Rolling With The Changes

It seems as though we are just past the edge of several major shifts around here.

MC has gotten and started his first job. So many things prevented this from happening before, but he is finally getting out and getting a taste of the real world. Of all the jobs he could have chosen, he is working in a small fast food restaurant because he has a friend there. It is so weird having to make plans around his work schedule now. Him going off to work is making it feel way more like he is growing up and becoming an independent adult than his first year of college ever did.

Since we are all vaccinated, he is also starting to get back out and socialize. Again, it feel so weird as he was never that kind of kid in the first place, but he is finding his feet and that is an amazing thing to watch. He has shown in so many ways what a considerate, respectful person he is by making the choices he has and why.

I had expected the late nights of waiting for my kids to get home from wherever to have happened when they were still younger teenagers and not almost 20. It is an interesting shift to have something you expected not happen, get used to that, and then have to reshift when it does happen much later on down the line.

Hubby returned to the office for the first time since March of last year. It is so very different in the house with him not home. His work is doing some odd things with going back right now. They are supposed to return to a semi-in-person basis with 3 days in person and 2 as work from home, but his department doesn’t have the space for that yet as they have revamped the offices for more distancing permanently. So for them, they are doing a rotation with the smaller groupings, having them in the office for 4 days every 5 or 6 weeks, at least until they can work out something different. He won’t be going back to a pre-pandemic “normal” work schedule at all.

That will take a little adjusting, but we’d both prefer as much work from home as possible. He has an ugly commute and he is much more productive when he can avoid that. Not to mention how much better it is for the environment to not have to burn through all that gas. It also doesn’t make a lot of sense to house him with his “team” as most of the work he does is with a variety of other groups and not that specific team. The whole thing is a little odd and will definitely take some getting used to.

BG has been going to the school several days every week to work with her calculus teacher. Not once have my kids ever done any kind of summer school thing, so, again, it is so weird to have her take off for school when she would normally be jumping in the pool. She also opted to take the summer ballet class since she is going to be an assistant this next year. For the first time ever, she has a busy, fully booked summer.

Between the 3 of them there are large chunks of some days when I’m the only person in the house again. I’ve gotten so used to having everyone around almost all the time, that the quiet takes some getting used to.

On top of all of that, my mind is trying like crazy to start addressing some of the things I need to do to get prepared for MCG moving in with us in August. It is going to be so different having a new person in the house. Her being here has become a near constant topic around here. We are all looking forward to seeing how she reacts to our particular brand of crazy.

Even though this is only June, if I had to pick a theme for this year, it would definitely be change. Most of it is the good, growing kind of changes. Though they also bring hints of bigger, future changes I’m not quite ready to start considering too deeply. Like MC being ready to get married and move out, or BG heading off to college in a year (if she doesn’t choose to stay local).

Thankfully, I have a goofy, wonderful Hubby that likes to recreate some of his more romantic gestures, like getting me a rose for every day he will be gone, except times 3. He makes all those changes so much more bearable.

 

Craft Room Project: Helping Hands

Yesterday was a phenomenally productive day. I was able to get the equivalent of probably a little over 2 days worth of work in. It’s amazing what you can get done when you have an extra set of hands to help with the work.

BG had casually mentioned the other day that she likes painting, which I had my doubts on as she didn’t get far in helping when I worked on her bathroom, but I tossed out the offer to help me anyway. I figured I could give her the simple pieces like painting the shelves while I worked on wiping down the walls so I could work on touch ups and painting the areas I’d left thinking cabinets would cover.

We started in the garage with what I had left of those cabinets. She got all the shelves coated while I finished up the last 3 cabinets. She worked on the shelves I had set up and prepped in the basement while I worked on the walls. By the time I had a couple of walls ready, she was done with the shelves and wanted to paint the walls, so I let her have at it.

