Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The 2021 Christmas post

(As in years past, we do not send out traditional Christmas cards.  Since I have the blog, it's easier to share countless photos and stories for anyone who wishes to read it, postage free!  Plus, my hope is that someday the kids will enjoy the running record of our family antics...if you regularly read the blog or look thru my facebook feed, some of this may seem familiar.  Either way, enjoy!) 

Merry Christmas!!!  What's that you say?  It's about to be Easter?  Yeah.....about that.  I've had this mostly done for a while (since around February-ish) but hesitated to post because I wasn't sure if it would work or be a good idea.  True to form, I second guessed myself into making it even later and later but I'm finally putting out the Christmas card/blog post!  Not the first time I'm late and probably won't be the last.  I also just realized I hadn't posted anything for the entirety of 2021, save for the late 2020 Christmas post....some things never change!  I challenged myself to do something new this year...sort of a digital scrapbook slideshow.  I miss scrapbooking but realized this was a way to do it w/o all the cutting and printing of photos!  This labor of love is one of the ways I celebrate the good stuff in our lives =)  Here's the link! After reading each slide, click the forward arrow (>).  Come back to read a little bit more here when you are done... 

2021 Christmas slideshow

Alright, this is the part where I usually deliver some schtick about Christmas and the new year, but it's a little late for all that I think!  So how about this - I want you to consider something for a minute.  Around Christmas time we like to say that Jesus is the reason for the season.  It helps remind us to not get so frantic over shopping and overdoing it.  And He is!  It's a great way to focus our attention on the reason we have Christmas.  But what about Easter?  I would like to point out that not very many people use that phrase around Easter time, when in reality, Easter is even more about Jesus in my opinion.  Yes, Jesus first coming to the Earth in human form is amazing and I'm not trying to downplay that at all.  But for me, Easter is so much better because I feel like it renews my faith...knowing the pain and sacrifice Jesus made for ME specifically (but also for everyone) is an even greater gift.  On that note....

Happy Easter!  The Lord is Risen!  Hallelujah!!  

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Merry Christmas 2020/Happy New Year 2021

(As in years past, we do not send out traditional Christmas cards.  Since I have the blog, it's easier to share countless photos and stories for anyone who wishes to read it, postage free!  Plus, my hope is that someday the kids will enjoy the running record of our family antics...if you regularly read the blog or look thru my facebook feed, some of this may seem familiar.  Either way, enjoy!) 

I sat down to write this Christmas letter so many times.  Every time I came up w/a new theme or gimmick!  I hated them all.  I really wasn't a fan of 2020 (who was?) but I felt determined to write a letter before the end of the year.  One thing I know - there were many things that looked different this year.  I got to thinking how they looked the same though...I mean, the kids keep growing, Dave keeps working...some things don't stop for a pandemic, right?!  In my quest to compare and contrast life before the pandemic hit w/life after, I made a venn diagram.  Yep, I'm a teacher and a nerd.  I'm guessing you've all seen one of these.  Maybe you'll even make one for yourself now!  The words are small, but I think you can click on it to make it bigger.

After all my brainstorming of cool ways to recap our year, I settled on the storytelling method.  *shrugs*  If you've met me, you know I do a lot of that!  Can't make a long story medium!  So here is a recap of 2020 as I tell it...The first two and a half months of the year were busy!!  Three kids were in DI (Destination Imagination), gearing up for the competition.  Moses was in basketball, then he and Franklin started wrestling.  We had a lovely late Christmas in January w/our family on the other side of the state.  We celebrated my dad's birthday and the one year anniversary of his passing by tubing with that side of the family. 

