It Begins

I so adore starting my Monday cleaning a massive hairball off the wood floor. *sigh* And this is just the start of the insanity because dance starts this week for BG. This means that her assisting days also start this week. I only discovered last night that I’ve got to scramble this afternoon because MC has his gaming club right after school. That means I have to leave as soon as BG gets off the bus so I can run and pick MC up, race home back home, grab BG and take her to her first class she assists. Then I get to sit in my car for a hour while she does it.

This bit of crazy really won’t last but maybe a couple of weeks because we just almost have the car situation worked out and he will start driving himself to and from school. It doesn’t relieve the stress of Wednesdays when BG has to be at the studio at 4 but wouldn’t get off the bus until nearly 3:30 which is about the time we need to leave to get her there on time. I’m probably going to have to be picking her up from school on Wednesdays. Until MC gets comfortable doing this drive (which includes a stint on the highway) BG won’t be riding with him. We all have decided that we all need to be in agreement that he is ready before she will do that, that includes BG being comfortable with it. I have no time frame for that piece.

Have I mentioned that with BG assisting this year, I’m going to have to be at the studio, in my car, 3 different times a week? The 4th time she is there long enough for me to drop her off and come home or get stuff done. The other 3 times is only an hour so it makes no sense to drive the 20 minutes home to only be there for about 10 minutes before doing the 20 minute drive back.

There are reasons I’m pushing her to learn to drive ASAP. I’m hoping she will be able to get her license as soon as she turns 16 after the first of the year.

It’s a good thing I like to read.

Yet Another Milestone of Parenting

I will be taking BG out this afternoon to take her permit test so she can start to learn how to drive. It doesn’t seem possible, especially so soon after MC has gotten his license. On one hand, I’m thrilled about this because it means she is that much closer to being able to drive herself to the multiple days she has to be at the dance studio instead of me having to take her. At the same time, I’m so not ready for her to be old enough to be behind the wheel of a car. She isn’t quite old enough yet to get her actual license, only her permit, but still… my Baby Girl is way too far away from being an actual baby.

And He Passed!

MC is officially a licensed driver! I’d say, watch out on the roads, but… he is probably a better driver than I am. This event was a bit delayed for him for a variety of reasons out of his control, so I’m really excited for him.

Next up is going to be BG. She is old enough to get her permit and start learning to drive. Seeing how insane her schedule is with dance and being an assistant this year, I’m really going to push for her to start learning as soon as she can so she can take her test as soon as she turns 16. As it is right now, I’ll be taking her to the studio at least 4 days a week, so having her be able to drive is going to be critical.

Now to attempt to work out the whole car situation. Joys of parenting in a suburb.

Such A Funny, Funny Guy

Last night MC came down when I was playing with getting my new tablet set up. I’m all focused on that when he asks me a question, so… absolutely distracted and not really listening.

MC: I have a question about my calculus homework.
Me: Hmm? What? *still not entirely paying attention*
MC: I have a question about calculus.
Me *finally looking up*: Um … *vacant stare*
MC: *blank, expectant face*
Me: … Whhyyy… *sees the smirk forming* Why are you asking ME?! That’s math!
MC: *cracks up like the total shit he is* Yeah. I know. I’m just waiting for Dad.

Yeah, my kids know which parent to ask about which subjects. THAT is not the one to ask me about unless you goal is to fail the class.

Already?! It’s Only Day 2!

So BG has already had a fun event at school and it is only day 2. Last year, I think I posted about this kid at lunch that made her really uncomfortable during lunch at the beginning of the year. She quickly found a friend to sit with and that ended the situation without much fanfare or drama and never had an issue after that.