Because we were moving so fast, already had my green paint out, and were looking at needing to stop to wait for that whole round to dry, we decided to just go a head and work on painting the stair walls. I’d put those off until I got closer to the end because I tend to bump them when moving stuff up and down, like all that wood. I’m far enough into this that whatever bumping happens now will be minor and easily fixable.

The plan was to get as far as the remaining paint in that can would get as we were close to the bottom. I worked on edging the walls out (and DAMN! there are a lot of edges in that space!!) and BG followed behind me with the roller. We got probably 3/4 of the walls done. All that is left is the smaller wall with the railing that still needs some patching and the upper funky sections near the ceiling by the door.

In all, I finished painting every cabinet, the walls are ready in the room, most of the stairway walls are painted, and probably about half of all the shelves are done. Basically, I’m ready to put the underlayment down and get most of the upper cabinets mounted, which is getting started today. I need some of those unpainted shelves done before I can mount a couple of the lower cabinets, but I’ll be working on those in between hanging the uppers.

I was absolutely stunned at how much got done. And BG? Holy crap! She put in about 5 and a half hours of work right along side me yesterday. She will probably never say she wants to paint again, but she didn’t complain one bit yesterday until we were almost done and that was just to let me know that her hands were starting to cramp.

While the cabinets went relatively fast, those shelves are taking forever because I only have so much room to lay them out to work on them. I didn’t think I’d be at this point for another few days, if not a little longer.

Yesterday was a really good day. I lucked out that she wanted to help. I also lucked out when my seriously broken brain didn’t absolutely screw me up. I’d gotten another can of paint because I ran out of what I was using for the cabinets. For some reason I asked for satin instead of semi-gloss (which is what I’d been using). Thankfully, there is no real noticeable difference between the two, at least in my color, so I didn’t have to go get another can to fix the mistake.

Sadly, things like that are becoming my norm lately.

 

Getting To Share

I’m finally getting around to sharing the photo of the bouquet I got and modified for BG’s recital this year. And doing a little bragging along the way.

I knew I wasn’t going to have time to build a bouquet for BG this year and couldn’t decide what I was going to do instead. Then I tripped across an ad for wood flowers and kind of fell in love. Much like me, she hates that the flowers eventually die, so it was really kind of perfect.

The flowers themselves perfectly matched her pointe costume. Since I always try to show at least hints of all of her costumes in her bouquets, that made it a great foundation for small tweaks to get it completed without a lot of extra work.

I just added a few little loops of ribbon with a bead or two and then wrapped the stem and it was completely finished. BG was thrilled with it.

On the brag end of things, BG got invited to be a ballet assistant for this next year. It is a huge honor as they only ever ask the best dancers at the studio to be an assistant for ballet. It is something that she has wanted to do since she did ballet her first year way back in 4th grade. She was pretty convinced that she wouldn’t get it as she wasn’t asked this last year as a junior, so she was floored when she found out.

I’d gotten an email from her teacher the other day asking if I could get BG to the studio for the in person invite without her knowing. I had to come up with a very convincing story that would not only get her there without suspecting, but keep her from blasting all her dance friends with a notice about a meeting. I didn’t know who did and didn’t get the invite so I couldn’t have her telling someone to show up at the studio that wasn’t included.

I managed to convince her that her teacher wanted copies of photos I took during recital of the studio owner (the teacher’s mom) and BG needed to drop off a flash drive. She was still a little suspicious, because BG is so observant and picks up on the tiniest of things making surprising her nearly impossible, but she still didn’t really pick up on it until she got to the studio.

I also had to sit on this information for nearly two days and not say a word to her or let my excitement boil over and give it all away. BG is just giddy and still can’t believe she got it. She is loving it, but she is also a huge ball of nerves because there are things that she gets to do or is responsible for now. With this step and her decision to add the last available class to her schedule this year, she will be adding another 3 dances to her recital program. Add to those their once every 4 year special performance and it will be 4 more on top of her already 9.

