Going With The Flow

I’ve been quiet on here lately. Mostly because I really haven’t had much to say, but also because my brain is in a weird place.

I’m having a lot of really good moments I want to squee about and not so good ones I want to whine about. When I think about coming here and posting, I manage to talk myself out of it for one reason or another. Instead, I’ll just focus on working on my doors when I can (it is stupidly hot in the garage and I can only get in an hour or two of work at a time) or I bury my nose in a book and get lost in a story all while doing a lot of navel gazing on the side.

I feel like I’m on the edge of a major shift in my life right now. Yes, a lot of that is because my youngest, BG, is going through her senior year. Some of it is because of how different things are now that MCG is here and some of the emotions that is dredging up with those changes. There are also the signs that I’m physically shifting into a different phase as well (yay being female, NOT).

Maybe it’s because there is just so much, I can’t separate it out into post sized pieces or decide which piece to focus on when there are so many. I’m just not finding many words lately. For now, I’m going to sit back and see where this part of the ride takes me and hopefully I’ll find my words again along the way.

Checking Off That To Do List

The last several days have been hectic. There have been so many different things I’ve been dealing with or trying to get done, it has been a kind of musical chairs of tasks and trying to shift everything in a way to actually get any of it done.

My room is completely finished except for the last 5 doors and building the drawers. I’ve spent the last several days working on another project with a deadline, but I’ve done it in that space. Can I tell you how utterly blissful it is to actually work in there now? I have almost everything moved in and put where I want it outside of what will need to go in the closet (I’m counting that as a separate project from the room itself as it still needs to be finished out with shelves).

Just being able to work and find what I needed in a place I knew it was without having to dig through bins to find it or shuffle things all over the place because there wasn’t room for everything was the most wonderful feeling. I have a feeling I’m going to be living in my new room for the foreseeable future. I won’t be posting more photos until I have it entirely done, doors and drawers and all, but it is everything I’d hoped for and more.

That project I’ve been working on is making another massive pile of masks. BG will be needing a bunch since she will be in person at school this year (which is a whole other rant/post as online isn’t even being discussed as an option right now even though the situation is more dire for the younger group now than it was a year ago) and she will be at her dance studio for at least a couple more days a week this year. I also wanted to get another one or two for myself and one to give to MCG with the school logo on it like I did for MC since she will be doing student ambassador things as part of her scholarship. In all I’ve made another 36 masks. It took me several days, but that was me having to work around all the other things that needed to get done.

My new stove finally got delivered yesterday. After all the craziness and headaches and complications, it was a ridiculously easy and problem free event. It showed up in perfect condition. No dents. No issues with hooking it up. No issues hauling off the old one. The damn thing works. And it looks really nice. It was such a relief to finally have that stress over and done with.

Now, I just have to relearn how to cook. It may seem like a joke, but it also kind of isn’t. An electric cook top is different than gas in several ways and I have to learn how to make adjustments in how I cook to work with those differences. I also have to learn the temperature settings for each burner. Not only are they different than gas, but they are different than any other electric I’ve used in the past (well over 17 years ago).

Then I have to get used to the new oven. Each oven cooks a little differently. Most are close enough that it doesn’t really matter, but everyone that spends any time cooking at all learns the little quirks of how their ovens work and how to cook to make use of those quirks. I have no clue what kinds of quirks I’m going to run into. AND I have to learn it for 2 because this is a double oven (which I cannot wait to play around with when I need to bake a cake or do huge batches of cookies or thanksgiving dinner!!) and each one is most likely going to be just a little different. I did see in my owner’s manual that there is the ability to tweak your oven temp settings if you think it cooks “too hot” or “a little cool” so you can fit it a bit better to what you are used to, which was really interesting to discover.

Just having that done has been such a weight off. I’m so done with all the BS that went with this. I’ll  take the learning curve and a few slightly overdone, crispy fried eggs until I can get it all figured out, even if it kind of sucks to feel like I can’t cook well right now.

Yesterday, I also started my massive senior photo project for BG. She very much loved how I did things with MC, where I did several shoots throughout the year. She really likes the idea of having a bunch of seasonal photos as part of her final package, so we will be doing a lot of both casual outdoor shots and nicer, studio style shots. We did an initial round of studio style shots yesterday, getting us off to a very good start. So much so, I’m worried about having enough space for them all on my computer by the time it is done.

