More Frozen Fog Spikes

Today starts MC’s second semester in college. While almost all of his classes are from home, he is going to be spending a large chunk of time almost every day at the school for his eSports practice.

It does make me nervous, but there are protocols in place. Everyone on the team had to take a Covid test before they could participate and they have the space in their gaming zone for plenty of spacing and distancing.

The amount of time he has to be there for practice also means that he won’t be home at dinner time most of the week. While that isn’t different than when he was on campus last semester, it is still going to feel a little weird. It is also throwing one hell of a wrench in the car situation as there are conflicts between when he needs it and when BG needs it for dance. It is possible I’m going to have to go back to taking her and sitting in the car for the entire time she’s there.

It may be that things get a little crazy around here until we can settle into a new routine. At least the contractors should be done this week, removing that mess and stress from the mix.

3 days.

I’m counting.

And planning.

Playing With Snowflakes

I’ve been wanting to play around with a better technique of getting really great shots of individual snowflakes and their crystalline structure. With the snow coming down like crazy and my front porch protected, I thought it’d be a great time to try to play.

Unfortunately, my first thought to capture the flakes individually didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped. I’d taken a piece of glass outside and let it sit for a little while to try and acclimate to the temperatures, but either I didn’t let it sit long enough, or it pulled too much heat from my hands when I was trying to hold it out to capture the flakes because they melted too quickly for any of the individual flakes to last very long at all. I also noticed that they tended to break apart pretty quickly on that solid surface.

I’d had a towel with me to dry the glass off in between attempts and I noticed that any of the flakes that landed on the towel, and even my gloves, never really melted away or broke apart. I want to play with this idea more, but my battery died before I could explore it much and the few shots I got, while so much better, didn’t have great flakes to share.

This was the best from a too short play session. Sadly, I think the snow is now done for a while, so I’ll have to shift my focus to something else.

Maybe some more frozen bubbles if the weather decides to cooperate soon. It’s funny, MCG’s mom sent me a video of someone doing these asking me to do them sometime. I had a good laugh while pointing her to my photo albums that had the images of the ones I’ve done so far. I love the fact that I’m getting along so well with her as it looks more and more likely that she will become MC’s mother-in-law at some point in the next few years.

Makes life so much easier for everyone if I can manage to maintain that, but next year when MCG comes here for college will be a pretty hardcore test. I am really looking forward to having MCG here, though. Of course, so is MC. I’m pretty sure he is counting down the days.

New Year’s Snow

We are getting a really heavy snow storm today. Heavy for us anyway.

Even better, it seems to be on the dryer side so that means I get some detail on the flakes. These aren’t the really detailed crystalline flakes. These are more spiky, sharp flakes, but they are still cool to look at up close.

This is all great for photos, but it also kind of sucks because I’ve now had to cancel an appointment for a second Covid test. Still incredibly doubtful that’s what I’ve got, but the doctor wanted to be absolutely sure, especially since BG started doing her cough thing and that is what changed mine. She was also supposed to get one, so she is thrilled she doesn’t have to get a brain jab.

Not really sure where the timeline break is to no longer test positive if you had it, but I’m going to have to try and figure out how and when to reschedule since the guys will be back to work on the craft room on Monday and I’ll have to try and work around them a bit.

But hey! I finally got some snow, so I AM happy about that.

Icy Lights

Today is our annual movie, games, and great foods day. It looks like we will also be ringing in the new year with a lovely winter storm. Depending on how it tracks, we will either get more ice and yuck or we will get upwards of 6 inches of snow, so it could be interesting and a very different kind of NYE entertainment.

Hoping you all have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve tonight! I invite you to join me in flipping this year the bird on its way out the door. May next year be kinder to all of us.

Cookie Day

I did a whole lot of procrastinating, but these finally got done. I do love doing these, but I HATE mixing up all the batches of icing and getting them colored. It just really seems to take forever. When you are still feeling like crap, the thought of having to put in all that work just seems overwhelming.

We still had a blast. Again, I love the fact that both of my kids still love to do these every year. We got Hubby to jump in and decorate with us this year, too, which was even more fun.

Sadly, I STILL have two other things on my list of stuff I was supposed to bake for the holidays that hasn’t gotten done yet. I’m thinking they sound just as good being New Year’s treats.

Ugh! I’m Sick!

Even with all of our precautions, the masks, the distancing, the staying at home, we STILL somehow managed to bring something nasty into this house.

