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Category: Life

2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 1 husband – life isn’t perfect, but it is what we make it

Remembering

Today marks an anniversary – one that is not celebratory, but significant nonetheless. One year ago today a friend left his home here on earth and made his way to heaven. He had a long struggle with brain cancer, and could no longer withstand the surgeries and treatments. He chose to stop fighting, and because of his strong faith, knew that he was going to a better place.

When he passed away, I struggled with how I should feel. You see, though I call him a friend, we really had not been in contact for many years. He was a huge part of my life during my high school and college years. He was the best friend of my high school boyfriend/husband. The two were pretty much inseparable during those high school and college years, so we all spent a lot of time together. When my ex and I separated and later divorced, I also lost many friendships. One of those was Mike. We never really talked again after that time, but I would get an occasional update from mutual friends.

It is an odd thing to mourn someone who you really haven’t known in nearly twenty years. I am sad for the loss his family and friends feel. I am sad for his wife and his boys. I am definitely sad for my ex. I honestly can’t even imagine the incredible loss that losing your life-long best friend would be. For me, I suppose I am mourning the memories. There are so many memories – concerts, road trips, proms, and just hanging out. So many of my high school and college memories include him. I am sad that those memories ended when my marriage did. I wish I could have known him and the man he became after that time. From what I hear, he was pretty incredible – an amazing husband, father, and man of God.

It has taken me some time to process his death. It hit me a lot harder than I expected. I think it was even more difficult because I really didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. Other than my parents, no one in my current life really knows a lot about my past. Plus, the fact that we are about the same age made it all the more strange. I have been fortunate that I have not had to deal with the loss of many friends my age, and certainly not close friends. It tends to make you think about your own mortality and just how precious this life is.

Today I remember him – the big, goofy, floppy-haired, lovable teddy bear of a guy that always made me laugh when I was around him. Regardless of the reasons why we parted ways, I will always love him and celebrate the memories we had together.

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Another Day of Distancing

At this point, do I even keep counting days? We’re on week three of being home, week two of “distance learning” for the kids. You would think we would have some sort of routine down by now, but it felt less “routine” today than it did last week.

The weekend was an absolute wash. I don’t think I accomplished a single thing except finishing the 5th season of the show I’ve been watching, eating everything in sight, and watching movies. I did go buy some groceries and even with the weirdness of gloves and masks everywhere I looked, it still felt good to do something that felt so normal. They even had most of the things I needed to buy, so that was pretty fantastic.

Monday came around a little too fast, but the start of a new week always feels good – like a fresh start. I got started on my day before the kids woke up. I fixed my tea, did a few work tasks, checked my email, printed off checklists and worksheets for school, and then I suddenly realized my daughter had a school project due that she hadn’t finished. Another thing I missed in the shuffle. Maybe by the time we go back to a regular schedule I’ll finally get it together. I’ll either get them more organized, or get myself more organized.

Today held another first in the name of social distancing – online therapy. One of my kids sees an amazing doctor a couple times a month to deal with anxiety and some other issues. It really seems to help and missing an appointment is just out of the question. Fortunately, the doctor is able to do appointments online during this time so we don’t have to miss out. The video wasn’t working correctly, but we at least got to talk, which of course is the important part. We’ve used so many different video conferencing apps over the last week and of course this is the one that didn’t work.

The best part of the day though, honestly, was that the sun was shining. When we stopped to eat lunch, we decided it had to be done outside. The sun was so bright that even at 68 degrees it felt hot outside. I cooled off quite a bit in the afternoon, but those 15 minutes I spent out in the sun at lunch seriously made my day.

boy eating lunch outside
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I Don’t Even Know What Day It Is

The thing about everything shutting down is that keeping track of time becomes difficult. Despite my efforts to keep on a semi-regular schedule with work tasks and keep the kids on track for school, I still have to really think some days to figure out what day of the week it is. I had a super mom-fail moment this week when I forgot to get Zach up early enough for his 9:30 am Google Meet with one of his classes. With four days of distance learning almost under our belts, that is the only major miss for the week though.

Keeping on a schedule when you have nowhere to be is all new for us. I’ve had an occasional work from home day in the past, but it is usually due to having a sick kid at home, or a middle of the day appointment that I had to be at. I have never done this on a long-term basis, and certainly have not done it with three kids at home. I’m still mostly sticking to my regular work schedule and trying to keep my weekly tasks on the same daily schedule for the sake of routine. Instead of chats with co-workers and walks across the building for signatures, I have breaks for explaining math problems or going over sight words. Oddly, I feel my productivity most days is better than in the office. I’m saving about 45 minutes a day in drive time, yet I keep finding myself working well beyond my usual work hours because there is no rush to “get home” to the kids.

