A Good Day

Today was a good day. I drove to Boston for a follow-up appointment and steroid injection for my subglottic stenosis issue. I discovered a different, way more convenient parking area and I got to the doctor’s office just in time. I was pretty proud of myself. But then the doctor was called into an emergency surgery and I had to wait an hour and twenty minutes.  But Alan was at my house with the kids and I had a book and the internet, so I had no problem waiting. When it was my turn to see the doctor I told him that my symptoms are very mild and I’ve only just started noticing them in the past few weeks. He put the scope down my nose/throat and said it looks great in there! He said he sees very little scar tissue build up and saw no need for steroid injections this time! Yay!!  Yay that there wasn’t much scar tissue buildup and yay for no needles in the neck and yay that maybe we have found a treatment that will finally work so I don’t need annual throat surgery!  Yay all around!

I had my fourth surgery and first round of steroid injections in October (at the same time), then a second round of injections in December. Today was going to be the third round of injections. The doctor said he wants to see me back this summer for another check, which is good because I don’t think I’m totally in the clear yet, but not needing the steroids today is a great thing!

Since Alan was with the kids I didn’t feel stressed to get home quickly, so I stopped to charge the car for a bit and get lunch at Starbucks. Then later stopped at the highway rest area to pee and happened across a fun Easter display at the country store, so I browsed for a bit and stocked up on Easter basket items. Easter baskets times three equals a lot of candy! :)  I also got a little “thinking of you” gift for my coworker/friend with breast cancer. It was nice to have the time to browse and not feel rushed. Of course, shopping options are limited in these Covid-days, but even browsing the country store at the highway rest area was nice.

Back at home we ordered pizza for dinner and played cards for awhile. Then Alan headed home and I took the boys for haircuts. While I was waiting in the car, I got a call from a friend who normally calls me in tears, but this time called me in laughter after having a great day herself. It was nice to compare happy notes and catch up for a bit.

I hope the great day was spread far and wide. <3

One year later (updated)

One year has passed since COVID-19 took over my world, shut down my school, and threw everything up in the air. What a year it has been!

School closed for Covid on March 17th and didn’t reopen again until fall.  BUT, we did reopen in the fall, unlike many other schools. During the course of this corona-crazy year a lot has happened!

  • Eve turned thirteen. No more kids in the house, just teenagers! We had to cancel our awesome girls’ trip to Quebec and celebrate in quarantine instead. Not quite the same. :/
  • We planted hostas, a white rose bush, and a cherry tree. The neighborhood is looking a little nicer these days.
  • I dyed my hair purple! (I should do that again soon)
  • Alan and I separated (NOT covid related!)
  • We (teachers) organized a car parade around town to wave to all our quarantined kiddos. It was way more fun than I even thought it would be. Then later in the summer we did a drive-by retirement celebration for two amazing teachers.
  • I checked out 120+ Chromebooks and 444 books in two days. Plus a bunch more books through Covid-safe home deliveries.
  • Lex turned 15 and had a cool Minecraft party.
  • We went to a Black Lives Matter rally and did some anti-racism reading. It’s good to have a summer reading list!
  • We took a summer trip to Franklin and did some hiking with the Kirkwood girls.
  • Lex got his permit and started driving!!
  • We spent our summer watching numbers (infection rates, deaths, closures), checking what’s open and what’s not, figuring out masking and distancing requirements, and talking about racism.
  • We had an AMAZING family vacation/anniversary/birthday celebration on Lake Champlain. Hopefully the beginning of a new family tradition.
  • Returned to school IN A PANDEMIC! Masks, thermometers, tick tweezers, social distancing, plastic barriers, sanitizer, hand washing, the list goes on and on.
  • I was named the Teacher of the Year for DBS!! The award ceremony was virtual this year, but here’s what the program said:

    Tessa Johnson is the Dothan Brook School’s Employee of the Year. When DBS closed in mid-March, Tessa was tasked with guiding the technical aspects of this transition. She helped teachers create Google Classrooms, provided opportunities for kids to go home with an armful of books (444 books were checked out in 2 days!), and created guiding documents for parents. Over the closure, she spent countless hours online with families solving tech issues. When personal devices were not working, she delivered Chromebooks directly to families. At a town hall forum parents gave Tessa many accolades saying that they could not have done online learning without her. She also took the time to create videos for the students, build an enrichment classroom, and maintain resources on the district website. She must be a superhero, because I cannot imagine how a mere mortal would do all of this.

  • I had my fourth Subglottic Stenosis Balloon Dilation (throat procedure). This time it was in Boston and involves follow up steroid injections — through my neck! I’m going back on Thursday to get another round of neck injections.
  • Lex got his wisdom teeth out and we discovered a weird “hole” in Eve’s jaw. The dental surgeon figured it out and she’s fine.
  • We got a frog. Actually we got two, but one buried itself after a few weeks. :(  The other is alive and well. Eve takes it out to play once or twice a day. Out of the tank, not outside! :)
  • I took in two foster kids. It has been a HUGE learning experience! One kiddo is still with us, the other has moved to a new foster home.
  • We had quarantined holidays all year.
  • We got a new couch.

