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.

Anniversary Celebration – An Unexpected Turn – Last Day!

I started the Kindle ebook give away for An Unexpected Turn on the anniversary of the day I clicked publish. It ends on the day I celebrate another anniversary. 19 years and Hubby and I are still going strong.

It has been an interesting week to try and honor and celebrate both of these milestones, but I’m grateful for the chance to get to do so, even if it is low key. Today, I can say that I published a book and a year later it is still drawing interest and hitting new milestones I never even considered when I hit that publish button. Today, we are all healthy and I get to celebrate another year with an amazing human that helps to make life so much more fun and bright. I’m incredibly grateful for both of those things.

So, if you were considering it and haven’t yet, now is your last chance! As always, please feel free to share it with anyone you may think is interested.

To those of you that have already picked this up! Thank you.

 

 

Constantly Changing

This time yesterday, our city had only implemented a ban on certain size gatherings with our state having followed not far behind with the same as a suggestion. Within a few hours, that gathering size number had reduced for our city. A few hours later, our city mayor closed schools, restaurants, theaters, and bars and put in place a ban on gatherings larger than 10. The mayor. Our county and state government has not.

Have I mentioned that our city doesn’t have a single confirmed case? There are a few in surrounding counties, so a part of the metro area, but not our city itself. Some of those surrounding counties are following our mayor’s lead. Other cities in our state do have cases, yet they aren’t implementing these measures and our governor isn’t doing anything other than suggesting the earlier limit on gathering sizes (that does not include businesses or schools). A suggestion, not a ban.

I’m thrilled our mayor is being so aggressively proactive. His stance forced our kids’ school to move to an online program after spring break because of the closure even though the district itself isn’t in the city, but part of a cooperative of districts in the area.

We got word this morning that Hubby’s work is moving to a work from home model for all employees that are capable of doing so. Even BG’s dance studio is implementing classes via a video app so they can learn the remainder of their routines. While there is still a very real chance that the recital will end up canceled or, at the very least, postponed, the kids will be ready to go however this pans out.

I am just extremely relieved all the way around. It all looks very different, but life is still going on. I will be utterly heartbroken if recital and MC’s graduation end up canceled, but I would much rather see those things canceled if it means we are flattening the curve and if it keeps anyone from being put at risk.

Beginning To Open

These aren’t quite open, though they are getting so close. I have a couple that are still deep into the new bud phase that will take even longer. It is kind of nice as it will keep something blooming in that front bed for a while.

I got confirmation that the prom that MC was still hoping to go to is getting canceled or postponed and I’m relieved. I hate that he is disappointed, but I’m also glad that this is settled. I can do what I’ve known for a while is the right thing without a lot of extra stress.

Hubby and I have been talking also about whether he is going to choose to work from home after he goes back to work. He had taken the first few days of the kids’ spring break off so we could spend time together as a family. After a few things that happened last week that bothered me, I’m really concerned about him going back into the office.

My concern is that I may be at a higher risk than your average healthy person because of my winter bronchitis. I’m still coughing, so the concept that he could be exposed and bring that home with him is frightening, especially if you have spent any time at all reading some of the stories. I know that I’m nowhere near at risk as some, but I’m still worried.

As of right now, our state hasn’t closed schools, something that I’m really pissed off about. Granted, most of our state is on spring break, but again, this is about a massive lack of leadership from those in the position to make those decisions and their unwillingness to actually take proactive measures to ensure the well being of others.

Talk about one nasty mixed bag of emotions going on right now.

Swan Lake Day: Sorry, No Photo

I don’t have a photo to post today because I’m busy getting ready to go see Swan Lake with my girl. I’ve never seen it before, so I’m so excited to get to experience this with BG.

I’d say I’d have some pictures for you from the ballet, but I have no intention of taking my camera (not that I think it would be allowed anyway) so I can just sit and enjoy. Have a great Sunday!

Back On Track

Today is the first day that everyone is back to a normal routine after the holidays. Hubby is back to work. The kids are back in school. And it is so quiet in the house.

Well, at least it is in between the moments when I’m desperately trying to cough up a lung (thank you so much my old friend bronchitis, I thought you’d decided to leave me alone this winter), something I’ve been trying hard to do on an off since around Thanksgiving. It is hard to try and get back into any kind of normal routine when you feel like crap.

The longer than normal break has allowed MC’s birthday to sneak up on me. He will be turning 18 and that is such a mixed bag of emotions. We keep joking that we are kicking him out now that he is an adult. He just keeps laughing at us.

