A big day all around!

School starts tomorrow. In normal town this day would have been spent celebrating the last day of summer and getting ready for school. I think I need another month so I can do those things! Instead today we 1) got news from the judge 2) bought a car and 3) … umm… I guess that’s it. It just felt super big and busy!

The judge in B’Lake’s merits case ruled that merits were found and the boy are to remain in custody! It was a huge relief and I let out a big breath I didn’t realize I was holding. There are more steps in this process, but we now know that he’ll be staying here with us for the foreseeable future and brother will be safe as well. Thankfully!

On the car front, Lex and Alan have been doing some research on used electric cars. If you don’t know, the used car market is HOT these days. And by HOT I mean, cars are flying off the lot and dealers are charging a fortune. :/ They found several used Nissan Leafs and a used electric Ford Focus. We drove up to Burlington today to check them out. Lex drove a pretty red Nissan Leaf, but it was a little more money than we were hoping to spend and the dealer had zero interest in negotiating. He told us his dealership hasn’t sold below list price in many, many months. We decided to go check out the Ford Focus at a different dealership and Lex decided he liked that car better. It’s a 2014 (one year newer than the Leaf) and has a backup camera, which surprisingly, the Leaf didn’t have.

2013 Nissan Leaf

2014 Ford Focus Electric

Lex drove it, Alan drove it, we had a little discussion, and bought a car!! I’m in the process of refinancing the house and will get some money out of it to pay for the car, so Alan wrote a check against his stock account (or something) for the short term and I’ll pay it off when the house closes. I was shocked at how much quicker the car buying process goes when you don’t need a loan!

Eeek! Lex and his first car.

I mean, Lex and his first car and his silly dad. :)

The Focus doesn’t have a long enough range to get from the dealership to our house, so Lex stopped at Alan’s house for a few hours to charge, geek about the car, and have dinner. I headed right home to see Eve for a few minutes and then pick the other one up from his new job. Lex drove himself home in the rain and dark and fog. I worried just the right amount and everything was ok. :)

Alan’s car and Lex’s car. Can you tell the Tesla Model 3 from the Ford Focus? :)

Throughout the whole day I was getting incoming back-to-school emails, website update emails, and having conversations with the bank about the refi and an estate attorney about updating those docs. I felt like a very busy person! :)

Tomorrow we go back to school. Five full days a week. All in person. Lex will be driving himself to and from school. B is taking the bus (unlike the other two, B’Lake says the bus is just fine and he sees nothing wrong with it), and E has chosen to have me drop her off at school each morning, even though that means she’ll get there 45m early each day! She said that beats taking the bus. Our sweet carpool deal from last year was complicated this year because of the closed bridge right between our two houses, making a short drive much much longer and therefore way less convenient.

My bulletin board with 250ish student names on it. :) It looks like confetti to me. ❤

I’m looking forward to seeing all the kids again, and the fun of school, but dreading the humidity in my unairconditioned library and a little anxious about getting back into the swing of early mornings, work/school/work/karate/meetings/activities/etc. I’m already looking forward to next weekend! LOL!

This was my library last Friday morning. 🥵 I can’t wait until they fix the AC!

Lex got his license!

Yesterday afternoon Lex took his driver’s license test. We had to go to a DMV 35 minutes away, because that’s life in a small state in a pandemic. Lex hasn’t driven in a bit since he’s been home all week on a virtual camp, so he wanted to practice his driving and his parking. He knew there would be three key maneuvers that he had to do on the test and he really hadn’t practiced any of them recently, so we decided to leave a bit early. As we were walking out the door we remembered that we had to print his driving log. He turned his computer back on and the printer started having issues. Of course. We finally got it printed, but by then we had lost most of our extra practice time. It was sunny when we left home, but pouring rain when we got there. Lex practiced his parallel parking a few times on a street near the DMV, then we parked in the lot next to another black Tesla and checked in. We had a 3pm appointment, but it still took nearly an hour before we were seen. During which time the instructor passed by and asked if we were driving the Tesla. He said he had seen Lex practicing his parallel parking. 😬 Then he told us we couldn’t do the exam without a front license plate. We said we have a front license plate. He said no we don’t. Then he left to take another kid (before us in line) for their test. We went out to double-check and noticed that the Tesla next to us didn’t have a license plate. On his way past again he asked if we had the completed paperwork (we did) and proof of insurance and registration. So I went back into the rain to get those documents.

Finally it was our turn. We insisted (again) that we have a front plate, then he pointed out that registration is expired (it’s not!) because the paper I gave him said 2020. Ugh. Back out into the rain. I couldn’t find the current registration paperwork, so I took a picture of the back license plate with the valid sticker. Back in the office he told me that a photo of a sticker doesn’t count for anything, but he can issue me a second registration for the low low cost of $16. Basically what that meant is that he could reprint my registration paper (which he could easily view in the DMV system) for that fee. He said he can’t take a kid driving without the paper in the car. He was not mean, but not exactly friendly either. Very curt and short with us. Also, the whole place stunk like cigarettes, chemicals, and stale air. Needless to say I was working hard to stay friendly myself!