They didn’t have a normal lunch yesterday because of first day back activities, but BG has already learned that none of her friends are in her lunch period. She found a table that didn’t have anyone at it and sat there alone. When most everyone had made it in and was sitting, this kid from last year manages to find her table, which is still entirely empty, and sits in the seat right next to her. There are also other completely open tables in the lunch room and in the area of her table. But he chose to sit in the seat. RIGHT. NEXT. TO. HER. This kid then proceeds to be crude, chewing with his mouth open and attempting to talk to BG at the same time. She did her best to just sit quietly and ignore the kid, but he still persisted and made her exceptionally uncomfortable. He got up once to go get something and BG slid to another seat at the table, just to get some space because this kid doesn’t understand or care about some of those basic, unwritten social rules people tend to live by in an effort to avoid those awkward, uncomfortable situations.

She does not know this kid. She has never had a class with him before. She had never seen this kid before he sat next to her at lunch last year, and that lasted less than a week before she found some friends to sit with. Why this kid thinks it is okay is beyond me.

It is so incredibly frustrating because it is kind of this ugly, sticky situation. She is completely uncomfortable in all ways, but she doesn’t ever like to speak up, so she won’t say a word to this kid. She also won’t say anything to a teacher or a lunch monitor in an effort to get them to intervene because the kid hasn’t exactly done anything that would violate rules. She doesn’t like to rock the boat or do anything that could offend someone and is this whole other thing tied to the ugly fears in our schools nowadays. That whole “what if they are THAT kid?” If he has some sort of disorder that would make it hard or impossible for him to pick up on social cues (I have no clue if this is a fact, BG really can’t say one way or the other), it would make this a different kind of sticky, but it is still sticky.

Her solution to this problem is to talk to a teacher she had last year that is near her lunch room to see if she can come and eat in the teacher’s classroom instead (and may not get permission for any number of reasons). I get it. The school can’t fix a problem they don’t know about, but… She shouldn’t be forced to be uncomfortable. She shouldn’t have to fear speaking up when someone makes her feel that way. She shouldn’t have to find these exceptionally twisty, creative ways to avoid a situation that makes her that uncomfortable. It really is one of those “No real, good solution” kind of things and I honestly don’t know what the best advice is to give her. I just hope that the teacher she is going to approach will agree to let her eat in her room.

Did I mention this is only day 2? *sigh*

 

Bright, Sunshiny Day

It begins. I just saw MC off for his first day of being a Senior. My brain still hasn’t quite wrapped itself around that concept yet. Maybe I’ll have gotten a handle on it before he walks with his cap and gown. Maybe.

For now, I’m going to have a cup of coffee and one of our traditional first day of school treats: donuts. Then I have to wrestle our oldest cat off to the vet. Hopefully that will keep my mind from tying itself in knots over the Senior thing and the quiet in the house. At least for a while.

Getting School Minded

This is that crazy week that seems to be full of getting the kids ready to go back to school. Yesterday was registration for both MC and BG, but it was the last for MC. That is one of those gut knotting moments when you get an in your face reminder that one of your babies isn’t so much a baby any more. This will be his last year in high school. He will actually be graduating this year. With honors. I know this is only one moment in a long string of moments that will happen this year to hit me like this. I also know that all of them will be over and gone in a blink of an eye.

BG is taking yet another step into finding out more of who she is as she has been invited to be a dance assistant at her studio this year. It is sort of a big step for the awkward, slightly introverted girl she is. That means she will be adding another two hours to her time at the studio every week. It also adds at least one more performance to her end of the year recital, which was already getting an additional performance because she is now in the oldest group of dancers, reaching her own not a baby anymore milestone.

My babies aren’t babies anymore and haven’t been in a long time, but it still hits when you see these moments and recognize them for what they are. My kids are growing and becoming little adults and I’m so not ready for it. Are you ever?

Plastic Free July – Part 4: Glass Food Storage #2

This is a slightly expanded version of my glass food storage post the other day, focusing specifically on an alternative to prepackaged frozen dinners/microwave meals. Like so many other products out there, there just aren’t a whole lot of alternatives to the quick and easy frozen dinner that you just shove in the microwave for a few minutes. Especially if you have kids. Don’t get me wrong, I do a ton of cooking, but every once in a while I just don’t want to do that. I especially can’t stand having to cook 3 times a day over summer break, hence the frozen meals.