As practices for DI were added, I started to seriously stress out over who was going where/when...I even made a cheat sheet!  The DI competition was the same day as the Solo/Ensemble music competition, both in different cities w/one kid possibly needing to be shuttled between the two...I'm not gonna lie, I lost sleep over the pending storm of scrambling!   My momma heart wanted to be everywhere and the weather forecast wasn't looking favorable, not too surprising for mid March in WI.  (Cue the 'something big and scary is about to happen' music!)  Then there were rumbles about a virus.  It got serious...and both events were canceled.  At first I felt relieved, but I was sad the kids didn't get to show off their hard work!  The school did organize a way for us to see 2 out of the 3 DI teams.  I remember standing around after and talking w/other parents who had spring break travel plans like us.  All of us felt concerned but still felt our families could safely travel and enjoy the week before the rumored lockdown.  Less than a week later, school shut down.  I quickly helped the kids clean out their lockers and cubbies, telling them to treat this like the last day of school before summer.  "Is there food in here?  Get your gym clothes too!  Why do you have 3 sweatshirts in here - nevermind, just put it all in the bag!"  Later, teachers met us at the door at our appointed times and handed us laptops and supplies from kids' desks.  It was sort of eerie.  Some teachers had masks and gloves, others just stood outside, chatting.  At that point no one really knew what was going on or how long the 'lockdown' would last.  On a trip to the box store, we saw a special new robotic cleaning machine roving the aisles.  The kids got a kick out of it since someone had propped up a stuffed sloth in the drivers' seat!  Just like in years past, we packed up our shorts and swim stuff for a spring break road trip.  Unlike years past, we also packed sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and toilet paper.  We had a long list of things to see on the way (Huntsville Space and Rocket Center, Civil Rights Memorial, Sloss Furnaces, etc) but really only got to do the outdoor stuff and drive by most of them.  We walked the U of Alabama campus (so pretty!!!) and headed to the gulfshore house rented by some friends.  We missed the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge, the Ohr/O'Keefe Museum of Art and a few things while in the area, but shared a lot of laughs, games, time on the beach and in the pool w/our good friends.  It was so relaxing, just what my busy and anxious self needed!!  We jokingly took a family photo 6 ft apart!  We took the 'baby' born during Hurricane Katrina to see the memorial, 

swung through Kiln MS, saw a few lighthouses and such on the way home.  We drove through New Orleans (must go back!) but didn't get out of the car.  There was a lot more evidence of the severity of the virus there at that time.  More than we had seen that far on the trip...The ride home was pretty sobering.  I'm so grateful we were able to go, and I know we made the right decision.  It felt odd going home, not sure of what we would find.  The media talked a lot about no TP to be found, people hoarding food and how we should not set foot out of our house.  Being on the road gave us a chance to discuss all of this w/the kids.  As a family, we needed the rest the vacation afforded us and we also needed the time to process together what was going on.  It's weird to say we were blessed in that way - we were bummed to miss out on so many parts of the trip, but we were blessed to have that vacation time together.  
Once home, virtual school started.  We set up desks and camp tables, the living room became school central for 4 students and 1 teacher.  Every day we sat there and every day we saw lots of animals out the windows in our woods!  The coolest thing was seeing this crane pass by on the regular, twice a day.  It was like he was going off to work and coming back each afternoon.  We named him Kevin, like the bird in the movie Up.  We're pretty sure he and his partner had a nest just west of our property line.  I literally thanked God for Kevin more than once, b/c as the momma who was losing her marbles over all the random virtual school/tech issues, I needed one thing in life to be constant and not changing.  I have always loved cranes and I think God knew I needed Kevin.  Yes, I'm sitting here typing about a bird in our Christmas letter.  This is how random and hard 2020 was!  Find the sparkle in the dirt!  Just be grateful for the little things!  It just so happens the sparkle for me was Kevin =)  About this time we started playing a lot of board games.  I kept a list of what we played (it's long) and started to hunt for inexpensive new games.  A friend saw that we played Monopoly and he shares my hatred for it.  He sent a big box of new to us games!!  Another sanity saver.  We started doing a lot of things differently around this time, like celebrating first birthdays over zoom. In the midst of all the 'new normal' (hate that word, none of it was normal!), there were plenty of things that were like in years past.  I bugged Dave to shore up my garden boxes, which turned into this grand plan to give me a bigger and better garden!  It always makes me laugh b/c I just want him to fix up what I have and suddenly it turns into a big ordeal!  No complaints - I love this version of my garden!!  And why not right?  On trips to the home box stores, it appeared we weren't the only ones doing big projects due to extra time at home!  We also got new outdoor kitties - there's a whole saga of getting multiple cats and them running away...the latest one is Felix.  I actually googled tips on how to keep an outdoor cat around.  So far the wet cat food is doing the trick!  