It started with BG just after her Christmas programs at dance, which is where I’m sure this came from even though masks were worn (until some girls decided they needed photos without their masks on) and it was virtual so there was no audience. There are so few other options for it to have hit us and she was the first to feel bad, so that is the most likely source. She started feeling off a few days after her first class back after the Thanksgiving break. Nothing really awful, more just a cold, but enough to make her not feel great.

As is classic around here, just a couple of days later and it hits me. On top of my already existing bronchitis, it is SO not fun. Now instead of just coughing my fool head off, I’m also congested as all hell, had a sore throat (which is now thankfully gone), one of my ears is completely blocked and I can’t hear out of it well. I was feeling crummy enough yesterday that I didn’t get squat done that I needed to do and just stayed bundled up on the couch, goofing around on the internet and reading. That was all topped off last night when I popped a bit of a fever, low grad, but still a fever.

Normally, this would just suck, especially so close to Christmas and with so much I still need to do baking wise. But this isn’t a normal year. It is a very real concern that this is more than just a cold or the flu, though I do think it is just a cold and my poor body is already stressed from fighting the bronchitis. We are taking all precautions, though.

I am still making my FIL his Christmas dinner, though I’m fully masked the entire time. Hubby and the kids will take that and his gifts out to him to drop off later today, but the kids will stay in the car, there will be zero contact. They will only be there long enough to drop it all off and leave. No one will even go in the house. Just wave and wish him Merry Christmas in person, but that is it.

I’ll be staying home while they do this. We discussed BG staying home as well, but she never ran a fever and is nearly over hers. With everyone staying masked even though there won’t be any contact or closeness, there should be little to no risk of passing whatever this is along. Considering he hasn’t seen the kids since Spring other than the 5 minutes it took us to drop off Thanksgiving dinner, it is important that he gets at least that little bit.

I might have to cut down on what I’d planned to bake this year. Or, at the very least, delay getting it done. I don’t have a ton left to do and I managed the energy to get the fudge done so I could send that and some cookies to my FIL, but I still have to put together his soup and I know that is about all I’m going to be able to get done today. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful that my fridge is currently full of leftovers so I don’t have to even think about fixing dinner on top of it all.

I will say that I am worried and a bit stressed because it is still a very real possibility that this is Covid-19. I don’t think it is, but it is still a possibility and that is scary. I can only hope that this is as bad as I’ll feel no matter what it is.

And PLEASE! Wear your damn masks!

The Great Conjunction Of Jupiter And Saturn

BG and I wanted to try and get a glimpse of this event, so we set alarms and set up camp at a front window that was perfectly positioned for viewing.

I’m going to admit to some extreme ignorance on this. I really had thought that when there was talk of Saturn being in line with Jupiter, I expected it to fall behind Jupiter. So when I decided to just see what I could get with my camera, my mind was in that mode and expected certain things because of it, though I really didn’t expect to get anything at all exciting as I simply do not have the right equipment for anything amazingly detailed. I really just expected to get a bright dot.

Imagine my surprise when I see not just one dot with the naked eye, but a couple. BG and I were trying to decide what the second dot was, even using our Google Sky ap to try and identify it. Just a side note about that ap… it confirmed my thoughts on Saturn being behind Jupiter because that is what it showed on the screen instead of it being next to it. Other than giving us a place to look, it really didn’t help one bit in figuring out what we were seeing.

After I’d taken a few shots and BG had run off to take one of her finals, I decided to see what all that looked like if I zoomed in on one of the photos. My mind was absolutely blown. It looked like you could see Saturn’s rings peaking out from behind Jupiter. I was so stunned that I could see that and jumped back in to take a bunch more to see if I could get it to clear up. Some looked more like a solid ring and others dropped down to more single light points on either side of Jupiter.

I got all crazy exited, cropped out the best one I could find and got it posted on my FB page, bragging about getting the rings. Then I went looking at  photos other people had gotten. And got really confused. Turns out Saturn is that mysterious dot to the side and what I thought were the rings really weren’t. I was so disappointed and felt like such an idiot.

I finally found a diagram of what was where and realized, okay, so I didn’t get Saturns rings, but I DID get 3 of Juipter’s moons and, quite possibly, Pluto as well. Yes, they are still really just dots, but the placement is clear.

I reposted the photos with a correction and the diagram I’d found, disappointed by the fact that I didn’t actually get those amazing rings. One of my friends jumped in and corrected me saying that because Saturn’s dot is more oblong than Jupiter, that technically I DID get the rings, they just aren’t clearly defined.

Considering I didn’t expect to get ANYTHING, I’m really stoked that I got what I did. Below is the full size photo. Even without blowing it up in size, you can still see some of those elements.

Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn
Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn

This is the diagram I found on Earth Sky to give you and idea of which dot is which. This is why I said I THINK I also got Pluto because it isn’t pictured here.

Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn Diagram From Earth Sky
Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn Diagram From Earth Sky

The closer look at what I managed to capture. You can clearly see the big dot of Jupiter with a moon close on either side and a third just up and to the left. Saturn is the slightly smaller, egg shaped dot up and to the right of Jupiter. Then, if you look close, almost straight down from Saturn is the faintest dot. That is the one I think may be Pluto (feel free to correct me if you know what it is).

Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn Close Crop
Jupiter, Moons, & Saturn Close Crop

While yesterday was THE day to see the two planets this close, you can still see them together for the next several days, with more distance between the planets each day.

Better Late

I’m so far behind on getting any holiday baking done this year. I had originally planned on just making stuff in chunks so I didn’t end up with a massive pile of goodies all at once. Yeah, that didn’t work. I made one batch of nougat after the kids harassed me until I got it done. Next thing I know, I’ve got only a few days before Christmas and nothing else is made.

I spent yesterday in the kitchen trying to get at least part of my baking done. So far, I’ve made a batch of sugar cookie dough, but not the cookies. I got a batch of peanut butter cookies made and I was able to get my annual batch of pot pies made up and in the freezer ready to go to my FIL as part of his gift. There aren’t nearly as many as I usually make, but at least I got them done.

I still have something like 5 other goodies, some homemade pizzas, and baking and decorating the sugar cookies left to get done. So, if it feels like I’ve gone quiet, it’s because I’m chained to the kitchen until all of that is finished.

Night Of Lights

This is another photo from last year.

Tonight will be our annual drive to look at lights. I’m kind of shocked that my 16 year old AND my 18 year old think this is still something awesome to do and are excited to do it. I honestly thought by now that they would think it was childish or that they had much better things to do, but they have both been bugging  me about when we are going to do it this year.

So, as is tradition, I will make a big pot of hot chocolate. The kids will either get into cozy PJs or grab a blanket. We will grab some snacks and get the Christmas music going. Then head out for about 2 hours or so just driving around and looking at houses decorated for the holidays.

Even though we will most likely go and see all the same houses we always see and the decorations will all mostly be the same as previous years, we still go and look at them all. We goof around and laugh and sing along, sometimes with our own lyrics, which ALWAYS ends up in more laughing and ridiculousness. Then when the drinks and snacks are gone and we’ve heard all the same songs at least a couple of times, we will head back home.

I’m definitely going to savor it as much as possible this year because I know this tradition has an expiration as my kids get older. Next year may see an addition with MCG coming along or it may see MC finally deciding he has more important things to do with MCG here. I’m pretty sure that once MC decides he is done, then BG will follow quickly behind as it won’t be the same for her without her big brother.

Their continued excitement for this and some of our other traditions makes me infinitely grateful that my kids are who they are and that they still think time spent with their parents is something they enjoy.

Passing The Torch To The Next Generation

We have a lot of traditions around the holidays. The santa curtain is the first Christmas decoration to go up every year after Thanksgiving dinner once the dishes are done. Decorating is done the day after Thanksgiving. I get a nutcracker every year to add to my collection.

The nutcracker tradition started when I was 16 and I was given my first nutcracker by my parents for Christmas. The tradition has continued nearly every year since, with my parents and later Hubby and occasionally someone else giving me a nutcracker at Christmas. Needless to say, over 30 years later and my collection is LARGE.

A few years ago, Hubby decided that he needed to give it to me either when we were decorating for the holidays or, as happens WAY too often, as soon as it arrives, no matter when throughout the year he bought it. It is still always a surprise as I just never now when he is going to present me with that year’s nutcracker.

Hubby is also the one that morphed this tradition into a theme for the year. The nutcracker always reflects something significant from the year. Like the year he gave me a mountain climber/hiker one when we took a trip to Colorado or a Charles Dickens one the year I published my book. It is as much fun getting the nutcracker itself as it is seeing what theme he is going to pick for the year. It makes it fun when it is time to bring them all out for the season to see those themes and reflect on when I got them and why. There are stories for every one and the kids, especially BG, love to talk about them.

I’d decided a while ago when I saw how much BG loved this tradition, that I’d start her on her own tradition of nutcrackers when she turned 16. I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of years and finally got to start it this year.

As often happens when we are decorating and putting out all the nutcrackers, Hubby slides downstairs and slips the box in next to one of the bins I was unpacking. The kids know he does this and MC saw this and waited for my reaction not knowing that this one wasn’t mine. BG was oblivious.

