Sunday, June 13, 2021

News & Notes - The Good, The Bad, and The Sick Edition

It's a bit of a challenging week in many ways.  We're pretty sure a mouse built another nest in our lawn mower, lots of plants in our yard are dying, the new pool stairs are a bit of a mystery, and for the first time since Christmas some germs have made it into our house and it's caused some frustration.

I noticed this week that our tree in the front, the one I put Easter eggs on, had some brown leaves on the ground and that other leaves are turning white.  That is on top of our spirea dying off in spots (it's done that for a couple years but this year is worse), the ground cover we have in the front all seemed to die off earlier than usual (it does it every year from some sort of fungus) but is now starting to come back, and our azalea is still battling a fungus despite all of its beautiful flowers this spring.  I caught an aphid infection on our burning bushes pretty quickly, but almost everything seems to be suffering from something.  I have a guy willing to take my $55 just to diagnose it all, but Lord knows what treatment might cost--assuming we can even do that since most things I read seem to say you should just plant fungus-resistant plants because it will always come back.  Great.

On the bright side, my garden is doing fabulously, with first buds on my tomato and one of my cukes, and the romaine lettuce, beans, peas, and zucchini coming along nicely as well.  My Mother's Day geranium has buds again finally, my hydrangea is close to blooming in spots, and my random flower seeds are thriving and a couple buds have appeared.  So at least that's good.  Oh, and my experimental pumpkin patch officially has a handful of plants that I fenced off today (and I planted three more in empty space within the fencing), so that will be fun to watch.  Never mind that I end up with a few mosquito bites every time I go back there and they're driving me nuts.

And yes, the lawn mower wouldn't start the other day and we suspect the mouse nest that cost us hundreds of dollars has made a return.  We're just not sure what it's going to take to keep them out of there.  And, of course, not having a functioning lawn mower is far more of a problem in June than it was in September.  I guess we just have to hope for a mild drought so nothing grows?  Hopefully the necessary parts won't be lost for months in the COVID abyss this time.

On the bright side, my car should be ready tomorrow.  The first place I tried to take it to basically gave me the runaround for a couple weeks.  It took days to get a call to get an appointment to take it in, only to have to wait five more days to take it in, which ended up just being to take pictures and send me home again.  Then I didn't hear from them from the Thursday before Memorial Day to the following Wednesday, at which point I called and they had an estimate but couldn't schedule me until the 23rd, which was crazy.  I emailed the insurance guy and he was able to switch to another local place by the next day, at which point they promptly texted me to schedule an estimate, got me in that day, decided I shouldn't be driving my car, and got me a rental, all in one afternoon.  They've given me almost daily text updates (with photos!) and should have it done more than a week before the other place could even get me in.  So, that's good.  My rental was far more fun before the free week of Sirius/XM expired, though.

The weather has been pretty decent for a while now, but our pool is still not ideal for swimming.  It's still cloudy, but a good cleaning had to wait until we had a ladder in the pool.  So, we just got the new (temporary) ladder in but it's not very stable and we're struggling with how to secure it to the pool.  So, that's frustrating on a hot day like today...but at least now we can get in to vacuum just to see if it helps.

On Thursday, Carter came home sniffly from school.  We were hoping it was allergies but it was pretty clear by the evening that it was a cold.  Sadly, his school's field day was on Friday and he's been waiting for that day for two years!  He loved it in Kindergarten and immediately asked when the next one was.  Well, last year's got canceled since they were learning remotely (although they tried with some cute activities), and he was so eager for this year's even though the format was a bit different due to COVID and no parent volunteers.  But I couldn't in good conscience send him to school sneezing and sniffling, and eventually even he admitted it would be better to stay home.  We did a fun lunch and the boys did an obstacle course in the yard and came in for freeze pops (not quite the same as popsicles at school, but...).  Next year he'll be at a different school doing Junior Olympics, so hopefully that works out better for him.  But it was such a bummer.  Fortunately, we did get him in for a COVID test and it came back quickly with a negative result, so at least we are OK to just treat it as a cold.  That meant we could go to Jacob's local basketball tournament this weekend.  He got 10 points in the first game on Saturday but only three in the second game.  He's still eternally frustrated with this team and their selfish play.  Of course, Jacob had the terrible idea to create a fort in Carter's room on Friday and basically bury them both behind a bean bag chair, blankets and stuffed animals, which meant--surprise, surprise--last night Jacob started sneezing.  He's officially down for the count today, with a full-sized man-cold.  It took three tries to find a medicine combo that worked.  I'm guessing he'll feel better tomorrow like Carter did, and at least we won't have to make the call on school since he's done, but it meant he had to miss his game today.  He wasn't terribly broken up by that, of course, and probably had some very deep satisfaction when they lost without him, but if that's how his tenure with that team ends (he ages out next week, technically), that wasn't the ideal exit.