Wow, for a year in quarantine we really did a lot! The house is down one adult and up one kid. Two three pets still happy and relatively healthy. I feel super fortunate that we all came through the year safe, healthy, and employed.

I’m scheduled to get my Covid vaccine this Saturday, which feels like an appropriate way to mark the one year anniversary since COVID-19 took over my world, shut down my school, and threw everything up in the air.

I walked in to the library earlier this week and was struck by the sun shining on the globes in the dark room. It just reminds me that the Earth keeps turning, regardless of what’s going on in our world.


My last post had a bunch of pictures of Eve, no good ones of Lex, so I thought I’d share this from tonight. His First Robotics Competition team has been meeting via Zoom for the past few months and working on a Covid-alternate competition involving mini robots. Lex got his robot (a Romi) and a Raspberry Pi kit this week and has been having fun building and programming it. Tonight he had it running and “interacting” with the cat. It was funny. I should have made a video, but I didn’t. Oh well. Here he is hard at work tonight. His career path seems pretty clear. :)

Mema, maybe he’ll have it running and ready to roll over your toes when you come visit next month. :)

Quarterly Update

Hi all! Long time, no write. There is so much going on, but also, I don’t have a lot to write at the moment. So here are a few photos from the camera roll.

Eve got frogs. One buried itself, but the other is thriving.

Huxley and I did a lot of reading! I’m going to read 50 novels this year. I’m letting myself count YA and graphic novels too. :)

Eve is big into cosplay these days. Here is her medieval peasant woodland elf look. Pointy ears and all. :)

The pets did a lot of sleeping. Huxley is getting barky and growly and grumpy though. I hope it’s just pandemic fatigue.

Over vacation I co-opted the teenagers into a trip to school to clean the fish tank. It looks awesome now! I got lots of of compliments for teachers and students alike.

Ed came to visit!! He brought Rosy too. It was AWESOME seeing family again.

The hardest part of going back to school after vacation was putting this dang mask back on! :/

I came home one day to find this little cutie out front. I think Eve made it for recess. :)

Alan came to visit a few times. We taught Huxley how to play Spades. JK. He can’t really play cards, but he sure looks cute trying.

Evie has a birthday coming up and I remembered the photos this year! Yay! :)

Also, we got a new couch! It’s new to me anyway. A co-worker was giving it away. I hated (HATED) the old ugly gray/green couch we had, so I was psyched to get this new one. It’s big and bulky and heavy, but Alan helped and the teenagers and we got it in the house! Some random other person picked up the old one and it was exactly what she needed. I love it when it all works out that way.

Jasmine approves.

Tsu approves too. :)

Today… this happened!! They lifted (lightened) the cross-border guidelines and now Lex can go back to karate – IN PERSON! We were both pretty darn excited about it. He did karate. I sat in the car and read my book.

Some other, less photogenic things that are going on:

  • Lex is getting lots of drive time, including night driving.
  • Eve almost expressed a tiny bit of interest in returning to in-person school.
  • We had a really nice Sunday afternoon with all three teenagers planning their high school courses for next year.
  • I am getting vaccinated!! Hallelujah!
  • Probably some more stuff, but that’s all I got for now. 💛

Merry Christmas – 2020 style!

Merry Christmas! We did it. Christmas in a pandemic, divorce, foster care lifestyle. For the most part, everyone had fun!  The pictures are a bit limited (due to the third item above), but here are a few.

Make your own pizzas for Christmas Eve dinner.

The kids got creative with stuffed crust pizza!

This cutie wanted pizza too! 

Santa made it! With help from family and friends, we had a well stocked Christmas with gifts that wrapped around the tree.

Merry Christmas, Eve. :)

Lex, trying to figure out his dad’s present labels.

We had a great time with these beautiful wooden puzzles from Mema.

Some of the pieces are animal shaped. That was a fun discovery.

I made the traditional Christmas lasagna with a side of veggies. Eve made her now-traditional holiday frog bread. I got out the fancy table cloth and napkins….

… The kids ate nothing but frog bread! A nice balance to the candy they (we) ate all day. :)

It was different this year, for sure, and I missed the Collier family like crazy, but with the extra kids around we all did ok. :)

Here’s to a happy, healthy, family-filled 2021!!

What’s Making Me Happy

Christmas this year will be very different, for many reasons, but I’m determined to make it a great Christmas anyway. I am basking in the love I feel all around me, and the love I am able to share. Here are a few holiday memories we are making.

Can you guess what audio book we were listening to while making gingerbread cookies last week?

