Celebrations, Events, And Hard Decisions

The day after we get updated information about the plans for holding BG’s recital this year, Hubby gets notified that he will be working from home through the summer. Only critical infrastructure employees will be allowed back in the office.

Hearing that Hubby is going to be allowed to work from home for at least that long was such a massive relief. He works in a large building with a lot of other people. Their set up is currently a semi-shared space that doesn’t work with any kind of distancing. They are working on making changes to the entire building, but options and space are limited, so work from home for those that can is the current state. And I’m so very, very happy about that.

At the same time, BG is supposed to return to dance class the first part of June. The studio has made some changes to do what they can to ensure safety, including shortened class times to give time to sanitize and changes in routines that eliminate all physical contact (mostly only ever in the younger grades). Staff and assistants will wear masks as well.

While the changes are definitely good, it is still a very active thing and some classes, ALL of BG’s classes, are full of dancers. Even the change in how they utilize the space to give more room and limiting all space in the studio to dancers and teachers only, still leaves a pretty crowded studio for many of these classes.

Then there will be recital. There are some massive changes to their normal plan. What was previously broken into two shows will now be 5 and based on grade level. This reduces the number of girls in dressing rooms and the number of people in the audience.

What does not change is the fact that the older girls that participate in certain performances, which BG does for the first time this year, will still participate in every show. Instead of her performing those dances 4 times between dress rehearsal and recital, it will be 10. For each dance, of which she has potentially 3 (still waiting on word for one dance). This is on top of her other 5 dances she will do in her own show.

Also because she is in every show for those dances and to assist her younger girls, she will be at the venue from 9am until probably close to 9pm or after for two days in a row. This presents yet another issue.

They have asked that you only attend the show for your child. Technically, her show is the last one, but she is there all day. I either take her and drop her off, or I stay. In previous years, she was only ever there for the 1 show, but I had planned on just staying for both because the venue is not close to home. Parking sucks beyond belief and getting a decent seat is damn near like trying to get the latest “must have” item at a black friday sale (more on recital day than dress rehearsal, but still crazy).

Now, the last issue is more one of convenience for me over most anything else and , logically, the issues with parking and seating should be reduced drastically because of the smaller show sizes. It should also mean smaller audience sizes. But… how many people have you seen recently that follow the rules or suggestions? I’ve seen some of the family that attend this event. I’m not thinking overly positive about the outcome, even if the studio is doing their damnedest to make this happen in a safe way.

This is currently scheduled for the first half of July and, as has been seen lately, things that seem fine today may be horrible as soon as tomorrow.

I am so damn torn about the whole thing.

I 100% support their efforts in what they are trying to do and I know why they are so determined to still hold this event. This is on par with graduation, if not even more important, for a huge number of the girls that are seniors this year. Seniors are missing out on so much already. I get it. There is a need to find a balance that includes mental health and that is where their efforts come in.

I just have to wonder, when it is all said and done, if it is worth the risk.

They are asking that no one come to the studio that has even traveled outside the state, but will people abide by that request? There is no way to ensure absolutely that they do. They have also stated to not come if you aren’t feeling well or have been around someone that is sick. Again, it is only a request and really cannot be enforced other than to not let someone in that looks obviously ill. I have no clue how they are going to manage the recital at all.

None of that even begins to take into consideration the distribution of costumes (always a very close contact event) and picture day where the lobby is wall to wall students and parents.

Here we are with Hubby’s work running on an abundance of caution (which I am so incredibly grateful for) and then we are pulled in the other direction for BG’s dance.

The thought of not getting a recital this year breaks my heart, but… is it really worth it? I just don’t know.

Toss onto that dumpster fire of “no good solution” is the fact that we also have MC’s graduation scheduled for the end of July. I’m slightly less worried about this event because it is only a few hours tops on a single day in a venue that is more versatile for distancing, but you are still talking about a very large number of people gathering under one roof.

As of right now, I’m cautiously going to allow BG to go to classes when they resume and wait and see what other information will be forthcoming about recital. There is more control in the studio than there is at the venue and she will at least be able to wear a mask.

