All the feels

We had a busy week. Lex was home between A Term and B Term. He successfully finished his first quarter of college! He ended it with two A’s and a B. The B was in Calc III, a class that the FB Parents groups says is the most “NRed” class at WPI. “NR” means “not recorded” and is an option if your grade is too low and you don’t want it to count. I’m not sure if the credit counts or not, but Lex was pretty pleased with his B in that class.

He came home last Friday night and, at the urging of high school pep band friends, he went to the homecoming football game and played with the pep band. River went to pep band that night too and they all had a great time!

On Sunday we had our usual family chat with Eve, but this time all of us were in one place, sharing one screen, EXCEPT Eve who was on the other side of the ocean. It quickly devolved into tears. I’m not sure if it’s because we were together or not, but she was pretty miserable. She’s had a cold for awhile and medicine is weirdly limited there. They don’t have the standard go-tos, like DayQuil and Sudafed. She said even Tylenol requires a prescription. So weird. Her host family tells her she needs to eat more healthy (true) and bought her some decongestant that takes 6-12hrs to kick in. Weird. As I’m typing this I realize I should research why Sweden is so anti-OTC meds. I don’t remember that from almost 30 years ago! Super weird!! 😮 So she cried through that whole conversations. Everything is awful, everyone is terrible, she hates it all, and misses everything at home. Sigh.

Lex came to visit me at the library on Monday. I gave him a tour of the library that he hasn’t seen since he was four years old. No surprise, he didn’t remember the place! :) I got to show him off to my co-workers, then we got pizza at the pizza place next door and enjoyed each other’s company.

The week went on. My job is so low-key that I am quite often bored with *nothing* to do. I have cleared up both of my email inboxes. I went from 2K+ in my personal account and 8k+ in my school account (still active because I’m still doing the website work) down to 15 and 2 respectively. I didn’t read all the emails (of course!) but I scanned the subject lines and initial text as I deleted them. When I got to the March 2020 emails in my school account I noticed my heart rate increased and my breathing got shallower and faster. I literally had to close my email and step away from my computer for awhile. I didn’t come go back to the email until the next day. It was such a strange experience as all the memories from the school closure came flooding back.

On Thursday the boys had some friends over. Simon, Jonah, and Liv. They hung out, watched YouTube, laughed, ate, etc. All the things teens do and they were all happy to have Lex back for a few days. Part way through the evening I got a text from Eve saying it was hard to be away when all of her friends are hanging out at her house. True, of course, but I was surprised she knew. She said they were posting quotes and picture on Discord. I had to politely ask my house full of teens to stop posting on Discord for the evening. Eve and I continued to have a long, downer conversation via text, while I simultaneously texted with Joyce about her exchange student experience. Eve hasn’t directly asked to come home, but she was hinting at it pretty strongly. Sigh.

Eve texted me later that night and said her bestie, Simon, had sent her a bunch of love via text and memes. 💗

Follow-up conversations with family and friends have shown me that Eve is pretty positive when texting with everyone else. She’s saving the tears for me. Good, I guess.

Last night we (me and the boys) joined Rosy and two of friends at a local pub for dinner. The service was slow and the music was loud (but good!), and we all had fun.

We had another family chat today (since I’ll be busy tomorrow) and it was once again all of us here and Eve there. I tried having us all join from our own devices around the house, but apparently my broadband can’t support three independent video conference streams very well, so the conversation was choppy. We ended up consolidating on the couch with my computer. Eve said she isn’t bothered by our being together, but she definitely got more emotional after we gathered on one computer. We had a good chat though and I managed to end it on a high note with everyone happy and smiling. :)

Lex decided to go back to WPI today instead of tomorrow so that he has a day to settle in. So weird that WPI is now “home” and he needs that day to settle in there instead of here. It makes sense, but still weird. He packed this morning, after our chat with Eve, and we once again played the “waiting for the dryer” game. A perennial favorite (ha!) in this house. By the time the laundry *finally* got done, Lex was overcome with a wave of emotion. He was tired today and doesn’t generally do well with transition, but when it was time to get in the car he started crying and worrying and all the emotion came out. Way more then when we dropped him off in August! He said he was too tired, he didn’t want to back to dining hall food, packing was too hard, etc. We talked about how hard it is for vacation to end and the stressors of getting back to the “real world.” It’s so surreal to me that the “real world” is no longer here with me. Alan picked him up last week and brought him back to WPI today. It gave them some good quality time. Alan texted me hours later saying he just dropped off a happy boy at college. Whew! I sat down on the couch to read and promptly fell asleep for an hour. I think I was emotionally drained.