She is going to be incredibly busy this next year, but what a way to spend your senior year of high school? Doing every single thing that you had ever hoped you could do. And here I thought her senior year was already going to be hugely emotional for me and we are only one day out of her finishing her junior year and I’m already kind of a mess.

And The Lights Go Out

My car and house kind of look like a glitter bomb went off. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get glitter cleaned up? Spoiler… you don’t. That stuff never goes away. I think I’ll be finding random glitter bits still hanging out 20 years from now. I will probably cry some nostalgic tears when I do, though.

I’m glad the chaos is over. I’m glad to be done going through thousands of photos. No seriously. I think I took over 3000 photos between all the shows I got to watch, because they opened up all the shows to whoever wanted to go after our city lifted most of it’s restrictions right before recital started.

BG danced on stage 38 times over 3 days. Saturday, she was at the venue for 13+ hours. She was rightfully slap happy by the time we got home that night.

Yesterday, I was supposed to just chill and relax, but ended up spending the entire day weeding through all the photos I’d taken. BG insisted on helping so she could give her stamp of approval on all the photos I shared with others, making the process feel like it took 10 times longer than it should have. I adore my girl, but she is damn picky. It’s a good thing I had a lot to choose from.

Her help was awesome, though. I can’t tell you how many times we laughed ourselves into tears. When you are snapping photos, you capture a single spark of a moment in time. That is sometimes a very awkward one that, when seen in motion, would never have been noticed in any way as weird. I managed to catch a whole lot of amazingly hilarious, but probably utterly embarrassing photos of BG and many of her fellow dancers. I always try to be considerate and not embarrass anyone in the photos I share, but it makes for some serious entertainment when trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.

There were several photos that I thought were “absolutely must get” ones that I managed to grab. I also got one that I’ve been hoping to get for years. One with BG and her teachers and the studio owner. BG isn’t dancing in it, but it will probably be one of my all time favorites just because of who is in it with her.

As always, my girl rocked it. It was an awesome recital. I was nearly sick with nerves when her ballet dance that she had a tiny solo part in started because I knew she was nervous about messing it up. Of course, she didn’t. She did amazing, but that is what us parents do. We worry that our kids succeed, especially in the things that are important to them. I’m so proud of my girl because she continues to exceed even her own expectations.

I’m also a little sad because I know there is only one more of these for her. Next year is going to be really emotional and so hard. I’ve tried my damnedest to try and savor every moment this last week.

I’m utterly exhausted and spent. It’s going to be at least another day before I have the energy to get back to work on my room because of it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world, though. This proud, happy, tired momma is going to spend this day absolutely crashed. Hopefully, I’ll be back to a semblance of normal tomorrow and get caught up on reading everyone’s blogs, though I know it will be with all of BG’s dance songs still running through my head.

 

That Is Disappointing

So I attempted to watch the live stream of the recital last night since we weren’t allowed to attend those shows. I am still sitting here today wondering how a studio that seems to pride themselves on the concept of “if you are going to do it, then do it the absolute best you can” can have streamed what I attempted to watch and call it good.

I understand that there are limitations due to available equipment, because the really good stuff is going to be expensive. They are already spending a lot just to put this on in the first place with all the costumes and the venue rental and all the little things I’m sure I’m not even aware of, so I don’t fault them for not using top of the line equipment. I do wonder why they didn’t make arrangements for the videographer they already use to handle recording the shows for them, but there may be reasons. Still, using a standard cell phone in a venue that size is far from the best choice, but again, working within a framework of what you can, I get it.

What I don’t get and what had me itching to yank that phone out of someone’s hands and work the damn thing myself was the utter lack of any attempt to get even remotely decent quality out of what was being streamed. They were too far away to get any details of who was on stage and didn’t zoom in so you were left with about 30 percent of the screen being actual stage with the rest being audience and the walls surrounding the stage. They never even made an attempt to zoom in closer. Sure, you probably would have lost some quality, but at least you would have been able to see what was going on on stage.

