Lex got his license!

Yesterday afternoon Lex took his driver’s license test. We had to go to a DMV 35 minutes away, because that’s life in a small state in a pandemic. Lex hasn’t driven in a bit since he’s been home all week on a virtual camp, so he wanted to practice his driving and his parking. He knew there would be three key maneuvers that he had to do on the test and he really hadn’t practiced any of them recently, so we decided to leave a bit early. As we were walking out the door we remembered that we had to print his driving log. He turned his computer back on and the printer started having issues. Of course. We finally got it printed, but by then we had lost most of our extra practice time. It was sunny when we left home, but pouring rain when we got there. Lex practiced his parallel parking a few times on a street near the DMV, then we parked in the lot next to another black Tesla and checked in. We had a 3pm appointment, but it still took nearly an hour before we were seen. During which time the instructor passed by and asked if we were driving the Tesla. He said he had seen Lex practicing his parallel parking. 😬 Then he told us we couldn’t do the exam without a front license plate. We said we have a front license plate. He said no we don’t. Then he left to take another kid (before us in line) for their test. We went out to double-check and noticed that the Tesla next to us didn’t have a license plate. On his way past again he asked if we had the completed paperwork (we did) and proof of insurance and registration. So I went back into the rain to get those documents.

Finally it was our turn. We insisted (again) that we have a front plate, then he pointed out that registration is expired (it’s not!) because the paper I gave him said 2020. Ugh. Back out into the rain. I couldn’t find the current registration paperwork, so I took a picture of the back license plate with the valid sticker. Back in the office he told me that a photo of a sticker doesn’t count for anything, but he can issue me a second registration for the low low cost of $16. Basically what that meant is that he could reprint my registration paper (which he could easily view in the DMV system) for that fee. He said he can’t take a kid driving without the paper in the car. He was not mean, but not exactly friendly either. Very curt and short with us. Also, the whole place stunk like cigarettes, chemicals, and stale air. Needless to say I was working hard to stay friendly myself!

I paid the fee and they left for the test. It turns out the test is only 15 minutes and really just involves the three maneuvers (parallel park, turn around, and a hill start). It was still pouring rain and the DMV had closed by this point. I spent those 15 minutes sure that Lex was going to fail the test just because of all the crappy circumstances surrounding him. But nope, he came back in with a big smile and a thumbs up! Yay!!

Then the instructor asked for his identification (birth certificate, ss card, passport) and Lex didn’t have them. Lex had uploaded copies of those things to get his permit online (because the world was closed last summer), so he figured he didn’t need to provide them again. The DMV guy disagreed. He gave us all the paperwork and said to come back another time when we have the proper ID. Fortunately Lex didn’t have to retake the test though!

We went back this morning with ALL of the paperwork, waited less time (but still plenty of time, it is the DVM after all!) and got the job done! They don’t print licenses onsite anymore, so Lex walked out with a piece of paper that will serve as his temporary license until the new, official one arrives in the mail. This morning was quicker, less rainy, and less stinky, so I walked away feeling a whole lot better than yesterday afternoon. Lex walked away happy to be done with it.

They had a big selfie station set up with a sign saying “Looks Who’s Driving Now!” and some fun artwork. Next to that was a poster saying not to take a picture of your drivers license. 😜 Lex had zero interest in a selfie, so I snuck a picture of him getting his picture taken instead. Gotta have some photos!

 

 

 

So, now the real question is, what errand should I send him on first? 😄

My buff neck!

I went back to my Boston doctor today for another peek at my subglottic stenosis. Unfortunately the scar tissue is starting to build up again, which I was expecting due to the increase in symptoms I’ve been experiencing in the past month or two. It’s not super bad, but noticeable in the pictures (which I won’t show you here) and the doctor thought it was prudent to do another round of steroid injections. I agreed 100%! Steroid shots directly into my trachea, through my neck!, are not fun, but it beats surgery any day!

