Meandering Path

We went for a walk and a drive around this weekend. The hope was that the trees were in full color and to get some photos. Of course, where I live, we don’t really get a “full color” like you’d see in other areas. We sort of get stages.

One week may be the yellow trees. Another week or two later, after those leaves have already fallen, you might get a red or an orange popping up here and there (though we don’t have a lot of those). It just seems like we can’t manage to get all the colors to line up at the same time, though every once in a great while, the trees will put on an amazing show, but it may only last for a day or two.

Right now, we are still way more green than I expected based on the trees in my neighborhood. There are some yellows that are already quickly turning to brown and the rare splash of orange peeking through, but not much else.

It was still nice to get out. I managed to, of course, get some photos of the kids being the absolute goofballs they are. I’d wanted some nice shots, but I’m just going to be grateful that both of them still want to go and do those things with us.

Today I’ve got Misogyny guy coming out to give me a bid. I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping for at this point. I do really want to get at least one more figure for how much this plan might cost me. I’d kind of love for that whole conversation to have just been an honest mistake and the guy is a decent guy that I’d consider working with. Based on the luck I’ve had so far, I’m not holding my breath for it.

I can dream, though, right?

Popping Color

Popping Color

This is my only mum that is opening enough to show color yet, but it is just loaded. I’m still on edge hoping we don’t get an early freeze and I get plenty of time to enjoy these this year.

MC is breezing through his first semester at college. For some reason, his history class was a shorter one than a regular class and he is already taking his final for that one next week. It will leave the last half of his semester more open.

It shouldn’t surprise me that he is doing so well because he always has when it comes to school, but I guess I still expected it to be a bit more challenging for him than this has seemed. Maybe it is just these earlier, more basic classes and next semester will be different, but I’m really happy for him that it is going so well.

He has impressed his computer programing teacher enough to get recommended for a work study program even though he isn’t even finished with his first class. He, unfortunately, can’t take it as a paid position because of the rules around family income, but they are looking into the possibility he can still do it on a volunteer/unpaid basis.

I think it was either from the same teacher or a math teacher, but MC was told he should become a tutor, but he can’t do that one until he passes a class he is currently taking with a certain grade (that won’t be an issue at this point). Apparently, he is making a good impression on at least some of his teachers.

While he loves that these are going to be things he gets to do, he is also excited that he has the chance to put these, plus his work with the videos for the eSports teams, on his resume. With his complete lack of any kind of work experience going into college (long story about bad timing and circumstances), he has been worried that he isn’t going to have much of anything to put down when he needs it and this is a relief for him.

I’m just glad that he is finding his space and the things he enjoys. It is exciting to see him get involved and enjoying what he is doing. I was a little worried the first couple of weeks in that he was struggling, but seeing all this makes me feel so much better. I really love that his college choice seems to be the perfect fit for him.

Now, BG is a whole other ball of wax. She is too much like me in not knowing what direction she wants to go when she gets out of high school. MC always knew he wanted to go into programming, but BG is all over the place in interests, so she doesn’t even know where to begin in her college search. I have a feeling her ride is going to be a lot bumpier than MC’s has been, but she is going to have to start making some decisions soon.

Driving Force

When you live in an area like mine with lots of distance between school and home and the stores along with almost no public transport, getting your driver’s license is one of those major milestones for a teenager. Both MC and BG had circumstances that pushed back their ability to take their test on or near their 16th birthdays, but they did finally get them.

Yesterday afternoon, I had to watch as BG drove off on her own for the first time, driving herself to her first assistant class of the year. Even though it was well past when she should have been able to do this (by the end of last winter), I still wasn’t quite ready for it.

I’m relieved that I no longer have to sit for an hour or more in my car in the parking lot while she does her dance classes. At the same time, I’m really going to miss the time we spent together along the way. It is just one more step towards her being grown up and gone.

It has been hard enough with MC off to college, even though he comes home almost every weekend. He is finding his feet there and settling in more comfortably. He’s volunteered to do the intro videos for all the esports teams, something he really loves and is excited about. He even played in an intramural tournament for one of the games over the weekend.

With BG driving now, she isn’t all that far behind him in stretching her own wings of independence.

Even though this is something that does make me sad, I’m still really happy for her. I remember what it was like to finally get to that point and it is something that both Hubby and I have worked really hard to make sure she got there. I was adamant that our kids would be able to drive as soon as possible and we would do whatever needed to be done to make that happen.

A big part of that is because when I needed to learn, I didn’t have that support and teaching. At least, not from my parents.

For me to get my license, I had to have my boyfriend at the time and his best friend taking me out and teaching me. Having someone that wasn’t yet even 18 teaching someone to drive is not really a great idea, but it is all I had.

This is something that I still, to this day, don’t fully understand. My older brother was learning before he was 16 (something that wasn’t even entirely legal at the time) and my dad took time off work and my brother out of school (a huge thing as my parents NEVER took us out of school) on his 16th birthday to take the test. But me? I had to have that boyfriend take me to get my permit so I could even learn, but it was the only test I could take without a parent. The driving test piece I had to wait until one my parents could find a convenient time (pretty sure it was a day off they had already planned) and a day where I wouldn’t miss school.

Now that I’m on the other end of things, I still don’t understand the mindset. I get that my family has a couple of freighters worth of issues, but I have seen and heard similar things in others. Yes, money is always going to be a factor because driving isn’t cheap, but I’m talking outside of that.

Whether it is teaching them to drive, or hobbling them when it comes to going off to college or really anything where kids are learning to follow their path to their future and happiness, I will never understand parents that try to clip their kid’s wings rather than helping them to fly.

Do parents not get that once those kids finally do learn to fly, and there is no stopping it, that they may choose to never come back if the damage is bad enough?

I’ve now got one that isn’t quite gone, but has one foot out the door and the other is standing behind the first waiting for her turn. It makes me sad to see that we are here already, but I won’t do anything to stand in their way.