Most all of the frozen meals we’ve gotten over the years have come in a crappy plastic container with a thin layer of plastic over the top to seal it all in place. I’ve run across one that has switched their containers to a paper/cardboard version, but it still has the plastic film. Where I live, most of the containers are not recyclable, even if you wash them. The worst are the ones that my kids love for quick lunches over the summer a couple of times a week, so I really wanted to see if I could find SOMETHING that would work to replace them.

I found these awesome glass containers that are sectioned off, kind of like you see on little kids’ dishes. It is like the other containers I’ve bought where it has the silicone seal to give it a liquid tight fit. The cool part about that is that it has an additional line of that across one of the dividers to keep the sections from slipping into each other. The two sections that run parallel to each other, are not sealed from each other, so you’d have to pick and choose what to fill these sections with carefully.

For my first trial, we went with their top picks. A crappy fish stick and macaroni and cheese meal. The other one was pretty much identical, except it had chicken nuggets. We did some research and found a fish stick that came in a box and no plastic. We used the basic Kraft macaroni, though I knocked about 30 seconds off the cook time to try to keep the noodles from becoming mushy when reheated. We also found some chicken nuggets, but none that came in anything other than a plastic bag.

The fish sticks had to be cooked first, which was a little extra work, but I did all this on a day I planned to cook lunch so it didn’t require too much extra time. I just made more than what they were going to eat that day. Same with the macaroni. The nuggets were already cooked, so I didn’t do anything to them and left them frozen until I was ready to put these together.

Once the fish sticks and macaroni were done and cooled off, I divided everything into the different sections. The kids decided on a blend of their two favorites and these ended up being both fish sticks and chicken nuggets. Those went in the parallel sections and the macaroni went in the sealed off section. I did also add just a tad bit more milk in the hopes that this would stay on the creamy side.

Sectioned Glass Storage Container For Frozen Meals
Sectioned Glass Storage Container For Frozen Meals

Once these were all put together, I just popped them in the freezer. MC had one for the first time and they seem to have come out really well. Granted, these have only been in the freezer for about a week, but the plan seems to work. We still have a few bugs to work out on the cooking timing, but we got it really close with a defrost for about 45 seconds and then cooking it on high for another minute or two.

In this entire prep, I was able to recycle all the boxes and only threw away the macaroni cheese packets and the plastic chicken nugget bag. Out of that, I got 4 frozen meals and a different ratio of items for lunch for both kids that day, so a total of 6 meals. It eliminated tossing 6 plastic containers and 6 plastic films if I’d gone with the prepackaged meals instead.

Plastic Alternative/Replacement:
Alternative to prepackaged frozen dinner/microwave meals.

Pros:

  • Eliminates most if not all plastic in the prepackaged meals
  • Reusable
  • Microwave, Oven, Freezer, Dishwasher Safe (minus lids on all except freezer and storage)
  • Liquid tight seal on outside and between large sections
  • Potential long lifespan

Cons:

  • These are glass, therefore breakable, but not easily (most have good warranties against breakage)
  • You are limited on using and cleaning the lids because of both the plastic and the silicone.
  • Recommended hand washing the lid because of the silicone seal (even needing to remove the seal to dry)
  • Physical space needed to store when not in use
  • Plastic lids
  • Potentially shorter freezer life for meals
  • Time invested in prepping the meals
  • Cost

This was only a test run, but my kids were suitably impressed with this. There are downsides. If you aren’t someone that does a lot of cooking, this may be too much. You CAN potentially work these up with leftovers, whether you make the food yourself or you buy from a restaurant. You just don’t have control over things like I did with the macaroni to ensure it isn’t overcooked and mushy when it is reheated unless you make it yourself. Not all foods freeze and reheat well, so it is going to be a lot of trial and error, but I really like this whole concept. There are so many different options to this and your only real limits are size (MC thought this was almost too much for a lunch) and what does well frozen and heated this way.