Speaking of which, his birthday is in fact a week from today and we have nothing planned and nothing bought.  The kid who normally has revised his list a dozen times by now has not passed along anything.  I think he thinks everything is too expensive to ask for.  Teenagers...ugh.  We'll squeeze a small party in at some point, I'm sure, in between all of the upcoming events we have.  I have a bridal shower in Buffalo next Saturday, a baby shower in another month, and two weddings in the next couple months, as well.  Now if we could just figure out vacation plans!  I will say I am quite prepared for Father's Day, however, with a couple awesome gifts.  

The crib finally made its exit this weekend.  After not selling at the garage sale, it had sat in our garage until I finally bothered to post it on the Buy Nothing page for our area on Friday.  I had one claim that didn't work out, but the second one picked it up yesterday evening just before we got home from basketball.  It's a little bittersweet, but it was definitely past time.  I hope it works out well for them, and I can now officially appreciate getting that space back in our crawl space (even if it hasn't actually been down there since the sale).  

Carter had two soccer games this past week, and scored a goal in each.  It's so nice to see him doing well in a sport, hustling his butt off out there and having it pay off.  We had ice cream afterward at a place we used to go to after Jacob's baseball games (it's right down the road from both sets of fields) and ran into his buddy Elias (from daycare and Sunday School), who was fresh off his own game.  They're one division apart because of their one-year age difference, but next year they'd be in the same group if we could somehow pull it off.  They've enjoyed being in Sunday School together for the brief period it's been in person this past year, especially with the new indoor play area, but they'll be split up there in a couple weeks, too.

Carter only has seven days of school left.  This is his last full week, followed by two days next week.  He gets a moving-up car parade, which is a disappointment compared to what Jacob had, but hopefully it will be fun in its own way.  Then the battle begins to keep him occupied and off screens as much as we can, but that has proved challenging and now Craig will be working more since the college lacrosse league he's been working toward for months is finally happening.  We probably should have set him up with something, but that felt hard this year, especially since the camp Jacob went to for years at the University is no longer.  

I feel like right now there are lots of little struggles that I'm just too mentally tired to work my way through.  I think working from home and getting so few changes of scenery is contributing to that stress somehow (it's a theory I have from years of working 14-hour days in sports, that the change in scenery our game night staff had from their regular job to the arena made their 14-hour day easier somehow--and it did play out when I changed jobs but worked game nights for a while).  There are all these little things--some that cost money and some that are just taking up brain space--and without a vacation or some sort of mental break from them in over 15 months (to the day, in fact), it's getting harder to have the energy reserves to manage it all.  Plus there's the current struggle of not knowing what's safe, wondering about the variants and watching people just go back to normal life--no masks in stores, gathering together, no masks or distancing in the main sanctuary of our church, traveling freely--and waiting for things to get bad again like they are in places where one of the variants has taken over and is 70% more contagious.  People will not want to go back to restrictions and it could get ugly again--particularly for those who can't or won't get vaccinated.  It's just an every-day decision as to what feels safe, even in spite of watching others who clearly feel fine about everything.  It's probably not that much different than it was early on, but now we're definitely on the conservative side when so many others are not.  I suppose that's not helping matters.