Bumpy Beginning

I really didn’t expect things to go smoothly when school started this year. It doesn’t normally, so why would I expect this year to be better than normal? The fact that it has not, in fact, started smoothly shouldn’t be a surprise.

Today is the first day of BG’s junior year. She is going to be doing it all online for at least this first semester. As of today, she still has one class that is wrong (both the teacher of the correct class and the counselor are working to correct the issue) and a class that she has gotten zero communication from. All of her other classes, the teachers have sent emails and links to the online classrooms they are using, so we have no clue what is up with the one.

The messed up class is tied to BG’s mentoring program. She has to be in that class to be in the program. This particular piece has been so weird because the program is designed around interacting in person with the Freshman specifically so they are still scrambling to try and figure out what that looks like for their online learners. She still doesn’t know what she is going to be doing with that.

Considering everything going on, I really can’t complain too much. It is going to be really interesting to see how well all of this plays out moving forward. It is going to be a very weird year.

 

Curled Edges

I managed move in day without any tears. A day later and things are still dry. I’m thinking that it will hit when I least expect it.

MC is settled in, but I don’t think he is all that comfortable yet. So far, he can’t get into his room without an RA because there is something wrong with the scanner that allows access to their room, discovered that the fridge wasn’t plugged in hours after we’d moved him in (and put things in there) and has taken a cold shower because there is also an issue with the hot water (potentially).

I can tell he isn’t comfortable, but isn’t willing to just say so by the fact that Hubby, BG and I have all received multiple texts from him and it has been less than 24 hours.

Of all the things I didn’t really think about or consider is how this is going to impact BG. Her and her brother are extremely close, so not having him around all the time is going to be really hard on her (her more than him, though I think). She has been overjoyed that he has already started what we are calling the cat scavenger hunt, sending her off to get pictures of our cats to send to him. It is kind of silly and sweet and totally how the two of them are together.

I know this level of communication isn’t going to last. Once he gets into a routine, things will settle down, but it is going to be really odd for a while. For all of us.

I’ll take those little nonsense texts with a photo of his breakfast any day, though.

Almost Done

As I get closer to Friday, I get closer to coming to terms with the fact that MC is moving out and will be at college.

I’ve been slowly getting all the things he needs to be able move in comfortably. He doesn’t make it easy as he is either in a bit of denial himself or just stubbornly thinks he really doesn’t need anything. It doesn’t help that he will be so close and he knows he can just run home if there is something he needs and doesn’t have.

It grates a little on my need to plan and organize this particular aspect.

Also not helping one bit is the fact that it is nearly impossible to get things like isopropyl alcohol around here. That is one of the things that are on my critical sanitizing routine. Not being able to get that is ratcheting up my already high worry levels.

Its hard enough to send your kid off to college for the first time under normal circumstances. There is nothing resembling normal about anything right now.

I’m  stressing about making sure he has the ability to keep himself safe while also stressing over the fact that it isn’t mentioned anywhere about whether certain items are provided for in the dorms, like toilet paper (because he has a private bathroom that he doesn’t share with anyone it is a legitimate question). Some days I have the strangest worries.

We joke around about taking over his spot at the table or letting BG use his room for her video meetings when she starts back to class. Then we laugh at the fact that it is going to be so peaceful and quiet when we don’t have to listen to him yelling at whatever game he is playing. Things that predictably get a response, but that we can all laugh about.

The closer we get to Friday, though, the more stressed and emotional I get. Because each day we get closer, the whole thing just gets a little bit more real.

I have to remind myself that he is only living on campus for his first year, basically 9 months, and then he will be back home, and quite possibly adding MCG into the mix if she can get accepted to a school around here as well. Then I have to remind myself that he is 20 minutes away, not hours, and will most likely still come around often.

Those reminders still can’t manage to trick my brain into not being weird about it all. Said brain decided to express how much it was all bothering me (I’m sure also pulling from the family BS of the other day as well) by giving me a lovely dream about being abandoned and forgotten, one of my lovely one’s that are so exceptionally emotional it is still hanging around days later.

I feel like I need to just go sit on a quiet beach somewhere and watch the water. For like a month.

 

 

Do You Ever Wonder?

Do you ever wonder how many bruises and cuts and lacerations, how many serrated slashes and soul deep stabs, how much abuse and trauma a single heart can withstand and still function as it is supposed to?

Or even at all?

Do you ever wonder what it takes to keep moving and functioning? To keep caring?

I wonder how much more I can take before the grief and anger and visceral rage finally diminishes enough to begin to heal in a healthy way rather than turn into something much uglier than what caused those things to begin with.

It was abundantly clear that I do not fit into the mold of what some believe “family” should be and that I do not belong to nearly all that I am blood related to. I really didn’t need the reminder. Again. That this is the general consensus and belief.

I especially didn’t need that reminder when, yet again, for the second time in less than six months, I had to find out about a loved one’s passing through a tripped over obituary.

Apparently, I do not warrant even a simple text from anyone, not even the one “family” member to claim a desire for a continued relationship. Thank you for clarifying for me that your definition of “relationship” is actually “free money tree” or “only when convenient or when I need something.”

These are all things I’ve known and attempted to come to terms with for years, so it really isn’t a surprise. I already know I’m not family. That I do not belong. That I am not enough for them in any way. I’ve accept this. I shouldn’t be hurt, but, sad sack that I am, I am hurt, because my heart has yet to quit functioning, apparently determined to go on no matter the damage it has suffered.

I’m also extremely angry.

And not just for myself. I can see the excuse that because I walked away and chose to no longer speak to anyone (no matter the effort to still try at that supposed desire to maintain a relationship with at least one of them), I didn’t deserve that notification (I do not agree, but I can still see the reasoning).

I’m volcanically angry because this has also made it blindingly clear that three other blood relatives I have are also not considered a worthy part of that “family” and were not notified. Not a single one of them chose where they stand or the attitude they have received over the years. They didn’t deserve to hear this news from a tiny cluster of digital words on an impersonal website rather than communication from a human.