I paid the fee and they left for the test. It turns out the test is only 15 minutes and really just involves the three maneuvers (parallel park, turn around, and a hill start). It was still pouring rain and the DMV had closed by this point. I spent those 15 minutes sure that Lex was going to fail the test just because of all the crappy circumstances surrounding him. But nope, he came back in with a big smile and a thumbs up! Yay!!

Then the instructor asked for his identification (birth certificate, ss card, passport) and Lex didn’t have them. Lex had uploaded copies of those things to get his permit online (because the world was closed last summer), so he figured he didn’t need to provide them again. The DMV guy disagreed. He gave us all the paperwork and said to come back another time when we have the proper ID. Fortunately Lex didn’t have to retake the test though!

We went back this morning with ALL of the paperwork, waited less time (but still plenty of time, it is the DVM after all!) and got the job done! They don’t print licenses onsite anymore, so Lex walked out with a piece of paper that will serve as his temporary license until the new, official one arrives in the mail. This morning was quicker, less rainy, and less stinky, so I walked away feeling a whole lot better than yesterday afternoon. Lex walked away happy to be done with it.

They had a big selfie station set up with a sign saying “Looks Who’s Driving Now!” and some fun artwork. Next to that was a poster saying not to take a picture of your drivers license. 😜 Lex had zero interest in a selfie, so I snuck a picture of him getting his picture taken instead. Gotta have some photos!

 

 

 

So, now the real question is, what errand should I send him on first? 😄

Rocking and rolling

Life is moving along at a steady clip around here these days. All the teenage milestones seem to butting up against each other. Lex has completed all of his driving requirements and has his drivers test scheduled for next week. He started working at Price Chopper this week.

His first day felt, to me, like his first day of school. I was home and thinking about him all day. Wondering what he was doing and how he was feeling. Of course he was fine. His first day was all safety training videos and his second day was 8hrs on the register! The important lesson he learned between day one and day two is to always have food and water with you! :) Or at least money. A few weeks ago I opened up savings and spending accounts for all three of them, each account comes with a debit card. None of them wanted to carry the debit card, but after a day of video trainings and no lunch (’cause he had no money!) he decided maybe he should carry that debit card. Then I taught him how to use a debit card. :) When I picked him up the 2nd day he pulled a Milky Way out of his pocket and said, “I decided to take advantage of this new having money thing.” 😄

Eve started working one day a week at the pottery shop. She’s cleaning and resupplying. She loved cleaning the art room at school last year, so she was excited about this opportunity. We stopped by two weeks ago to do some painting and I introduced myself and her to the owner. I have a friend who works there and had already talked up Eve to him. Once we met him in person, she did her normal weird awkward stuff (“How’s it going?” he asks, “Not dead yet,” she replies 🙄) I texted my friend later and said Eve didn’t make the best first impression. She laughed and said the boss loved her, and her gay snake (that’s what she had been calling it). He was happy to have her start working there. I guess that means it’s a good fit for her. 🤣

My third teenager is the one who wanted a job in the first place, but he’s having trouble finding something suitable for his age. Fortunately he has a birthday coming up, so I think it will be easier for him to find a job next month. That birthday also means I’ll have another teenager driver! In the meantime he’s at camp this week, then he and Lex will be doing a very cool virtual camp next week called the Governor’s Institute of Vermont. They sent a whole kit of circuit boards, LEDs, craft supplies and other goodies. I think the boys will have fun!

I’m going back to the doctor tomorrow for another check on my throat. I’m starting to have mild symptoms again, so I expect I might get some shots in the neck. I can’t complain though. I am thrilled with how long the results from last fall’s surgery have lasted. I had been dreading annual (or twice annual!) throat surgery, so the fact that the symptoms have been held at bay for this long already is great! I’ll let you all know what the doctor has to say tomorrow.

 

 

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! :)

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.

HBDE

Today we celebrated this beautiful spirit and her 14th trip around the sun.

It was a normal school day, so Eve work up to presents on the table, but had to wait until after school before digging in.

All morning I thought about 14 years ago, at 7am when we were going to the hospital, at 10am when they broke my water, at 10:45 when that beautiful baby girl was on her way. They were nice memories. She is an amazing human being. Alan came over to celebrate with us so we were all together to open presents after school.

This was the year of wigs. This lovely purple one is for an Entrapta cosplay.

Percy Jackson is always welcome too.

We can’t remember what this wig is for. Pure silliness, maybe.

Did someone say silly? She’s wearing a red beret hooked over the purple pony tail.

I love this wild child more than anything!

Guess what was in the big box from Aunt Mandy? A sword! It works well for cutting ribbon, among other things.

This looks safe, right?

How is she so tall?!? I think she must be wearing huge high heels. Yep, that must be it. At least she’s smiling for the camera. :)

14

So many smiles for mommy today!

Just when we thought it was done, UPS came with a big box from Aunt Rosy!

Eevee of many looks.

We ordered take-out sushi for dinner (Eve’s favorite) and watched Pirates of the Caribbean (Eve’s choice). A good night was had by all.