When I called her over and handed her the box, she was bit confused and asked me if Hubby had gotten me another new one (I already got mine this year). When I said no, this was hers so she could start her own collection… her face!! The utter shock was just over the top. It is hard to really surprise her and she had no idea I was planning this.

Then she absolutely lost it and started bawling her eyes out. I really didn’t expect that. I had expected her to be a little surprised, even excited to get her own nutcracker, but she was just so emotional about it I was floored. I had no idea just how much doing this would mean to her which made this all the more special.

We were both a bit of a blubbery mess for a few minutes. Then I lost my helper as she took off upstairs to make a space in her room to set him up in a place of honor.

Following tradition, hers is somewhat themed in that it matches this year’s pointe costume almost perfectly with the pinks and golds. The fact that it also has a ballerina with it is kind of icing on the perfect cake.

The photo is of her very first nutcracker (on the left) next to my first ever nutcracker (right). While I will still be getting my nutcrackers, I’ve passed the tradition down to my girl this year. I never could have anticipated how much this means to her, so I’m overjoyed that I get to share this with her.

It is moments like this that I love the most. These little points that make up our stories and the pieces that stick with us for a lifetime. Now she is going to have her own physical story reminders she will get to unpack for years to come.

Cooking Marathon

This is just a little of what I spent my day doing yesterday. Let me tell you, it was a hell of a struggle to get it all done when I had zero energy. Again.

In all, I made 4 batches of pie crust, a huge batch of my dumpling style egg noodles, a batch of rolls, and 3 mini pumpkin pies.

It has been interesting to try and figure out how to split all of this up to make two full Thanksgiving meals in a way that was easy to transfer since one of those is going to my FIL. The pies were a big one as it isn’t exactly easy to just cut an entire pie in half and transport it. Some are easier than others, but I also want everything to still look appetizing when it gets there.

I found some 6 inch pie pans that I thought would work to split my recipe into two (since it normally calls for a 9 inch) or something close. I’d planned on doing only 2 small pumpkin pies and using the 3rd for the chocolate, but when I went to pour the filling, I had more than enough to do all 3 shells. They worked wonderfully, though.

The other biggie was doing the turkey. I’d hoped to find 2 small ones so I could just send off the whole thing, but that SO didn’t happen. I’m now cooking a huge bird today so I can include it with everything else, but that means we get it as leftovers tomorrow. I wanted to limit what I had to do that with, so most everything else I’m doing in two separate batches.

Today I’m working on cooking that turkey and then doing a full on meal prep of one batch of everything else and we will be taking it and dropping it all off this afternoon.

So far, I feel better today than I have the last couple of days, so hopefully I won’t be wiped out tonight when I finally get to sit down again.

The fun part? I get to do it ALL again tomorrow except the turkey.

My Chicks Are All Home In The Nest

I just got done unloading MC back at home until at least after the first of the year. He will be home for the remainder of his first semester at college and, fingers crossed, hopefully all of next semester as well.

We’ve moved all his stuff back home to be on the safe side and to avoid needing to go to campus after Thanksgiving to pick stuff up if they do determine he doesn’t need to live in a dorm next semester. If he does, we will just do like we did to get his stuff home and bring it in batches. He isn’t a “stuff” kind of guy, so there wasn’t a ton.

So many things around here have changed in the last few days. A lot of things are being forced back into all virtual or reduced capacity and gathering limits. As usual, this was lead by our mayor and not our governor. I’m grateful that our city government sees how important these things are for everyone.

This doesn’t do much to impact BG’s schedule much. Her dance will go online for 2 weeks after Thanksgiving, but they’ve not said anything at all about their Christmas program. I’m still standing firm on my position that if they attempt to do so with masks being optional, she will not be participating.

It is my fervent hope that people in this country will abide by the CDC’s new recommendations for no travel over Thanksgiving. That people will stay home and pick up the phone or do a zoom call with their distant family and loved ones instead. That they can find peace in knowing they did their part to ensure everyone’s family is still there for them next Thanksgiving.

For us, we are officially hunkered down for a while in our little nest. I’m a happily relieved momma to know that my chicks are home and safe.

Home For The Holidays

I was given this year’s nutcracker last night! Hubby had started giving them to me early so I could enjoy them the whole season. Some years I get them earlier than others because he cannot stand to hang on to it after he gets it. This showed up on the porch yesterday afternoon and it was sitting in my spot at the table for dinner last night. I loved what he picked for the theme this year.

So much is going to be different this holiday season, but I’m good with that.

I won’t be doing bake sale baking this year because there won’t be a bake sale. The organizers are still taking donations to be able to support the families they provide for through the holidays, but no one is in the office right now, so a bake sale isn’t feasible. Instead, we are going to donate what they normally make off my baked goodies to help make up the difference of what they’d get from the sale.