Words that were only tripped over while one of those discarded family members was on a hunt for contact information with the hope of connecting to our lost family member.

Sadly, these three have also dealt with this attitude and feeling their entire lives, for no apparent reason. Two of these I didn’t even know existed until I was an adult myself. People who’s only crime so to speak was to be innocent children when everyone else first deemed them unworthy of that elite membership.

How do you even manage to process the grief of the loss when it is so tangled with all the rest?

I’ve avoided posting here about a lot of things in the last couple of years out of an abundance of caution and an unwillingness to spark a lot of unwanted drama. I have attempted to seek peace instead.

I no longer care.

This is my space and if unwanted eyes manage to invade this space, they are welcome to view the completeness of the disgust I have for the horrible example of humanity and basic decency from those I have genetic ties to.

I lost someone that I grew up admiring. Someone that laid the foundations for my artistic abilities and my love for anything that allowed for expressing creativity. Someone who was willing to actually admit when they did something that hurt, even if it was unintentional, and made a huge effort to correct that hurt. And in doing so helped to teach me that it is okay to be human and make mistakes if you own up to them and try to do better next time.

I’m heartbroken for this loss and the exceptionally complicated relationship I had with her because of the toxic nature of the rest of my family. And for the loss of the opportunity to take her lesson to heart and make my own effort to do better in an attempt to correct the damage created by that toxicity.

A toxicity that I am forever learning how poisonous it was to so many other relationships. Relationships that are now beyond repair. Relationships that aren’t even mine. It breaks my heart to fully understand how much my cousins lost out on because of that toxicity and the damage it has done to them over the years.

How many times can a person not only be told, but shown in 4k HD clarity how much they are not wanted, valued, important, or worthy before they fully accept it from those doing the telling and showing and are no longer harmed by that reality?

All I can do now is grieve and attempt to let go of that rage, to try and seek out my peace again. It is so hard to do when those fires keep getting stoked. No matter how far away I walk or try to distance myself, that poisonous smoke still manages to reach me.

And I wonder how many more times I will have to put those fires out or if they will finally manage to snuff out my peace permanently, leaving nothing but a bitter, ugly lump behind. Because there is only so much damage a heart can sustain, right?

 

Graduation: Bittersweet End

Last night was MC’s graduation ceremony.

It occurred without this family, including MC himself, in attendance.

I am proud of his decision to not walk, because that decision was based on facts and looking to the future when he has to go off to college and he didn’t want anything to stand in the way of his being able to do that.

For MC, being able to be on campus as required, taking advantage of his scholarships in the process, was more important to him than that big moment, that event. He wasn’t willing to risk his ability to start college and for that I cannot be more proud of him.

At the same time, I’m so sad.

I thought I was fine with it all emotionally. I had no problems at all when he started getting texts from one of his friends that did attend with the latest updates on the event. Mostly updates that just confirmed for MC that he made the right choice (because yes, even though they said masks required, people didn’t wear them, even to hand out the diplomas).

Then I saw the pictures the school posted on their FB page and some of the quotes from the speakers.

It knocked the breath from my lungs seeing the evidence and having the realization that this incredibly important moment is now officially final. There were so many “He’s done! But… ” moments along the way. The last official day of school. The last AP test that happened after that last official day, getting those scores (he aced it, of course) and several other things that kept dragging the whole end of high school out just a little bit more.

He ran by the school the other day and picked up his diploma. It will be the last time he sets foot in that school unless he goes for something of BG’s. There are no more tests. No more grades to wait for.

No special recognition for graduating summa cum laude. No moment of cheering when his name is called or as he walks across the stage.

I’m incredibly sad that I don’t get that moment and that his incredible high school career ended without any kind of fanfare.

Instead, I have all these smaller, more personal moments with him. Our amazingly fun photo session of him in his cap and gown. The one and only time I will get to see him in it. His “last day of school” movie night that he wanted as his celebration. Just Hubby, BG, MC and me. And all of our smaller celebrations along the way of all those accomplishments he worked so hard to achieve.

Instead I get to hear him say that the only recognition he needs for those accomplishments, he’s already gotten in the form of his scholarships. I get to see my son making these incredibly tough, but thoughtful, grown up decisions. Decisions that show the incredible kind of man his is already well on his way to becoming.

As of last night, while we sat at home and listened to him relay the information being texted to him from his friend, my son quietly graduated from high school. I am sad and grieving a bit for those lost moments, but I am more proud than I am sad because I have a phenomenal son.

I’m going to have my sad moment before I suck it up and move on. At least for the next couple of weeks before I’m a mess again after move in day and he becomes a college student instead of just a high school graduate.

Dance Masks

And… they are frickin’ DONE!

I absolutely love them, but they were a bear and a half. I broke/bent 5 of the 6 needles I had originally thought I’d had. Right before I started sewing yesterday I wanted to have the others on hand but couldn’t remember where I put them and ran across a couple more packages while I was hunting. It relieved a whole lot of stress when I did, but I still panicked when I managed to mangle two of them back to back early on.

Working with the sequins material was a pain because of the needle issue and I had to go so slow over the thicker areas making it take longer. These also produced a lot of fuzz  and dropped a ton of sequins making me stop and clean out the bobbin area a couple of times.

Between the issue with the needles, having to stop to coat the needle to try and prevent that issue and the stops to do a little cleaning, I think I was having to hit pause about every 5 masks.

I had expected a more solid sequins material when I ordered it, but it is really transparent and the cream lining shows through. While I still think it is an amazing look, I’m extremely lucky that it still works with the costumes or I’d have been up a creek.

When I went to bag these up, my heat sealer shorted out and died on me as well. I had to yet again get creative to solve the problem. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful to have an iron.