While I had my backdrop and lighting set up, I offered to do a shoot with MC and MCG. They never got their prom because of Covid, which means they never got prom photos. Hell, with they way they met and how their relationship has progressed, they’ve only really had one kind of crappy snapshot of them together at all. So, they both got all prettied up in their prom finery and we did some really fun shots of them. Finally!

I still have to go through all the photos from both shoots and do some editing, but I think I got quite a few really good ones. It was awesome to get those checked off my list.

This week kicks off back to school for MC and MCG. Things are going to get simultaneously really busy, but also really quiet at the same time. It’s only another week and BG will be off as well. It is all going to be so strange. I’ve had BG home for a year and a half and MC was mostly home for that same year and a half. There are even going to be weeks when Hubby has to go work in the office again and those days are going to be complete silence around here.

I guess it’s good in a way that even though I’ve checked so much off that to do list that the list is still massive and I’m going to have plenty of things to keep me occupied.

Never A Moment

You’d think I’d have learned by now. Things never really slow down around here.

I’d really thought I’d have at least a week of uninterrupted time to work on my room this week. I stupidly forgot to look at my calendar, which was packed full of things I had to do, mostly shifting into back to school mode and all the things that entails.

Between Dr. appointments for required vaccines for BG (yes! Shock of all shocks! Schools can and DO require your child be vaccinated for things!), yearbook photo appointments, and BG’s summer dance workshop (not so much my thing, but I have to work around it to some extent because she isn’t home) I’ve hardly had a day this week where I didn’t have a full day to get things done.

So far, MC and MCG haven’t had anything yet, but theirs is coming. MCG has some sort of training that she has to go through as part of her scholarship program and MC will have his own back to school stuff to do. I doubt I’ll be needed for those, but… I’m not taking any bets on that.

Even with the busy, I have still managed to get a lot of work in. I now have all the crown molding and base trim on my cabinets. There will be some final trim along the walls that needs to get done, but that will be it for cabinet trim.

I should be able to get my peg board installed today around my jewelry bench area. That is the last piece that needs to be done before I can trim out the counters. With that counter top trim, I’ll be down to just finishing the doors and drawers, though I’m probably forgetting something obvious in that list.

Slowly but surely I’m chipping away at my to do list and getting closer to completion. I’d like to say that when I do finish I can finally sit down and enjoy for a while, but that probably isn’t going to happen. I already have a “must complete” project I have to dive into right away. I might even have to stop and work on that if everything else takes much longer because I need to get it done before BG has to start back to school.

My never ending project list is, well, never ending. *sigh*

New Resident Arrival

We officially have a new resident in the house!

Hubby and MC ended up having to make the trip to pick up MCG without me because my stomach decided to try and secede from my body the night before we were supposed to leave and there was no way I could sit in a car for 8 hours a day for 2 different days. I felt absolutely horrible, both physically and emotionally, because I also felt like I let everyone down.

It was a horrible couple of days while they were gone. This trip triggered some not so fun emotions and stress beyond just not feeling well physically. I talked to some friends and realized that I just might be at that point in my life where I need to be discussing some hormone options with my doctor because my brain isn’t behaving well with way more things that just my old lady memory.  Everyone did make it home safe and sound and both my stomach and my brain have calmed down for now.

We are working on painting her room today so she can actually settle in and start feeling at home. When I say “we” I really mean MC and MCG. I did help by getting most of the edging done, but they are working on the rest of it themselves and I’m trying to stay hands off.

I am discovering that even though I’ve known that I have a few control freak tendencies, there are WAY more than I realized and I need to learn to put a leash on that. lol!

After we get MCG’s room set up the way she wants it after the paint is dry, I am free to turn my focus back to finishing my studio.

One more day!

Craft Room Project: The Cat Milestone

It took absolutely forever, but I reached another major milestone on this project.

The stairs are now fully trimmed out with all the major paint touch ups done (I’m sure there will be more before this is done). This includes the doorway to the basement. That means that my ugly, makeshift, temporary door is finally down and the cats again have full reign of the house. It also means their cat boxes are back in their little room and out of my laundry room.

Finally!!

This was a critical point for me. The stairs are completely ready for the new carpet to get installed, which happens next week. I now have to do the bulk of my remaining work in the garage to keep the mess and paint away from the cats, but most of what is left is on the smaller side, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

It also means that it’s time for me to take a brief break from working on my room so I can shift to working on getting the bedroom ready for MCG. That is going to be similar, but still different to what I’ve been doing.