Some of the best and biggest news to come out of this year - in June Moses graduated 8th grade!!!  The school put together a video/slideshow and I cried!  After subbing in the school, seeing so many of those kids' faces and getting to know them, I couldn't believe how grown they looked after not seeing them for 3 months!  There was a teacher parade and they even came down our long and hard to find driveway.  We ordered a yard sign and celebrated w/family.  I marveled at how resilient all my kids were/are and how well they handled virtual school (after a few tweaks needed for our family to survive).   At some point in the summer we ordered an everything cake.  It said Happy Graduation, Anniversary, Father's Day, Birthday and there was the word covid slashed out!  We didn't know if we'd be able to celebrate other things together in the future so we wanted to cover the bases!  Summer in 2020 included travel and camping, just like in year's past.  We spent a lot of time outside!  We tubed down a river w/auntie and cousin, we hiked the IAT, we went up to northern MI, and over to Waupaca.  On the Crystal River, it was decided that someone had to wait for Dad to bike back from where he parked the car.  We took a vote and I was elected....which meant that all 4 kids got in kayaks and took off w/no adult.  I stood there, watching them help each other, talking about how they were going to sing some song and probably beat me and Dad to the finish...they floated away and I had this moment.  How did they get to be so big?  "Stick together!"  I hollered after they pushed off.  I meant as a general rule in life, but they thought I was referring to the kayak trip.  We did catch up to them and they told us of all the things they saw, the rocks they helped each other avoid and how one person needed to be turned around to get going the right way.  I was proud of them and we had a lot of fun!  They remembered the other times we had been, commented on how glad they were that no one had to share a kayak this time, asked for ice cream after.  The familiar tradition lives on! 

At the end of the summer, our church finally was ready to celebrate Easter.  We had been meeting in person for a while but wanted to make a way to open up the service so a larger crowd would feel more comfortable attending.  We held an outdoor service w/a spaced out picnic lunch afterwards.  I joked about making this a new tradition!  Another late August entry into the 'new things' column for 2020 was our participation in a black community outreach event.  We linked arms w/police officers, community members of various races and city leaders to walk through the nearby city.  I do not include this in our letter to 'virtue signal' or pat ourselves on the back, but I do mention it b/c of the civil and racial unrest in our nation this year.  The pandemic/extra meals at home together gave us a chance to talk a lot more about these issues and I think the emotional drain we were all feeling meant that this issue really moved us.  Being a transracial family, we are continually learning and working toward a better version of ourselves, our local and global community.  I must admit that I don't think I would have felt compelled to join such an event or movement in years past, but given the future I wish to create for all children, it seemed fitting to participate.  Going forward, we look for oth
er opportunities to learn and grow.
As we headed into fall, the kids prepared to go back to school, wearing masks.  Dave's district/school landed on the hybrid model for a return to in person learning.  I was over the moon to return to my babysitting gig - nothing like an ever growing and developing toddler to take your mind off everything!  We explored more than last year and she talked a lot more too.  It's always nice when I hear more than my own voice all day!  Speaking of new sounds, Moses had gotten a loop machine for making music for his birthday and started talking about sharing his creations, like hosting a live virtual concert.  It took a few tries but we got him set up w/a youtube channel and I think about 20 people tuned in!  I look forward to him hosting again!  If it wasn't for the pandemic, I don't know if he'd have ever gotten a solo show =)  Now he has his sights set on the bandshell in the park and a possible career in music.  I love it!  
As fall moved on, Dave's school/district went virtual while the kids continued in person.  He did comment that his school lasted in person longer than he had predicted, so that was a pleasant surprise.  Both of us are impressed, though, w/the way our tiny town has handled school and been able to stay open this whole academic year so far.    Dave's school is going back to the hybrid model in less than two weeks so we are hopeful to settle into that new routine.  As you can see, there were lots of new things this year, like writing snail mail, and crazy things too, like the world's largest flag ripping in half during a storm.  At least it didn't fall down!!  We laughed about stupid stuff, like the boat sinking, saying it was a metaphor for 2020...but despite all the changes and disappointments, this year has shown us that we can count on a few things to get us through anything: God, relationships w/family and friends, time in nature and hope for the future!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours!