So, it was a bit of a mixed bag this week.  This coming week features a lot of appointments and a few other activities--by all accounts a "normal" week--but with my anxiety up from some of the past week's challenges, it's hard to enjoy the good stuff right now like we should.  Hoping that worry subsides, but summer is officially on its way and I'm hoping we can somehow make it a good one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Better but Still Weird

We were back on the road again this past weekend, but alas, it was not where we were supposed to be!  Originally when we got our tournament schedule (or at least the second iteration of it), we were supposed to be in Binghamton this weekend.  I, of course, was excited about that as it meant I could likely have some time with Heather and my godson Mason.  Well...then Jacob got hurt, which put everything in jeopardy, but then he seemed to recover pretty quickly.  But then, because this team is a complete mess, we found out mid-week that someone didn't make the payment on the Binghamton tournament so we would not be going there.  They managed to get us into a tournament in Cortland, which is about 45 minutes north of Binghamton.  So, of course I started working through multiple scenarios on how to get to Binghamton around our game schedule.  But unfortunately, once we got the schedule it became clear our options were limited, in part because the tournament wasn't actually in Cortland but about 15 minutes away in Dryden, which is about halfway between Cortland and Ithaca.  And when we went to look at hotels, Cortland was very limited and it turned out Ithaca had one that worked better for us, so in the end the logistics of getting together felt really challenging.  I didn't want to make them drive a long way, but even some of the midpoints were going to be too time-consuming round-trip for what our schedule could allow.  It was all a little frustrating given how last-minute the tournament itself was, on top of trying to get some extra benefit out of the trip.

But before I get to the trip, guess what?  Jacob is done with school!  

He finished up on Friday and is now home for the summer!  I'll miss my quiet days at home with just Craig and me, but at least he mostly keeps himself occupied.  Hard to believe 8th grade is just a few months away!

We left relatively early on Saturday so we could arrive at the tournament site on time.  Of course, Jacob is notoriously difficult to get moving on weekend mornings, and this day was no exception.  He spends forever in the bathroom (even if only 5-10 minutes is in the shower) and on this morning it was challenging because there were still some last-minute things that needed to be done or grabbed from there, so once again our trip did not start out on a good note, with us about 15 minutes behind schedule.  But things got better.  We picked up some time, only had to stop once for the bathroom, and it was pleasant weather and a pretty simple trip almost entirely on highways until the end.  The tournament site was a community college with very nice facilities, and we got there right on time.

Jacob did really well in the first game, which they won by three.  He scored 13 points, which was pretty close to his all-time high.  We were very happy with his effort, and despite some frustrations with the rest of the team, it was nice to see them win.  That game finished up around 1:30, and we headed out to grab some lunch in Ithaca and then go check into our hotel.  On our way out of the parking lot, we saw this bit of randomness:

There were four wooden cutouts holding lanterns

Turns out it was a memorial to four Civil War nurses from the area for whom the college has named a nursing scholarship.  I was hoping for a few more fun photo ops on this trip, but sadly this was the only one.  I have a plan, stay tuned for later in the summer.

We decided to hit up Firehouse Subs, which Jacob discovered he liked when he played in Erie a while back, and we all very much enjoyed our subs.  We can't wait to get one here in Rochester soon!  Then it was off to our hotel.  I booked it as a Hot Deal on Hotwire (my last-minute site of choice), and even managed to get a promo code that knocked a few more bucks off.  I'm getting good at figuring out the Hot Deal hotels before I book--they don't tell you the hotel but give you hints--so it's always a little bit of a gamble, but my guess was correct.  This one looked decent and was $15 cheaper than the other one I was eyeing up.  It turned out that the hotel was a little weird--a series of four one-story buildings, with our building being extra tiny with maybe 12 rooms.  On the outside it looked like a traditional old-school motel that should have had individual outside doors, but it had corridors like a hotel.  It had an outdoor pool, but the hours were short so we never got to use it.  Our room was unlike any we've ever seen.  It had a high cathedral ceiling with windows up top!  