I have to paint the ceiling to cover the water spots from our freaky cold weather condensation drips that happened over the winter. I have to clean out that closet and repaint it (OC decided at one point to draw on the walls in there when they still lived here and I never got around to painting over it). I’m also planning on painting all the furniture in that room and shampooing the carpet, again, since the cats were in there for a while.

None of those things should be all that horrendous or time consuming. Which is good as we are going to pick up MCG and bring here here in about a week and a half. Yay for deadlines!

Once she is moved in, I’ll be able to get back to my room. I still have a long list of things to do before that is fully finished, but I have a stable usable space right now. I’ll also have pretty much every solid deadline behind me and I can work again without any pressure.

There are a lot of changes coming our way with the arrival of MCG. It is going to be interesting, but I also think it is going to be a whole lot of fun having her here. And, of course, MC is bouncing off the walls impatient for her to get here. It’s hilarious to watch and tease him about. Sometimes it is an absolute blast to be an obnoxiously annoying parent.

 

Vacation, Visiting, And More Work

This last week has been packed so full, I’ve hardly had a second to sit down.

Hubby took the week off, in part because this was our week for our visitors and partly to help me get some things done. So even though he has technically been on vacation, there has been no vacationing involved.

We finally got to meet MCG and her family. Considering we were first supposed to do that in March of 2020 and MC and MCG have been dating for over 5 years now, it has been a long time coming. Seeing the two of them together finally has been adorable. Sadly, they only had a little over a day together before she had to go back home, so now they are struggling with this gap of almost a month before she gets to move here. After finally getting to see each other outside of a computer screen, they aren’t loving having to go back to that for a while.

It was awesome to get to spend time with MCG’s family. With my history of families and in-laws, I was understandably a nervous wreck before they got here. I was worried it would be hard to get along with them, even though I’ve talked to MCG’s mom several times through text and FB. That kind of communication is always different than actually being in person.

Thankfully, it went really well. We all got along great and I can see that how we interact in the future will continue along those lines. It makes life miserable when the in-laws don’t get along at all, so it makes me happy for MC and MCG’s sake. I think it is amazing that both sides are so willing to make things as good for our kids as we can, especially with how unique their meeting and relationship has been.

I did work my butt of to try and get a huge portion of my craft room done before the visit, but putting the floor in kicked my butt. I had to take some time to recover from that before digging into all my preparation for the visit, so that took a slight backseat at the beginning of the week. It has also shifted my priorities knowing I have things that I have to do to be ready for MCG to move in at the end of July.

One of my biggest priorities at this point is to get everything to a point where we can finally get the cats access to the basement again. I hated them in the bedroom and the move to the laundry room for the visit (so MCG’s future room wouldn’t look and smell like a giant litter box), is awful. I do not want them to be in all the mess or the paint. So after some discussion with Hubby, we bumped up getting the rest of the floor in place in the rest of the basement (realized how horrible the dust gets from cutting that stuff when I did the floor in my room).

Unfortunately, to do that floor, I had to completely clear out that room. I didn’t want to move any of the bigger pieces into my room (like the white cabinet and the dresser) until the floor trim was in place. Hubby helped me with that on Wednesday, at least the critical areas. I still have a couple of places that need the 1/4 round, but I somehow didn’t calculate that right and ran out. Thankfully they are in non-critical areas.

The last couple of days, Hubby and I worked to move almost everything into my room, even if it is in a temporary location, to clear out the other room we are going to put the floor in. My room now looks a little like a junk pile, but again, most of that is temporary. I’ll clean it all up better and organize it when I can get things back into that other room as well.

It was a pain and a whole lot of puzzle fitting to get everything out of that space, but that room got completely emptied and cleaned out. We even had some help from BG on that one, giving us just enough time to get the underlayment down as well. We are now in a position to start laying floor on Monday, giving me another couple of days to recover from crawling all over the floor again today.

We even got the carpet ordered for the stairs and that should get installed in a few weeks. I still have that area to trim out, but that is one of the last things I’m doing before allowing the cats down as I have to take off my temporary door at that point.