To do the procedure they spray two different disgusting sprays into my nostrils to begin the numbing process. Then a gargle and swallow of something else. Then a spray down the throat. All taste gross. Then a few (three this time!) numbing shots to my neck. The nurse gave me a stress ball to squeeze. Apparently I was not relaxed enough for neck injections. Then we wait a few minutes until my throat and tongue are all numb and weird feeling. THEN the fun begins! They take the scope (which they already used earlier to look down into my throat) and stick it back down my nose until they can see my vocal chords and, as best they can, through them. While the nurse holds the scope, the doctor uses more needles to inject steroids through my neck and into the interior lining of my trachea. I do my best slow breathing and wish I was a little more zen. 🥴 Then they are done. The doctor always shows me the video from the scope camera. It’s fascinating and creepy and disgusting all at the same time.

I made my usual stop at the fancy outdoor mall to change the car and get myself some Starbucks. The weather was so nice I decided to poke around in the stores too. They were all swanky, but also just mall stores. LOL. Outdoor, swanky, mall stores. I saw a neat clothing store, but didn’t feel like trying on clothes after I got a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized I was walking around with a big bruise on my neck! The doc said that might happen, but it didn’t last time so I assumed it would this time either. But it did. I decided to stick to stores without mirrors. :)

My next appointment is for the second week of school. I’m hoping I can make it a whole year without another surgery! How’s that for a low bar?! So far so good. 🤗

 

 

Rocking and rolling

Life is moving along at a steady clip around here these days. All the teenage milestones seem to butting up against each other. Lex has completed all of his driving requirements and has his drivers test scheduled for next week. He started working at Price Chopper this week.

His first day felt, to me, like his first day of school. I was home and thinking about him all day. Wondering what he was doing and how he was feeling. Of course he was fine. His first day was all safety training videos and his second day was 8hrs on the register! The important lesson he learned between day one and day two is to always have food and water with you! :) Or at least money. A few weeks ago I opened up savings and spending accounts for all three of them, each account comes with a debit card. None of them wanted to carry the debit card, but after a day of video trainings and no lunch (’cause he had no money!) he decided maybe he should carry that debit card. Then I taught him how to use a debit card. :) When I picked him up the 2nd day he pulled a Milky Way out of his pocket and said, “I decided to take advantage of this new having money thing.” 😄

Eve started working one day a week at the pottery shop. She’s cleaning and resupplying. She loved cleaning the art room at school last year, so she was excited about this opportunity. We stopped by two weeks ago to do some painting and I introduced myself and her to the owner. I have a friend who works there and had already talked up Eve to him. Once we met him in person, she did her normal weird awkward stuff (“How’s it going?” he asks, “Not dead yet,” she replies 🙄) I texted my friend later and said Eve didn’t make the best first impression. She laughed and said the boss loved her, and her gay snake (that’s what she had been calling it). He was happy to have her start working there. I guess that means it’s a good fit for her. 🤣

My third teenager is the one who wanted a job in the first place, but he’s having trouble finding something suitable for his age. Fortunately he has a birthday coming up, so I think it will be easier for him to find a job next month. That birthday also means I’ll have another teenager driver! In the meantime he’s at camp this week, then he and Lex will be doing a very cool virtual camp next week called the Governor’s Institute of Vermont. They sent a whole kit of circuit boards, LEDs, craft supplies and other goodies. I think the boys will have fun!

I’m going back to the doctor tomorrow for another check on my throat. I’m starting to have mild symptoms again, so I expect I might get some shots in the neck. I can’t complain though. I am thrilled with how long the results from last fall’s surgery have lasted. I had been dreading annual (or twice annual!) throat surgery, so the fact that the symptoms have been held at bay for this long already is great! I’ll let you all know what the doctor has to say tomorrow.