Because of his birthday, Death by Chocolate is in my future. The fun of having birthdays so close to the holidays (both MC’s and mine) is that it feels like the holidays don’t just stop, but trickle away slowly. That goes for all the food and goodies.

I have a day to try and get up the energy to do everything I need to for that and I’m going to spend it with my nose buried in a book, eating cough drops like candy and trying not to nap with the hope that I’ll actually be tired enough to sleep through the coughing for a change.

Looking Forward

I’m not really big on setting major goals or resolutions. I’d rather focus on just noting the things that are important to me to maybe focus on or to try and the things to look forward to. It is part of my need to focus on the positive things rather than the negative.

This is going to be one of those really big, notable years for me. So much of that focus will be around MC because he will graduate from high school in the spring and then will start college in the fall. BG will add her smaller but still important events by getting her driver’s license and by being in a much larger part of her dance recital by being in the oldest group of girls for the first time and as an assistant. Hubby will turn 50 this year. All major changes, but all things I’m mostly excited about.

I really want to continue to try and focus on the good and the things that bring me joy. While many of the major events this year will be amazing, they will come with that bitter sweetness that most major changes bring, so that positive focus will sometimes be easier said than done. My plan is to add some things to that list of events that help tip the balance.

While there will always be lots of books to read, I really want to spend more time this year doing more creative things. I’ve started playing with one aspect to see if it is going to work for me. I have a few other ideas, but I still need to see if they will fall into the “I’m doing this for fun” side of things or “This is more work than fun” side. Since the goal is to focus on the positive and the joy, it needs to stay on that fun side.

I really want to spend more time out taking photos. Partly for the photos and partly because I really need to be more active than I am. I didn’t spend nearly enough time walking and reading this year as I have in years past, so I need to make some changes to that.

Really, other than the things that are happening this year, this isn’t a whole lot different than what I’d looked to focus on this last year, finding the joy and the things that make me happy.

 

Best of 2019: Moments

Outside of photography and the books I read this last year, I thought I’d note a few of the bigger moments and highlights of my year, things that I did or experienced that I was really proud of or stuck with me as important moments.

There will always be tons of those when it comes to my kids. Yes, I’m hugely biased and think I have the best kids ever, even when they are being little shits. There are a couple that really stick out, though.

BG stepping WAY out of her mostly introverted comfort zone to be a dance assistant. Just the few months that she has been doing this, she has really gained a lot of self-confidence that I haven’t seen in her before. It has been amazing to watch. I’ve also seen her really grow and mature this last year with how she has handled friendships and dating and high school.

This has been MC’s year to really drop the proud mama moments on me. I’m over the moon proud of his accomplishments and getting not only accepted into his school of choice, but winning a top scholarship because of all the hard work he put into is school work. The biggest mush moment from him though is one I never posted about. I never could quite find the words to describe how he made me feel, but… for a project in one of his classes, he had to name the smartest and the wisest people he knew (separate people). His obvious choice, to me anyway, would be my Hubby because he looks up to him so much. He did name his dad as being the smartest, but he said that I was the wisest. When all the other students were naming famous people and other people of note, he picked me. When he told me all the reasons (which I have now forgotten because I’m still blown away by the fact he even considered me) I just almost bawled. I am not, and never have been, the person he really looks up to. I’m just mom. The fact that he feels that way about me, enough to include it in a school project and then tell me about it… talk about feeling like you’ve done something right as a parent! My 17 year old son thinks I’m wise. Just… wow.

There were a few creative projects that I’m still really proud of. While it wasn’t my best cake, by far, but BG’s birthday cake this year was still insanely challenging and turned out pretty well.

Pointe Costume Cake Side By Side
Pointe Costume Cake Side By Side

That costume really hit me in the creative nerve because just doing it in cake wasn’t enough, apparently. I had to paint it as well. Again, far from being perfect, it was something new for me and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.

2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic
2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic

I was also really pleased with the first piece of jewelry I’ve attempted in a few years. It reminded me how much I love working with stones and silver.

Of course I think one of my proudest creative endeavors this year was publishing my book, An Unexpected Turn. Considering I never planned, expected or even dreamed of writing a book, I’m still a little astonished that I actually did it. It has been this insanely difficult, emotional roller coaster of an experience. I’m even more proud of the fact that it really seems to be received well by most readers. It is selling and getting mostly positive reviews. I still sometimes struggle to believe it has all actually happened.