The main goal is to get the cats access soon, so I can stop and work on getting MCG’s room ready. I have a ceiling and a closet to paint and I’m painting all the furniture in that room as well. She wants to participate in the painting of her walls when she gets here, so that will happen later.

I’m so close to the end of this project. All that’s really left to finish out my room is building and installing the last 5 doors, building and installing the drawers, finishing out the trim on the upper cabinets, putting in the corner shelves, and doing the peg board sections around my jewelry bench area. I think. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something.

I never expected this project to take nearly this long. The deeper into it I get, the more of a toll it is taking on my poor old body. I think most every major joint in my body would be happy to be in a brace because it hurts. It has definitely triggered one hell of an episode with my tendonitis in both arms, which is a whole lot of fun. I’m having to force myself to take more breaks to heal from all the work. So while I’m close, there are just so many things left to do that I’m probably looking at two months or better before I can finally say I’m done.

Happily, Hubby and I will get to relax for the next two days and attempt to enjoy a little bit of his vacation before I force him back to work helping me.

Rolling With The Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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.

 

More Frozen Fog Spikes

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

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

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

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

3 days.

I’m counting.

And planning.

Playing With Snowflakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Night Of Lights

This is another photo from last year.

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

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

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

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

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

Finally!

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

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

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

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

Bug Bitten

I’m taking advantage of what might be my last no contractor day before Christmas that isn’t a weekend and getting the last little bit of needed shopping done today. I’d rather not, but there are a few things I need to get that aren’t easy to order and that Hubby can’t get for me, so I’m making what will hopefully be a very quick run.

How sad is it that even though the head guy at the contracting company said two days when I talked to him the other day, that I can’t actually count on that? I did ask him specifically to keep me updated on the timing because of needing to contain the cats, so we will see if I actually hear anything today or not.

MC has two finals left, one tomorrow and one Saturday, and he is done with his first semester of college. We are STILL waiting to hear if he is allowed to live off campus next semester, which is beyond frustrating.

Fun fact? eSports, even though it is all computer games and doesn’t require any kind of fitness ability at all, still requires you get a physical before being able to participate. I now have to help MC navigate that process because it seems to be a little bit complicated for something that should be simple.

They also have a few interesting rules about participating as a team member. One is that you are required to spend so much time each week doing actual physical activity. I think it is a great requirement, I just think it is kind of funny, and not entirely surprising, that they have to have that rule.

I do wonder if those requirements get waived for someone that has physical limitations. I’d think the world of eSports would be ideal for those that aren’t able to participate in physical sports.

This photo reminds me of how my brain feels most days. Full of holes. I’ve joked for years that it is a swiss cheese brain because I tend to forget stuff all the time. This week, I got to learn that I can turn a white boxed cake mix into chocolate, because apparently I had one of those moments. I’d asked Hubby to pick up the white mix at the store even thought I KNEW I was using it for my chocolate cupcakes. Imagine my shock when I pull it out to make them and realize what I’d done. At least I learned a nifty new trick!

I’m having way too many of those swiss cheese moments lately.

Not To Brag…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Chicks Are All Home In The Nest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home For The Holidays

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And just to give you a visual reminder….

Intubation Graphic
Intubation Graphic

 

School Heading Into Fall And Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meandering Path

We went for a walk and a drive around this weekend. The hope was that the trees were in full color and to get some photos. Of course, where I live, we don’t really get a “full color” like you’d see in other areas. We sort of get stages.

One week may be the yellow trees. Another week or two later, after those leaves have already fallen, you might get a red or an orange popping up here and there (though we don’t have a lot of those). It just seems like we can’t manage to get all the colors to line up at the same time, though every once in a great while, the trees will put on an amazing show, but it may only last for a day or two.

Right now, we are still way more green than I expected based on the trees in my neighborhood. There are some yellows that are already quickly turning to brown and the rare splash of orange peeking through, but not much else.

It was still nice to get out. I managed to, of course, get some photos of the kids being the absolute goofballs they are. I’d wanted some nice shots, but I’m just going to be grateful that both of them still want to go and do those things with us.

Today I’ve got Misogyny guy coming out to give me a bid. I honestly don’t know what I’m hoping for at this point. I do really want to get at least one more figure for how much this plan might cost me. I’d kind of love for that whole conversation to have just been an honest mistake and the guy is a decent guy that I’d consider working with. Based on the luck I’ve had so far, I’m not holding my breath for it.

I can dream, though, right?