These will be getting handed off this afternoon with the full understanding that there is a very big chance that almost no dancer will actually choose to wear one on stage since it isn’t required. I’m okay with that. If by chance even one chooses to, then I’ve helped. If someone decides it is just really pretty and opts to wear it off stage or anywhere else, then I’ve helped.

It would be stunning if the entire group loved them so much they wanted to wear them on stage (they really would look amazing even if it is SO different), but this is reality and the chances of that are sitting down near zero.

BG really likes it and is strongly considering wearing hers on stage. I’m overjoyed that I’ve been able to give her something to make her feel better about making that decision if she does go that way.

Yes, it was a whole lot of effort and stress for the end result, but every single tiny bit helps and I’m okay with that.

End Of An Era

Yesterday saw the official end to our annual haunted garage that we used to do every year for Halloween. Even though we didn’t actually put the walls up last Halloween and was the beginning of the end, it didn’t become official until yesterday. I took advantage of the beautifully cooler day and tore the walls apart.

Broken Down Halloween Walls
Broken Down Halloween Walls

Why is it that destruction is so much faster and easier to do than creating and building? What took me nearly an entire day or better to build was in pieces in about an hour.

It was sad to see these go. We had nearly 10 years of fun and wonder and joy doing the garage every year, but it was just time to be done. It was pretty shocking they even lasted that long considering they weren’t all that sturdy to begin with.

The kids are all older. MC hasn’t been interested in it for a few years now and BG, while perfectly content to dress up with me, just wasn’t nearly as excited about it anymore. It also lost some of it’s joy when the few kids we would get showing up just didn’t seem all that interested in it, some even going so far as to be that bratty kid that thought it was fun to mock and put it down.

Once I decided I definitely wasn’t doing this anymore, I was itching to get these taken apart and reclaim the area of the garage where these needed to be stored. Six 8 foot by 8 foot wall sections take up a crap ton of space. Especially when that space is used for all but maybe 2 days a year.

I spent the day yesterday breaking these down and then cleaning and rearranging the garage, a desperately needed project. I now have a wonderfully open and accessible garage that will hopefully stay that way for a while.

I also have a huge pile of wood I need to get creative with, which is going to be a challenge as most of those boards are really warped or even cracked in places. As of right now, I’m pondering the idea of making an outdoor storage box with most of it. I’ve yet to decide for sure.

While it was really sad to do this project, it was also a relief. It was always a lot of work, but also a whole lot of fun. The fun will be missed. All that work? Not one little bit.

Now to figure out what in the world I’m going to do with all the decorations we used in that haunted garage.

Black and White Drops and Ruffles

I had such a hard time deciding if I wanted to post this version or the color version because they are both amazing. So…

Peach Iris Coated In Rain
Peach Iris Coated In Rain

Yesterday went well for BG. She feels so much better about everything now that she knows how the new normal looks and runs at dance.

The masks were an absolute hit and cracked me up to no end. BG hadn’t been in the studio with them for 5 minutes when I see the owner walk out with one on. Less than a minute later the teacher for that class also walks out with hers on (all the students were greeted with hand sanitizer outside the doors of the studio before they were allowed in). It was funny and sweet and I’m over the moon thrilled that they are enjoying them.

Another upside was that all the kids going into the studio had their masks. The parents standing around socializing outside weren’t as good about keeping theirs on or keeping their distance, but it could have been so much worse.

The sad thing, and we don’t know yet what it means going forward, was that probably half or less of the class showed up. It is going to be interesting to see how the rest of the week pans out as this was the very first of all the classes back. I’m especially concerned about how many older girls will show and how that will impact routines and recital.

BG was absolutely stunned to find out that her assistant friends from last night had either not practiced AT ALL or only a tiny bit. My girl has been dancing nearly every single day. As soon as a video for one of her routines was posted, she added it to her schedule and started working on it.

It is going to make an already chaotic and different recital even more so.

In some non-dance news, I’m working on making some changes for me. I’m sure it has already been noticed that the book reviews have dwindled down to almost nothing. There are lots of parts to this and I may still work up a post about that, but for now, I’m stepping back from most of that, including writing them for Envie!

This blog has been and always will be a space for me to share the things that bring me joy with the occasional rant or emotional outpouring thrown in. When things start to feel like that isn’t the focus anymore, I’m going to make changes. It seems like now is one of those times. I’m still not 100% sure what all will be changing or how much. It may not even be all that noticeable because the photos will absolutely still be coming.

Life is so full of stress and frustration and uncertainty right now, the last thing I need is for my blog to add to that so I’m going to make sure it isn’t.

Iris, Honeysuckle, & Chaos

Okay, so there isn’t anything really special about this photo, but there is something about the color contrast of the honeysuckle bloom laying on that purple petal that just kind of grabs you. I just thought it was an interesting contrast of colors, especially because it was such an unintentional setup.

Today marks the beginning of the chaos that was originally supposed to start back in April. BG goes back to dance for the first time since early March. With that comes a whole lot of new chaos that wasn’t in the original plans.

Yes, she will still be at the studio 4 times a week. Yes she will still have her extra rehearsal times for her additional performances. Those parts were already in the plans. Now included is the requirement for ALL students, teachers, staff, pretty much anyone that sets foot in the studio to wear a mask.

Even that requirement has been changed once as it was originally just staff and assistants that were required and all other students were optional, but local ordinances changed, so they implemented those changes.

My part of that effort will be going with BG to class tonight. A total of 30 masks, the bulk of which are for the studio staff. The handful of others will go to her fellow assistants in the classes she shares. I would have loved to have made one for every single assistant at the studio, but that number is nearly 100 and doesn’t include the actual staff.

It is going to be extremely interesting to see how everything plays out from here. I cannot imagine being a teacher and trying to enforce the mask rule on kids that are not only dancing, but in each other’s presence for the first time in months. Especially those in the much younger grades.

It is also going to be really interesting to see what kind, if any, push back they get from parents for enforcing that rule.

The other part of the chaos is going to be how I handle her long days at the studio.

