Today we went back to school without masks. Almost two years to the day of when the world shut down. Three months of remote schooling, a full year of distanced/masked/isolated learning, and now, three quarters of the way through year three, things are starting to look normal again.
I stand outside the library door each morning, greeting the students as they come up the stairs. This morning I was lifted by the happy smiling faces everywhere. I was hesitant about not wearing a mask into the building (it felt so weird to walk in maskless!) but my reserves cleared away as more and more smiling kids walked by. One girl said “I just can’t stop smiling!” We all commented throughout the day on the missing teeth, changed faces, and even a nose ring (on a teacher!) that has all been hiding behind the masks. It was a normal, yet somehow surreal feeling today.
Every day I want to write here about what’s going on. I want to document and remember. Yet somehow, every day turns into every night and every night creeps closer and closer to the next day. I seem to never have the time to visit my favorite blog. My memory sucks and things will be lost, but I wanted to be sure to document the feeling of today. At least in my corner of the world. Relief. Joy. Connection. Smiles. It has been a long two years.
After almost exactly two years with no live events, Lex and B’Lake attended the FRC New England Regional event this past weekend. They had a great time, helping their team take home second place overall and the Excellence in Engineering award! Lex worked on the mechanics of the robot, named Hedy Lamarr this year, and the scouting program. B’Lake led the scouting efforts. Scouting is important to better understand your competition and to help you form powerful alliances. It’s something the team hasn’t done well in the past and wanted to focus on this year, and that they did!!
They were even nice enough to manage text conversations with all sorts of family as we peppered them with questions and comments from the peanut gallery (our homes). The boys both had sore throats and scratchy voices when they got home. However, they are already thinking about the next match later this month!
Not to leave Eve out of this post, she was reinvigorated to join the team! When we went to the event back in 2020, Eve got excited to join the team and help with the “outreach” (swag, bling, social media, etc.) side of things. The Grasshoppers are EXCELLENT at the tech side, but not so much at the other side. Teams that are much bigger have impressive social media support, recruiting activities, and community involvement — all of which garner them rewards at the events! When we got home in 2020 she and I worked on creating buttons for the team (most of the other teams had them) to hand out to their alliances, and some signage. All of which has since sat on the shelves in our mudroom for the past two years! The team was happy to have the swag for this event though.
At the beginning of this season Eve went to a meeting and decided it wasn’t for her. However, watching from the couch at home, she got re-inspired. She started sketching mascot ideas, signage ideas, and how to promote the team. When she saw the award for Best Imagery, she thought “I can do that!” So she decided she does wants to join the team after all! We’ll see if her motivation carries through to actual action next week. :)
Eve come home yesterday with a few forms to show me. She started pulling them out of her bag and announcing them — course planner for next year, course selection sheet, and a drivers ed application. DRIVERS ED?!? I was NOT prepared for that.
I have been bugging B’Lake to bring home an application so he can take drivers ed this summer. Lex got his license and I was prepared to do the next two in order. The idea that Eve could take drivers ed this summer NEVER even occurred to me! Of course, she will be old enough and could have her permit in time, but in my head it was one kid at a time, not two at once!
Also, Lex and B’Lake are at a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) meet this weekend. They left with their team after school this afternoon, which means they were packing and prepping last night and this morning. This is the first time Lex is off on his own. Not really on his own, of course, but not with parents or grandparents. They are staying in a hotel and taking the bus to and from the competition. Unfortunately (for me) FRC isn’t allowing non-team attendees, so I can’t go watch.
Lex joined the team his freshman year and we went to our first FRC competition in March 2020. Two weeks later the world shut down and all further FRC competitions were cancelled. We all really enjoyed the competion and were bummed that we couldn’t attend any more. Last year the season was all virtual, which wasn’t much fun for Lex. This year they are back in person and able to hold the competitions, even without an audience. I’m happy the kids can do this, even if I can’t be there to watch. :) Luckily they will be livestreaming it, so if you want to follow along, you can do so here: https://www.thebluealliance.com/team/95
I’ll be watching and cheering them on! Maybe my buddy, who can’t possibly be old enough to take drivers ed this summer, will watch with me.
Eve did a thing! The high school does a play called “the One Act” each year. It’s a play, not a musical, and a smaller cast. Eve and two of her friends joined this year. She had a really good time with rehearsals. The final performance was tonight. It was a really funny show!
Lex drives Eve to school each morning, but yesterday they had to go early because Lex had jazz band rehearsal. Eve didn’t want to wait in the school, so Lex let her wait in the car. He told her to turn it off and lock it when she came inside. Apparently she locked it, but didn’t turn it off. In the Tesla you don’t have to turn it off and Lex says his car normally turns itself off after 10 minutes with no key (Eve took the key into the school with her), but for some unknown reason the car didn’t turn off. Later in the day someone told him his headlights were still on and when he got out to check it out the battery had died.
He texted me mid day and told me the car was dead. My school day was already stressful, so I told him I’d be there after school to get him and we could figure it out then. After school finally came and it was cold and raining. The car was definitely dead. We walked around the parking lot for a bit, looking for an outlet. No luck. However, I did noticed the Rapid Rescue trucks setting up for the weekly vaccination clinic in the parking lot. I accosted some young guy in a Rapid Rescue shirt and asked if we could borrow a generator. He was nice enough to help us out and brought over a generator. He got it running and we plugged the car in. No luck. The car wasn’t charging from the generator. We called Alan for advice and he suggested the smaller starter battery was dead and needed a jump start. Ugh.
I returned the generator to the Covid folks and asked about a jump start, but by this point the clinic had begun and the guy I returned the generator to was less friendly than the first guy, and he said he just couldn’t help at all. Which is totally understandable.
I sent an SOS email to my lovely neighborhood list serve and 10 minutes later my neighbor Sally was there. She had jumper cables and an functioning vehicle. We hooked it all up, but still couldn’t get the car running. We left it hooked up for awhile then tried again. No luck.
By this point we were 90+ minutes into dealing with this, in the rain and encroaching darkness, so I was just ready to give up. I called a tow truck and went home.
The tow truck driver had a jump start kit and was able to get it started enough to release the clutch lock and roll it onto the flatbed truck. At the house he hooked the jump start kit back up and rolled it into the garage. We plugged it in and checked it a few hours later. It was charged and started up with no trouble. Thankfully!!!
Eve took her pet store gift card and spent it all on presents for the pets. :) She’s so cute. She loves it there too. We had a really fun time shopping. The staff is so friendly and the girl helping us had hot pink hair. Eve will be working there some day!
Thanks for the gift card, Mema! We had a lot of fun with it.
Lex had a project for his social studies class (Conflict, Chaos, and Counterculture) and he used Minecraft to show three different examples. I am SUPER impressed with how cool this looks. He showed me his work along the way and I was so impressed at every step.
I have heard a lot about using Minecraft in education, but this is the first real project that I’ve seen that really makes sense. Lex did a lot of reading about the events and looked at a lot of photos to create these scenes.