 

 

A day by the sea

We took a day trip to the Atlantic today. Lex wasn’t interested in spending all day at the beach, and Eve would like to live at the beach, so we came up with a compromise. We drove to Portsmouth to check out Prescott Park (thanks for the recommendation, Rosy!!). The park is beautiful and we found a bagel place for lunch. Win-win. I would love to explore the little shops in Portsmouth, but my teenagers were not interested in that today. :)

One of the park gardens. They were really beautiful.

The park faces the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, so there were lots of interesting boats to see.

Also a cool looking bridge. We laughed at the people on those little boats in front as they held on for dear life when a big boat came by, creating crazy rocking waves. :)

We were happy to get a chance to see the bridge go up! Can you see the sail boat below with the tall mast?

We walked in to the village to find food. I liked this menu. :)

I wanted to take our bagels back to the park for a picnic, but the kids opted for tables and AC, so we ate at the restaurant then walked back to the car, then headed for the beach!

I wanted to stop at the lighthouse, but the kids didn’t want to do that, so I did a drive by instead. :) We saw all the big houses and amazing views. We saw what must have been a million dollar child’s birthday party going on at one of the seaside mansions! I wanted to crash it, but the kids vetoed me again! Dang teenagers! LOL.

We got to Short Sands Beach in York, Maine and spent a few hours in the water. It was mid-afternoon by this point, and only in the high 70s, so we found a parking spot and plenty of room on the beach. The kids all swam, and I just stood in the water. It was too chilly for me to swim. Also, (true confessions) I don’t love swimming. Is it possible to love the ocean, but not love swimming?! I hope so, because I do! I love the waves, and the sound, and the power of it all. I love standing in the water, but feel no desire to dive all the way in.

The mermaid surveys her domain.

We had a lot of fun with this mermaid tail. Lots of looks. Several people asked if we were doing a photo shoot. I just laughed and laughed as she tried to get herself out to the deeper water. I love everything about this girl! She brings joy to everyone around her. <3

Three in the sea.

I didn’t swim, but I didn’t exactly stay dry either! :)

When we were all done in the water the kids changed back into clothes (they were chilly!) and we went to The Goldenrod for dinner and their infamous salt water taffy! Dinner was ok, the company was entertaining, and the taffy, as always, is fantastic!

And now, your moment of Zen.

3D printing

Lex has been saving for awhile and finally had enough to buy himself a 3D printer! He did the research on the make and model (online research and also personal experience from his 3D printing classes at school) and decided on a Prusa MK3. It came disassembled and so Lex’s first job was to put the whole the together. The pieces were all either metal or 3D printed plastic. Lex said it was like a grown-up Lego kit. :)

Then he printed a few test samples. The printer came with an SD card full of example prints so he could make something right away! We were all eager to watch it! He’s made signs and frogs and dragons and castle… pretty much whatever Eve asks for. :) He is also nice enough to let the rest of of us use it too. I created my own sign (which was harder than it looks!) and after a few tries I got it to successfully print. The issues were all in my design, not his printer.

First test print

It is pretty captivating to watch! :)

I’m such a dork that my first creation was a school thing. :)

Using the provided programs, Lex printed a dragon and a castle. He hasn’t designed anything of his own to print yet. At home, anyway. He’s designed several things at school and printed them during his 3D printing classes.

This little guy is coming to school with me. :)

While we were having fun experimenting with Lex’s new printer, I also got an email saying that a grant I had applied for in the spring was approved. The grant is to get a 3D printer for school!!!  I’m psyched! I’m going to get a different model than he did, which will be neat to experience both. I have so much to learn this summer! :)

Mermaids at the lake

We had a break in the rain today so I decided to take everyone to the lake! We brought a few friends along. It was low 80s, sunny, and a really lovely afternoon. The girls swam, some boys kayaked, other boys read, and the moms chatted.

Mermaids at the lake

Reminds me of a recent whale watch. :)

Just lounging about

Lex didn’t actually want to come, but he did a great job putting up with it and keeping the complaining to a minimum. He wasn’t in the mood to swim, so while the girls were in the water….