Even that wouldn’t have been horrid, but when you are doing any video or photography in a very dark area and with a very bright subject area like this, you are asking to have your subject get completely washed out if you don’t try to balance out the lighting. That is what the stream ended up as light night.

The first show was a little better. You could see vague outlines of the dancers on stage, but no details at all, not even enough to be able to tell what the costumes looked like, not even the color. At least on that one, you could see individual dancers. The second show was so much worse and you ended up with an undulating blob of white in the middle of the stage and only very vague outlines around the edges. You couldn’t even really tell if you had 2 lines of dancers or 6. It was absolutely useless.

I think what blows my mind the most is that they saw these things (if they were paying even the tiniest bit of attention) and still did the stream. From what I could tell, they never once made an effort to correct any of these issues.

I was so hugely disappointed. Sure, for me because I wanted the chance to see BG doing as many of her dances as I could, even if I wasn’t there in person. But I was more upset because BG was so excited when she found out that my cousin and MCG and her grandpa wanted to watch her live and now they won’t be able to.

I know that every single staff member of this studio goes above and beyond to put on this show every year and they always do an outstanding job of it, creating this amazing, unique experience for the dancers. This is most likely just one thing too many for them to handle and I do understand that. I am disappointed and will express that here to get that out, but I’m not going to rake them through the coals over it because I know this is just a little extra they attempted to offer that just didn’t work out.

I’m definitely disappointed and sad that everyone can’t watch, though. I kind of wish they hadn’t even tried to give that as an option because it sucks to look forward to something and not have it work out.

Let The Beautiful Chaos Begin

This afternoon begins the first of the three days of recital chaos.

It is the one day that is going to be the most odd as I won’t be able to be at the venue at all today other than dropping off and picking up. That isn’t something that has ever happened before. Even last year with all the restrictions on audience size, we were still able to be there for the final show so we were there when BG was done for the night and just took her home.

Today, though, because of how they have set up the shows, none of them are “hers” even though she dances in every one of them, so we don’t get to attend as they are still keeping the audience size down. It is going to be interesting to try and time everything so we can get there in time to pick her up, but not have to drive around forever waiting for her to be finished. There is zero parking around there that isn’t paid, so getting there and parking to wait isn’t going to be an option.

Even though that is kind of a pain, it isn’t the main reason I don’t love this arrangement. I hate that I can’t be there to watch my girl dance. Even though I will see the same routines in her designated show, I still want to see her every time she is on stage. I hated that part of last year, but it feels worse this year with this odd night where I can’t be there at all.

It is going to be interesting to see how many of these changes the studio adopts for their future seasons once all the restrictions are lifted and things go back to some semblance of normal. I do like the fact they started doing “ticketed” seats. They don’t charge for tickets, but you still have your seat and don’t have to battle the groups that are massive and save 2 or 3 whole rows even though the studio explicitly tells everyone that isn’t allowed.

Them breaking the recital into 5 shows instead of just 2 should also help with the crowds and parking a bit, though once the capacity restrictions are gone, that may no longer be the case. There are a whole lot of people that show up to watch that don’t have a dancer in the show. Some are parents from other shows that want to watch the other grades. Others are people that used to dance at the studio and their friends and family. With the current restrictions, those people aren’t allowed in to ensure all the dancers’ families are able to attend.

The plan for us for tonight is to take BG and drop her off at the door (she most likely isn’t even letting me help her haul her costumes this time), then leave to come back and pick her up when it is over. Thankfully, they are live streaming it this year, so I might still be able to see at least a couple of her dances from home.

It is going to be a LONG couple of days!

Pictures, Recital, Dance!

Recital week is always hectic. Last year and this year, a little more chaotic than usual because of adjustments made due to covid. Pictures were only allowed for individuals and only by appointment. No group photos were taken because of occupancy limits in the studio.