Rosy and her friends are in town for a lovely New England weekend. Unfortunately the universe said NO, and it has been raining the entire time. They spent the day exploring in the rain, then went back to their Airbnb for the evening. I was going to join them, but when I woke up from my nap I could not motivate myself. We will be spending all day tomorrow at King Arthur Flour doing a cake baking/decorating class, and then my book group will come over tomorrow afternoon to meet Rosy’s friends and help us eat four cakes! This afternoon I spent a weird amount of time sitting at my table, unable to get up and go hang out with her and friends, thinking about my messy house, thinking about socializing, thinking about kids, etc. I was just stuck. So I did the lame thing and bailed on socializing. (Sorry, Rosy!) Then I hand washed some dishes, folded the laundry, and swept the floor (my roomba is broken and the floor was long overdue!). Then decided to write a blog post. :) Above the laptop screen right now I see my couches that need vacuuming tonight (stupid pets) and a pile of TLC goodies for Eve that I need to ship as soon as I can find a box for them. I think I’m going to vacuum the couches, watch some TV, and crash.

I’m excited for cake baking tomorrow, and spending time with Rosy, her friends, and my book group. Then settling back into my new life on Monday with just me and River in the house. Plus the always needy pets, of course! :)

The teacher in my is dying to ask: How many emotions did you see in that text? The title said “all” of the emotions; did you see “all” of the emotions there? What other emotions can you think of?

The sane person in me says: Tessa, get a hobby! LOL.

Fall football at WPI

One of my besties from school accompanied me to a WPI concert this weekend, with a little football on the side. :)

When I first told her that Lex was going to WPI she got all excited because her sister had also gone there. When I said he was joining the marching band, she squealed (literally) and said she’d love to see him. She’s the music teacher and was instrumental in his musical career. I suggested a football game and she was all in.

Months later Lex is happily marching with the band and I am no longer at school. I texted her to see if she was still interested and she said heck yeah! It was a beautiful week all week, with just one rainy day, Saturday, football day. :/ I monitored the forecast obsessively and bugged Lex daily via text. The band can’t play in the rain, so all our plans hinged on that rain holding off. And it did! (mostly) It rained on the drive down, drizzled a little for the first quarter, then stopped. The band did the tunnel and played for the first half of the game. Then they did the halftime show as the wind picked up and the sky darkened. The forecast predicted an imminent downpour, so the drum majors (the band bosses) gave the band members the option of staying or going. A handful stayed, but most left. Lex was hungry and eager for Olive Garden, so he was happy to leave after halftime. We were happy to leave then too.

I loved having hours to catch up with my friend. I loved watching the band. I loved watching the band with a music teacher and former pep band member! She had so many good questions and observations that I didn’t even know to make or observe. I loved getting to see Lex. I loved that the rain held off enough that we got to see the band perform. Overall, it was a great Saturday!!

Family Weekend at WPI

After six long weeks I finally got to hug my boy again!! And hug him I did!! LOL. He was warned and graciously accepted my (not-so)surprise hugs all weekend! 🤗

Alan and I drove down Friday night and met Lex on campus for dinner. We ate at one of the cafe on campus, then we went to a show. The VOX (theater group) put on a show called Something Rotten that was hysterical. We laughed all the way through!

After the show we brought Lex back to his dorm, then Alan and I drove to the sketchiest hotel EVER!! It was an Econolodge that seemed to also double as a homeless shelter and methadone clinic — best case scenario. It was AWFUL! The non-smoking room smelled like smoke, the beds felt like box springs, and I was pretty sure my Tesla would not survive the night in that parking lot. There was a big tent with some sketchy looking people in it, all lit up at 11pm. We didn’t even unpack the car! That was the night I discovered that I do, in fact, have standards in lodging. (Had I read the hotel reviews a little better I would have made a better choice. 🙄) We got back in the car and left! We drove down the road a bit and found a Hampton Inn. Turns out they are owned by Hilton and I have a Hilton membership, and we got a deal for night-of booking and it all worked out to be almost the same price as the skeezy drug hotel! Of course I can’t get my money back for the sketchy place, but at least I felt safe in the Hampton Inn. It was a pretty crazy experience, but we definitely made the right choice to switch hotels!

The next morning we met Lex on campus for brunch at his dining hall. Because it was Family Weekend they had dining tickets available for families. We got lucky though and there was a college kid standing by the line offering to use up his extra meal swipes on parents! He treated us to brunch so we didn’t have to pay! It was a pretty cool thing to do. Their meal swipes reset Saturday night and he had extras that would have just gotten wasted, so he treated 10 parents to a free meal. Pretty cool dude!

They had a whole bunch of random activities planned for Family Weekend, so we walked around and checked out some stuff. Nothing terribly exciting, but I loved just being there. We went to the bookstore and I bought him two shirts to hang in his closet and look at for a few months before maybe trying them on. I also got magnets for my car and the teen car, and some new hot cups since the lids for the ones I have broke last week!