I’m also going to be watching the news in my area very closely. The studio has been following guidelines and they have made student safety a priority, but there isn’t a lot of clear guidance as to what is actually safe right now and that is my biggest concern.

I don’t want to have to tell either one of my kids that they shouldn’t participate in these incredibly important events, but when you look at the much larger picture, it isn’t just about them. It is about the friends and families of those girls (and a few guys). It is about the people that have to take care of them if they get sick. It is about the people that get left behind if the worst happens.

It makes it even harder to impress this on them, though they are listening, when we essentially live in this sort of bubble where the virus hasn’t really blown up. That sense that “it can’t happen to me” kind of invincibility is too easy to believe. I really believe that is playing a part in the decisions to move forward holding these events.

I’m lucky in that my kids are reasonable. I think that if it came down to it, they would understand. They would be hugely disappointed, but I do think they’d understand. It doesn’t make any of it even a fraction easier, though.

If I were pressed, I have to say that I really don’t think holding these events, even with precautions, is the smart thing to do. Feeling that way makes this so much harder as I just don’t know what the best plan is moving forward. I don’t want to be the bad guy, but I absolutely will if I feel that the situation in my area has gotten bad enough. I hate that I may actually be in the position to have to do that.

 

Rusty Red Iris

For some reason, I only have a couple of these and they are randomly placed, not clustered like all my other irises.

They are also a pain in the butt to photograph because the color almost never comes out correctly. There is something about my camera and accurately rendering reds that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of. This is where Photoshop becomes my friend. Unless of course, your monitor isn’t the same as mine, then who the hell knows what color you are seeing. This fact is a major point of frustration for me.

Yesterday, MC took his last remaining AP final (AP Calculus) and is officially done with all high school work. He has to go to the school next week to turn in equipment and books, pick up any honor sashes/cords for graduation and then make it to the ceremony scheduled for the end of July, but he is absolutely done with high school now.

Yesterday also brought news that we are probably looking at the new normal for our household, at least through the end of summer as Hubby will not be going back into the office until then at the earliest.

I’ve said before that for the most part, things around here feel much like they would around the holidays when Hubby is on vacation and everyone is home. While we are now well past the longest everyone has been at home at the same time and it still mostly feels that way, it is going to be interesting to see if it continues to feel that way.

After he got the word that this will extend (so damn grateful he works where he does), I joked around that I’m going to have to find some projects to work on in my studio so I have an “escape” from time to time. If I think about it, it is going to be a kind of test to see how well we handle retirement. The only real difference will be that the kids are still at home.

I’m seeing news of some universities saying at least the fall semester classes are going to be online only, but we haven’t heard anything along those lines from MC’s school yet. He is a little worried because there are certain requirements for his scholarship that he has to meet that, as of right now, requires in person interaction. It is also the requirement that he live on campus his first year. I’ve told him that I’m sure the school will make sure that whatever steps they take, it isn’t going to impact his scholarship. It is one of the very many things on the “wait and see” list.

He didn’t really stress about ending high school from home. The most stress he has really shown over the last couple of months was studying for his AP exam. With news about other schools starting to pop up, he is beginning to stress about what will or won’t happen in the fall.

It really does not help one bit that we live in an area that really hasn’t been hit yet. I’m 100% sure that a big part of the small number of cases in our area is because we have local leaders that stepped up fast and hard before it could and it did amazing things to slow down the spread. Sadly, with the push for things to start opening back up, we are going to see those numbers start to spike and everything that has current, tentative plans to happen will most likely change when that spike starts, so it is impossible to think anything will be as it looks right now.

We aren’t even close to being anywhere near out of the woods yet.

White Iris & MC Day

Today is MC’s official last day of high school, the end of a huge phase of his life up until now. Under normal circumstances, it would feel like a big, sharp end with him having done all the normal things that would lead up to this moment.