It also had the narrowest garbage can I've ever seen (my 32 oz cup did not fit!), but it did have a nice half-wall in the bathroom hiding the toilet, so I'll give it points for that.  The main reason I booked it was because I was able to get two beds and a pull-out couch for the same price as two beds, and after the debacle that was our last hotel experience, that sounded perfect.  Craig and I could have a bed, Jacob could have a bed, and Carter could have the pull-out.  The hotel definitely wasn't the best--cleanliness wasn't really where I like it to be, and I'm pretty understanding with that--but overall it was fine and the third bed was a huge score.  So after stopping in there and relaxing for a bit, we headed back out.

We knew game two would be a tough one, and it was.  The other team was full of big kids (it was a 13U bracket and those kids looked like they were pushing it--they were all at least 5'5" or taller, and had that older look), while Jacob's team has mostly 6th graders, most of whom have not hit their growth spurt yet.  Most of his teammates are decent players at a glance, but they're overly emotional and can be selfish and inconsistent.  One player is simply terrible but he's the coach's son and gets a ton of playing time.  I estimated (and I think it held true) that he loses the ball 4 out of 5 times that he handles it--or at least that the next person he passes to loses it because he chose someone that was heavily covered.  Add in coaches that tend to use negative methods of motivation (yelling and taking kids out of the game), and it's a pretty bad mix.  They manage when they win, but it comes out clearly when they lose.  Jacob only ended up with one three-pointer in that game because his team could barely handle the ball.  Most passes were intercepted and a lot of shots got blocked.  He didn't get the ball much as a result and was double covered when he did.  But we knew that team would beat the team we beat, so we were pretty sure our path for the rest of the weekend was clear at that point.  Back to the hotel we went to figure out dinner and how to manage Jacob's suddenly sore feet.  For some reason his heels were really hurting him in his shoes, almost like the padding had given up the ghost, and we needed to figure something so he'd be comfortable enough to play the next day.  We decided to head out to the Dick's in town and figure out if there were any shoes he could get there.  That's about where things started to get crazy and then a bit weird.

We got to Dick's around 7:30, but the visit was short-lived as they didn't have what Jacob wanted and the clerk said, "I haven't received a shipment in over a year."  We weren't sure what to make of that.  Any shipment?  An Adidas shipment?  Do you never sell shoes then?  Where did these all come from?  It was so odd.  Also, no one could suggest anywhere else in town to find basketball sneakers.  I guess we're not in the big city anymore, eh?  Well, back to the drawing board.  We frantically worked through other scenarios.  The only Foot Locker in Ithaca had closed permanently, and any other local long-shot options (not many) would likely be closing in 15 minutes.  The next closest Foot Locker was a way's away and would probably be closed at 8pm, too.  We briefly decided to drive up to Syracuse (an hour) to go to the giant Dick's there, but realized per the GPS we'd never make it in time for the 9pm closing--and keep in mind we hadn't had dinner yet, either.  Also, timing would not work for a morning attempt.  I was getting a little impatient with the desperation at this point--driving two hours round trip, not having eaten, and not even knowing what we could get just seemed like too much--and I basically said we should just go home because Jacob was insisting he could not play.  Not our best moment, for sure.  Plan C was to stop at Wegmans (thankfully around the corner) and get shoe inserts, which we did rather easily, and thankfully they seemed to get us through on Sunday.  

Back in the van, we decided that Craig and Jacob wanted Chipotle (in the same plaza as Firehouse) and Carter and I wanted Taco Bell, which was conveniently across the street.  I ordered Chipotle online as we drove, and ordered Taco Bell through the app during the five minute wait at Chipotle.  We immediately went across the street to the Taco Bell drive-thru line.  This was about 8:30.  We pulled in to a long-ish line. A guy on a motorbike was right ahead of us, and while we waited, we noticed his interesting attire.  He had a dark yellow jacket with matching shorts, and we could tell there was some sort of odd printed shirt under his jacket.  Craig said it looked like he was wearing pajamas, and the print looked a bit...phallic.  After a while we figured out they were colorful mushrooms.  So, I guess we know what he does in his free time.  As he got up to the ordering screen, at one point I saw “Order Canceled” pop up, but despite being on a motorbike, he stayed in line.  Maybe he thought he couldn't get around the cars, or maybe he had more to discuss at the window.  Regardless, the line took forever, and we spent most of it inventing stories about Mr. Mushroom Shirt and pondering how he might carry an order once he got it.  When he got to the window, he showed the cashier something on his phone, and eventually drove away empty handed.  Okay then.