That also meant that their usual set up of a small dressing room for dancers in the studio was not allowed, making me get creative about how BG changed between her costumes. I hung a few sheets around the back end of my car to give her privacy, but it didn’t make it easy. Trying to swap out of a costume in a cramped back car seat is not an easy task, even more so when trying to keep things like hair and make up neat, but it was definitely hilarious to hear BG struggle through it with her grunts and commentary and complaints and her own hysterical laughter at how ridiculous it was.

The studio is continuing their extended 5 show dress rehearsal and 5 show recital again this year. So, again, BG will be dancing a ridiculous amount of numbers. They did break up dress rehearsal across 2 nights this year instead of one, but recital is still in one day. That means she will be doing 38 dances over the course of 3 days. 19 of those in a single day over about 12 or 13 hours.

Those dances cover tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, and hip hop. Some are just repeats of the same routine in the different shows, but that is still 9 different routines that she has to memorize. That is a lot of choreography to retain. That doesn’t even touch on the pieces of the dances that she has worked on with the little kids she assists throughout the week.

That number also includes one performance where BG gets a tiny, but noticeable spotlight, something this studio almost never does and the few times they do, it is ALWAYS a senior. There will be a brief point where she will be standing front and center, by herself, while every other dancer on stage has dropped to the ground. It only lasts a few counts and she only has a few steps that she is doing alone, but it so unusual and a point where everyone will absolutely be looking at her, that is is kind of stressful. Probably way more for me than for her, though. She’s just fine. I’m going to be the nervous one.

The studio is also live streaming this year so family and friends that wouldn’t normally get to see this amazing event will get that chance, so there is some added pressure knowing that there may be a whole lot more people watching than previous years.

I look at all of this and am, yet again, amazed. A huge part of that is BG’s ability to pull all of that off and do it well in the process. I’m also a little in awe at the fact that she gets to do this and has this phenomenal experience with this studio. I’ve always thought that what they do is pretty unique, but when you see all the pieces as they start to come together: the routines, the costumes, the backdrops, the programs, all the pieces you’d expect to see in a professional stage performance, it really drives home how lucky all these kids are to get this experience.

There will be another day or two of calm before the storm that is recital. Even that calm is deceptive because part of that time is going to be spent packing up and organizing all those costumes, shoes, accessories, and “might need just in case” things always get packed.

It also includes an emergency shopping trip this morning to get a desperately needed adjustment for one of those costumes that we didn’t realize we needed until she went for pictures yesterday (and not the first year I’ve had to do a last minute run like that).

Come late Saturday night, my car will be covered in glitter, I will be sad and relieved that another year of dance is done, and BG will be utterly exhausted but still bouncing around on an adrenaline high and unable to sit still and won’t go to bed until hours after we get home.

I will also be doing my damnedest to avoid thinking about the fact that this year is the next to last one ever. I will try not to cry when I see the seniors tear up and start hugging on each other at the end of their final performance of the night, knowing that next year I’m going to be a basket case when that is BG.

I will also be constantly reminding myself that it’s okay to put the camera down every once in a while. I don’t need every single step recorded. It’s okay to miss a shot in exchange for watching the whole stage (though I adore watching BG’s face through the camera lens as she dances).

There are always performances that I look forward to the most, but this year it seems like it is every single one. Unlike last year that had all kind of snags and costumes that failed to arrive on time, everything fell into place beautifully this year. The costumes are stunning (that doesn’t always happen) and the dances are even better.

It is all going to be amazing and worth all the stress and chaos and exhaustion. It always is.

Just Enjoying

There has been no work done on my craft room the last few days. There were things that desperately needed to get done and Hubby wanted to spoil me a bit, so I took a bit of a break.