The only other major downside to these (and a couple of other styles of glass containers) are the way these lids are made. They are a solid unit, including the snapping flaps. The plastic is just thinner, like a score line, where it bends rather than having separate pieces connected with a hinge (my set from the other day is hinged and I like that better). I don’t think that with these it is a question of whether or not that is going to break so much as when it is going to break. You can bet I’ll still try to find a way to make those suckers work if that does happen.

 

Another Proud Mama Moment!

MC just got his test score back for his AP Biology exam. He nailed a 5!!! Highest you can get and he was the only one in his class to do so. My boy is totally kicking high school’s ass! We have a few days before he is supposed to get his AP statistics score, but he felt he did pretty good after that test and isn’t worried about that score.

Plastic Free July: Doing My Part

A friend of mine shared a post about taking a pledge to be plastic free for the month of July.

This is something that I’ve been working on personally for a while now, but I’ve got a long way to go. Locally, recycling plastic isn’t the best and we are a lot more limited than I’d like (though we are getting better). That said, I’ve seen too often lately that even a lot of the plastics that say they can be recycled still end up in landfills because there just aren’t the facilities to process those plastics. I do my best to avoid those, but not many companies are going this route yet, so alternatives are still slim pickings. I am trying to dig in and find those alternatives, though.

So, in the spirit of this pledge, I’ll be doing a few posts throughout July on some of the alternatives I’ve found for some of my bigger plastic uses and what I think about how well they’re working for me. Feel free to jump in and share your own along the way. I’m always up for hearing ideas about how I can reduce or eliminate plastic altogether.

This may seem like barely a drop in the bucket in relation to so many other issues our kids will face in the future, but it is one drop that I can attempt to do something about. There are others as well, but I’m only focusing on the plastic issue here in these posts.

 

Fascinating: Aphantasia

A few weeks ago, MC came and started talking about this test. It kind of reminded me of the “what color is the dress” thing from a while back. The question was to picture a red star in our mind. Then he showed us a grid of options and we had to pick out the one we’d pictured. MC, Hubby and I were all doing this and BG was upstairs. The three of us all answered the same and with what seemed crazy obvious to us, a red 5 point typical star shape. Then MC went and asked his sister what she saw. I was absolutely stunned that she picked a blank, black square. I didn’t get it or understand it at all.

Continue reading “Fascinating: Aphantasia”

Daylily: Looking Up

Last night was MC’s crew game night. One of the guys wasn’t originally going to come, but ended up being able to at least be here for a while if not overnight, so I think it was kind of a momentous event for them. Then I got a moment to be THAT mom. The mom that your kid’s friends actually speak to, which is a feat in itself with this group as they are all massive introverts (one of the guys I see in the few seconds after he walks in the door, never to be seen again until he leaves).

Continue reading “Daylily: Looking Up”

One of Those Days

The picture here is of some flooding in the area and fits perfectly with how I feel today… overwhelmed with just too much!

I had a plan for today. I had a list of things I needed to do and was well on my way to getting them done. Mostly basic things like getting some cleaning done because MC is having his crew over for a gaming event/night. I also had an appointment to get a bid on one of two needed house repairs (that of course cannot be inexpensive ones). Then I get an email from the school.

Actually, Hubby called to ask about the email because he got it first. It was about getting MC’s senior pictures taken, but it was incredibly vague other than dates (tomorrow and Thursday) and a phone number. I was in the middle of cleaning and said I’d deal with it when I was done. Then MC is coming and saying that his friends are telling him those are the actual picture days. Mind you, this is the first and only senior picture communication we have gotten from the school.

I finish what I’m doing and call the number. Sure enough, some brain trust set up automated appointments (meaning they set them up for you and you are just supposed to show up) for all yearbook photos in the middle of summer and don’t bother to let anyone know until the day before you are required to show (two if you are lucky). This isn’t in any newsletter or email from the district. It isn’t on their website or calendar (I looked), it doesn’t exist outside of this one email. I did get them to say they would be at the school again in August where students would have to leave during class or lunch and get their photos taken then, but… missing class, having to wear the photo getup to school and keep it looking decent until photo time, not a great option.

