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!!!

Black Lives Matter

The world is roiling right now. There are waves of emotion crashing on us from all angles, each vying for importance and significance in our minds. It can leave a person feeling strong and powerful, or completely overwhelmed and exhausted. Or both, at different times.

We went to a Black Lives Matter rally this evening. It is a topic that is hard to talk about and even harder to work into every day discussions with the kids.  It is very easy to say, we are good people, we are not racist, Vermont is so white anyway, my kids are kind, we don’t need to worry about this stuff.  But we do! And they need to know about it! The civil unrest and Black Lives Matter movement is all around and needs our attention. We need to educate ourselves and have those tough conversations.

At the beginning of the rally.

Stormy skies served as a ominous backdrop to the event.

The rally was organized by a woman Alan works with on the Select Board. I know her as a mother in our school district as well.  I have taught her kids and coached her kids, and my kids have gone to school with hers.  She started with an opening statement, then proceeded to name black people who have died at the hands of the police, listing their name, age, and “crime.” The list went on and on and on and on. She then asked people to kneel or lay down with their hands behind their backs. Alan and Eve laid down, but Lex and I were more comfortable (emotionally) kneeling. They played somber music for what felt like forever, but I suspected it was the time that George Floyd was on the ground with an officer’s knee on his neck.  She confirmed that when the very long eight minutes and 46 seconds ended.

By this point we were nearly an hour into the event.  I decided to take the kids for a walk around the green and help Lex find a bathroom.  We approached the few stores that were open, but none had public bathrooms. I then decided to ask one of the police officers, but not before pointing out the irony (is that the right word?) of how easy and comfortable and “right” it is for us, as white people, to walk up to a police officer while people of color fear the police and generally do not see police as community helpers.  We talk a lot in school about community helpers and police are always included. It hard to wrap my white mind around the fact that sometimes police are not helpers. Anyway, the officer was nice enough to tell us about a gas station down the road and even offered to bring Lex into her office (a few blocks away) if he really need to go badly.

At that moment, the sky opened up.  Huge rain drops came pummeling down. Thunder roared and lighting crackled.  We ran back to Alan, packed up our stuff real quick, and headed for the car.  We had been extremely lucky to get a parking spot right on the green, so the car was close by. Many people stayed with their umbrellas and their signs, and I felt a little guilty leaving, but it didn’t feel safe (or comfortable!) with the rain and lightening.  We spent the ride home discussing the rally, the weather, and the rainbows all around.

Last week I compiled a summer reading list for the family. The books should be here soon. Some of the books Lex and I have read already, and some none of us have read.  I’m also gathering some videos and movies to watch. I need to figure out a schedule or system or something, otherwise I’m afraid we’ll never get around to watching/reading them.  But that is one of my goals for this summer. Continue the dialogue, make sure my kids are aware of the problem, help them become informed allies.

But sometimes, you need to let your mind rest.

The big 15!

Happy birthday to this big guy!

We had a lovely day today.  Started with normal stuff. Nothing exciting. Just how we like it. :)  Eve worked on a secret Minecraft world for Lex, Alan did the Murph Challenge with his Cross Fit crew, and I baked birthday cookies.  Lex asked for oatmeal raisin cookies instead of cake and I can’t say no to that! :)

Around lunch time we were finally all ready for present time.  He’s a patient boy these days. He asked for Legos and books.  Guess what he got??

Legos

More Legos

A book about Legos

And of course, more Legos and books. :)  He was happy.

Then it was time for the birthday party!  We haven’t had a birthday party for him in a few years, but this year what started as a funny idea ended up a reality.  Eve created a whole world in Minecraft (with some help from Alan too) and we invited the friends Lex likes to play Minecraft with, and we had a party — in Minecraft!

Here’s me, flying into the top-secret party fort that has floors covered with cake and all the armor and weapons you could want! :)

His friends posed for a picture for me. :) Lex let me be a dorky mom for just a few minutes! Yay! (this isn’t actually everyone, but it’s hard to organize a Minecraft selfie!)

She even included fireworks!

They created three different activities. A game of hide-and-seek, a parkour game, and a battle in the Nether.  I joined them for the hide-and-seek game, which ended up being two games.  I rock at hide-and-seek. J/K. :)  I did hit the button that said DO NOT PUSH THIS BUTTON and released a bunch of Minecraft baddies into the game.  That was a good time. :)  By the time we finished two rounds of hide-and-seek, I decided I was done, so I shut off my computer, but the rest of the party carried on for parkour and dragon fighting.  Lex, Eve, Alan, and three of Lex’s friends. It was a lot of fun! A whole different world then the parties I’m used to planning. I offered to make a cute digital invite, but Lex wanted no part of that! LOL. Oh well. Birthday parties, like everything else, grow up and mature. This was a particularly good one for these Covid times too!

Then it was time for a family Zoom chat.  Unfortuantely the family on my couch was in a very silly mood (too much sugar and Minecraft partying, I think!) so the conversation was a little disjointed.  Sorry remote family!  We love you!

We are getting good at the Zoom family time! As long as we arent too sugared up!