Normally, the days she is there for longer than an hour, I go back home. Now, classes have been slightly shortened to allow staff to do any sanitizing between classes and to try and minimize the surge of students passing each other through the lobby between classes. I’m not certain what this means for ballet days where BG already normally has an hour gap between as they have not said anything about those students needing to leave. If she has to leave the studio, it would mean I’d need to stay the entire 2 1/2 hours so she could come sit with me in the car for that gap. The 20 minute drive home makes it impractical to leave and come back.

To make that already confusing for those long days even more so, she has at least 2 where it is even longer because of extra rehearsals. The first one is this Saturday. She is supposed to be at the studio from 3:30 until 9, with 2 different breaks in between. One is that hour long break and the other is a 15 minute break.

I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do that day. The idea of sitting in the car for that long really doesn’t appeal and it’s not like I’m going to go hang out at a nearby restaurant or shop right now. I wasn’t doing it before and I’m certainly not doing it now. I still have time to come up with a plan, but I’m struggling.

I still have a whole lot of mixed feelings about all of this moving forward. Especially with recent events creating something of an outbreak bomb waiting to go off in the area. As of right now, all the numbers are still impossibly low, so that helps. I’m just not convinced it will stay that way and that the parents will act responsibly on sending their kids to classes.

The only thing I know for sure is that BG is as ready as is possible for her to be to go back. She still isn’t entirely comfortable with wearing a mask while dancing, but she has gotten used to it enough that I’m not worried it is going to set off an anxiety attack at the studio.

I’m also fully prepared to pack like I’m going on a trip with my camera, my computer and my tablet to ensure I can keep myself entertained. No matter how long I’m having to sit in the parking lot.

Thank goodness tonight will only be about an hour.

 

Celebrations, Events, And Hard Decisions

The day after we get updated information about the plans for holding BG’s recital this year, Hubby gets notified that he will be working from home through the summer. Only critical infrastructure employees will be allowed back in the office.

Hearing that Hubby is going to be allowed to work from home for at least that long was such a massive relief. He works in a large building with a lot of other people. Their set up is currently a semi-shared space that doesn’t work with any kind of distancing. They are working on making changes to the entire building, but options and space are limited, so work from home for those that can is the current state. And I’m so very, very happy about that.

At the same time, BG is supposed to return to dance class the first part of June. The studio has made some changes to do what they can to ensure safety, including shortened class times to give time to sanitize and changes in routines that eliminate all physical contact (mostly only ever in the younger grades). Staff and assistants will wear masks as well.

While the changes are definitely good, it is still a very active thing and some classes, ALL of BG’s classes, are full of dancers. Even the change in how they utilize the space to give more room and limiting all space in the studio to dancers and teachers only, still leaves a pretty crowded studio for many of these classes.

Then there will be recital. There are some massive changes to their normal plan. What was previously broken into two shows will now be 5 and based on grade level. This reduces the number of girls in dressing rooms and the number of people in the audience.

What does not change is the fact that the older girls that participate in certain performances, which BG does for the first time this year, will still participate in every show. Instead of her performing those dances 4 times between dress rehearsal and recital, it will be 10. For each dance, of which she has potentially 3 (still waiting on word for one dance). This is on top of her other 5 dances she will do in her own show.

Also because she is in every show for those dances and to assist her younger girls, she will be at the venue from 9am until probably close to 9pm or after for two days in a row. This presents yet another issue.

They have asked that you only attend the show for your child. Technically, her show is the last one, but she is there all day. I either take her and drop her off, or I stay. In previous years, she was only ever there for the 1 show, but I had planned on just staying for both because the venue is not close to home. Parking sucks beyond belief and getting a decent seat is damn near like trying to get the latest “must have” item at a black friday sale (more on recital day than dress rehearsal, but still crazy).

Now, the last issue is more one of convenience for me over most anything else and , logically, the issues with parking and seating should be reduced drastically because of the smaller show sizes. It should also mean smaller audience sizes. But… how many people have you seen recently that follow the rules or suggestions? I’ve seen some of the family that attend this event. I’m not thinking overly positive about the outcome, even if the studio is doing their damnedest to make this happen in a safe way.

This is currently scheduled for the first half of July and, as has been seen lately, things that seem fine today may be horrible as soon as tomorrow.

I am so damn torn about the whole thing.

I 100% support their efforts in what they are trying to do and I know why they are so determined to still hold this event. This is on par with graduation, if not even more important, for a huge number of the girls that are seniors this year. Seniors are missing out on so much already. I get it. There is a need to find a balance that includes mental health and that is where their efforts come in.

I just have to wonder, when it is all said and done, if it is worth the risk.

They are asking that no one come to the studio that has even traveled outside the state, but will people abide by that request? There is no way to ensure absolutely that they do. They have also stated to not come if you aren’t feeling well or have been around someone that is sick. Again, it is only a request and really cannot be enforced other than to not let someone in that looks obviously ill. I have no clue how they are going to manage the recital at all.

None of that even begins to take into consideration the distribution of costumes (always a very close contact event) and picture day where the lobby is wall to wall students and parents.

Here we are with Hubby’s work running on an abundance of caution (which I am so incredibly grateful for) and then we are pulled in the other direction for BG’s dance.

The thought of not getting a recital this year breaks my heart, but… is it really worth it? I just don’t know.

Toss onto that dumpster fire of “no good solution” is the fact that we also have MC’s graduation scheduled for the end of July. I’m slightly less worried about this event because it is only a few hours tops on a single day in a venue that is more versatile for distancing, but you are still talking about a very large number of people gathering under one roof.

As of right now, I’m cautiously going to allow BG to go to classes when they resume and wait and see what other information will be forthcoming about recital. There is more control in the studio than there is at the venue and she will at least be able to wear a mask.

I’m also going to be watching the news in my area very closely. The studio has been following guidelines and they have made student safety a priority, but there isn’t a lot of clear guidance as to what is actually safe right now and that is my biggest concern.

