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.

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.

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.

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.

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

 

What’s Left At The End Of The Day

It is difficult not to be exceptionally angry today. I’m angry at the ignorance and the unwillingness of those that are supposed to be in charge to actually DO something productive.

Yes, I could be talking on the larger scale as that absolutely applies as well, but I’m talking a little lower down the power rung. Our idiotic governor, who just got reelected, much to my horror, just put out a decision stating that as long as masks are worn properly at the time of exposure, schools no longer need to issue quarantines for those that might have been exposed.

What the ever loving fuck?!

The same day, one major university announced they were going full virtual after Thanksgiving and a local high school was also having to go all virtual because of the number of cases. But the brain trust in charge of our entire state decided, against ALL CDC and health department recommendations, that quarantines are no longer needed.

This was immediately followed by our mayor stating that our city would not be following those guidelines. Sadly, BG’s school district isn’t inside the city limits and aren’t bound by city rules. They did put out a statement that they will be considering what this means for them and give more information later.

It is hard enough to send her to the school to take her proctored exams as it is. Knowing she will be going if the school follows our governor’s guidelines pisses me off. I have her doing online for a reason.

This also makes it significantly more concerning to send her to dance because there are SO many school districts represented at the studio and I have no way of knowing which schools will be following those guidelines and which ones won’t.

I am sick to death of people that don’t know squat thinking they know more than the experts and putting so many people at risk. I simply do not understand whatever twisted rationale they used to make such a stupid, risky decision.  Schools are already having a hard enough time with outbreaks, but this dipshit thinks this is a good idea and that things will be better?

Oh, and this is the same dipshit that cut funding for schools in the spring.

The only mitigating factor in this at all is that, so far, our district has followed city guidelines for the most part. It is still going to impact so many other areas of my state, though. So many people are going to die because there is an idiot at the helm who refuses to listen to the real doctors with real experience and the CDC and the health departments. You know, the ones who’s jobs it is to know this stuff.

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.