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. 😁

Sixteen!

Here it is. The big day. Sixteen years ago right now I was holding an hour old baby. Now I’m looking at a handsome teenager. We had a low-key day, just school, presents, pizza, and ice cream cake.

Happy birthday kiddo. I’m so glad to know you.

A Birthday in Burlington

Baby Zig is turning 16 this week! It’s hard to believe how fast the years have flown by. Per usual, he doesn’t want a party and he mostly just wants Legos and books. One different thing he did want this year is some extra driving practice time, so we decided to take a day trip to Burlington. A random idea turned into an awesome day with family in an adorable city. We walked Church street, ate delicious bagels in the park, Lake Champlain chocolate ice cream and macrons, opened birthday presents, visited the science museum and the Earth Clock, spent about a minute and a half at the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet, and finished the day with dinner at the Olive Garden. Yum!

You’ve come a long way baby!

Whales Tails along the side of the high way. I love Vermont.

13ft tall, African black granite, pretty cool.

All three kids had fun with this exhibit. Feeling strong. 💪🏻

Eek! He let me take an “almost 16” picture. I’m such a lucky momma! 🤗🤗

The Burlington Earth Clock. Probably would have been a little more effective if the sun were out.

It took some work to figure it all out.

This is a fun picture. :)

One of the stones had a heart hole in it. 🖤

The World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet, apparently a VT tourist attraction. Who knew?! I guess we can check that off the bucket list now. 😂

We had a beautiful drive home, with Lex behind the wheel.

Sunday morning Legos. Happiness is.

Done! A double decker London bus, complete with gum under a seat.

After a year of Covid and quarantine it was nice to get out and sample a little bit of normal again. I’m looking forward to a lot more of that as the summer comes.

Saturday

While B’Lake was at a track meet and Lex was at his black belt prep karate class, Eve and I took a lovely walk on the rail trail. She makes my heart happy.

He’s training with the black belts now! He’ll be testing for his own black belt this summer!

Just a little creepy taking pictures through the trees. :)

Water makes me happy.

She makes me even happier. 💛

Nature is cool.

After Lex drove us to karate and back, I left them at home and headed to the local indepedent book store to do some shopping. :) They haven’t let people in the store since last March, though I’ve done plenty of curb side pickup with them. Today is national Independent Bookstore Day (or something like that) and they had a reopening celebration. They had a celebration and I had a purchase order to spend! Happiness!

So many good books! I might read them all this weekend. :)

They had stickers! 🤗

Spring Break!

Woohoo, party on man, it’s spring break!!!

J/K. That’s not the way we roll in Covid times (or any other times, I suppose). 😄 Even better than all that…. we had company!!  Mema and G’Tom and Joyce came to visit from far away not-Vermont.  It was awesome to see people and hug people!!  They brought some more birthday presents for Miss Eve, we took a walk on the rail trail, and we all had a nice time just hanging out.

Opening presents with Laurens.

I love this silly person.

Personalized M&Ms! Thanks Mema!

Laurens, caught doing plank pose. I think Joyce must be around here somewhere.

Waiting for Aunt Katie for a walk on the rail trail.

They left just before the April snowstorm hit! Good timing. Today we are under a “winter storm warning” which is exactly what you don’t want to hear in April (but, I remind myself, always do at least once each year).

Poor magnolias, trying their hardest to bloom.

This is not a hosta, BTW. We planted hostas in this spot, but seem to be getting tulips instead. Never a dull moment when Eve and I are in charge of the gardening.

While the snow came down Lex and I brought Huxley to the groomers for a long overdue haircut. While Huxley was pampered, Lex and I drove around so he could get some practice driving in. The roads varied from wet to completely snow covered so you couldn’t even see the road. Needless to say I was ready to be home after that!

We just finished another episode of Sherlock (a favorite in this house!) and are all lamenting how fast this vacation went by. I think we need just one more week.  Please, pretty please?

Musical Theater

Lex’s script binder and the program.

Another year of musical theater has come and gone. This year it involved outdoor rehearsals, unknown locations, prerecorded singing, clear masks, limited audiences, livestreaming, and day of quarantine concerns. Lex designed and ran the lights again. B’Lake was on the tech committee, but due to an unfortunate Covid exposure he had to quarantine this week and miss the play. He gave us some good inside info while we watched the livestream last night. Tonight I got to attend in person! They were allowed to have 20 people in the audience, but for some reason limited it to district teachers only. No complaints here! The show was fantastic, the audience enthusiastic, and my view of the stage was primo!

Friday night, watching from home. Live theater from the comfort of my couch.

Next year Lex will do lights again, B’Lake wants to do crew again, and Eve wants to (maybe) be in the show!

Easter ’21

Easter is a holiday I struggle with a bit. Seeing as we aren’t religious there’s really no good reason for it, and now that the kids have outgrown cute little toys in baskets, it’s mostly just a candy buffet on the piano. However, they always want to do Easter and color eggs and we always have fun. As I was scrolling through social media the other day I came across a lovely quote about Easter being the time when the Earth is awakening after a long winter, a time when we celebrate new life and a fresh start. I connected with that quote and felt a little more inspired to celebrate the holiday.

We decorated the house last week, decorated eggs on Sunday morning, ate way to much candy, reminisced about the time both kids threw up at Grandma Pat’s house because she fed them too much chocolate (why can’t I find that blog post?!) and hid/found/rehid/refound eggs. It was a nice day all around.

Easter morning candy buffet.

They did play with the bubbles too. Inside, which wasn’t my goal, but oh well.

They still like a good egg hunt! No construction vehicles or large dumpsters to hide the eggs on this year.

Huxley found the first one!! I had to keep him on a tighter lead after that. 😂 He didn’t eat it, don’t worry.

Among Us eggs, because why not.

We are still missing one….. No one used the cute baskets to find eggs this year. They remained on the candy buffet while bowls, egg crates, and pockets were used to gather eggs.

Happy Easter, regardless of exactly what you are celebrating! I tried to find that inspirational quote again, but couldn’t, so I settled for this one instead. :)