We are also holing up and not leaving again after this week. I have one more errand I have to take care of, then I’m going to do my best to not leave the house again until after the first of the year. Hubby will still take care of our essential shopping, but I won’t be leaving. I’m not taking any chances with a lowered or suppressed immune system.

We got all the pieces I need for my craft room project yesterday to paint the walls and install the floor. I figure that after the contractors are done, that is about all I’d be able to get done until after the first of the year and will keep me from needing to leave to get any supplies.

I have my fingers crossed that our local government actually implements the health department recommendations of no gatherings larger than 10 as that will mean I don’t have to make the decision to keep BG from participating in her Christmas dance performances. The studio has put us in another awkward position as parents because they said they were going to make masks optional for the performances. They are live streaming them instead of having families come to the studio, but I think making it mask optional is recklessly stupid and I’m leaning towards keeping BG out because of that (and many other factors as well).

The last piece that is up in the air on our total stay at home for the holidays plan is what MC’s school is going to do. We know that they are not required to come back to campus after the Thanksgiving break, but they still have not answered questions about his requirements to live on campus next semester, so I have no clue if we are moving him out of the dorms in the next couple of weeks or not.

Staying home also means no big meal with Hubby’s dad and sister. For either Thanksgiving or Christmas. We haven’t seen either one of them since February other than Hubby taking care of a few critical appointments with my FIL, but we are all in agreement that we need to do this.

I am planning on fixing a full Thanksgiving dinner to take out and drop off with them the day before. The whole family will go, but we will only stay outside and just long enough to drop it off and leave. I will probably also do something similar for Christmas. At least he will get a nice, home cooked meal that way even if we can’t spend any time together. That is the best we can do right now. It helps to make sure that EVERYONE is still around for next holiday season.

And just to give you a visual reminder….

Intubation Graphic
Intubation Graphic

 

School Heading Into Fall And Winter

Up until recently, I’ve been mostly happy with the school situation with both BG doing her junior year remotely and MC being nearly all remote for his freshman year of college, but still being required to be in his dorm.

Ideally, I’d still prefer MC do be able to do his part from home, but I’ve been really pleased with how his school has handled things. So far, there have not been any cases on campus, which is kind of shocking. They are being told that they are not required to come back to campus after their Thanksgiving break because of concerns of students getting together with families over the holidays.

I think there are plans to go full virtual after the new year, but I don’t think they’ve confirmed those plans yet or how that will impact those students like MC that have the campus requirement for their scholarships.

With BG, I’ve been more than thrilled with her being virtual. She mostly prefers it that way, but has run into a few bumps and frustrations, mostly with a less than organized teacher that has extremely poor communication skills and never answers emails. There is most likely going to be the option to choose virtual again for next semester and she will absolutely be taking that option when it finally comes up.

The problem I am having is that she is still required to go to the school for some of her tests since they are for her AP classes and have to be monitored. This wouldn’t bother me nearly so much if I weren’t now getting a daily email of yet another positive test case at the school and I wasn’t also aware that it is absolutely possible to proctor an exam virtually as MC has done that for all of his online only courses.

We had reasons to choose the online only option. We made that decision after carefully considering all the different pieces and risk factors involved and determined it would be better for all of us if BG did the online only option. Yes, she has a risk through dance, but those factors were less of a risk than the school (fewer contact points, less time, better environmental factors) and some social interaction is important.

I strongly dislike the fact that she is still required to increase her exposure risk by going into the school building and sitting in a classroom with other students and a teacher going between two different classrooms of different students in the process when there are other options. I am even more upset now that there are beginning to be so many cases in our district, yet they are still requiring this in person testing.

It is already becoming a problem as some students that were in person and may have been in contact with a positive test case are forced to quarantine and cannot be in the school at all until they are out of quarantine, so they can’t take those tests until later, which kind of goes against some of the protections and reasons they require these tests be proctored.

I get it. This is unprecedented and these teachers and administrators are treading brand new ground and don’t have any kind of playbook to follow. I do think that some of these teachers have done a stellar job, going above and beyond to educate these kids (BG has a couple that she absolutely adores and so does MC). I do understand that we are probably more fortunate than a lot of others as I’ve seen some really awful stories about other people’s experiences. At the same time, sometimes I really wonder if some are ever actually thinking or if they just truly don’t have a clue.

Sadly, I think we are at a point here, or at least very close to it, where more and more students are going to be forced to go online (possibly even completely), so it is only going to get worse and I don’t know that our district or teachers are actually prepared for that.

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?