Eve is a pretty amazing child. Full of laughter, creativity, imagination, and chatter. She makes me laugh, she makes me crazy, and she makes me happy. The other day I came home from school totally exhausted and stressed. The boys were at musical rehearsal so Eve put on a good show and we snuggled and laughed on the couch for awhile. It was awesome. I felt so much better afterwards. Another day I came home and found her outside, in her woodland fairy whatever whatever costume, reading a book. It was such a lovely sight and she even let me take a few birthday photos. She’s so good to me. 💙💙

This amazing child has changed my world and I am thankful every day for her presence in my world.

 

Vaccinated!

It is sunny, and warm, and the first day of spring, and I got VACCINATED!  Whoo hoo! It has been a long year full of worry and isolation. It feels so good to know that there is hope for the future!

Covid enter here? Umm… no thanks.

Ooohhh… the vaccine! Yes, please!

I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which means just one shot! Yay! Two weeks until the vaccine works fully — then bring on the company!! :) PS. I need to work on my smizing. I look worried here, but really I was happy! :)

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. :)

Oh what a week! (and it’s only Tuesday!)

The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotion and activity. As you may have heard, presidential election results came in and sanity, civility, honesty, and kindness won! Hallelujah!

On Saturday Eve and I went for a long walk in the beautiful sunshine. I feel like we haven’t done that in quite awhile. We went down to the river, around the village, and back up the hill.

This tree used to have two big bumps. I was surprised to find that the innards of one had fallen out (rotted out?), so now it has a bump and a handle. :)

Then I made an awesome boozy birthday cake for my friend Elizabeth. It’s her 50th birthday (today!) and she has been super bummed about covid-restrictions squashing all her birthday ideas. So I baked her a cake and invited a friend along to delver. The three of us saw outside in the amazingly beautiful September November day, enjoying the cake and each other’s company.

Chocolate Devil’s Food cake with a Bailey’s Irish Cream butter cream frosting and a chocolate ganache filling. Sooooo good!

Sunday evening I got an email from my school principal (the whole staff got the email!) saying that there are some children in our community who have been removed from their home and need emergency foster care.  Fostering is something I’ve thought about a lot off and on in the past, so this felt like a really great time to step up and help. I talked to Lex and Eve about it first, and they agreed that it would be a good thing to do.

I spent Monday squeezing in phone calls and paperwork between my regular work. Paperwork was done, everything approved, and I made a plan to pick the boys up after school Tuesday (today). When I got home and told Lex and Eve about it, and who the kids are, they were both cautiously interested. :) Then Lex said, “In other good news, I got accepted into the Honors Program!”  Sweet!!!  He worked really hard deciding to apply, writing his essay, and collecting recommendations from teachers, parents, and coaches. I’m super proud of him for doing that much, and now he’s excited to be doing even more. He also built me two Adirondack chairs this week. Mema and Joyce sent them to me for my birthday, and Lex put them together. The weather is so nice they might get some use this weekend!

Happy Birthday to Me!!

Today was spent trying to figure out details, such as bedding for two extra kids, schooling, transportation, etc. We have a pretty amazing community though, all of whom love these kids and want to support them. I got a set of bunkbeds, two twin mattresses, four sheet sets, pillows, blankets, and winter clothes all donated. This weekend we’ll spend getting their proper sleeping arrangement set up. They came home with me after school today and had a great time playing with the VR headset and the XBox. I haven’t seen Lex socialize this much in a long time! All four kids were laughing and talking all afternoon/evening. I even made a proper dinner! If you count Annie’s mac and cheese, peas, and tofu a proper dinner. :)  It has been a wild two days!

Tomorrow is Veterans Day (thanks Joyce!) and we have no school, so of course I scheduled appointments. :/ Life of a teacher! Lex will be getting his wisdom teeth pulled tomorrow morning. All four of them! I’m not sure what to expect exactly, but I suspect tomorrow will be a sleepy day for him. Hopefully it will be a quiet day for all of us. I’m ready for one!

 

Teacher of the Year!!

Wha, what?!

Every year in the spring teachers in the building nominate someone for Teacher of the Year. We all have a chance to nominate, then there is a vote, then the winner is announced at the District-wide Back-to-School Breakfast at the beginning of the year.

This year, Covid-19 hit and all norms went right out the window! I maybe thought about Teacher of the Year briefly when I realized we weren’t doing the District Breakfast, but that was about it.  I assumed we were not doing it this year due to Covid.  There is A LOT we are not doing this year because of Covid! But you know what they say about assuming…

At our first official staff meeting, held virtually, of course, the principal announced the two longevity awards (for teachers who have been in the district for a long time) and then said this:  Video

I had no idea! If I even suspected, I would have done my hair and not been eating an apple! :)  The one day I woke up late, threw my hair in a ponytail, and tossed some random foods in my lunch box… turns out to be the day the whole school is looking at me!  LOL.

I feel pretty dang appreciated though!

Later in the evening I logged into the high school performing arts department’s Welcome Back zoom meeting for parents and students. When the music teachers pulled up the website to show parents, they also gave me a shout-out for all the work I’ve done on it and how awesome it is.

I work hard, for sure, and I never feel taken advantage of, but it is pretty nice to get the accolades!  And the plaque!