From beginning to end, we hope you were able to find some sparkle in 2020!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The year of the camp table

 If you know our family, you know we love to camp.  We have a big camper, we've taken it near and far, and I'm always looking for camping hacks.  We walk or drive through campgrounds and I'm eyeing up other people's set up - do they have a camp kitchen?  Is there an outdoor rug?  Where did they get that gadget?  Oh that's smart...we should try that.  You get the idea.  One of my biggest areas of research is how large families camp.  There's only so much storage in a camper for food and clothes...and the picnic table provided has a limited capacity for seating.  Since there's 6 of us, we're sort of on the edge of being considered a large family.  But as we grow, so do our guys, my brain has always got about 57 tabs open.  If given 5 minutes of time to 'research', I usually scroll things like pinterest or marketplace sites for ideas and supplies to solve problems or make things better.  

But this isn't about camping. 

I wish it was!  We did some camping this summer and it was nice.  We talked a lot about how if all the schools went virtual, we might hit the road and do school from the camper.  The big guy got me all excited about being near a beach or spending lots of time outside...alas.  School for our 4 kids is in person.  Which is good!!  I prefer that.  But it's a rainy day today so yeah.  Thinking about other weather.  

This post - this post is about some camping tables.  "But listen to yourself, you said it wasn't a camping post."  I know, I know - I'm getting there!  Back in early March, in case you forgot, we began hearing rumbles of this virus, right?  And there was talk of school shutting down.  Um....if you have a personality like mine, you were starting to get 'amped up' and your brain started spiraling and you felt like some doomsday preppper, constantly plotting in your head what you would need should the world shut down and access be cut off, anything and everything!  Yeah.  I was doing a lot of that.  We discussed homeschooling (ack, sounds of air whooshing in and out of the brown paper bag, pupils dilating, what? I can't teach, oh wait, I am a trained teacher, ack, noooooooooooooooooooooooooo, ack!!!!) and all I knew was we needed desks.  Apparently everyone in the area had the same thought.  I am cheap and don't want to pay for desks.  Nor do I want 4 of those huge antique one room school desks either.  AFter a sleepless night or 2 (and probably scouring the usual spots) I had an epiphany!!  CAMP TABLES.  

I busted out of my 'A Beautiful Mind' corona prep cave and searched for camp tables on the shopping site named after the forest it is most likely destroying.  The best thing about camp tables is that they are smaller than card tables and they still fold up and can be stored easily!  I cannot have more random furniture added to this crazy house and yet a tv tray is too small for a computer and some space to do school work.  Enter the camp table.  I'm over here giving myself all kinds of pats on the back!!  

Last school year, the kids did 10+ weeks of school at home.  Two kids were at the camp tables, two kids at the used but perfect for us small wooden desk/tables.  Dave usually sat in his recliner.  At the end of the year, I was so happy to put the camp tables away, happy to use them for camping instead of school and oh so very hopeful we would never use them in the house again.  Of course, here we are - out of my 4 kids, we have have 5 instances of a kid being quarantined/home from school due to exposure/close contact to a positive test.  And yeah, you guessed it, since Dave has been home for weeks already, that means the camp tables came back out!  He's been using both of the wooden desks for teaching from an Elmo projector.  All in all, I think w/4 kids in school, 5 instances in 3 months isn't too bad.  (I feel bad for them though, since it means they miss out on fun stuff and extra curriculars.)  I have decided that this is the year of the camp table though.  I don't think I'll ever shake the connection to school at home.  They will always remind me of this time.  It feels weird saying that since 'this time' isn't over yet...but...I dunno.  I felt like waxing poetic about it today.  I am thankful for camp tables.  I am thankful for this memory that is 'in progress'.  May it only last a year!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Day 2 of round 2

 This is not a monthly recap kinda post.  

Our current situation is that Dave's school has gone virtual, for the first time in this academic year.  

(For context, last school year was impacted by the coronavirus.  We went virtual in March and never went back.  We started the school year in person - well, Dave's district/school chose the hybrid model while the kids' district was in person.  It's been 7 weeks of this...w/rumors of everything shutting down again soon due to a resurgence in cases and deaths in our area.)  