Huxley was a little confused for a good part of the day. :)

When the pizza delivery guy got here we said our goodbyes and settled in for a Star Wars movie.  Lex’s choice, of course!

Another year has come and gone. I can’t get emotional now though, because the world is so topsy-turvy and everything seems so uncertain these days, I’m just glad to have this boy here with me every day.  He is kind and funny and smart and patient and everything I could have asked for in a son. I will love him forever and ever. <3

Dinner at the river

We had a little pre-birthday celebratory dinner at the river this evening.  We aren’t a real outdoorsy crowd (you may have noticed by now!) but I thought we should do something a little outdooorsy this beautiful Memorial Day weekend.  We opted for take-out from Panera Bread and dinner by the river.  The meal wasn’t great and we joked that they must have qurantined the baguettes for 14 days, but we had fun anyway.  Eve got to swim in the river.  Her favortie thing to do. We even let her swim all the way to the other side!  Alan and Lex skipped stones.

I took pictures and tried to get Huxley to swim, but he was so interested in everything else and not at all interested in the water.  Oh well.  Probably best not to have a wet dog anyway. :)  When we were done at the river we walked over to the dog park and let Huxley have his first ever visit.  Oh boy, did he love that! Scents everywhere!

Tomorrow is the big day for birthday Lex! Stay tuned. If you’re lucky you’ll get a blog post for the FOURTH day in an row!  :)

Neighborhood “socially distanced” block party

A few neighbors thought it would be fun to have a BYOE block party, so we did!  :) Everyone brought their own chairs and food, we hung out and chatted, being careful to maintain safe distances, and then we had a live performance! One neighbor is a jazz singer and another is a composer/musician, so they put on a show.  I think they have been Zoom practicing together. :)  Our preschool neighbor provided the entertainment by dancing around the whole time.  It was a lovely evening!

Eve brought the cat outside, on an yarn leash. The cat was not amused.

Neighbors putting on a jazz show. They said they were doing a driveway rehearsal. :)

Neighbors

More neighbors

On an unrelated note, the pine tree in our yard is bursting with baby pine cones!  They are adorable. :)

Look at them all! :)

With “portrait mode” anyone with a cellphone can be a professional photographer!

 

Life and such

It is a beautiful day and it’s Friday and I’m in the mood to post a few pictures. :)

This was yesterday morning. I took the picture and sent it to my colleagues, saying “Sorry, I can’t work today. The cat has claimed my computer.” :)

We are all still in school, though the high school seems to have given up so starting next week Lex will have no more assignments, while Eve and I will continue plugging away for three more weeks.  :(

His birthday is Monday. The world was nice enough to give us all the day off.  We have plans to continue socially isolating at home.  There might also be a birthday world being built in Minecraft. I think Eve has been working on that the past few days.  We were joking (kind of) about having a birthday party in Minecraft. It would be fun if that worked out.

Today the Vermont National Guard did a fly-over with four fighter jets. It was part of an event honoring “essential employees” and first responders in the state.  The flew over all of the hospitals in the state, plus, I think, that big one right over the border. :)

We forgot until we heard a rumble in the sky, then we ran outside to see.  It was still a few minutes before their scheduled time, so we hung out outside for a little while, hoping that we hadn’t missed them. Apparently we were too late though. :( We did enjoy some time in the sunshine at least! I figured I should take a few pictures to prove that we do leave the house on occasion. :)

The backyard neighbors have a lilac tree that is starting to hang over our lawn. We might help ourselves to lilacs later this summer!

Eve tried to climb the tree and decided she is too big and/or the tree is too small.

Waiting for the planes on a sunny day.

The karate dojo has been doing Zoom lessons (like everyone else in these quarantine times) and the also post challenges or special activities sometimes too.  This week they posted the SHOE-do-in challenge.  Eve saw it and said, “That’s easy!” Then proceeded to do it successfully on her second try!  She was super proud of herself! Not because she worked hard at it, but because she’s naturally flexible. :)

We sent it right off to the dojo for bragging rights. :)

Finally, I started with the cat so I’ll end with the dog.

If I stay in one place for too long (like a few seconds), I ended up with a foot warmer. :)

A busy day!

In these COVID-19 times we spent most of the days at home, socially isoalting.  Usually a big day is a trip to the grocery store.

Today we had a legit busy day!

It started with a visit from the Geek Squad because our microwave has been broken for a week.  We have living like pioneers, cooking our food over an open flame in the woods… or something like that.  Finally the repair guys came. They spread a moving blanket over the stove, removed the microwave and went to work.  Alan was in the office and the kids and I were at the dining room table, all trying to do proper social distancing.  After a few minutes we started to notice an awful chemical smell that grew stronger and stronger.  I thought they were using sort of chemical cleaner or something. Eventually we opened the windows. Alan came out and asked if something blew a fuse. The Geek Squad guys had no idea what was causing the smell.  We all endured.  Awhile later one of the guys said, “Oh no!” and they realized that they had accidentally turned the stove on!!  The moving blanket, squished between the stove and microwave, was melting and on fire! He bundled it up and rushed it outside, where it continued to simmer.  The house smelled AWFUL!!  We open the windows, Alan brought out all the fans from the old house, the guys tried to clean the stove.  It was awful. Eve went outside to keep doing her school work.  After awhile she came back in and said that it was smokier outside than inside. What?!  Alan went to look and found the blanket still smoldering, and smoking like crazy!  He broke out the hose and went to work while the Geek Squad guys continued to clean up.  Sigh.  Needless to say, they needed a part they didn’t have, so our microwave still doesn’t work!  They ordered the new part and will be back next week to fix it. We will continue living in the dark ages.  I don’t know why anyone, ANYONE, chooses to live without a microwave! :)

