Back On Track

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best of 2019: Moments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic
2019 Pointe Costume In Acrylic

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

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

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

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

Absolutely Epic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Annual Holiday Lights Tour

Tonight we are going to do our annual tour of driving around and looking at all the holiday lights. We have been doing this since our kids were little and even now that they are both teenagers, this is still an activity they love and look forward to every year.

We start with grabbing dinner that we can eat while driving around. I make hot chocolate and the kids have been known to get their PJs on or grab a blanket to ensure the mood is perfectly cozy. There will be nothing but Christmas songs on the radio and more than half the time we will all be singing along or, just as often, making up our own lyrics that have us all laughing.

I’m really a little surprised that both MC and BG still really want to do this again this year. I love that we have this tradition that they both look forward to and get so excited about, especially knowing how few teenagers would be caught dead having fun hanging out with their parents. I have no clue if this will be MC’s last year to do this with us since he will be doing the whole college thing next year, so I’m going to savor this one as much as I can.

This is just one of the sights we get to see while we are out doing our rounds. Twice actually. And every single day of the season because it lives next door. It is kind of crazy and has sparked all kinds of jokes over the years, but it is also fun. We see so many cars coming to look and it’s fun to see how amazed all the little kids get at the decoration overload.

Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House - Santa's Workshop
Decoration Overload House – Santa’s Workshop
Decoration Overload House
Decoration Overload House

Ball of Nerves

So MC is off for his scholarship interview today. I’m a ball of nerves right along side him. He was chosen to interview for the top scholarship at his first school choice, which is a full ride including room and board. There are several others that offer a little less at each level down you go; one is a full ride and no room and board, another just offers more than their base merit scholarship (he is already qualified for the merit scholarship based on GPA and test scores).

This is nearly a full day event that he is attending and includes multiple interviews with different people. He was a little stressed (understatement!) over the last several days. I couldn’t be more proud of him and how he is handling it all, though. He did tons of research on potential questions and did his best to prepare for having some answers to those questions. Even though I’m pretty certain there will still be questions he doesn’t expect, he will still be going into them feeling ready.

I did want to do a little head smacking when he mentioned that he finally read some of the “fine print” on the scholarships and realized that there are a few strings he wasn’t expecting (because of course he didn’t look that deep before applying for them). Like the requirement that you be an active ambassador for the school at several events throughout the year (like today’s competitive scholarship day). Each level had slightly different requirements, with the top even including being the ambassador in media and TV. For someone as introverted as MC, this threw him for a loop, bringing on a massive dose of doubts.

After a lot of conversations, he has realized that as much as he will probably hate having to do those things if he wins any of these scholarships, they would be really good for him overall. The fact that he didn’t panic and pull out of the interview made me even more proud of him.

I have no clue when he is supposed to be notified if he does get one of these, so even though he makes it through today and can breathe without being stressed out, he is still going to be on edge until he hears something.

Me? I’ll be sitting on the sidelines being a proud, nervous wreck.

Functioning Technology

I’d had my doubts that all my issues with my computer would be solved simply by replacing the power cord. I never knew that a laptop with a bad power cord could impact the speed of your internet connection to the point it was worse than trying to connect through dial up. Apparently that is absolutely what happens if your laptop recognizes that your power cord is bad and attempts to preserve battery through lowering performance. Now I know and I’ve given you a little tech tip for the day.

Thankfully, I’m now back up and running and I no longer feel like I’ve been banished from the world. The short time away did give me some time to think (not always a good thing) and I’ve decided that since I don’t have any review obligations (no open requests or NetGalley books due) through the end of the year, I’m going to just read to read until after the new year. If I manage to pick up something that strikes me as something I just really need to talk about, then I’ll post a review. For now, I’m going to take a reviewing break.

Part of the reason for this is all of the stuff that will be going on around the holidays. I really don’t want to go into the season already stressed with the pressure of trying to get too much done. It wouldn’t take much for me to just not want to put in the effort to do the fun stuff right now and I really don’t want that. I’ve still not been able to completely shake the crankies lately. The last thing I want is to make it worse.

We are also in full on “focus on college” mode with MC. He has been invited to interview for the top scholarship at his #1 school choice (and most likely where he is going to go even if he doesn’t get the scholarship), which I am crazy proud of, by the way. That means I have to take him to get a suit in the next week, something he has never even come close to wearing, so that is going to be so much fun. The kid that has spent his life in jeans and t-shirts with video game characters on them is going to have to wear a suit. He is probably more nervous about that than the interview itself.

I was a little frustrated with the information in the invitation as it also specifies it is a day for the parents to come, but doesn’t give any kind of timing or agenda, only the day. You have to RSVP that you are going to the interview and how many parents will be coming. Since it is a Saturday, it means that I’ve got to balance BG’s dance schedule with the interview schedule, but I don’t have a schedule for the interview day. It is also her last rehearsal before her Christmas program and she can’t miss it. There were too many unknowns for me to figure out if I could drop her off and still make it to MC’s thing (yes, the school is that close), we opted to just have Hubby go with him. I really hate it because I want to be there with him as well.

We don’t see too many conflicts with the kids activities and events often. The times we do, it stresses me the hell out and makes me feel like crap because I feel like I’m having to choose between my kids. When OC first started high school and we started paying attention to when graduation was held, I nearly had a panic attack over what would end up happening a few years down the road because, for a while there, graduation always fell the same day as recital. Thankfully, our district has pushed graduation from Saturdays to Sundays, so we will not have that as a problem this year. We will just have an extremely FULL weekend with Friday rehearsal, Saturday Recital and Sunday graduation.

Yes, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself and starting to already stress over it a bit, but when I’m having to think about all the college stuff now and MC hasn’t even graduated yet, my brain is just going to go there.

Can you tell I’m going to be kind of a mess through all of this?

 

My View Today

And it is stupid cold. If it weren’t windy, I could be out trying to photograph frozen bubbles. It is snowing heavy enough that it was a challenge to get a pic of my front Maple that wasn’t blurry. I didn’t quite manage it.

Snowy Fall Maple
Snowy Fall Maple

I’m hoping the snow stops soon and gives the streets a chance to melt off because MC drove to school today and he has never driven in snow. It wouldn’t bother me if he were a few short miles from home, but we live really close to the farthest edge of the district, which means a good 20 minute drive on 50+ MPH highways and a few side roads. We did tell him to take the bus home if it was still bad when school lets out. Now we get to see how well he listened.

Oh, and a bit of a brag moment… MC got accepted into his top 2 colleges. We are now in wait and see mode on any scholarships.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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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).

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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.

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.

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Pretty and Painful

Life has felt kind of like I’ve been tossed into a food processor on high lately. That isn’t even a really accurate analogy as it does not encompass all the extreme highs and lightning fast changes that bring crazy, insane lows. Sometimes over days. Sometimes it changes in as little as an hour or two. As soon as I’m experiencing one, for any number of reasons, something will come along and yank me to the other extreme. It is maddening.

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Crazy Teen Dating Drama Pt. 2 & Laziness

I am supposed to be working on my last big round of edits. I’ve managed to get the first half done and was just starting on the second half on Friday when I got a rather distressing text from BG saying that she needs to talk to me about something really important, that she is probably going to be in trouble and I’m most likely going to get a call from the school. This from the girl that is obsessiveness about following rules and doing the right thing. Both her and MC are straight A students and just NEVER get into any trouble. The most I’ve had to do is yell at them for pestering each other. To say I was stunned is a massive understatement.

Continue reading “Crazy Teen Dating Drama Pt. 2 & Laziness”