When we pulled up, they said, “You ordered five waters?” Ummm, no. We reiterated our online order, waited, almost gagged at the repeated sight of the cashier's very hairy plumber's crack (horrible, just horrible), got our drink (which they had to sub due to an odd nationwide Mountain Dew Baja Blast shortage currently), waited some more, and then we were randomly handed a box that had been sitting on the counter since we pulled up, which definitely seemed sketchy. Sure enough, we pulled up about a foot before I looked in the box and realized there were multiple burritos and tacos, and our order should have had three tacos, cinnamon twists, and nachos. So we backed up, handed the box back, and watched some very confused workers once again look at the screen and figure things out. We waited again for much longer than it should take to make three tacos from scratch. We saw other orders come out to the counter, watched the cashier check his phone, and generally felt terrible for the people behind us. No updates or explanations, and barely any apologies.  After being in line for a solid half hour, our food finally came out. And yes, it was the right order, though we ended up with an extra taco somehow. I don't even want to know. Oh, and if that wasn't weird enough, the motorbike guy was still sitting out in front of the restaurant when we left.

When we were in line (you know, when it was still light out—did I mention it was now after 9pm?), I had set our GPS to take us back through the Cornell University campus, since we realized on the way to Dick's that our hotel was really close to a different section of the campus. I figured that the detour would at least be more interesting. It seemed more ill-advised once we had rapidly cooling food in the car and it was getting dark, but we took that route anyway. It was actually fascinating, as we saw Greek houses (and gave Jacob a rundown of the pitfalls of Greek life), glimpsed a wonderful view over the gorge as the sun set, saw a waterfall, and drove through the heart of campus. It was much bigger than we expected, with such a wide variety of buildings—old and new.  It definitely wasn't what I expected from an Ivy League school--not a lot of brick or ivy that we could see, but lots of modern buildings and public art.  We eventually found the athletics corridor, with the basketball arena, hockey rink, and an entire building dedicated to wrestling, of all things. It was a really interesting drive, though I wish it would have been a bit lighter out. I'd love to walk it some day, because it looked like there was some funky art and some really cool buildings. Oh, and we also caught a glimpse of the “fun” district of the city along the way.  But boy, were we happy to get back to the hotel and eat our very late dinner, which transitioned right into bedtime.  And I'm happy to report that the three beds worked like a charm and we all slept significantly better than our previous trip.  

On Sunday, if Jacob's team won game 1, they'd have another game at 3pm.  After much debating, we finally worked out that win or lose we'd meet Heather and her crew at a famous local ice cream place at 1pm.  Well, we had heard the prior day that the game was going to be at Ithaca High School, but then found out that morning that the game was actually a half hour away at Cortland High School.  So we rushed from a quick morning stop for a bagel and medical tape to get there just on time.  That complicated lunch slightly, but we figured we could make it work.  The first game of the day was against the same team we beat the prior day, and it was another hard-fought game.  Despite being without one of our bigs (he was the brother of another kid and played the first game the prior day, but had another tournament with his real team), we did just as well, in part because Jacob had FIVE three-pointers!  He ended up with 17 points, a career high.  It was so exciting to see him make all of those shots, and the aunt of one of his teammates was getting a huge kick out of his success, too!  It is super fun to watch when he gets on a roll!  His team won, which meant one more game later in the day.  But first, ice cream and friends!