It's day 2 of him teaching from home.  

(My fat fingers typed teachering - and now I'm laughing at that word!)

He originally was thinking he'd have to go in to his classroom during this time.  A lot of his supplies and technology are in the classroom but he figured out a way to do this from home.

(Anyone remember Elmo projectors?  I walk by that thing in the LR and am compelled to do the voice - "Elmo loves you!  HAHA - that tickles!")

So far today, my teacher husband has checked on the students and encouraged them.  I think there was a dad joke in there somewhere too.  He asked about their profile pics, showed interest in their lives, chatted about how they were doing w/this.

Oh.  And he taught math.

A lot of parents, myself included, have been expecting a lot out of our kids' teachers.  I have said that if 'they' don't step it up this year...not gonna lie, I went through and rated the job my kids' teachers did last year.  I am willing to give grace for all that though, b/c no one expected what was coming!  No one was ready.  This year?  I admit to being a lot harsher.  So far the kids haven't gone virtual but I know the teachers are preparing for it.  I have said (out loud!) that I expect my kids to be engaged all day, not just given busywork assignments that take 10 minutes (or 3 hours, depending on the skill and knowledge of technology of the kid/kid and parents...!!).  Some teachers last year taught class from home just like they would at school.  Some did not.  I am working on stepping my expectations back, just in case my kids go virtual, trying to get my mindset on some middle ground.  Having the big guy home, teaching in the LR, right behind me - helps.  I see all the hoops set out by admin, I see the old school tech he is jerry-rigging up to teach from home so he can be all things to all people at the same dang time, I see/hear how he cares for his students and their mental health first but their education a close second, I take note of how he feels lonely w/just me and the dog here...he misses his kids.  He wonders out loud why some of them haven't been 'seen' in a while.  We go for walks and talk about all this.  I should say that I force him to get outside to walk the dog and me.  Yes I need to be walked.  We never regret the fresh air and tiny amounts of vitamin D we can glean here in the frozen tundra.  I push him to take us on walks.  Sort of a bass-ackward motivation, saying I'm doing it for him (I am!) but really I'm doing it for me too.  

Anyway - I just wanted to document this...this stage...I wanted to say how proud I am of Dave.  Not that he needs me to say that.  But he's the rock of this family, keeping the boat upright and even when it dips, he's the guy handing out life vests and holding us up above the high water.  

Now, just for some humor...I wonder if Dave has thought of this?  Her shower is really clean...she must live alone!!  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

2020 Months 6-7-8

I am combining these 3 summer months for various reasons.  I would love to get caught up!  Our summer fun options were limited/restricted thanks to the virus since we didn't get in a lot of camping last summer, that was this summer's top goal.  The challenge was accepted and achieved!!

They weren't messing around when they built these fire pits!

June - no 8th grade graduation ceremony (thumbs down) but we were able to order a yard sign to celebrate the graduate's accomplishment!  We came home one day to find it had been delivered (thumbs up)!  After school was out we packed up the camper and headed up north to see family.  Cousins had crazy good fun and it felt good to be OUT and 'off the ranch'.  And yes, the cake in the photo says "Happy Everything" - we were celebrating graduation, birthdays, anniversaries, summer, and actually finally being able to get together after a long lockdown! 

The graduate and the everything cake

July - so many fireworks and festivals had been canceled (thumbs down) but the big racetrack by us hosted the largest fireworks show in the state - someone said all the nearby counties pooled their money to make it the best (BIG THUMBS UP)!  It was the longest show I've seen - except maybe the Disney one - but seriously, my kids were thrilled to stay up (I've not really allowed much of that) and by the end of it they were yawning...then it was back up north for more family time!  We went tubing, relaxed and ate well.  We extended this trip too...Back when we were first married, Dave took me to the Lake of the Clouds.  He raved all about it and hyped it up a lot!!  We got there and it was so foggy, you could barely see your hand.  Well - twenty plus years later we all got up there on a gorgeous day to see the spectacular view!  

So pretty!

Next we dipped our toes in the almost-always-freezing Lake Superior to find that it was luke warm!!!  If we had allotted more time, I would have gone swimming in it.  Me.  The always cold person would have gone swimming in Lake Superior.  Seriously.   It was warm!!  