The district would normally have the students wear their caps and gowns and walk through their grade and middle schools, high fiving the younger kids and seeing old teachers. There would be the expected build up of excitement among the students, the kind you could hear and feel just walking through the halls. Kids planning parties and celebrations. Some even participating in a senior skip day or a prank (some not always well thought out).

This year, instead of a bright, distinct end with seniors walking out the doors of the high school for the last time, it has felt more like senior year has dissipated and just faded out to nothing while they sat alone at home. Spring break became indefinite, followed by a scramble to finish presenting needed material in an online format so that those seniors were still prepared to take their final exams for any dual credit classes or their AP tests.

Not a single traditional event has been able to be held. I actually saw a T-shirt that kind of said it all…

Senior Skip Day Champions, Class of 2020.

It is an attempt to laugh at something that isn’t all that funny and so incredibly difficult for a lot of young people.

For MC, he has done an amazing job of just going with the flow. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of him for weathering this as well as he has. I know that a lot of seniors are really having a hard time and my heart hurts for them.

My kid is just the typical introvert and is often happier at home playing his games, so, for the most part, this isn’t that much different from what he would have been doing. He is missing his friends, but they have made the time to do some gaming together online.

I’ll be spending the day putting together MC’s favorite finger foods and we have both Deadpool movies waiting to be watched. It may not be what many would think of as a great celebration to close out his high school career, but it is exactly the kind of thing he loves, so that is what we will be doing.

I still have to come up with a plan for his graduation, something that is still on the calendar but can change at any moment. Considering he will be graduating with honors, I refuse to let that moment pass without something to mark it, no matter what is going on in the world.

For now, we are making it MC day and marking the end of this massive stage in his life. If you know a senior, high school or college, take a moment or 10 to celebrate them and how incredibly odd and extra emotional the ending of this time is for them., even if they are as laid back about it as MC is.

Stretching The Creativity

This is MC’s last official week of high school. Most of his classes are already done and he has very little work left. He will have an AP final later in the month, but that was always set for that date. It will just be an online version instead. That’s because he is finishing out his high school senior year at home, which has made it one hell of a different experience than anyone expected.

It also means I’m having to really push my creativity when it comes to finding ways to acknowledge such a huge accomplishment. Not that we were intending much anyway as he isn’t much of a social person. If anything, I thought he and his gamer friends would get together for one of their gaming nights as a way to celebrate, but that can’t happen now.

I can’t do nothing because he deserves to be honored and recognized for all his hard work. With so many other things that have been canceled because of the pandemic, including his chance to get to take his girl, MCG, to prom and see her face to face for the first time or the senior walk through the grade and middle schools to see old teachers, I couldn’t let this slip by unrecognized.

The importance of this is something that has really been driven home while I’ve helped MC edit and polish one of his scholarship applications. It highlighted some of his biggest accomplishments throughout school and showed me how proud he was of his own hard work, something he so very rarely ever shows, so I really needed to make an effort to acknowledge all of that.

If things were normal, we’d still keep it small. Probably just taking him to out to eat at a restaurant of his choice. But that isn’t an option. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with something fun that we can do here and that would be special for him.

I decided to kind of do a week of awesome for MC. It started last night with me making one of his favorite meals and will finish up on Friday, his last day, with a night of the family favorite finger foods and movies, capping it off with some death by chocolate.

While this is all very food heavy, that is kind of the main way we tend to do celebrations, so it is perfect. I’m going to try and squeeze in a night or two during the week to play some games. I have a feeling Fibbage is going to be coming out since that is one of MC’s favorite games to play as a family. Mostly because we get completely stupid and ridiculous in the process.

It might not seem like a lot when it is all said and done, but it is a way to show him how much he means to us and how proud of him we are. He not only survived high school, he kicked its butt in epic fashion. He will be going off to college with all 4 years of his tuition paid for and a potential for a one time scholarship of $5k (just submitted this one, so we are in wait mode on that, but chances are good), all because he set a goal to do his absolute best and he excelled at every single class.

He seems to be stoked for our little celebration, so that is really all that matters. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do for his actual graduation. My creativity muscles are getting one hell of a workout.