Since MC is so not a dress up kinda kid, that meant a rush shopping job so that he actually has something to wear. Did I mention that there was zero information included in that lovely email? As in, not one word about dress code? When OC went through this a few years ago (same district, same school), there were some very specific rules on what could and could not be worn for these photos. Granted, those rules really do not fit with kids these days and, from the pictures in last year’s year book, they have not been enforcing those rules, but I had no clue what to get. I cannot imagine MC in a suit and tie or even just a shirt and tie. He couldn’t either, so we just decided to go with it and he found a nice polo, which is still dressier than some in the year book. I can only hope this does not cause problems.

I also have to get his hair trimmed up tonight since his friends will be here tomorrow and overnight. And I still have a couple things I need to do to get ready for that crew. We kind of lucked out on this for a couple of reasons. 1) We are here and can actually make his scheduled appointment. I feel bad for those families that are gone on vacation right now or those that have to work and can’t get off because they have no options other than the August date. 2) These are only for the yearbook photos. You can work with them to set up a time for a longer, more personalized session, but MC decided months ago that he wants me to do his senior portraits for him (not that I’m thrilled with that as I don’t do photos of people well, but… I’m gonna give it my best), so we only have to worry about the yearbook photos.

What is really stupid about this whole mess is the utter lack of communication or any kind of standard process. The district has been using the same photography group for years, so why in the hell have you not established a regular, workable plan and stick with it? The kids told me they did it entirely different last year, which was different from when OC did his. I get it. Most families around here go with their own photographers for senior sessions (if they do them at all) and only use the school photographer for the yearbook photo, but you can still not make it into this convoluted mess to get those done.

Moment of Gratitude

I had this moment of realization yesterday when I was contemplating writing my review for my first ever ARC. I am kind of living in this moment of fantasy right now. I am at a place in my life I never dreamed I’d be outside of those “Wouldn’t it be nice?” kinds of thoughts. Yet, here I am. And I am astoundingly grateful for it.

I have now gotten a second ARC approval and it is another book on my list of “I’d LOVE to get, but probably never will.” This was part of that moment of realization. Yes, it is only two books, but… I am now getting books for the express purpose of reviewing them before most people get their hands on them. That is an amazing thing to me.

I have also actually done something I never thought I’d EVER do: I wrote and published my own book. And it is selling. It is making the kind of impact with readers that I’d hoped for. It may still be very much on the tiny scale of things, but it is on the scale. This is also stunning to me.

As a person that has spent the bulk of their adult life focused on being Mom and struggling for years with who I am outside of that role, these things are massive for me. I am in awe that these are now facts in my life, that they are a tangible part of that life. It is though I can feel how these seemingly small things are cementing their place in who I am.

There have been so many things over time and throughout my life that have been damaging and hurtful. Because of that, I have actively spent the last several years trying to find the positive things, the things that bring me joy and most days, I’m good at finding those things. Photography has been a huge part of that for me. So have my kids and my Hubby. But these things? They feel different. They feel healing in a very different way. They make me feel a little bit more solid in who I am.

And I am massively grateful.

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Gotta Laugh

We gave MC permission to skip the less than half a day that was the last day of school. This is so not something I EVER do, but… the kid got not only straight As all year, but maintained 100% in something like half his classes. He can have a frickin’ break. This did mean calling him in, which Hubby was in charge of, but he had to say he was sick. In a way, it wasn’t a complete lie, he was feeling a little sore because he played kickball the previous couple of days.

The funny thing about it all? BG wanted to go the last day (same grades and had zero absences the entire year) because she wanted to see her friends. Guess who ended up actually sick? BG. Poor girl. The last day was Friday and by Monday, she was miserable. Sore throat. Achy. Low grade fever. Major congestion. She did this for a few days before I took her in because her temp when up. They checked for strep but they said there was just some nasty viral stuff going around.