Fun in the sand

Lex was in the shade! :)

Do you see him way back there?! :)

We stayed for a few hours, then headed home. Ready for another rainy day tomorrow.

A big 70th in Boston!

Everyone who reads this blog probably already knows all this, but I’m writing the post anyway! :) This past weekend we spent in a mansion (practically) just outside of Boston, with family who came from near and far to celebrate Mema’s 70th birthday!!

It was a secret of the very best kind. My sisters and uncles and aunt all coordinated a mini-vacation, without telling my mom about it. I invited her to Boston for the weekend to do a whale watch with us and SURPRISE big family party! :)

The house belonged to this guy. We had a lot of fun admiring his posters and his house, and Googling him to learn more. :)

I didn’t take any pictures of just the house, but you can get an idea based on the pictures I did take. It was huge and beautiful! The house had a big backyard with all the amenities, including a jacuzzi and fire pit.

Friday night we did a little grocery shopping at the biggest Wegman’s ever, enjoyed a hearty dinner of kale soup made by Greg and Kathy, and generally just relaxed with one another.

Joyce was in charge of the decorations. We all enjoyed them. Happy Birthday Mema!! :)

There was a pool table, a foosball table, and a chess table! We called this the Red Room. I felt like the queen’s servant opening and closing those drapes each day.

First things first, chess!

Our jacuzzi even came with a mermaid!

The kids had fun with the lights and bubbles settings, creating an “RGB gamer hot tub.” The mermaid enjoyed herself.

Greg and I stayed up late with the kids the first night and played a few rounds of pool. Or maybe they stayed up late with us. I’m not sure anymore. We all had fun.

We might have gotten a little silly. :P

On Saturday we headed in to Boston to visit the aquarium and go on a whale watch. This sounds very straight forward, but choppy seas, broken transit, and unclear parking made it an eventful morning. Eventually we made it though and it was soooo worth the effort!

The Boston Aquarium was beautiful, as usual. Some people in our party had never been before, so if was fun exploring it with them for the first time.

We only saw one sea turtle this time. We were wondering where the rest were. I’ll have research that at some point. The turtle did a nice lap around the tank for us. Showing off just a little. :)

I missed the best picture of this guy smiling at me, but I got him on the second time around.

The penguins are always my favorite part!

What are these sea lions doing?!? Look at their flippers all wrapped up. Both of them had a side flipper and their tail flippers wrapped around each other (not tied, it looks like something they did themselves) and their other side flipper doing small turns in the water below. Like they were just chilling with their flippers all up in the air. It was so funny looking.

These three were also resting with one flipper down and the other straight up. It seemed to be naptime for most of them. One (not pictured) was having a good time with a toy, but the rest were pretty chill.

Then we headed out for a whale watch. The captain assured us the water wasn’t *too* choppy – yet. She said she thought she could get us out and back in before the water got too rough. Reassuring? I’m not sure. She was right though! She got us out there, the water wasn’t too bad, and the whales were a plenty!!

We say five different whales, two of which were a mother/calf combo that spent a lot of time feeding and playing around our boat. The boat had a “naturalist” (scientist? biologist?) on board who’s job it was to tell us over the loud speaker what we were seeing. She was also taking notes and documenting and doing science kind of stuff along the way. She was thrilled to see so many whales and just giddy over the “silly baby calf” that was playing and flipping and practicing it’s dives. She kept exclaiming over and over about how cute it was and how surprising and that baby whales like to play, just like baby people. Her enthusiasm was contagious and we all really enjoyed the experience. She said they don’t bait the animals or use sonar, so it’s kind of hit or miss what you see on each trip. I guess we got lucky. Maybe the whales wanted in on the birthday surprise too!

Everyone say CHEESE! Or WHALES!

We sailed on the Asteria. It sounds more glamourous than it really was, given the number of barf bags used. LOL. Not by our crew though!

I got LOTS of pictures of water. We saw so many whales and so close, yet my camera didn’t capture any of them well. Oh well.

I love this lady. 🧡💚💙

I got lots of pretty water pictures though. :)

Hi!