My biggest struggle time-wise seems to be what happens after work and school time is done. Everything just seems to go so much slower. There is no rush home, start dinner, get to activities part of the evening. It is more, “Ugh, I have to cook again? Is anybody even hungry?” I mean, we don’t eat out much anymore anyway, but when you have been cooped up in the house for two weeks, the idea of a meal out at a restaurant is pretty dang appealing. Getting around to dinner has been slower, and later (because we have nowhere to go), and well, pretty uninspired. I try to get out and walk/run the dog every day as long as it isn’t raining, but there is really no rush to do much of anything else. The rest of our evenings generally get wrapped up with an overabundance of screen time because I’m just out of energy to try to make them do anything else at that point.

I find myself staying up later and later at night. I should be reading or doing something productive, but instead I find myself binge watching multiple seasons of ridiculous teen dramas. Without the threat of the alarm clock going off at 5 a.m., there’s no reason not to just watch another episode…and another…until I can no longer hold my eyes open. Perhaps it is time to try my prescribed sleep meds again because even once I go to bed I toss and turn and don’t really sleep. I’m still setting an alarm to make sure I get up, but I pretty much wake up when Hubby leaves for work anyway so there is no need.

It really is interesting to see how we are all functioning. Honestly, the kids don’t seem that phased by the whole thing…yet. They are all kind of figuring out their own schedules. They are also staying up a little too late at night, and sleeping in probably a little too late in the mornings. Even Caleb, my early riser, is sleeping until 8:30-9:00 every morning (which I love because I still get a little quiet time to myself). They miss their friends, but they are finding ways to keep in touch. School work, even though they would prefer not to do it, is keeping them somewhat engaged and connected as well.

As for Hubby, he is still going to work every day. While I’m sure things have changed within his day-to-day work schedule, his routine is staying fairly the same. The only thing he is really missing is that his gym is now closed, so he doesn’t get his workout time in that he really enjoys. He’s doing what he can from home, but it just isn’t the same. I think it is also hard for him to understand how cooped up the rest of us are feeling. While I’m sure he would love to be working from home as well, he is the most extroverted of us all and I’m not sure he would handle it well for an extended time. He needs to go to work, to feel needed, and to be around other people – even if they are distancing and not staying in close proximity.

While keeping up with the days is hard, I do know that today is Friday. Sadly, the only thing that changes is that we can drop the work/school routine for a couple days. I’m hoping the weather stays nice enough that we can get outside, but a two day long Harry Potter marathon sounds pretty good as well.

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School is in Session

Today we began distance learning from home for all three kids. The teachers are breaking them in easy this week. They have mostly review items for now as they adjust to this new way of doing school. It is going to be an adjustment for sure – for all of us. I nearly had an anxiety attack yesterday just trying to keep all the emails from teachers and school admins straight. Just trying to keep track of which teachers teach which classes for which child is enough in itself.

So, like my usual Excel-loving self, I made spreadsheets. Each child now has a weekly checklist with class/subject, teacher, where to look for assignments, and a spot to check off that they have checked/completed assignments for each class. Several teachers are utilizing Google Meet to get some face time with their students, so we have to keep track of those times as well.

Today was interesting as we got into this new school mode. I set up a desk down in my office for Caleb as he will require the most hands-on help from me. I feel extremely unqualified to teach him, but fortunately, he was able to guide me along. I can tell I’m going to get some resistance as we go along but today went fairly well. I’m definitely going to need to put in some prep time ahead of him sitting down with me (or get his sister to fill in) on the math. There are so many new terms with Common Core Math that I have no idea what they are talking about. I never was one to be able to explain myself when it comes to numbers. I just knew how to get the answer.

My high schooler – my most school avoidant child – says he would rather be at school in class than doing it at home. While he refuses to open his school issued chromebook, he did at least pull up his assignments and complete them using his phone. +1 to Google for being accessible on any device!

And my middle schooler, who is a fairly consistent high-achiever, completed all of her work and was “bored” while waiting for her Google Meet time with her band class. We’ll see how long that lasts. She also is my most social and really lit up when she got to see some of her classmates on the screen. They went straight from that to setting up a Google Hangout so they could talk longer.