Hubby and I both had our 2nd vaccine shot scheduled for Thursday morning, so I suggested he just take the day off so we could go car shopping for MC. We have managed to hold off as long as possible on actually buying another car, but both of our kids are most likely going to be working over the summer and them having to try and share or have one of us take them and drop them off was going to be awful. We might be able to get away with it over the summer if we really twisted ourselves in knots, but there would be absolutely no choice come fall when they were both back in school, in person, so we decided to at least start looking.

We lucked out and found a pretty awesome deal on an 8 year old car that was in near pristine condition and relatively low miles for the age, so MC got his first car on Thursday. One he no longer has to share with BG and there is no longer any need to attempt to coordinate who gets the car and who is getting driven where. It is kind of a relief for everyone. BG is ecstatic that she actually gets to drive to dance again and MC is being quietly happy.

Yesterday, I heard back from BG’s school about her AP calculus class. This has been something of a problem this last semester. I’ve been in talks with a district superintendent at the school about the program they moved her to for second semester that turned out to be something of a disaster. After a lot of phone calls and one very unhappy superintendent (yes, the program ended up being that problematic), we finally have the problems resolved and BG will get to sort of redo second semester with her old calculus teacher on a one on basis over the summer to get her credit and not have this impact her GPA.

I may complain that our school district hasn’t been the best about a lot of things over the years, sometimes even downright crappy enough to earn the tag phrase of “a bunch of drunken monkeys” from me, but they have bent over backwards and gone above and beyond to fix this issue for BG even though part of the problem fell squarely on her shoulders. Even with her part in this, I’m so relieved to see that our district isn’t willing to accept such a low level of quality when it comes to the educational programs they offer and are more than willing to help BG through this.

She is lucky that her previous teacher absolutely adored her and was willing to take the time this summer to work with her. She is lucky she has this chance to fix things. This has been a harsh lesson for her with regards to learning to ask for help when you need it, but she has learned that she has enough anxiety issues that things will snowball on her if she doesn’t. So after much stress and worry, things are worked out and she is going to get through one of the most hellacious parts of her entire school experience with only some emotional and self confidence bruises.

Hubby also took off yesterday so he could spend the day spoiling me. Mother’s day on Sunday is for the kids. He wanted a day for himself so he picked Friday. I’ve now gotten breakfast in bed two days in a row. Yesterday we went and got me some flowers for my pots and some for the flower beds. Flowers that I’ll be out planting today.

He also converted a nook in our bedroom to a mini, private movie theater. He moved our big TV, DVD player and sound system and we spent the night just watching movies that we wanted to watch that the kids weren’t interested in. It was so nice and relaxing and cozy.

There will be no craft room work again today because of said flower planting. There will be no work tomorrow, either. Both because of Mother’s day and because I’ll be spending a chunk of that day with my car turned into a dressing room for quick costume changes so BG can get her dance pictures done. While it may be a bit of chaos, it is always such a fun day.

I will only have a couple of work days next week because it is recital week and a HUGE chunk of my time will be dedicated to either prepping for recital, taking BG to and from her shows (the ones we don’t get to attend), or attending her shows. Again, tons of chaos and stress, but also an absolutely amazing time. Considering this is her second to last year for dance, I’m going to be enjoying every single second of that chaos.

It has been a really amazing couple of days. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy a few more.

Craft Room Project: Ready for Cabinets Phase 2

Another materials run is done along with a major cleaning and rearranging of space.

I was forced to rearrange my space so that BG can get access to her dance floor again. With recital only a few weeks away, she is going to need it for practice. The shift causes me to lose close to half my space that I’d been working in. Most of that was for storing materials, but a portion was where I had my miter saw set up.

The new arrangement is a lot more crowded, which may start to get interesting as I work on the remaining base cabinets. But, it should only need to stay this way for a few weeks and I should be able to reclaim the dance floor area after recital again.

After looking at what I have left on the cabinets, I think I have a total of 4 phases for building and one for doors and drawer faces. The first phase is done. This second phase I’m starting now should finish up the rest of the base cabinets.

