my school principal (the whole staff got the email!) saying that there are some children in our community who have been removed from their home and need emergency foster care.  Fostering is something I’ve thought about a lot off and on in the past, so this felt like a really great time to step up and help. I talked to Lex and Eve about it first, and they agreed that it would be a good thing to do.

I spent Monday squeezing in phone calls and paperwork between my regular work. Paperwork was done, everything approved, and I made a plan to pick the boys up after school Tuesday (today). When I got home and told Lex and Eve about it, and who the kids are, they were both cautiously interested. :) Then Lex said, “In other good news, I got accepted into the Honors Program!”  Sweet!!!  He worked really hard deciding to apply, writing his essay, and collecting recommendations from teachers, parents, and coaches. I’m super proud of him for doing that much, and now he’s excited to be doing even more. He also built me two Adirondack chairs this week. Mema and Joyce sent them to me for my birthday, and Lex put them together. The weather is so nice they might get some use this weekend!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today was spent trying to figure out details, such as bedding for two extra kids, schooling, transportation, etc. We have a pretty amazing community though, all of whom love these kids and want to support them. I got a set of bunkbeds, two twin mattresses, four sheet sets, pillows, blankets, and winter clothes all donated. This weekend we’ll spend getting their proper sleeping arrangement set up. They came home with me after school today and had a great time playing with the VR headset and the XBox. I haven’t seen Lex socialize this much in a long time! All four kids were laughing and talking all afternoon/evening. I even made a proper dinner! If you count Annie’s mac and cheese, peas, and tofu a proper dinner. :)  It has been a wild two days!

Tomorrow is Veterans Day (thanks Joyce!) and we have no school, so of course I scheduled appointments. :/ Life of a teacher! Lex will be getting his wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow morning. All four of them! I’m not sure what to expect exactly, but I suspect tomorrow will be a sleepy day for him. Hopefully it will be a quiet day for all of us. I’m ready for one!

 

Halloween – 2020

“Is he made out of house or is the house made out of him?” – Eve

I put the cats in charge of handing out candy this year! I think we got about a dozen trick-or-treaters.

Nico DiAngelo

She figured out a great way to carve windows into her pumpkin house.

My pumpkin. Lex opted not to do one this year.

Eve found a great use for the random body parts that came with Laurens. 💀

I’m posting from my phone where editing is more tricky, so sorry for the photos in reverse order.

Halloween Covid style means trick-or-treating in masks (or not at all), and goodies left on table outside. Basically it’s just walking around in the dark collecting free candy from the street. A child’s dream come true! 😂

Eve went out with her friend and then spent the night. I made a few goodie packages and left them on the porch. Lex played Minecraft. A good time was had by all. 😂🎃

Fall Concert

The high school band and choir have been practicing outside all fall, doing their best to promote music and stay safe. I’m so glad they are making this effort! When I talked to Lex about remote learning or hybrid learning (alternating at-home/at-school) he choose hybrid and one of his big reasons was so that the could continue with band.

This weekend they put on an outdoor, socially distanced, Fall Concert. The band and choir are both small this year because some students are remote learning and because those who are there in person were asked to choose band or choir this year, but not both.  Many kids in the past have done both. Due to the hybrid schedule they also practice in halves, which Lex calls “red band” and “blue band” because the hybrid schedule is split that way. Lex goes on blue days and is therefore part of the “blue band.” For this concert they all performed together as one band, with only a half hours practice beforehand to come together. It was great!

Then I had a little fun with video editing to make this compilation: HHS Fall Concert

Enjoy!

Subglottic Stenosis Balloon Dilation — again!

Sounds sexy, eh?! Last Friday I went in for another surgery (procedure?) to clear the scar tissue building up in my trachea. This is my fourth time (first, second, third) and this time my ENT sent me to Boston where they do the procedure a little differently. Alan and I went down late Thursday night, stayed in an scary-seeming-but-actually-pretty-cool hotel for a short night’s sleep, then up early for a 5:45am check-in at the hospital. The surgery went well, lots of Covid precautions and nice medical people taking care of me. Apparently they gave me some good drugs (or else I was very tired, which is equally likely!) because I slept for a good long time after the surgery. The post-op nurse joked that she was given the sleepy girls that day. Me and a child who was there because she got an earring stuck all the way IN her ear canal! We both enjoyed our long naps. :)

They still don’t know what is causing this problem and have officially diagnosed it as “idiopathic” which is med-speak for *shrug*. I’m still on the reflux meds, but apparently that’s not the problem. I tried cutting out caffeine, reflux-inducing foods, and alcohol, but the problem keeps coming back anyway. I joined a gym back in March, after the last surgery, but then Covid shut down the world. :/ I will keep trying to figure it out. This Boston ENT does a procedure that includes a steroid injection during the procedure and potentially follow-up injections with the goal of delaying the recurrence. He says it won’t “cure” the problem, but it hopefully will give me more time between buildups. *hopefully*

We got home Friday afternoon and I worked really hard to “rest my voice” and not talk. I’m not great at that! Especially when my sister and parents are hanging out with me after a long Covid separation! 💗 I am enjoying my week at home with my kiddos. I’m technically working from home, so the three of us have a mishmash of meetings and activities to do online, and Lex going into school every other day. It has been nice.

The recovery process has been a little different this time around. The throat-clearing cough that is a clear sign of the scar tissue building up usually goes away right after surgery, but this time it’s stuck around for awhile. Coughing, of course, hinders the healing in my trachea, so I try hard not to give in to that throat tingle the begs to be cleared. Lots of water and herbal tea. I was getting worried around Wednesday when my throat was still very sore and the cough was still present, but Thursday and now Friday have been better. I decided to get another Covid test today before going back to school on Monday. I went at 11am today and got results at 5:52pm! So quick. And NEGATIVE! I feel much better about returning to school next week, but not yet. First we get the weekend. :)