Driving!

Lex got his learners permit in the mail this week! He was pretty excited. Alan took him out to drive a few times in parking lots, and I took him out today. He even drove on our neighborhood streets today! 😲😲 He only hit one small curb and I only freaked a tiny bit once when he got *very* close to a parked car. Overall, job well done! He’s eager to keep practicing. Apparently I’ll need to keep practicing my nerves of steel as well! LOL.

Thoughts about back to school

We are exactly four weeks out from when I’m supposed to start back at school and five weeks until the kids’ official first day back. Assuming nothing changes. In a normal year I would be making plans, we would be checking school supply lists and back to school shopping, I’d be writing lesson plans and we would be trying to cram as much fun into the remaining few weeks. And by “fun” I mean relaxation! :)

This year is a big who knows! I’ve been reading the articles online, listening to the news, talking to my teacher colleagues, and trying to find the balance between relaxation and panic. Panic! Not even taking it account politics and racial tensions, back to school planning is overwhelming.

For my entire life as a parent, I have put the needs of my own kids first. I have done everything I could to make sure they are supported and cared for. I left a high paying job to be home with them. I got into teaching to be available after school and during the summers. I have worked very, very hard to make sure they are successful human beings. I don’t regret a single second of it, but now I wonder if my plans are backfiring. My kids did really well with remote learning. Eve is happier now that she has been in a long time! She was really struggling with middle school and since we switched to remote learning she has been so much more relaxed. She’s even wearing light gray clothes, instead of all black. :) Lex missed band class, but otherwise did really well with remote learning too. None of us are interested in wearing masks for 8 hrs a day. Lex has opted to continue remote karate and drum lessons so as not to have to wear a mask in those settings. If I didn’t have to go back to school, I’m 90% sure I’d keep them home in the fall. The other 10% is because I would actually let them have input if it was an option, but it’s not an option because I have to go back to school. I have to go back to school and be surrounded by small children who won’t be able to social distance and won’t wear masks effectively for a full school day.

We are lucky that our COVID-19 rates are very low in Vermont, but that doesn’t mean we’re immune. I have such mixed emotions about school. I understand that kids need to be in school so parents can work (that darn economy!) and that they miss seeing each other. I understand that some kids don’t have the family support at home to be successful with remote learning. I understand. I also know that school will NOT look like school as we know it. We will be wearing masks. We will be social distancing. We will have Plexiglas barriers and one-way hallways. When kids come back and want to hug their friends and teachers, we will have to say no. When they want to hold a friend’s hand. No. When they want to sit next to me for a story. No. When they are feeling sad and need a hug. No. No?

I know a lot of kids needs the structure and stability of school (and safety, unfortunately). I know a lot of families need the childcare that school provides. I also know that nothing will be the same when students walk in the door on the first day of school. Nothing can be the same. We will all do our best, but I hope it’s enough. And I hope my working with kids doesn’t bring the virus into our home.

Who knew teaching was such a high-risk job? Sheesh.

Summer in the country

We had a nice visit to the country this summer.  We stayed a little longer than usual, just because. We spent lots of time doing nothing, and a little time doing stuff.  It was great. We celebrated Mema’s birthday, did some hotel pool swimming, played games, took a hike with Julie and her girls, and ate s’mores. I’m going to let the pictures do the talking though.

Mommy (or daddy?) is back to feed the babies. Both parents took turns. They are hard working birdies.

Their birdhouse/wind-chimes had a family of wrens living in it! We had a great time watching the busy parents work non-stop to feed these babies!

At the pond. Possibly the most photogenic pond ever.

Catching frogs. The froggies were practically hopping into Eve’s hands!

Look at these teeny tiny frogs! So cute! So many!

Harry Potter Clue. It was Pettigrew! That rat!

Who’s hungry?!

S’mores!

#yum

Girls, dogs, and sparklers.

Sparklers

Just the three of us. <3

Settlers of Catan. Joyce’s favorite game! :) We played the Seafarer expansion pack just for her.

Post swim snuggles. LOL.

Happy Birthday Mema!!!!

Huxley got to the top of the hill and decided he was done.

All pink, no filter.

Look at that beautiful water-less waterfall!!

Hanging out behind the waterfall. All that’s missing is the water!

On top of the world, with old friends.

I can see my car from here! Barely.

I really, really want to love this picture, but UGH! Who is that gray-haired old lady in the middle?!

Sisters! One definitely needs to up her hiking game!

Lunch at the lake, in the pavilion.

World’s best cheese cake with expertly macerated strawberries! :)

Huxley DOES NOT want to be left behind again!

Heading home.

Life is good.

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. :)