Lex had some homework to do, so we left him for a few hours in the afternoon. Alan and I went to Lowes and Best Buy to get him a shelf and a webcam. Then we met back at his dorm to drop off the stuff and take him out to dinner. Dinner, of course, was at the Olive Garden! LOL. We video called with Eve while we were there. It was fun, but maybe not nice for her. I’m not sure. She said she was happy to talk with us and that she missed the Olive Garden.

After dinner we went back to campus to see a free movie, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse. Friday night they had the movie on the quad on a giant inflatable screen, but on Saturday they moved it into an auditorium due to rain. It was a great movie! I would have prefered to see it on the quad (they have lots of cool Adirondack chairs on the quad!), but it was good in the lecture hall too. Apparently they do regular weekend movies on the quad or the lecture hall. They had free popcorn and candy available. It was fun.

Sunday morning Lex had marching band practice, so I slept in a bit then Alan and I got a great breakfast at little diner near campus After marching band, Lex had to prep for his Concert Band performance. They had three hours of band at Alden Hall. First an hour of Jazz Band, which Lex is in, but apparently there are three Jazz Band levels and level 1 (the freshman) didn’t perform this time, but will at future concerts. Then an hour of Concert Band, then an hour of Symphony. Lex is in Jazz Band and Concert Band. He said there are a lot of percussionists in Concert Band, so they didn’t all play in every song. Of the six songs they performed, he played in three. I might be a bit biased, but I think he was excellent in all three! :)

We chatted with him a little before Concert Band started and he said he wasn’t feeling too hot. It had been raining all morning and they did their marching practice in the rain. He thought that didn’t help with his overall well-being. He was feeling pretty ready to crash. After the concert, of course! He also has test on Monday that he was trying to prep for, in addition to homework due Monday. It was a busy weekend for him.

After the concert we checked in with him again. He said he was still feeling down (cough, sore throat, etc.) so Alan and I went to CVS and got him so meds. The campus health center is apparently closed on Sundays. Good to know for the future. I was texting with him a bit this evening and he said the meds were helping and he was looking forward to a Nyquil-assisted good night’s sleep.

I’m so, so happy we got to spend this weekend with him. I miss him (and he misses us!) and it filled my mommy hear to see him thriving in his new world. Now we begin the countdown to his week at home in October between terms! Then I’ll get to hug him all week!! <3

The one and only time I take just ONE photo, I get this “eyes closed” photo, but I’m going to share it anyway because we all look so happy. He wasn’t feeling great. We just brought him some meds and were saying goodbye before heading home. I think his eyes closed smile is fitting. 💗

Marching Band @ WPI!

My posts are now going to come in threes, apparently. You’re welcome.

Tonight I got to watch WPI beat WSU in football. They livestreamed the whole event. Do you care? No, me neither. HOWEVER, they have the “greatest band in the land” and THAT is why I tuned in! Lex had his first marching band performance tonight. His first week at WPI was for marching band camp. He auditioned for the drum line and was given cymbals. He was hoping for the snare drum, but he is just a freshman after all, so cymbals was a good place to start. Half way through the week he told me he was so glad he was on cymbals because the marching part was so complicated, he really appreciated having an easy instrument to play. Maybe the band director knew what they were doing. :)

So tonight was their first game. They livestreamed it and I loved it. WPI is a NCAA Division III school, so their football setup (and streaming setup) is only slightly better than high school, but they have a marching band and it was awesome. Apparently the football team is good too. Or at least better than WSU. :)

I’m incredibly happy that he decided to join the marching band in college. He has made friends, learned new skills (marching!), and even put on a silly uniform that matches everyone else. He’s come such a long way. And the best part is, he’s loving it!! I’m so proud of him!

Lex and Eve, then and now

I talked the kids into a quick photo before they both left. It wasn’t hard to convince them. They are so good to me. 💗

It reminded me of a photo from a long time ago.

I paid a little more for the second one, but I love them both so much. The kids and the photos! Thirteen-ish years later and they still love each other. I’m a lucky momma and enterally grateful for them both. I hope they continue to love and support each other forever. 💕

Things We Said

Things Lex said to me yesterday:

  • “I’d like to start wearing jeans.”
  • “I get hungry a lot.” (which led to a conversation about nutrition and him deciding to have a PB&J for lunch (for the protein) with a side of fresh strawberries)
  • “Maybe tomorrow would be a good day to go shopping since we have no plans and I get restless after sitting around all day.”
  • “I like when I’m the first one up and walk the dog. Fresh air in the morning is nice.”
  • “I’d like to wake up at 9:00 or 9:30am so I don’t sleep away the day. It’s weird and disorienting when I wake up at noon.