There’s a whale’s tail!

Despite my photography skills, I promise we had so many great views of the whales. We saw Freckles, and Dross, and Dross-2021-calf, and Owl, and a Minke. You can learn more about these whales on their website. The website is a little out of date, unfortunately, but you get the idea.

Back at home we were all exhausted so we ate pizza, tried to watch tv, and fell asleep. I say “tried” to watch TV because the homeowner and his family are Russian and therefore all of their books were in Russian, the clock was Russian, and even the TV was all in Russian. I can guess at some languages, but Russian left me pretty clueless.

We just wanted to watch Jeopardy! :)

Sunday came slowly and we all looked forward to a day at “home” enjoying each other’s company. I finished putting together the birthday cake, Greg and Kathy made another delicious meal, and we kept each other busy with games of Dominoes, Scrabble, Catan, and of course, pool.

Dominoes

Scrabble. Eve won, with a little lot of help from her neighbor! :)

This Catan game lasted longer than TWO rounds of Scrabble!

Yummy delicious strawberry cream birthday cake. I was looking forward to this all week! :)

Mema got a Lego flower bouquet for her birthday and asked for assistance building it. We were all eager to help out. Grandpa Tom was waiting patiently for the pool table to become available again.

A sneak picture of Eve. :)

Happy Birthday Mema!!

Uncle Carl and Mema, holding the completed bouquet of Lego flowers.

Monday morning we packed up and headed home, promising each other we’ll do it again soon. I’m so happy the pandemic is (mostly) over so we can gather again. I love my family!! <3

Black Belt – Shodan-ho

Lex got his first black belt today! He had a two hour test with an hour of demonstrations afterwards. Parents were invited to the demonstrations and award ceremony. He did AWESOME! I am so proud that he was brave enough on the very first day to put on the gi, and persistent enough to continue going even when it got hard, and committed enough to do a year of karate lessons on Zoom just because he knew the pandemic would end eventually and he wanted to get back to in person lessons.

Well, for a few months they have been in-person at a local park and recently they reopened the dojo as well. Tonight his bravery, persistence, commitment, and hard work paid off – black belt!

Karate in the park.

Running through the basics.

Nai han chi

The board breaking isn’t part of the test, it was just for fun. Lex kicked the middle right out of the board, splitting it into three pieces!

Kudos from Sensei

New belt!

Ari gato gozaimasu (thank you very much)

Look at this amazing person!! 🖤

Then and now

This is the probationary black belt, which is the normal process. They stay at this black belt for one year, then test again for the final belt with their name embroidered on it. Lex will be rocking that belt next summer. Dad, save the date! :)

Last day of school!

This school year has been a hot mess since day one, but we did it! We survived a year of schooling in a pandemic. Everyone had their bets placed in August on how long we’d keep the building open and I don’t think a single person thought it would be all year! My money was on October. But instead we rocked the house with hand washing, masking, social distancing, and contact tracing. One class had to quarantine for a week because of one student, but otherwise we as a school were Covid-free! It’s hard to believe. And another school year has come and gone. The kids all finished school yesterday (technically today was a remote day for them, but none of them had any work to do) and I finished today. As I walk the hallways on the the last day of school I peek in classrooms and see how empty they look, then return to the library that is as full as ever, plus some as everyone brings their computers, iPads, library books, and Chromebook carts back. Every year it’s discouraging, but I have to remind myself that the library is different from a classroom and doesn’t do the transition that a classroom does each year. It serves a different function. I was happy today that the boss approved an extra paid day to inventory and organize the Chromebook carts, then a little less happy when he said it had to happen next week. So I’ll be back in the building a few times next week, once for a committee I signed up for (paid) and again for the computers. It’s ok though. It won’t be Monday! :)

Don’t worry fish, someone will feed you.