The sore throat and aches have gone away, but now she has a horrible cough. The kind that makes you want to cry every time you do cough because your abs have had it and are screaming at you. She comes down about every hour or so to whine that she feels like crap and wants me to somehow miraculously fix it.

Now, I totally shouldn’t laugh because I KNOW how bad she is feeling. I know, because this is me every winter. All winter long. And all I hear from both kids is “Sheesh! Quit coughing already!” or “You’re fine mom! That lung you just coughed up is nothing, let’s go!” I now get to give her tons of crap about taking the meds she needs (which she hates) and try really hard not to be a bad parent when I laugh.

I got to give her extra crap today because she is going to hang with a with a group of friends for someone’s birthday and they will be playing pickleball. She will be doing it while coughing with sore abs. I do feel bad, but I’m laughing a bit (and she is trying hard not to laugh along with me) because she insists on still going even though she feels like crap.

Summer Break and Plans

It is officially summer break for my kids and I have zero actual plans. We aren’t a “book every moment of summer” kind of family. My kids like to chill, hang out in their spaces playing games or listening to music, so it isn’t exactly a really busy time for us. That said, BG has gotten way more social over the last year and I have a feeling that is going to extend into summer. She is also talking about doing at least the summer dance workshop at her studio because she is interested in becoming an assistant next year. That is all still open and not decided just yet.

Continue reading “Summer Break and Plans”

One of Those Days… Updated*

Today is trying really hard to be a grumpy day. I feel like that has been me a lot lately, which is frustrating because I try really hard not to be so negative. I can see the positives in today in that even though we are soggy as all hell and you can’t walk in the yard without sinking a couple of inches into what is beginning to look more like a swamp, we are safe, our house is whole, and we didn’t get a flooded basement like I suspect some of our lower lying neighbors did. Some people not that far from me cannot say the same this morning and what is making me grumpy is petty whining in comparison.

Continue reading “One of Those Days… Updated*”

Recital Aftermath

That is one more dance recital in the memory books. As always, I’m left with this lovely mix of feeling glad the chaos is over for a year and sad to see one more year gone. The end of recital night seems to come with lots of talk about plans for next dance season and tons of high energy from all the adrenaline and tears from the older girls that this was their last. This recital drove home for me that BG only has 3 left if she continues to dance through senior year as she plans. In 3 years, she will be one of those girls.

Continue reading “Recital Aftermath”

Recital Bouquets – 2019!

I got them finished and they turned out really pretty. I had done the ribbon inserts last night, so all I had to do today was put them together. There are small things I’m not thrilled with, but I was sort of limited by what I was able to get. Working with the large ball hydrangea blooms also limited my options. Considering BG wanted the two different colors… well, it was an interesting challenge.

When we were looking at the flowers last night, I was really frustrated with the quality of my choices. I finally found the colors I wanted, but the one collection (the peachy hydrangea and the purple/white daisy), there were only two bunches and both had issues. In one, the daisies were perfect, but the hydrangea was a little… anemic looking. The other bunch was kind of the opposite. And… I needed to make two because I was making one for BG’s dance friend. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get two really nice ones out of what I got. Thankfully, the blue hydrangeas were sold individually and I had several to choose from, so that helped. So did the fact that everything filled out overnight after I got them out of their packaging and in water.

And yes, I did say the costumes were all various shades of blue, but two of those blues leaned towards the purple end, so that helped. It isn’t a perfect match, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with these colors anyway and why I always do the ribbon inserts. I think I did okay.

2019 Recital Costumes
2019 Recital Costumes

Now I’m going to chill out until the kids get home and the whirlwind of getting everything packed up, hair and makeup done, then the race to get dinner eaten and us all out the door without losing my mind kicks in. And all of that is just the trial run because we have to do it all over again tomorrow for the recital.