Things I said to Lex:

  • “Who are you and what have you done with Lex?!” 😂

Today he woke up first, walked the dog, and happily came shopping with me and Eve. He tried on a bunch of jeans and settled on an style he likes. Eve also bought a pair of jean shorts and a button down shirt with crabs on it. We all had fun, until we got tired and headed home. :)


Lex graduated this weekend!! He’s such an amazing young man. It has been amazing watching him grow from a tiny baby to a stubborn toddler to an anxious tween to a thriving teen. He wore the robe and the silly hat, he wore the FRC tassle I got for him. He wore the “hood” that he earned for rocking his Honors Program. He earned a few scholarships and a diploma. If the weather had been better, graduation would have been outside and we would have gotten to see him in one final band performance as well, but with the weather so iffy and so much rain all around, they moved graduation indoors and cancelled the bad. Sad. It was a great ceremony anyway!

We had had a little tiny party at our house after graduation. Alan’s new wife made cake (she’s a professional baker) and cookies, and I got pizza for the crew. We had a champagne toast with a goofy speech by me. LOL. It was a really great night all around!

My family rented a lake house nearby to combine graduation with our annual lake week. The weather didn’t fully cooperate, but it was a great house and location, and I was happy to be able to wrap up work, graduation, and all the other stuff while also spending some time at the lake with the family.

On Saturday we invited the D&D group that all three kids are a part of over to the lake house for swimming and gaming. It was only 60° but that didn’t stop the teens from getting in the lake!

It was a big, eventful weekend with lots of planning and prep. I’d like to say that now we rest, but truthfully now we are hard at work prepping for our Norway trip, Eve’s Rotary trip, and Lex’s college adventure. We have a big summer ahead of us, kicked off by an awesome graduation weekend.

Senior Awards Night

Tonight was Senior Awards Night where they gave out 75 different awards, often to multiple people. It was long and my hands hurt from clapping, but we had fun. Lex got a handful of recognitions:

  • Honors Program (certificate and sash thing to wear at graduation)
  • The Frank Kinison Scholarship (certificate and $)
  • Frank & Olivia Gilman Scholarship (certificate and $?)
  • English Department Award for Excellence in Film Study (certificate and bookmark)
  • Blue Honor Roll Scholar (certificate for being on the honor roll all through high school)
  • Vermont Principals’ Association Award (certificate)
  • Community Service Award (certificate)
  • President’s Award for Educational Excellence (certificate)

Not too shabby for little Lex. I was impressed with the variety of awards given. They didn’t all go to athletes or college bound scholars. A lot of them did, of course, but there were also lots of awards for everyone else as well.

Another day at WPI

Lex, Alan, and I went to WPI yesterday for their “First Year Welcome Experience” day. We had a fun time. We started together at the opening greeting, then the students went off to follow their schedule and the adults had an entirely different schedule. We didn’t see Lex again until the end of the day. There were lots of sessions about academics, financials, housing, and more. We had lunch in one of the dining halls. Lex got to visit some dorms. We met new people and got lots of questions answered. It was really nice.

I felt really assured that he made a good choice and would have a good experience at WPI. He signed up for the marching band (they perform at football games, among other things) and will get to move in a week early. He knows who is roommate will be, and will learn which dorm they will be in next month. The campus is a nice size, the dorms are good, the academics seem just right, and the overall energy of the place was really positive. He’s excited for this next step and I’m excited for him. 💗

He’s 18!

Holy moly! My baby is 18. Somehow that happened today.

At this time 18 years ago, we were snuggling a tiny baby. The first in the next generation of Collier/Johnsons. It was such a surreal experience.

And in the blink of an eye he turned into a giant, functioning human being, rocking his life in high school and preparing to spread his wings and fly.

For those who can’t do the math (me!) the answer is WPI. :)

We had a perfectly lovely, low-key Lex style birthday day. He wanted cookies instead of cake and an evening with the robotics team, which he hasn’t been to in awhile due to recent theater and band commitments. We all did the normal school thing, of course. Eve and friends sang to him at lunch and his buddies bought him Twizzlers. After school we had a quick appointment at the doctor’s office where Lex had to fill out his own medical forms and a separate form authorizing the doctor to talk to me and Alan. Welcome to adulthood, it comes with paperwork. :)

After that we came home to open presents. He got fun stuff like WPI gear and a new phone (sort of fun, he is a neophyte after all — Mom, this is not the right word! What is the word you always use?!), and boring stuff like sheets and towels for college. After a quick dinner of New York bagels, he was off to robotics to prep for their match at WPI next weekend!

We had another fun surprise this evening when I was tidying up the birthday celebration and we realized the bagels were a monthly subscription! Who knew you could get a subscription for authentic NY bagels?! (clearly Rosy knew!)

He has a few more weeks of senior-slide school left, then it’s summer vacation. I’m going to make those days last as long as possible before I deliver him to his new life on August 20th.

Happy Birthday Lex!! I could not have asked for a better kid. I love you forever and ever. 💗