 

Making It Through

I was absolutely shocked when I went to check on my flowers this morning and found my daffodils still hanging in there. After having well over half of the days in April hit below freezing temps, I was stunned I had anything still looking good and working towards blooming. Sadly, of the last 4, two were broken over, so I just cut what was left and brought them inside to enjoy.

We finally got some communication from the school and they do have plans to have a graduation ceremony for the seniors, but it won’t be happening until the end of July. I have everything crossed that can be crossed that things have calmed down and are safe by then. I honestly haven’t a clue what they will do if it isn’t. There is still a chance that MC won’t have a graduation ceremony to walk in, but they are working to make it happen.

We are all going to be on pins and needles for the next several weeks (more than normal) as my FIL had to make a trip to the ER yesterday because of a messed up knee. While he is okay and probably needs a knee replacement (doubt he will go through with it) and the hospital had him in an area that was separate from anyone that was sick, there is still the very real chance that he could have been exposed.

It makes it incredibly hard when you can’t be there to help out. My SIL has been socializing with him and helping with his shopping since they are both alone and individually isolating (outside of those necessary runs). She will still help where she can, but a lot of these kinds of things are the things we normally help with and we can’t right now. He is still in a lot of pain and getting around is going to be extremely difficult, especially because he has stairs in his house. We were already worried about falls, but this has ramped that up by about a thousand.

Before all of this started, we were talking to him about moving to something that didn’t require him to navigate stairs, something it was well past time to consider, but no one wanted to make him feel like he was losing anything important. There are so many things tied up in that decision to move, which made pushing for that change a very delicate matter. Now, everything is on hold indefinitely when that change is most needed. It is something we are going to worry about even more now, but there is not a thing we can actually do.

As little as I am a scheduler or a planner and more of a by the seat of my pants kind of a person, I’m seeing how much I dislike uncertainty, or more accurately, a lack of control. Even when I just go with the flow, I’m in control of most of that flow. Right now, there is so little that is within my control or that I can do anything to make any kind of difference. It is an interesting perspective into the kind of person I am, at least in areas I hadn’t considered before now.

Bleeding Hearts

We dipped below freezing again last night. Figures it would come a day after we hit a record high temperature. Welcome to spring in the mid-west.

These still look good, but they sure felt a little limp, so I don’t know if the tiny buds that are waiting to get bigger and open (do they really open like a normal flower?) are going to actually make it. As with everything right now, I guess I will wait and see.

It was made official yesterday that the kids will not be going back to school this year. They will finish out the year doing their online work. I have no idea what that means for MC’s graduation as the school has yet to communicate with the parents about what plans or alternatives are in the works.

I understand that so much is up in the air right now and there isn’t a lot that can be done about that. I’m good with whatever they do decide. It just drives me crazy that there isn’t any kind of information at all about what may or may not be options. I’d kind of like to know if an out and out cancellation is even on the table at this point.

With BG and dance, the studio has been working tirelessly to work out alternatives, including setting up 2 different back up dates for their recital and letting parents know that this is the plan. It is still open to change and they’ve made that clear, but they’ve also kept the parents informed on an actual plan.

I think it is just the no plan or communication, the whole not knowing part that bothers me. There are so many things that already feel like they are just hanging, any little piece that feels like it is still moving and progressing helps, but this piece is still hanging. I’m not a huge organizer or planner (only certain areas), but I can only imagine how stressful all of this is for those that really need to make plans.

Will it be hard if there isn’t an actual ceremony? Hell yes! MC will be the first of my kids to graduate high school since OC dropped out, so this is a huge moment, especially after all the work he has put into being a phenomenal student. It would be hugely disappointing, but I’m still okay with that if that is how things need to happen. People’s lives, health and well being are so much more important. We will still find a way to celebrate his accomplishment. It just may look very different than expected.

MC is handling the whole thing amazingly well. He’s all “I’ll have some great stories to tell my kids when they are my age.” I’m sure he is still a little disappointed, but he is very chill about the whole thing. I know a lot of other seniors are having much harder time emotionally.