Yesterday was field day at my school and I volunteered, as I always do, to staff the “quiet space” for kids who have lost field day time (for being naughty!) and for kids who just need a break from the heat and excitement of field day. I’m sometimes a tiny bit sad to miss the field day excitement, but always happy to be out of the sun and get a few extra minutes to shelve books! I had 20 kids take advantage of the space yesterday and one non-reader who came in for a break and discovered a graphic novel he LOVES! He spent the remainder of the afternoon reading, then came in a few times today to read when he needed a break from the classroom. That might be my win for the year! 😁

Eve also had field day yesterday. She was remote all year and only went in to the building a few times in the past few weeks to take the required standardized testing. This week they had 8th grade graduation and field day. She didn’t want to do either, but I wanted her to do both. We compromised on one. She was adamant about field day right up until the night before, then she started considering graduation instead. The afternoon of graduation she switched her choice back to field day, so on graduation night we were all home. After the ceremony was over a friend surprised us by stopping by with a her kids (one just graduated from 5th and the other from 8th) and a celebration cake! It was a wonderful surprise! We moms had a nice visit and the kids talked over each other for an hour, anime anime and more anime. It was an awesome celebratory way to end an otherwise quiet day.

My friend offered to take a picture and I first said no, then said wait, yes! This is not at all what I wanted to look like in this photo (or any photo) but I’m trying to focus on the big smiles and the memories of the fun evening, and not focus so much on my width or Eve’s height!

The next morning Eve went to school for field day. My awesome neighbor/carpool partner even drove Eve, despite the fact that it wasn’t a regular school day for our carpool. This year has really emphasized the “it takes a village” philosophy. I reminded Eve a few times to bring sunscreen and water. She came home looking like this:

At least she wore her mask. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Sigh. She said she put sunscreen on in the morning, but insists sunscreen doesn’t work on her skin. I insist she doesn’t do it right. We both hate sunscreen. 🙄 Today she has some blisters on her arms and cheeks. I do what I can as a mother, but I guess we all learn in our own time. She keeps telling me what it feels like and saying “can you imagine…” I say YES, I can, I don’t even need to imagine, I’ve lived it, which is why I told you to wear sunscreen! Sigh.

The boys didn’t get field day or graduation at their school. No graduation, yet. We still have a few short years before that. They both finished all of their school work and projects and had nothing to do today, their final official day of school. I heard no complaints from any of them about that!

The first half of the week had brutal temps. High 90s for days on end. The AC in the library is broken (still!) so I felt a lot like Huxley, moving a bit, then looking for a cool place to sit down. On this particular walk we made it to the end of the street, then he laid down in the shade for a break. :)

While I worked my way through field day, remote academy wrap-up, step-up day, library cleaning, and all the other end-of-year busyness, I also tried to keep in touch with my family, many of whom were in NYC! Joyce successfully underwent a kidney donation surgery, with mom and dad by her side… in a Covid-safe way. It was not the usual scene that they are used to (and a little sad that they are used to a usual kidney transplant scene), but they are all troopers and got through it together. I sent love and good juju whenever I could. 😊💚

Now I have three days of R&R before heading back to school for a day of meetings. Then a day off (with playdates for the kids), then a day on with the computers, then a day off with twice vaccinated kids! Eve and B’Lake get their second dose on Thursday. Lex was also scheduled for that day until we realized his karate BLACK BELT test is on Friday. The unknown of the second vaccination coupled with the stress of the belt test seemed like a bad combo, so I rescheduled his appointment for Saturday. It’s a further drive, but he’s always happy to get driving practice anyway!

We celebrated the year end with sushi and a new show (Loki). Alan came over to play Minecraft with the kids. I got a bottle of wine, then dropped it in the garage, then while I cleaned that up Alan ran to the store and got me another one. He’s a good man.

I am so ready for vacation!! Happy summer!! 🌞

Vax #1

They kids got their first Covid vaccines this afternoon. Yay! We saw lots of friends there. It was a popular place to be. 😄

The kids got hard candies, lollipops, and stickers!

Then we went for ice cream. 😁