Jacob's coach specifically gave them the instruction "No sugar" during their postgame meeting, so it seemed like ice cream might not work.  We were running 10 minutes behind, so I decided that Craig should drop off Carter and me, and we'd get ice cream, and he and Jacob would go get "real" lunch--which ended up once again being at Firehouse Subs!  We met up with Heather, Peter, and Mason, and it was great to see them.  My once tiny godson is getting SO big!!  He's got chubby thighs and a big smile!  I peeped a couple teeth, too!  He was such a good boy while we sat and licked our ice cream endlessly to stop it from melting in the 90 degree heat!  We didn't have a lot of time to catch up, but what time we had was really nice.  Peter took this picture of the three of us...

And I attempted a few as well.  I picked this one to share because you can see his pretty blue eyes and his sweet smile!

His poor cheeks have had a heck of a time with eczema, but are hopefully on the road to recovery.  Having baby soft skin is hard!  But he is still such a smiley, happy boy!

After saying our farewells (and promising to get together over the summer), we headed back to the tournament's original venue for our last game.  We knew it would be a rough one, against the same team that beat us the previous day, but it was even worse because one of our better players had aggravated an injury and sat out.  That left us with a depleted lineup since we were already missing a couple kids that didn't make the trip, and the end result was a 30-point loss.  Jacob had two three-pointers, but that was about all he could muster.  The coaches were frustrating, one kid's dad yelled to the coaches to take him out because he was dogging it, and between mini-tantrums and injuries among the other players, it was a mess.  But at least it was over.  

Jacob had been hopeful that was it for this team, but he did have to go to practice tonight--although we're letting him miss a couple others this week since his feet are still bothering him--and there's a chance he'll be playing with them in a local tournament this weekend.  Of course, that was complicated by his favorite coach floating the idea of getting an 8th grade team together for the same tournament, but more than likely he'll need to stick with his team for now, if he plays at all.  He's definitely looking ahead to later this summer when he hopefully works with that coach long-term.  

Anyway, we finished off the trip with a stop at Dick's in Victor to get his new pair of sneakers, 24 hours late.  It was good to get home after that, though, because it had been a couple long, busy days.  We definitely did better on this trip, weird as it was, but hopefully we'll hit our stride just in time for a real vacation one of these days.

Monday, May 31, 2021


I suppose time has always been a bit of a crazy thing to wrap my mind around, but I think the pandemic made it a lot harder in many ways.  Now that we're heading into the post-pandemic era (or so all this reopening and unmasking would make you think), I find myself pondering the past 14 months and figuring out what normal used to look like vs. what our new normal should be.  This post is about my struggles with two things--the passage of time, and how we're spending it.

It's becoming more and more apparent to me that time goes more quickly the older you get, and that is both problematic and mind-blowing.  Most days I marvel when I look in the mirror and see my 42-year-old self.  I mean, I generally don't think I look that old, but I also don't feel all that far removed from my much-younger self (especially now that I'm again rocking long hair that I've probably only had a few times since it was at its longest in my early teens).  But here I am, 42 with an almost-teenager and my youngest graduating from the first half of his elementary school career.  I'm not quite sure where the time went, even if the baby years seem far away in many ways (but not that far in others).  I've been around a lot of babies lately--my godson, and multiple littles belonging to various cousins on both sides--and it really hits home how life has changed since that was our reality.  

When I realize other things, like living in our house 11 years or already being at my current job 2/3 of the time I was at my last one, all the years start to run together.  When I was collecting items for the garage sale and realizing how long certain things had been in the house, unused, it was shocking.  Time just flies.  And, of course, having much of life on hold for an entire year has been a bit sobering, as things that we intended on doing long ago, like vacations or house stuff, have waited even longer.  It's definitely made me a bit more impulsive in certain areas, or at the very least more thoughtful about purposefully weighing options and making timely decisions where I can.