So Many Changes

Today is our first day of a completely new normal.

Over the weekend, our mayor put our city on a shelter-in-place order, so all non-essential business are shut down. We were already pretty much treating it like that, so it won’t be a massive change for us, though I’ve heard/seen a lot of people complaining or stressing over this order. For us, we are just going to keep doing what we have been and doing our best to not be a part of the problem.

The kids are starting to learn their new routines for their online classes. It is going to be interesting for my kids as they are both so self motivated, they will probably have the week’s worth of assignments done by the first day of the week, depending on how the teacher posts assignments. It is going to be an interesting process for them. I joked with BG that with the online stuff she could get the rest of her high school finished before MC graduates and they could graduate together (not that that is an option, just a statement about how quickly she gets her stuff done).

We also got more information from BG’s dance studio. They have opted to do what they could to shift their classes to online. I’ve got to say, with what I’ve seen so far, I’m absolutely blown away with what they’ve managed to put together. I’ve always liked her studio and how they do things, but this goes so far above and beyond. They could have just as easily said we are just shutting down, but to keep these kids going and to ensure that all the staff at the studio still gets paid, they are doing everything they can to make sure that the “show must go on” while keeping everyone safe at the same time. I’m a little in awe at their dedication and determination.

As part of that, I’ll be working on getting BG a safe space to dance. It is something that I promised her a while ago since trying to dance on our concrete floor in the basement is too slick. She has come close to falling a couple of times in the past. Now, I get to build a makeshift dance floor. I have all the stuff, I just need to get it done, so that is on my project list for today. I’m hoping like crazy that it works like I think it will.

I should have some daffodils to photograph soon. The buds are on and getting bigger, but they aren’t quite open yet. My hyacinths managed to hold on through two freezes over the weekend. We absolutely need some color and beauty right now.

 

Last Of The Snow?

It is still way too early to tell. As of right now, we don’t have any more in the forecast. It is one of the reasons why I hauled MC out yesterday afternoon to try and get a few more photos for his senior pictures because he was adamant he wanted some done in the snow (because that is SO him, the gamer guy that rarely leaves his lair to venture into nature).

We’d had a beautiful, if cold, perfectly clear sky, sunny day. All day. I’d been watching the light trying to figure out the best time to try and get my shots. Just as we walked out the door, clouds came rushing in from the west and killed the light. Of course it did!

I still managed to get a few good ones, but I need to do some editing on them as they aren’t quite good enough. MC said he wants to do some with a range of backgrounds like sunset or even in the spring when the flowers are in bloom. I actually think it is a brilliant idea as I’ll have been taking pictures of him all throughout his senior year. Talk about putting together a true senior portrait package!

They won’t look all perfect and professional, because doing portraits is so not my thing. But… I have several that are really good already. I’m going to have a hell of a time trying to decide which one(s) I’m going to want to print to hang on the wall. I may have to come up with something really creative and do something like a large collage with all of them. I don’t know yet, but something.

On a side note, I’ll be editing my private post with the most current update on that situation for those that chimed in.

Snow & Ice

I am hopefully wrapping up my work on a graphics project sometime today and will have the amazing finished project to share soon. I’m really excited about what I’ve been working on and that I got the chance to do it.

I had honestly thought that things wouldn’t really start getting crazy around here until at least next month, but things have popped up and seem to be just cramming themselves into my schedule. I’m going to be a giddy mess in a few weeks if things work out because I’ll get to take BG to see Swan Lake performed. I have never seen it and thought it would be a perfect time since their pointe performance this year is to one of the songs from Swan Lake. I’m just waiting on confirmation from her dance friend’s mom that they are going with us.

I also have MC’s scholarship awards ceremony coming up in a few weeks. I’ve shuffled things and made arrangements so I actually get to go. There was a conflict with dance, but our dance friend will be taking BG to class for me that night so I can see MC being rewarded for all of his hard work and determination.