I don’t want to have to tell either one of my kids that they shouldn’t participate in these incredibly important events, but when you look at the much larger picture, it isn’t just about them. It is about the friends and families of those girls (and a few guys). It is about the people that have to take care of them if they get sick. It is about the people that get left behind if the worst happens.

It makes it even harder to impress this on them, though they are listening, when we essentially live in this sort of bubble where the virus hasn’t really blown up. That sense that “it can’t happen to me” kind of invincibility is too easy to believe. I really believe that is playing a part in the decisions to move forward holding these events.

I’m lucky in that my kids are reasonable. I think that if it came down to it, they would understand. They would be hugely disappointed, but I do think they’d understand. It doesn’t make any of it even a fraction easier, though.

If I were pressed, I have to say that I really don’t think holding these events, even with precautions, is the smart thing to do. Feeling that way makes this so much harder as I just don’t know what the best plan is moving forward. I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I absolutely will if I feel that the situation in my area has gotten bad enough. I hate that I may actually be in the position to have to do that.

 

Rusty Red Iris

For some reason, I only have a couple of these and they are randomly placed, not clustered like all my other irises.

They are also a pain in the butt to photograph because the color almost never comes out correctly. There is something about my camera and accurately rendering reds that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. This is where Photoshop becomes my friend. Unless of course, your monitor isn’t the same as mine, then who the hell knows what color you are seeing. This fact is a major point of frustration for me.

Yesterday, MC took his last remaining AP final (AP Calculus) and is officially done with all high school work. He has to go to the school next week to turn in equipment and books, pick up any honor sashes/cords for graduation and then make it to the ceremony scheduled for the end of July, but he is absolutely done with high school now.

Yesterday also brought news that we are probably looking at the new normal for our household, at least through the end of summer as Hubby will not be going back into the office until then at the earliest.

I’ve said before that for the most part, things around here feel much like they would around the holidays when Hubby is on vacation and everyone is home. While we are now well past the longest everyone has been at home at the same time and it still mostly feels that way, it is going to be interesting to see if it continues to feel that way.

After he got the word that this will extend (so damn grateful he works where he does), I joked around that I’m going to have to find some projects to work on in my studio so I have an “escape” from time to time. If I think about it, it is going to be a kind of test to see how well we handle retirement. The only real difference will be that the kids are still at home.

I’m seeing news of some universities saying at least the fall semester classes are going to be online only, but we haven’t heard anything along those lines from MC’s school yet. He is a little worried because there are certain requirements for his scholarship that he has to meet that, as of right now, requires in person interaction. It is also the requirement that he live on campus his first year. I’ve told him that I’m sure the school will make sure that whatever steps they take, it isn’t going to impact his scholarship. It is one of the very many things on the “wait and see” list.

He didn’t really stress about ending high school from home. The most stress he has really shown over the last couple of months was studying for his AP exam. With news about other schools starting to pop up, he is beginning to stress about what will or won’t happen in the fall.

It really does not help one bit that we live in an area that really hasn’t been hit yet. I’m 100% sure that a big part of the small number of cases in our area is because we have local leaders that stepped up fast and hard before it could and it did amazing things to slow down the spread. Sadly, with the push for things to start opening back up, we are going to see those numbers start to spike and everything that has current, tentative plans to happen will most likely change when that spike starts, so it is impossible to think anything will be as it looks right now.

We aren’t even close to being anywhere near out of the woods yet.

From The Top

Hubby ended up taking a vacation day yesterday. In part so he could get a lot of errands run that he needed to do, including going with me to get some flowers, and to get some much needed work done in the yard.

The trip out was interesting and frustrating to say the least. I only went to Home Depot with the plan to only stay in the outdoor section. Apparently, that isn’t allowed because you cannot enter that area. You have to go through the main door so that you can be counted. You can leave through the outdoor section, but you can’t come in that way. Instead, you are being forced to potentially come in contact with even more people by going through the main entrance before you can access the outdoor section.

If I were to estimate, maybe only 25% of the people there were wearing masks, including those working (this from a company that touts providing PPE for all employees, but they apparently don’t require they actually wear any). One of the non-mask wearing workers was coughing like crazy the whole time we were there. Another group was a woman and her 4 kids that looked like high school age all the way down to maybe 3rd grade, none wearing masks or understanding the concept of personal space, let alone stay 6 feet apart.

There are reasons I’ve opted to let Hubby do all the running. This trip didn’t convince me to change my mind. On the plus side, my masks are actually really comfortable and fit extremely well so there was no fidgeting needed which made me feel so much better.

I wasn’t able to get everything that I was hoping to find, sadly. I was able to get what I needed to fill my pots. I also picked up a small lavender plant to go in the ground and a pot of pretty dianthus that will also go in one of my beds somewhere.

When I was looking at the lavender, I spotted the strawberry plants. I have only ever tried growing them once years ago when I had the space, but decided to grab a few on a whim for BG as she absolutely LOVES strawberries. That and I thought it would be fun for her. Between those a few packets of seeds (lettuce, spinach and shasta daisies) that rounded out my trip.

BG was excited to get her strawberries and helped me get EVERYTHING planted. At least the potted ones as I didn’t get the in ground ones done yesterday. It was such a huge help and I loved the fact that she had so much fun. She is a little giddy at the idea that she is getting to grow and take care of her own strawberries, so that was an amazing impulse buy on my part.

I was glad to get my pots taken care of, but I was really disappointed that I couldn’t find everything I wanted. I could go to one of the nurseries if they are open (and around here I really don’t know if they are), but I’m really not sure it is worth it at this point. I did look into ordering some of those things, but didn’t find a site that had what I was looking for (in part because of things not quite being in season). I may dig a little deeper and see if I can locate at least a few things online.

In the mean time, I’ll be watching to see if my seeds come up. I’ve never grown lettuce or spinach myself, so that is going to be a lot of fun.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.