My cousin turned 50 last week.  He's not my first cousin to do so, but I guess it's the first one we've celebrated, and maybe it's weirder because my main memories of him were as a high school basketball player I watched once or twice a week for a few years.  And now his oldest child is older than that, having just completed his first year of college.  More than half of my generation on my dad's side is now 40+, and therefore probably older than the "peak" of my memories of my aunts and uncles.  The aunts and uncles are now grandparents themselves, and after a slight break, my generation is once again popping out kids.  My dad marveled the other day that his brother's family will soon have 12 people by itself.  Before my generation started getting married, that side of the family had just more than double that across all three generations.  Now just one branch of the family covers half of that!  It is pretty amazing to realize how big we are now, even after having lost a few along the way.

As odd as this sounds, two TV shows have also thrown me for a loop.  A few weeks back I watched the Real World reunion series on Paramount+.  It brought back the original members of the first Real World cast that lived in a New York City loft in 1992.  It really was the first official reality TV show, and much like the first season of Big Brother or Survivor, everyone went into it clueless and it made for psychologically interesting TV because everyone was just figuring it out.  There was no strategy, no real conscious thought that any action would be "great TV" or anything like that--they just lived.  It didn't revolve around parties or out-of-control behaviors.  They had verbal fights, but they were real social discussions and not for show.  Well, it turns out that almost 30 years later they still had lively discussions (someone even left early), but it was truly fascinating to see them as relatively well-functioning adults with spouses or kids or careers or even just crappy life experiences that matured them.  They were the same people they were 29 years earlier, but more evolved and a little grayer.  It was amazing to me to compare and contrast 29 years ago to now--it almost felt like seeing the future.  And, of course, I can say the same thing for the much-hyped Friends reunion.  Those actors have been a bit more visible all along, of course, but seeing them all together on the same set--grayer and heavier and/or facially edited (props to Lisa Kudrow, who seems to have aged perfectly appropriately and yet still looks amazing)--really felt strange.  You see their younger selves on the original show, which we have of course continued to watch all along, and then you suddenly see what 50-something looks like in the next frame.  It's a lot to take in, mostly because it means you've aged during that time as well and aren't that far behind!

It would be one thing if it was 10 years or so, but 20 is crazy and 30 is worse.  When you have fully formed memories that are 30 years old and you barely feel that old yourself, it's pretty mind-blowing.  My prom was 25 years ago the other day, for example, and I already felt like mostly an adult by that point.  So for that to be two-and-a-half decades in my rear view, that's crazy.  There's a meme floating around social media that talks about how the sitcom The Wonder Years went back 20 years (from the late 80s to the late 60s), and if that same sitcom happened today, it would only be going back to the early 2000s.  That doesn't seem possible.  Obviously how the world has evolved has changed a bit, but then again, if you upped it to 25 years ago, you would be going back to an entirely different generation where cell phones, internet, and other technology were not nearly as ubiquitous as they are now.  

It seems like every day there's some little detail that makes me pause and realize how fast time is moving.  Some days it's Jacob being taller than me and hearing his ever-deepening voice.  Some days it's an old picture of baby Carter that pops up in my memories.  The other day it was realizing that my new curly hair (thanks to my CHI Spin N Curl) is the hair I really wanted nearly 30 years ago in my early teens--badly enough that I tried a body perm (which didn't really take) to give my hair some life.  It was painfully straight (which wasn't popular back in the perm era) and I just wanted some wave or soft curl.  Curling irons did what they could for years until I went short (and then at least straight hair was "in"), but this new hair is what I really was looking for all that time!  Time changes a lot, but apparently not everything!