I may complain left and right about feeling like crap with this stupid cough, but… when I stop and look at all that is going on and what my kids are doing, the amazing guy I pulled on all the lucky stars to get, I’m one seriously happy girl and I’m surrounded by some incredible people that keep the joy flowing all around.

Epicness And F-Bombs

It isn’t always clear on here, but I tend to be a huge potty mouth. Granted, I’m also a courteous and polite potty mouth and I don’t cuss around people I don’t know or aren’t certain they are okay with cussing and is why I tend to keep it mostly clean on here. I also don’t cuss at people unless they are idiot drivers and even then, they aren’t the ones to hear it.

I do cuss around my kids and they know my rules around it. I’d be fine with them cussing as long as it followed those rules, but they think it is funny to NOT cuss. At least around Hubby and I. We know they do it. They know we know, but they still won’t cuss in front of us. It has become something of a game for them. And yes, we all have a twisted sense of humor that not everyone can appreciate.

Yesterday, MC gets home from school and tells me he nearly got into a head on collision with a bus in the neighborhood. It was in an area where there is kind of a blind curve, at least when you have several large pickup trucks parked in the street. MC was on his side of the road and didn’t see the bus (who was driving WAY too fast for a residential area) and lucked the hell out in that they came up on each other when MC was right in front of a small cul-de-sac and was able to swerve. Otherwise, it would have been one hell of an ugly wreck.

He was obviously a little shaken up, but okay. We talked about it a bit and went on with our afternoon. While I was at dance, Hubby sends me a picture of how close he came, reminding me that we have a dash cam in the car that MC drives. It was kind of freaky to see how bad it could have been in that shot.

When I get home, Hubby is all excited (weirdly) and all “You’ve got to see this!” He shows me the video and I can see exactly what happened, which is even more disturbing, but also kind of shocking at how smooth MC handled the whole thing. I’m still not understanding Hubby’s attitude. Then he’s “now you have to HEAR it.” Apparently our dash cam also records sound. We did not know this.

He turns the sound back on and replays the video, but it is silent. I’m giving him the eye and he just tells me to listen. I see the bus come along, deep into MC’s lane to avoid the trucks and what look like several workmen that were near the trucks. I see MC swerve into the cul-de-sac to avoid the bus and keep going. All still silent. I’m seriously impressed at how cool MC is through the whole event.

Again, I give another side eye to hubby. Then, about two houses after MC passed the bus, you start hearing sound.

He is about a block away from home and he just lets go in these epic bursts. What puts the icing on it is that he has somehow developed this deep, country drawl in his voice that I’ve NEVER heard from him before (he is now blaming his girl, saying that he must have picked it up from her after talking to her so much). It is so much and so different, I almost don’t even recognize it is MC talking.

The first burst is a little mild, then it gets quiet again. I think we are done. Nope. Another couple of houses and we get another burst that is a little longer and a little more colorful before it gets quiet again. Again, I think he is done as it is quiet until he pulls into the driveway.

That is when he lets it ALL come out. All the best, most colorful words are flying from my kid’s mouth. It is this over the top, epic curse fest rant at the bus, the trucks and the guys around the trucks. Hubby, BG, MC and I are all laughing so hard we can hardly breathe. I think we listened to it half a dozen times before we had enough.

His reaction to the whole thing has now given us material that we will never let him live down. “Fucking lumberjacks” said in a deep country drawl will live on for all eternity here and will come back to haunt him over and over again.

It may make me a bad parent, but I was beaming proud of my kid in his amazingly creative use of the F-bomb. I’m also crazy impressed with how ridiculously calm he was during the actual encounter. If I’d been in the driver’s seat, the dash cam would have had a boat load more F-bombs and then some from the very first sight of that bus and there might have been a bit of a wet spot on the seat.

In all seriousness, I’m just thrilled to death that this is something we can laugh about and it all turned out okay.

*The photo is an old one and has nothing at all to do with this post. I just liked it and felt like posting it. We haven’t seen that much snow on the ground here for several years.

 

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.