An Unexpected Turn - Christmas Ad Image
An Unexpected Turn – Christmas Ad Image

Even though I definitely had some rather low moments throughout the year, 2019 was a pretty good year, especially on the creative and mom front. With MC graduating in the spring, BG starting to drive, and my creative muse chafing to get my hands busy, I know 2020 will probably bring a lot of the same.

On The Flip Side

I have only just now had a few moments to go through all the photos I took over the last several days. Nearly all of them are family related, but I did manage a minute or two to play with my new toy, a photography sphere. I’m going to have so much fun playing with this!

Today is going to be focused on getting the remaining messes picked up and put away from the last few amazing days followed by the post holiday crash. We really had a wonderful, drama free holiday, so I’m very much a happy camper. Even more so because I got to be evil mom to MC by making his one and only gift something he had to really work for to get open. Let’s just say that multiple layers of wrapping and boxes culminated in woven packing tape can only be broken into if you cheat and use scissors. Even that took more work than he expected. The look on his face when he got to that layer absolutely made my day and was so worth all the time it took to set that up.

Everyone is off of work and school until after the new year, so I probably won’t be back to regular posting until then, though I’ll try and sneak in a couple here and there. This time of year is always family time and filled with food and movie marathons and lazy time.

Hoping you all had as amazing holidays as I did and will keep enjoying this fun time of year!

 

Absolutely Epic

Normally starting my day cleaning up cat puke would set the tone and the rest of the day would be full of not fun, but I ended up having one hell of a day yesterday.

I finished my gift baking. Got all my presents wrapped and under the tree except the couple that hadn’t arrived yet. Got the kids to wrap their gifts to each other. Heard from the people that I shipped gifts to that they got their packages early. So, in all, it felt like I’d accomplished a lot, which was really good.

I was stressing the hell out trying to finish getting my pizzas assembled knowing I didn’t have a ton of time left as the kids were due home and I still had to work with the kids on their gifts, start baking the pizzas, take a shower and fix BG’s hair all before we had to leave for her Christmas program.

MC gets home as I’m rushing around and tossed out that he has to call his college choice back as they’d tried to call him while he was in school and left a message for him to call them back. I honestly didn’t think about it when he told me as I was too focused on finishing everything in time, but he comes down only a few minutes later with a kind of stunned look on his face.

He was officially offered the scholarship with full tuition and is the runner up for the tuition with room and board scholarship (he will get it if either of the top candidates choose another school). That means he was third out of all of the applicants for the competitive scholarships. He frickin’ did it! All his hard work over the years, all his dedication to getting those amazing grades and doing so well absolutely paid off in spectacular form. I’m so damn proud of my kid. He is still a little bit in shock over it all and I think it may take a little bit for that to sink in.

After all the crazy and the excitement, I then got to go watch BG do her Christmas program for tap and jazz. This is something like the 9th one I’ve sat through, but it was a little different because of the class she is now in. Being the older girls (sophomore, junior and seniors) the program is a bit more intense, with harder choreography and steps, plus it is treated with a little bit more import as the girls aren’t those cute little girls anymore. It is still full of fun, but it is just that little bit more mature. The difference is subtle, but still noticeable.

It was so much fun to watch her. I mean, it always is, but this year she has put so much more effort into it than she ever has and it really shows. Being an assistant has made her look at all of this a little differently and it has become even more important to her. For the first time ever she agreed to let me take group shots of her and her friends after the program and damn! The smiles I got! She was absolutely glowing.

I could not be more proud of my kids. They are growing up in this amazing way that shows how amazing they are going to be as adults. I think I won the lottery when it came to kids with these two.

Snowy Day At The Pond

Sadly, the pretty snow was bad enough to force the studio to cancel BG’s performance yesterday, something they almost never do because of how difficult (really impossible) it is to reschedule. They will do most of it during the first class period back after the new year, but it won’t be the full thing as they don’t do pointe, just ballet.

I was sad but also really glad because all the roads in the area were a horrible mess and I really didn’t want to attempt to get out in that disaster. Instead, I froze my butt off to go take some pictures as the conditions were perfect for it. Or, mostly perfect. I would have stayed out longer, but the snow was really coming down and it was getting impossible to keep my camera dry, so I wasn’t out too long. Long enough to get a few good shots. I love snow covered landscape shots, but I can rarely ever seem to really capture what I see.