From one great lake to the next, we came home and swam in our lake w/friends who were camping in our yard.  Again, had lots of fun and ate well!  Then, the last 2 days of July were...unexpected...
We headed west to be w/family, tugging the boat behind us.  (Cue ominous music...)


The ol' boat was all prepped and ready for some Mississippi River exploring with family.  Had a great first day out...
We were eating breakfast the next morning when a marina employee called to say the boat had sunk.  ???  (record scratch noise!)  ALL the thumbs in the world were down for that one!!  No evidence as to why.  A crane on a barge was hired to get it up from the bottom.  Engine not salvageable but otherwise appearing in perfect condition.  I was like, "2020 strikes again!"  

....After...or should it say during?

Ah well, I love telling stories so it makes for a good story right?  Ok maybe not good, but interesting, intriguing and unique.  We spent the rest of the days w/family playing minute to win it games and eating food.  Also a theme of the summer.  My weight loss from the beginning of the year has been found!  I'm back in my Polish pear shape!  

August - I had the crazy idea to put all 3 boys in one room*, which meant measuring, moving furniture, adding a rod for hanging clothes above dressers on one wall, and that led to us wanting to get new carpet in the room we had just emptied.  That led to us thinking about the crummy carpet in the hall.  And down the stairs.  So why not replace it all?  A project we hadn't thought of doing yet, but it seemed logical at the time!  We also cheered at a Milkmen baseball game, camped some more, kayaked on the Crystal River and ate ice cream.  Get ready to be move jealous - we celebrated Eastgus!  (Easter in August, for those that don't follow my linguistic gymnastics.)  I made that word up but it's 2020 - lots of things are made up!  I think of it sort of like Christmas in July.  Maybe it's a new holiday we should add to our calendar?  The kids wouldn't complain about eating fancy brunch, dying eggs and singing Up From the Grave on any given Sunday, so why not?  We also added a few cloth face coverings to our collection since the plan was to go back to school, in person, 5 days a week, wearing a mask or 2 each day.  Family and friends made some for us, I found some on etsy, a lady in a nearby burg (aka a sewing wizard who works on the largest flag in the world nearby) sells masks from her porch stand, some local girls were making them and donating the money to the Children's Hospital...and so on.  We now have a varied collection.  The goal was that each person would take 2 every day - so they could switch to a clean dry one at lunch.  I have no idea if that's recommended practices, I just thought it would be good to have a fresh one half way through the day.  It seems like a lot of masks, but then when they are all 'dirty', it seems like a lot to wash!  (Side note - anyone else feel a weird connection to their grandma or ancestor/family member who used to wash nylons in the tub every night, hanging them to dry while she slept?  I stand there washing, rinsing and hanging and I feel like a classy 40s housewife or maybe like a pioneer woman who only has 2 decent frocks.  It's a strange sensation.  Please say yes you have those feelings too - I know I'm an odd duck in many ways, but surely you thought of that too?!  I digress...)

Overall, the summer was pretty normal.  Not long enough, yet full of good food and family.  We didn't tackle any new house projects, really, aside from the carpet.  We didn't go on any large, epic vacations.  I think we were sort of mentally exhausted from they way the school year ended.  But as I do every change of season, I have started mentally making a list for fall.  There is no doubt in my mind that the rest of this year will contain a few more bumps and let downs, but my mind keeps churning out ways to take those lemons and make something - anything! - out of them!  

Stopping to see the sunflower fields...not my fault if it was next to a creamery that sold ice cream...

*Crazy ideas are usually byproducts of my restless, anxiety filled nights.  This is no exception.  For the record, the room the boys are in is the exact same size as the 'master' in this house.  Right now the empty room is the music room.  I love hearing Moses create music in there!!  He has the loop station, keyboard, drums, and mic set up.  But...there is also room for 2 more beds in there.  I'm just saying.  And much like 22 years ago, Dave is listening.  So...yeah.  We'll see where this goes.  Maybe I'm trying to push back on 2020 and write our own chapter of crazy!