Today started the beginning of the 30 day Stay-at-Home order issued by the county. At this point, we’ve already been mostly staying at home (with the exception of hubby who is still going to work) for ten days. The kids are finding ways to keep in touch with friends, though I think the lack of in-person interaction will get harder as we go along. Even my youngest is getting some talk time in with his friends while playing Fortnite. As much as I dislike the game, I do appreciate that it gives him some virtual time with friends right now. I am truly thankful that we have the technology to allow us to keep in touch with friends, to work, and even go to school when we can’t leave our home.

For me, I am hoping this time allows me to write more. Besides the therapeutic aspect for me, I also want to document. This time in our lives is something my kids will tell their kids about someday. Maybe they will look back on these pages and realize why mom was so nuts during that time. Maybe they will appreciate having this time to slow down and be together. Either way, this Pandemic is a piece of history being made and like it or not, we’re here for it.

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Social Distancing in 2020

Today we are in a place I never imagined we would be. Not quite quarantined – but basically confined to our home. The threat of Coronavirus – COVID-19 has taken over to the point where cities have banned having more than 10 people gathered in the same place. They call it “social distancing.” I call it “social isolation” or “an introvert’s dream.” If said introvert is confined with children who do not share that introversion, it isn’t quite as dreamy (not that I would know that from experience or anything).

Even though the kids are on Spring Break this week, schools have already closed for another two weeks and possibly will be closed beyond that. Schools just across the state line are ordered to be closed for the rest of the school year. Online learning is about to become the reality in our house. Businesses are sending staff to work from home. It’s all a little surreal honestly – like we’re living in the middle of a sci-fi movie.

I understand the concept. Social distancing keeps the germs from spreading. Quite frankly, the reports from other countries who have been dealing with this longer are a little terrifying. However, everything closing down is also a little terrifying and seems so extreme. On the other hand, I’ve been begging life to JUST. SLOW. DOWN. for weeks now. I guess I’m actually getting what I asked for for once.

As activities started cancelling, my kids got a little more frustrated. Soccer. Volleyball. Karate. Church. School. So far, one-on-one piano lessons are still on but that’s all we have left. It is hard to see the disappointment in their faces. They aren’t saying much, but it is there.

My daughter had a birthday this week. Our tradition of letting her choose a favorite restaurant for dinner out on her birthday was thwarted – her restaurant of choice is now closed for the foreseeable future. We substituted with Chipotle delivery, but it wasn’t what she wanted. There will be no party with her friends – at least not for a while. We will celebrate with a small family-only party this weekend, and she’s having a cousin spend the night but I know it is not the celebration she anticipated. I’m so thankful that I gave in and bought her the new phone she wanted a little early so she can at least enjoy facetime conversations with her friends she can’t see in person.

Today we’re on day 4, well technically day 6 if you count the weekend, of staying home. Other than walking the dog around the neighborhood, I have left my house a total of three times – for work on Monday (until they told us to work from home), a trip to Sam’s Club to stock up on groceries, and a quick trip to pick up meds at the pharmacy and some work supplies. Honestly, I think this is the most time I’ve spent at home since my last maternity leave…which was eight years ago.

I really have mixed feelings about the whole thing. There’s a lot of anxiety boiling up that I didn’t expect – mostly about what happens next, and how long we keep this up before returning to some kind of normal. I hate seeing my kids upset about missed activities and not seeing their friends. That part will become even harder over the next couple of weeks as this drags on. I worry about trying to do school from home, even though I know their teachers will come up with great things for them to work on. It will be challenging for my older two, but for my youngest who receives special education services at school it may get really tough. I’m trying to hold out hope that they somehow have that part covered. I do know that I am not in any way designed to be a school teacher.

There are some positive aspects of staying home though. I’m getting to spend a lot more time with my kids (when they are not holed away in their separate bedrooms). I am even more thankful for our new home, and the fact that we have enough rooms to all get away from each other when necessary. I finally am getting around to some of the projects that have been on the back burner for a while. Plus, my house got a desperately needed cleaning over the weekend!

It really is not all bad, but this whole feeling of being in limbo is strange – not knowing if two weeks from now we go back to our regular routine or if this really is the new “normal.” It has been amazing seeing how communities are coming together to help others out during these odd times. Businesses are offering so many free resources to those stuck at home. People are finding ways to reach out to each other online and connect even though we can’t do it in person. Schools and restaurants are finding ways to feed those that may be in need while businesses are shutting down. Seeing the good come out in so many ways is truly comforting. I just hope that it continues even if this social distancing thing extends way longer than any of us are currently planning for.