We have been playing a lot of board games lately! Although I’m not very competitive, I do ok sometimes. :)

We couldn’t have a holiday party at school this year, but our “Sunshine Committee” put together a safe, festive, inviting holiday Hot Cocoa Bar. It warmed my heart and my stomach!

Every last detail was thought of, right down to the to-go mugs for those of us who were on the go!

The super adorable preschooler on our street has been offering free snowballs all week. Sometimes people leave him little thank you gifts in exchange. 💖

Not exactly Christmas related, but we got a lot of snow last week and there are a lot of big boots in my mudroom! I tried to organize them. Jasmine “helped” in her own special way. :)


A few of our musical neighbors organized a socially-distanced holiday caroling event. It was mostly fun. :) The teenagers were not interested at all and I’m a terrible singer, but it was a lovely idea and reminded me once again how awesome my new neighborhood is.

Speaking of neighbors, there has been a lot of porch deliveries all week, with candy and trail mix and fun ornaments going around. :)

Eve and I took a little Christmas Eve drive with a loaded sleigh. She is my favorite co-pilot in the world and quick with the camera when we see cool things — like this blue driftwood horse.

A quick, masked, in-state, out-doors holiday gift swap. So many rules this year, but we snuck in a few hugs. I can’t wait to spend unmasked time with these amazing people again, in post-covid times!

The house is warm and filled with goodies. The children are happy. The Alan is here for the day. The Tessa is at peace. This Christmas will be different, but it will be ok.

🎄 Merry Christmas to all of you and best wishes for a happy (Covid-free) 2021. 💖💖


I have the nicest friends in the world. In case anyone was wondering. I have been mostly out of school this whole week, going in just a little bit some days (foster care reasons) and each time I go in I find a new little note on my desk. ❤❤ Here are just a few of the sweet, supportive notes:

And a few funny ones too. :)

This afternoon another friend brought over a fully constructed gingerbread house, frosting to decorate, and homemade lemon curd. And a bag of “extras” for nibbling on!

She said she might so Eve and I bought candy last week — just in case. :) Today she did and we had so much fun decorating it!

I have the best friends. Have I mentioned that already? :)

We are starting to feel a little Christmasy here.

Thanksgiving 2020

Like everything else this year, Thanksgiving looked a little different than usual. We were home, per Governor Scott’s orders, and down one dad but up two kids. A totally different mix than the usual Collier crowd!

We each picked a dish to make and ended up with breaded, fried, softly spiced tofu, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cheddar bread, “frog” bread, pumpkin pie with blue crust and blue whipped cream, and apple pie. Weird, but all delicious!

We started with a pumpkin pie and ended up with tartlets in blue pie crust and topped with blue whipped cream with blue sprinkles. Guess who was in charge of dessert?

I found a recipe for “breaded, fried, softly spiced tofu” and gave it a try. It was super yummy! Everyone (except Lex, of course) even ate it and several of us had it for leftovers today. Success!

Not too shabby for a Thanksgiving dinner in quarantine. :)

Lex made loaves of cheddar bread, but Eve deemed that too boring, so she decided to make green frog bread instead. We all enjoyed this experiment.

We had a fun day with new experiences. I felt like such an adult getting a full Thanksgiving meal on the table at a reasonable dinner hour. Having four kids laughing and enjoying themselves around the table made it even better. <3

Huxley Update

This poor guy went to the vet today for a neutering. He is so silly and love car rides and loves the vet’s office. I wonder if that will change now! :)  The surgery went well, but the vet said he immediately started worrying at his sutures as he came out of anesthesia, so they coned him. I was expecting that. Poor puppy.

Wisdom teeth

On Wednesday Lex had six wisdom teeth removed! Six! I said, “No wonder you’re so smart!” He was not amused. :) He had four that had cut through, and two others behind them, still in the gums. The dentist gave us the whole run down of all the possible things that could happen during recovery, but Lex got through it with minimal problems. The dentist talked about face swelling, bruising, bleeding, etc. He did have bleeding the first day, of course, and the regular meds to knock him out. He slept for most of the day Wednesday, then played some Minecraft quietly. I tried to keep him from talking, since he had gauze shoved in his mouth. :)  I kept him home from school on Thursday, but he decided to do some remote learning anyway. Friday (a remote day), he was exhausted and skipped his classes. I don’t think he realized that he was supposed to take both days off!

It has been weird having him in charge of his own medications. We reviewed it a bunch of times, then I left him Thursday to dose himself. He did great and has continued ever since. Sometimes it’s the little things that make you realized (again!) how fast the kids are growing up!

PS. There are no photos because he asked me not to take pictures. He was worried that he would do weird things, like you see people do on YouTube after a dentist visit. He was worried he would do that, and wanted to be sure I wouldn’t take any pictures or videos. :)  A valid concern! I was good though and didn’t take any pictures. :)