Just hit preview on this post and realized I did not follow the Do-Read-Learn-Be template I wanted to keep for the year of 2020.  Let's count this whole post as the Do portion, shall we?  I'm not gonna like, I didn't do much reading, but I am matriculating my way through Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.  As for learning, again, not much.  Um...I learned about how to pull a boat up from the bottom of a marina?  Go ahead and laugh, I did!  I learned that I miss my family.  I learned that so many people are resilient and 'tough cookies', but that even still, checking on them is important.  Over the summer months, I focused on accepting and processing.  I tried to take it one day at a time (so hard for me!!) and not get worked up about what was coming (the uncertainty of school starting).  I'm not good at that but it's a practice I tried to cultivate over the summer.  I think it turned out okay, because here we are - ready for fall!  

Saturday, August 15, 2020

2020 - Month 5

I'm getting caught up people!  
The month of May found us with new hairstyles...  
...big plans...

...and new housemates!! 

I couldn't take it anymore.  I had to cut Moses' hair!  I knew my hair was getting long too, but I tested to see if it would work in a ponytail.  NOPE.  So I tried pigtails!  Is 40+ too old for that hairstyle?  No need to answer, I decided it is!  I couldn't resist taking a silly pic of it though!  Mo's hair turned out ok.  He wants it long these days but it needed a trim.  How do beauticians cut hair while having both the comb and scissors in their hand??  "Hold this", I kept saying.  "Gimme that."  Then, "Hold this."  We laughed!!  Funny story - well, I have to back up a bit for it to make sense.  (Are you surprised that I am not writing this in a 'straight line'?  I love telling stories but chronology and continuity are foreign concepts to me!)  Well!  We had just adopted a mama cat and 2 kittens a few days before.  In trying to give mama some water and food in her cage, she bolted.  I felt terrible.  She ran in the woods so fast!!  The next day we were on the deck, cutting Moses' hair and I heard the mama!!  She ran right across the deck, only a few feet from us!  So we set the babies outside, trying to see if she'd come back to feed them.  After 3 chilly nights and her only coming to sniff them, we decided to bring them in for good.  We had been bottle feeding them during the day but I didn't want to leave them outside in freezing temps.  Anyway - we still hear a cat in the woods every now and then!!  The cats are outside now, so who knows?!  Maybe they'll meet up w/their mama when they get bigger and go hunting!  
The 'big plans' were many and varied.  We had started the goal of hiking all of the Ice Age Trail awhile ago, but as the weather got better this month, we thought we could step it up and get more done than predicted for this year!  Thanks quarantine!  Other plans we thought we could tackle were things like major home renovation and major yard updates.  The first one we tackled was a garden update!  I used to have a handful of square garden boxes that we moved here from our old house.  The wood was rotting in many places and we had already busted up 2-3 in years past.  I wanted to gain some of that growing space back and get the wood shored up or replaced.  Dave had other ideas!  We started planning something using cinder blocks...I pushed back.  Do you know how heavy those things are??  Yeah, they don't rot, but who is lifting all of those??  The girl w/the bad shoulder would be of no help in that situation!!  In the end, corrugated steel roofing panels in a wood frame won out.  So far so good!!!  I've got lots of plants in, but in true Mel fashion I have found that I switched out pumpkins and watermelon and put them in the wrong place.  So we'll see if we get some frankenmelons or goofy gourds!  
Oh man, I just realized that I should have put that all into my fancy pants DO - READ - LEARN - BE thing....and here I am just stream of consciousness/storytelling babbling...hold on...I'll fix it...

DO - We have been raising kitties, building mega swingsets, drying wild ramps, hiking the IAT, playing games while it rained and rained and rained and rained enough to raise the lake level the highest it's EVER been in recorded history, and building out a new garden.
READ - this month I read a chapter book out loud to the whole family at meal times.  (I'm a teacher and storyteller, stuff like that is my jam!). The book I read was Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper.  I will not spoil it but seriously. click the link, go read the description.  There's even a plot twist they don't mention!  I CRIED while reading it!!  You will too, I don't care who you are or how emotionally even keeled you are.  It was insanely good.  It's probably a lower middle school level book, but when even the 8th grader was begging me to read the next chapter, I knew it was good.  So even though this wasn't specifically a book I read for me, I still believe I am better for reading it.  