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When Mama Bear Comes Out

Some days it really is a struggle. I try to keep it contained as much as possible, but some days the Mama Bear within me just comes out. Let’s just say Monday was not really a good day.

It started out great. Everyone got up on time and got off to our various places for the day. I’m at work going on about my day and things are good. About 9:30 or so I got a call from the high school nurse. It is only the 4th day of the school year, so I definitely was not expecting that quite yet. The nurse tells me that Zach has fainted in the locker room after gym class. Oh.

I’m a worrier when it comes to my oldest son. He has his share of difficulties and school has not always been easy for him. And gym class is one of his least favorite classes. He chose weight training for his Freshman PE credit because it keeps him from having to do group sports activities in the traditional PE class. When I heard during curriculum night that they would be doing quite a bit of running I was already a little worried. Then he told me Friday that he felt sick Friday when they had to run outside so I was already a bit stressed about the whole thing.

And now he has passed out. The nurse assured me he was ok, but that he had hit his head on the floor when he went down. She was making sure he had something to eat and was making him drink juice. She was going to keep him there for a bit and then send him back to class if he was feeling ok. No need to come pick him up.

So. There I sit at work worried like crazy. I chatted with a co-worker about it and about how I am really struggling to between taking care of him and letting him be independent and take care of himself now that he is in high school. It is a skill he needs to develop, but he’s still my baby.

A little bit later, my phone rings again. It is the school nurse. Zach has now thrown up in class, so they are concerned that he could potentially have a concussion. Now it is time to pick him up and yes, I should probably take him to the doctor to get checked out.

As I rush to get to his school, which is now about a 30-minute drive from where I work, I’m calling the doctor’s office to see if I need to bring him there, go to urgent care, or to emergency room. I haven’t done the whole concussion thing before. They said to bring him in to their office and they would check him over.

When I got to school, he was looking so frail and weak. It broke my heart. There’s that thing where no matter how big they are, you just want to wrap them in your arms and protect them. That’s where I was in that moment. But, I’m sure he’d had enough embarrassment for the day so I refrained.

We got to the doctor and had him checked out. The doctor did not see signs of a concussion. Whew. She did tell him to take it easy the rest of the night, drink lots of fluids, and no screens. She also gave him a 48 hour pass for gym class. She pretty much determined the whole episode was caused by over exertion and getting over heated, which is not unusual for him.

He pretty much slept the rest of the day (on the couch ’cause I wasn’t letting him out of my sight) and most of the evening. I made him get up to eat and then he went right back to sleeping.

During all of this, Evie and Caleb got home from school and Caleb’s bus dropped him off at the wrong bus stop. It is down the block at the other corner. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal, except for the fact that this was the third time (out of 4 days) that it had happened. I thought it was fixed after a call to the bus company, but then it happened again. And the heat index was 106 degrees at the time. My poor kiddo came in the door dripping with sweat and bright red cheeks. Mama was not ok with this. I certainly didn’t need a second kid passing out or throwing up because of the heat. Another call was made to the bus company and well, I can’t say that I was very nice on the phone. However, on day five, he was dropped off at the right stop.

Also in the mix of all of this, I had to leave to go to a meeting at work. Oh, and did I mention that Hubby was out of town too? I gave Evie strict instructions to keep an eye on her older brother and keep the noise level down. She did her job, and also texted me photos of him sleeping while I was in my meeting.

When I got home from my meeting, the house was a mess, the dog needed walked, the trash needed gathered and the bins put out for trash pickup, I needed to update the school nurse on Zach, contact his gym teacher, and I was just mentally exhausted.

I sent out a quick email to the nurse to let her know Zach’s doctor does not think he has a concussion. Then I decided to email the Coach. That may not have been the best idea. I should have let me head clear a bit, but at that point I wasn’t sure if Zach would be going back to school the next day or not so I wanted to make sure he knew about the 48 hour pass for gym class, plus fill him in a little on Zach and his physical ability. I tried really hard to be tactful, but the mama bear may have been showing a bit.

I may have yelled a little too much getting the kids in bed. Then I still had to walk the dog and do all the cleaning up before I could go to bed. While I was walking the dog I called Hubby to fill him in on everything and I pretty much just spent all that time griping and complaining about everything that had happened that day. Not my finest moment, but I guess I just needed someone to listen.

Things are better today. Zach is feeling better and is back to school today. The bus situation was fixed yesterday and hopefully continues to be fixed this time. I wish I could go back and fix my attitude, but sadly it doesn’t work that way. I obviously still need to work on better stress management.

Here’s to the rest of the week being as uneventful as possible!



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