Based on materials, I’m going to say the remaining upper cabinets and shelves will be a phase and the final full cabinet will be the last. Looking at sizes and numbers, I don’t see how I can do the materials for both that cabinet and all the upper cabinets at once, so I’m going to have to split those.

The materials for the doors and drawer faces won’t be nearly as large as I already have the bulk of those.

If I look at how long it took me to do the first phase, about a week, and apply it to the other phases, I may be looking at another 3 or 4 weeks of cabinet building. That said, there are a whole lot of things on my calendar over those next 3 or 4 weeks, so that may be an ambitious estimate.

I am trying to set a goal of having the majority of this entire project done by mid June as MCG and her family will be in town towards the end of June. Ideally, I would have the cabinets all done, painted and installed, the counters stained and installed and the floor in. The closet layout isn’t important and neither is expanding the dance floor to fill that room, but I do want the worst of the mess done and gone and the space ready to use by the time they get here.

Again, that may be a really ambitious goal, but I’m going to work my ass of to try and hit it.

Fauci Ouchie Time and Recital Season

Almost everyone in this house will have gotten their first shot by the end of the week and I’m SO relieved! MC got his first on Friday though the university. BG has an appointment for Monday for her first and I go on Tuesday for my one and only. Hubby has an event at work towards the end of the month, but may try to get an appointment closer to home sooner than that.

All of this is awesome news for this house for a number of reasons. The first is that we are entering into what I call recital season for BG. She is starting multitude of events that happen around this time in preparation for her dance recital. All the extra rehearsals, costume days, pictures, and of course, the recital itself.

As stressed as I was doing the recital last year, it is a massive relief to know that we will all have our vaccines before the big event this year. And my girl doesn’t have to show what an incredibly strong willed person she is by being the only one willing to wear a mask on stage. I know she is thrilled by that. Masks will still be required off stage, same as last year, but she will actually feel comfortable ditching it for onstage this year.

Recital season also means my schedule just got really packed. While she can get herself to the majority of her classes and rehearsals, I’m tied to my computer so I can record the live streams so she can use the videos for practice. Considering she will be in the studio for herself at least 4 times a week, that is a lot of time I’m pulled away from my craft room. Things might get interesting on that progress front for a while.

The other big deal is that we will finally be safe to meet up with MC’s girl and her family. This one has been a LONG time coming as they were supposed to finally get to meet up so MC could take her to her prom last year, but of course Covid happened. We’ve had to be extra careful because MCG’s sister is extremely high risk and we all wanted to make sure she stayed safe so all plans got canceled and no effort had been made to make them up until now.

They will be coming this way on their way to their vacation in early summer so MC and MCG can spend at least a little time together. We get to steal her this fall as she’s coming here for college, but this gives them a little time to ease into that considering it will be the first time they have actually met in person. It’s about time after almost 5 years. I absolutely love how very different their high school sweethearts story is and that they finally get this chance.

While there will still be precautions taken, everything will be a whole lot less stressful once we all get those shots. With mine, I may still get sick as it is only 65% effective against preventing it, but it is 100% effective at keeping what you may get on the mild side and keeping you out of the hospital. I also only have to get the one, so I will be fully protected sooner.

As much as I despise needles, I’m actually pretty excited to get jabbed with this one.

 

Cake Theme: Animal Crossing

Cake is DONE!

And I’m so tired, I could hardly be bothered to get decent photos.

I had a few issues, mainly that the icing I used, my caramel cream cheese, is one I’ve never tried to use in decorating. Spoiler, it really isn’t great because it is way too soft. Because of that, the poor house in this looks like it has been through an earthquake and is ready to slide off the base. I also ran out of time so I had to skip doing some extra detail work I’d planned on doing, so it feels a little incomplete to me.

I had the brilliant idea to use white chocolate truffles for the foundation of the “balls” on the trees. It worked amazingly and they were so much fun to do. I’m definitely going to remember that for later.