After that adventure we taped some signs on the car and headed down to DBS to join the HSD parade!  In all honesty, I was dreading this.  The forecast called for 100% chance of rain today and I was just imagining wet cars, windows up, kids huddled under umbrellas, etc. It seemed awful.  Mother Nature, however, cut us a break today!  The weather was PERFECT!!  We had decorated cars, students and families came out with big signs and even bigger smiles.  I felt like a celebrity! Alan came along to drive so I could wave.  It was so awesome.  I had a huge smile!

When we got back to school, Alan and I sent up the donated tent and got ready for book checkout.  After being out of school for two full months, we organized a book exchange for this week.  On Monday and Tuesday we accepted book returns.  The principal and secretary took turns sitting outside to accept books on Monday and Tuesday.  All week I took email “orders” for books. Last night I went in to school and checked in all the books, then “filled” all of the book orders.  This afternoon I sat out front and handed out books to the 20 families who had requested new books.  It might not seem like a lot, but it was great!  So many parents and kids were thrilled.  One family, with three avid readers, were arguing over who got to open the bag.  Their mom said that book checkout was the highlight of their day.  I said, “really? We had the parade today.” She said, “yes, the liked the parade, but they kept asking when they could get their new books.” :)  In another car I handed the kindergartner his bag of books and he tore right in to it.  He immediately told his mom about all the great books, then handed one to his 2yr old sister in the car seat next to him. I chatted with mom for a few minutes, then said goodbye to kiddo who, nose in book, completely ignored me.  Mom apologized.  I told her I LOVE seeing kids with noses in books! No need to apologize!

One of my coworkers was there for another purpose (handing out Finding Our Strides t-shirts), so we took this picture and posted it to Facebook to remind families to stop by. We were both smiling, then laughed at ourselves for smiling with the masks on. :)

The weather all week has been iffy, so the director of the parks department, who also has a kid at DBS, offered to let us borrow a tent for our book exchange this week.  It was awesome! It kept the rain off the principal and books earlier in the week, and it kept the sun off of me this afternoon! The forecast still said rain, the clouds were dark, but the sun was strong and kept breaking through. I felt very fortunate to have a tent over my head as I sat at a picnic table covered in books!

By the time I got home the forecast had changed from rain to hail, with a tornado warning! I showered (COVID germs all day!) and then sent the kids up for early showers.  Then we all watched UP as the storm rolled in.  (It has since passed and we didn’t get hail OR a tornado! We did get lots of heavy rain though!)

After months of little to nothing going on outside the house, today felt like a real whirlwind of people and excitement!  Last summer this would have been just another Saturday.  But on a Friday. It’s a weird world.

We are looking forward to a sunny, no plans Saturday!

Nostalgia

I was walking Huxley the other day and got really nostalgic. Our neighborhood is lovely, but it’s so new and bare. Our old street was so established and all the trees were fully grown and all the flowers bloomed and so much history.  Our new place will get there, eventually. Now it’s bare. Eve wants a tree to climb. She wants trees for her hammock. Our house was so cozy and had a swing set. Eve was happy there and wore colorful clothes and had friends. I was smaller and cuter. Less gray. Less old.

We have a 3yr old on the street and one neighbor babysits three other little kids, so our street is often covered in chalk and littered with bikes and balls.  I miss my kids being that little.  Or even smaller than me! I miss doing craft projects with them and reading stories with them. I miss gardening together. The neighbor was wheeling his 3yr old around in a wheelbarrow yesterday and it reminded me of this day and others like it.

Also, Alan and I have been watching That 70’s Show again.  I LOVE that show. It’s so funny.  But also it’s a show we watched together when it first came out and it’s a show about teenagers falling in love and parents still very much in love. For as often as I literally laugh out loud, there are just as many awkward moments.

I realize, OF COURSE, that it wasn’t all peachy-keen “back in the day.” The house was too small, not right, leaky. The yard took a lot of work. Parenting was hard and marriage was hard. There are as many “goods” today as there were back then, they’re just different “goods.”  Goods that I sometimes miss.

Also, this…

Purple!

Purple everywhere!

I dyed my hair purple.  Eve has been wanting me to do it for awhile. I kept promising to to do it when my hair was sufficiently gray. We had an appointment scheduled in the “before time” but then COVID-19 hit and the world closed down.  We eventually got tired of waiting, so today we took matters into our own hands.

Eve did the front section of her hair too. Unfortunately (for her), her hair is so ark that it doesn’t show much. It looks cool though. She makes everything look cool!