LEARN - I learned a lot about raising baby kitties!!  Did you know that they cannot relieve themselves without help until a certain age?  Yeah, Dave got that job!  Also this month, we learned a lot about people's political viewpoints, without even asking them.  (Snark, yes, sometimes I lay it on thicker than others.)  Honestly, between the racial tensions and opinions about the virus, there was suddenly a lot of vocal people around me.  I tried hard to listen and be respectful.  Both issues of race and the virus affect me obviously, especially when it comes to my family and school.  I know I don't agree w/every person in my 'bubble'...and sometimes people think I fit into a certain category that I might not.  I may not shout the loudest (IMO that's not respectful or worth it - it hasn't changed anyone's mind in my experience) nor may I fight every battle in front of me (I just can't...), but I am passionate about certain things and I will continue to learn from various sides and sources.

BE - I think this month I focused on being busy or occupied.  I mean, I struggled being stuck at home so much.  Having new kitties, reading to the fam, making a few new meals, the garden was sort of like a restart button, trying to distract myself and think about something 'new' so as not to get dragged further down by the circumstances.  I also think I was ready to be DONE w/school and move onto summer plans!  I know I wasn't alone in that!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

2020 Months 3 and 4 (they were sort of a blur anyway!)

Dear blog I haphazardly write in....Thanks for receiving all my rants about online school.  I'm sorry I have mistreated you!  You are not my therapist!  No one is, at the moment, but maybe I should say everyone that gets the pleasure of my company these days is sort of my therapist!  I have been so lucky to see friends here and there lately - I always feel bad, like I'm talking their ear off....anyway, I'm getting a few minutes to write here now so I thought I'd try to get caught up.  My goal this year was to use the Do, Read, Learn and Be prompts each month.  Welp!  I missed months 3 and 4.  I probably would have missed some along the way in a 'normal' year but surprise!  Sequestration has messed w/me.  I'm fighting back though by posting it - better late than never.

DO: March - In the 2 weeks before school went online there was wrestling and life was really starting to get busy.  Two boys on the middle school team, their younger brother having practices too.  At the same time, there were extra DI practices.  DI regionals were scheduled for March 14 and I was starting to wonder how I was going to keep track of everything, keep people fed and get them to the right place at the right time.  I was stressing.  And then...DI was canceled.  Three days later school was called off.  I went from one frying pan to the other - all my stress shifted...A few months earlier, we had planned out a spring break trip to the south, the Gulf Coast, during the last week of March, leaving on the 20th.  We prayed, fretted and probably sweated a little once the whole virus thing blew up.  We were not sure we were still going to go, even up to until the week before.  However, we made the decision to go forward with our plans.  We shared a beach house w/my best friend and his family.  It was insanely relaxing!!  That was a great way to rest up before the 'storm' that was going on in our lives when we got back home.  So yeah, I guess March was eventful...April on the other hand...Real talk - mostly we did a lot of online school and laundry.   I think I already posted about hiking in the IAT and other little things that happened.  Happy little things!  
READ: More real talk - I didn't pick up my book once in April.  I probably read for a few minutes on Spring Break.  I just picked it up again the other day but that wasn't in months 3 or 4.  The lockdown hasn't helped - the library extended the due dates for all their materials!  I didn't feel the rush to turn it in - HA!  I did buy another book though, that I hope to read soon.  
LEARN: Oof.  I learned a lot of new technology...there are so many educational platforms out there and I feel like I have sampled them all.  Can't wait to cancel my subscriptions!  The coolest thing I have learned about is the way they help each other.  "Yeah, uh, sorry kid I have no idea how this program works..."  (Cue some other kid volunteering to teach me how to do it...)
BE: Pretty sure I spent most of months 3 and 4 being crabby.  I can't lie about it - I was sullen, depressed and frustrated.  I sulked.  I felt lousy.  I knew I needed to get up each day and attempt to start school on a good note, but I didn't want to face a bunch of screens and try to interpret the assignments.  Don't get me wrong, the teachers are rocking this.  I'm not.  I have an amazing husband who often would get the day started all while being on a meet or zoom.  I finally figured out a routine that worked for all of us though!  Those months were hard for so many reasons.  We're past that I promise I will 'be' something different in the next month!