I’m mostly pleased with how it all came out. BG is very happy, so that is all that really matters.

I don’t think I’m going to move again for a while. Maybe ever.

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.

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!

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.

Finally!

We finally got word that MC is NOT required to live on campus next semester to meet his scholarship requirements. We do still have to pay half the tuition, which I’m not a fan of, but I honestly do not care if it means he can be at home with less risk.

I never understood their absolute demand in the current environment that these students that didn’t need to still had to live in the dorms. Even though there were out of town/out of state students needing housing that couldn’t get it. I’ve never liked the idea of taking something I didn’t need when it took away from those that were in need, so this bothered me on all kinds of levels.

So, I am a happy momma today. I have to take him to the school so he can officially check out of his dorm and he is home for the rest of the school year. There are no requirements of on campus living past the first year, so he is home for the rest of his time in college.

Now, if we can just convince them that MCG doesn’t need to live on campus next year when she comes, I’ll have a major houseful as she will be bringing her fur baby with her.

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.

Not To Brag…

Okay. I’m totally going to brag because I need to focus on something awesome.

I’ve mentioned that MC was invited to become a TA for his computer programing teacher. Originally, he couldn’t and get paid because of financial rules, but he is going to be able to do it as a volunteer next semester instead even though he is only a freshman.

He was also recommended to become a tutor (pretty sure this is for math), again as a freshman, which looks like is also going to happen next semester and will count towards his service requirements for his honors scholarship program.

He is trying out for his eSports team this weekend at the request of other team members and looks to have a great shot at making the team. This will be a major time commitment because of the number of hours a week he is required to practice with the team, but he is stoked to add this to his list of things he is doing in college.

THEN… he had his communications teacher ask him to join the speech team this last week. This one makes me not just brag, but laugh my butt off because MC is SO not one to enjoy doing speeches. He is REALLY good at them, but he doesn’t like it. Even though they asked, I think he might turn this one down as it just isn’t his deal, but it is amazingly cool that he was asked.

He isn’t even out of his first semester of college as a freshman and he is being requested or recommended for so many things he never would have even remotely considered before starting college. As a mostly introverted guy, this is kind of huge.

Oh, and he doesn’t have lower than a 97% in ANY of his classes, with a bulk of them currently sitting at over 100% (because he is too ambitious to ignore any extra credit chances). My mind is absolutely blown.

So, yeah. I’m going to take a moment and brag on my kid because he is apparently well liked and amazing. Well, I KNOW he is amazing, but now I get to see that others are noticing as well.

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.

And Done!

I got the last of my errands today, so I’m now set to be entrenched at home for a while. BG has her dance shoes. I’ve shipped a batch of masks to a friend in need and I have on hand all I need to get some work done on the craft room when the time comes.

Our mayor yet again showed up for the residents of this city and has imposed more restrictions to try and help slow this spread down. It did it’s job in the spring, now the rest of the population needs to get on board so that our local hospitals aren’t being overrun by people that live in areas that don’t have those restrictions.

The new restrictions will also most likely impact what BG’s dance studio will be doing about their classes and Christmas program. I’m hoping to hear from them soon, but as of right now, if nothing changes, she won’t be performing even if they are allowed. I’m not good with anything that is mask optional and Hubby and I agreed and discussed this with her today.

The only remaining open question is MC and what his plans are going to be. He was supposed to try out for his college eSports team over the weekend. If he makes it, he is required to be on campus in their eSports practice area several times a week for multiple hours. I don’t think there are that many members, so I don’t know how or if the new restrictions will impact him. He was originally planning on being home after Thanksgiving and potentially next semester as well if the school gave him permission to not live on campus next semester. We are still waiting to hear on that one.

I’m not a fan of being in limbo, but I do feel much better about where we all are today than I was even just yesterday. I’m ready to hunker down into hermit mode for the winter and I’d love it if all my little chicks were able to do the same.