Stretching The Creativity

This is MC’s last official week of high school. Most of his classes are already done and he has very little work left. He will have an AP final later in the month, but that was always set for that date. It will just be an online version instead. That’s because he is finishing out his high school senior year at home, which has made it one hell of a different experience than anyone expected.

It also means I’m having to really push my creativity when it comes to finding ways to acknowledge such a huge accomplishment. Not that we were intending much anyway as he isn’t much of a social person. If anything, I thought he and his gamer friends would get together for one of their gaming nights as a way to celebrate, but that can’t happen now.

I can’t do nothing because he deserves to be honored and recognized for all his hard work. With so many other things that have been canceled because of the pandemic, including his chance to get to take his girl, MCG, to prom and see her face to face for the first time or the senior walk through the grade and middle schools to see old teachers, I couldn’t let this slip by unrecognized.

The importance of this is something that has really been driven home while I’ve helped MC edit and polish one of his scholarship applications. It highlighted some of his biggest accomplishments throughout school and showed me how proud he was of his own hard work, something he so very rarely ever shows, so I really needed to make an effort to acknowledge all of that.

If things were normal, we’d still keep it small. Probably just taking him to out to eat at a restaurant of his choice. But that isn’t an option. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something fun that we can do here and that would be special for him.

I decided to kind of do a week of awesome for MC. It started last night with me making one of his favorite meals and will finish up on Friday, his last day, with a night of the family favorite finger foods and movies, capping it off with some death by chocolate.

While this is all very food heavy, that is kind of the main way we tend to do celebrations, so it is perfect. I’m going to try and squeeze in a night or two during the week to play some games. I have a feeling Fibbage is going to be coming out since that is one of MC’s favorite games to play as a family. Mostly because we get completely stupid and ridiculous in the process.

It might not seem like a lot when it is all said and done, but it is a way to show him how much he means to us and how proud of him we are. He not only survived high school, he kicked its butt in epic fashion. He will be going off to college with all 4 years of his tuition paid for and a potential for a one time scholarship of $5k (just submitted this one, so we are in wait mode on that, but chances are good), all because he set a goal to do his absolute best and he excelled at every single class.

He seems to be stoked for our little celebration, so that is really all that matters. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do for his actual graduation. My creativity muscles are getting one hell of a workout.

 

Balancing Compassion With Reason

I’m having an incredibly difficult time with this today. Both on a much larger, external scale and a much smaller, personal scale.

I want to be understanding and compassionate when others are having a difficult time, for whatever reason. I’ve always struggled with being able to see both sides of a lot of different situations and not able to feel comfortable landing solidly on either side. Normally, this allows me to more easily be understanding and compassionate.

Some divides are more obvious to me, no matter if I can see both perspectives and knowing where I land is much easier, but it makes it so much harder to find that compassion. Right now, I’m very solidly landing on one side and not only am I finding it hard to feel that compassion, but I’m feeling a whole lot of anger to go with it.

On the larger scale side of things, there is nothing I can really do about it but care for myself and my loved ones, making sure we do what we need for us. On the personal side? Well, that is where it is getting messy and I am not happy today at all.

Personal choices and actions always play a huge part in how I feel about things and this situation is heavily impacted by choices. Selfish and even somewhat thoughtless choices by others are now putting my family at a much higher risk and I’m trying so hard not to be angry about them.

Yes, there are reasons. Some of those reasons are understandable to a degree and I sympathize with those reasons. But many more of them are based on an irrational mindset that they can still live life as if nothing were out of the ordinary and little to no thought or concern is put on how those actions will impact others.

It is so hard not to be angry today. Especially when other options are there, but those options are refused. Especially when others should be playing a part but won’t upset their own personal routine because it isn’t convenient, yet we must inconvenience ourselves at a much higher risk of expense. Especially when advice and guidance has been given by those in a professional capacity with years of knowledge and experience, but it is discounted because the it isn’t the desired solution or outcome. Especially when this was something that was seen long ago, but ignored and left unaddressed. Especially when attitudes come across as a childlike temper tantrum instead of a rational adult willing to look beyond just themselves.

While the above can absolutely be applied to the larger, external situation, it is also very specific to my personal one. Because of that, I’m now being forced to sit on the side and watch the actions of others put me and my family at a much greater risk when it isn’t absolutely necessary. I want to be compassionate and understanding. I know that some of the reasons behind the situation warrant those things, but so much more just makes me angry it is hard to find the balance.

 

Making It Through

I was absolutely shocked when I went to check on my flowers this morning and found my daffodils still hanging in there. After having well over half of the days in April hit below freezing temps, I was stunned I had anything still looking good and working towards blooming. Sadly, of the last 4, two were broken over, so I just cut what was left and brought them inside to enjoy.

We finally got some communication from the school and they do have plans to have a graduation ceremony for the seniors, but it won’t be happening until the end of July. I have everything crossed that can be crossed that things have calmed down and are safe by then. I honestly haven’t a clue what they will do if it isn’t. There is still a chance that MC won’t have a graduation ceremony to walk in, but they are working to make it happen.

We are all going to be on pins and needles for the next several weeks (more than normal) as my FIL had to make a trip to the ER yesterday because of a messed up knee. While he is okay and probably needs a knee replacement (doubt he will go through with it) and the hospital had him in an area that was separate from anyone that was sick, there is still the very real chance that he could have been exposed.

It makes it incredibly hard when you can’t be there to help out. My SIL has been socializing with him and helping with his shopping since they are both alone and individually isolating (outside of those necessary runs). She will still help where she can, but a lot of these kinds of things are the things we normally help with and we can’t right now. He is still in a lot of pain and getting around is going to be extremely difficult, especially because he has stairs in his house. We were already worried about falls, but this has ramped that up by about a thousand.

Before all of this started, we were talking to him about moving to something that didn’t require him to navigate stairs, something it was well past time to consider, but no one wanted to make him feel like he was losing anything important. There are so many things tied up in that decision to move, which made pushing for that change a very delicate matter. Now, everything is on hold indefinitely when that change is most needed. It is something we are going to worry about even more now, but there is not a thing we can actually do.

As little as I am a scheduler or a planner and more of a by the seat of my pants kind of a person, I’m seeing how much I dislike uncertainty, or more accurately, a lack of control. Even when I just go with the flow, I’m in control of most of that flow. Right now, there is so little that is within my control or that I can do anything to make any kind of difference. It is an interesting perspective into the kind of person I am, at least in areas I hadn’t considered before now.

Mother Of All Invention

Since everything is so far from normal right now, my usual plan for Easter for my kids isn’t happening. For one, it really snuck up on me and I didn’t have time to get some of our traditional things. When Hubby did go for our grocery run, the candy section was absolutely wiped out. He managed to get a single bag of basic jelly beans because it is the one thing BG asked for (though we all much prefer the Starburst jelly beans, we aren’t complaining).

Not that the candy even matters to the kids. MC has even said over and over this last year that he just really doesn’t want any (for any event). It is more about having or doing something for them. They opted to still do their traditional scavenger hunt, which doesn’t require anything but time, so we will do that as it has always been their absolute favorite thing about the day.

When we talked about alternative options, I was trying to brainstorm something for them that they would enjoy. Dying eggs crossed my mind, but my kids have never been that into doing that and I didn’t want to use a bunch of eggs. Then I mentioned sugar cookies. They both jumped on the idea of doing egg shaped sugar cookies that they could decorate. Perfect!

Except… I didn’t have a cookie cutter. I tried to find something that I could still use and make it work, but didn’t have anything. I considered doing a card stock template and just cutting around it. I’d done it before and it worked, but it was a little bit of a pain. Then I remembered I had a bunch of copper plate in my stash of jewelry making supplies. I’ll make my own cookie cutter!!

Yeaaahhhh… easier said than done.

I don’t know why I was absolutely convinced that I’d used copper in a solder project in the past, but apparently I remembered incorrectly because my solder does NOT work with copper.

What should have been a relatively quick project took me forever to figure out that I couldn’t solder this before then needing to spend some time trying to figure out an alternative. I finally figured it out and it works, but because I attempted to fire and solder this, there is some fire scale that I didn’t want to spend any more time than I did buffing and polishing out.

So, it isn’t the prettiest thing in the world, but I now have an egg shaped cookie cutter and I’ll be working with the kids on making sugar cookies later today.

It was a fun learning experience, though. I might try to make some other simple shapes in the future because it really wasn’t all that hard once I figured it out.

Surprise Hyacinth

I had a different hyacinth bloom this year. It is a surprise because I didn’t plant any new ones where this one popped up. I don’t ever remember having one that looked like this which makes it even more odd. Either hyacinths react to the chemical make up in the ground and mine did something wonky or something else is going on. Whatever it is, it is really pretty. I could handle having more of those.

My bleeding heart is just starting to bloom. I have one line that is opening and a whole bunch that have lots of little buds starting. Hopefully I can manage to get a decent photo. There is something about trying to photograph bleeding hearts that seems to kick my butt and I’m never happy with the results. That and I have to be a little bit of a contortionist to get in there as they are between a couple of other bigger plants.

Yesterday’s parade for BG’s dance studio owner was this amazing, emotional, awesome event. It was so cool to see how over the moon excited the owner was, so much she was bouncing and jumping around all through tears of happiness.

Distance was always kept between the people in cars and the owner as well as between the owner and the couple of people in the yard with her (adult daughters and a couple older grandkids). One of the owner’s daughters (also a teacher) recorded the event and it was nearly a half our long video because of the huge number of cars. It was phenomenal to see the support for such an amazing person.

BG got to see one of her favorite teachers (the one she assists and another daughter) and got to shout to her how much she missed her and got lots words of love and appreciation in return, making her feel so amazing.

I will say that I did still see a whole lot of idiotic people, too. While they did an amazing job keeping the owner safe and keeping distance there, the attendees did an awful job in other areas.

We were told to keep our windows up until we were in front of the house. We met in the neighborhood’s club parking lot to line up (definitely not 6ft. between those cars) and so many people had their windows down, girls hanging out those windows and talking to their friends in the cars next to them, even standing up through sunroofs. There was at least one convertible with the top down and 4 people inside (because of age, I doubt they all lived together) and some brilliant person decided to drive a golf cart.

To say that aspect of it was frustrating is a massive understatement. I felt bad for the organizers because they were adamant about the rules and were doing everything to keep everyone safe, but of course those rules were ignored. This marred the event a bit for me and I hate that because it really was amazing and this incredible outpouring of love and affection for someone that does so much for everyone around her all the time.

It wasn’t just this group’s behavior that I saw yesterday that shocked me at how oblivious people are right now. This was the first time I’ve left my house since this all started, so I was floored at the number of people out. Yes, I was part of it, but I only did this because I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving the car or getting anywhere near anyone. I was still shocked at the amount of traffic because it felt like a normal day.

But more than just the number of people out shocked me. I drove by all kinds of business on my way and there were so many cars in the parking lots of business I didn’t think were supposed to be open or have more than a couple of essential employees. People in convertibles or driving with their windows down through a high traffic area and even those on motorcycles. There is nothing wrong with those things when you aren’t pulling up to lights next to other cars that are also open.

Ever driven down the road with a window open and been hit by the over spray of the car in front of you cleaning their windshield? Get the connection? Is it likely you’ll get exposed that way? Probably not a high probability, but there is still some. That is why all these precautions are in place in the first place. Seeing what I did yesterday, I’m kind of floored that the numbers in my area aren’t significantly higher than they are.

Needless to say, Hubby will be taking MC to pick up his cap and gown. That is going to require at least a minimal interaction even via drive through, so that one is all on him. My ass is staying home.