The big question, though, is what we're doing as time is flying.  What is filling all that time?  Daily life seems to overtake it all, just getting through one workday, one busy evening--or a full week of both at a time--just to get to a weekend that zips by in the midst of errands, yard work, lazy mornings, and whatever other fun or rest we can cram in.  Rarely do weekends end up feeling as fulfilling as we'd like them to, and then we're right back to wishing the week away and hoping for more fulfilling things to fill them with.  As blah as the last year was for the most part, I found myself amazed as I scrolled through my photo app the other day.  There were hikes and flower gardens and the zoo and sunsets and other little outings and adventures that we had throughout COVID.  While there certainly weren't enough of them and their "wow" factor was generally on the lower end, I still found myself pleasantly surprised with what we did manage to see and do under the circumstances.  But the fact is that we sort of live for those bigger moments, especially now that we've been deprived of so many for so long, and the daily life that fills the in-between feels pretty unexciting and unfulfilling.  We know we should be savoring as much as we can of the in-between, but admittedly, with two incompatible kids and jobs and that darn nightly dinner obligation, it gets hard.  I want to enjoy it more, but it usually doesn't work that way, so I find myself waiting for the next big thing, enjoying that in the moment, and then looking back fondly on the pictures trying to mentally transport myself back.  I want those moments that differentiate from the daily grind, and it's probably bad that it often feels like there's never enough of them.  Life can't be full of them (or else they lose their significance, too), but I'm tired of feeling stuck at home and not having enough stuff to look forward to.  Our calendar is slowly filling back up--hopefully a couple basketball trips, a bridal shower, two weddings (plus another next year) already scheduled, and hoping for some family events to come back, and maybe a couple trips for ourselves--so hopefully that starts quenching that desire a little.  

Long story short, I feel like COVID has left me confused about how much we should be doing.  Should we be making up for lost time?  Should we find smaller ways to scratch that itch?  Should we try to find the joy in being home?  I feel like the big pause made me extra aware of the passage of time and what it feels like to go through a year feeling like you're accomplishing so little.  I want to take advantage of the time we have, and we certainly seem to do better making memories than driving one another nuts at home.  I don't want to feel like we hesitated too much or didn't take advantage of the chances we had to live more fully.  But most days I guess I'm not sure how to make that happen.  I just know time is flying by and I don't want to be left behind.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Focusing on the Good

In an effort to remain positive, you will once again see a lot of nature in this post.  Some days that's the only thing that keeps me sane and focused on the beauty in the world, rather than all the stuff that can drag me down.  The car goes in Thursday, Carter will hopefully get meds by the weekend, work is crazy, Jacob is always a roller coaster ride, and I'm just sort of hitting that school-year-end wall.  It's just a lot to process, and I'm tired.  But instead of things easing up around here once school is over, it only gets more complicated since the kids will once again be around the house as I'm trying to work.  I think part of me is oddly jealous of last year me that was on furlough the week before Memorial Day and getting all sorts of stuff done.  As challenging as five weeks of furlough was, it was so nice having five weeks during good weather where I was simply not allowed to go on my work computer.  Now I'm going to have to fight for every bit of vacation I take because not getting my stuff done due to vacation reflects on me, rather than a very crappy situation.  But to keep my sanity all summer, I'm going to need it.

With another round of warm weather last week and into the weekend, I was determined to get more stuff done around the yard.  I was thrilled to discover mid-week that all of the seeds I had planted the prior weekend were already sprouting!  They've been coming along really nicely!  My azalea has been in full bloom, too, which always amazes me because it never gets much bigger and gets a fungal disease every year but still hangs in there, with more blooms than ever!

I have to admit, with warm weather, full leaves on most trees, and tons of stuff in bloom, most of the time now it feels like full-fledged summer.  It's funny, because some of the stuff I'm seeing in my memories from last year seemed like they were so much further along into the season, so apparently the lines blur a bit this time of year.  It has also helped that we now have two nights a week outside for soccer, and aside from our first game it's been warm.  (Never mind that tomorrow night could be cool and it's supposed to be in the 40s on Friday.)


I spent Saturday morning running around and gathering the last of my stuff to plant.  I picked up all my garden plants (and seeds) plus two packs of annuals to finally give some color to the cruddy empty flower bed under our front tree.  I planted the garden in the morning before we left for the next round of Jacob's basketball tournament.  His tournament was three days this past weekend, which meant three hour-long drives out to Lyons, where one of his earlier tournaments was.  Friday night was a rough game.  They were just completely overmatched.  While we were there on Friday, we wandered over to the garden next to the community center.  It was far from peak but there were some pretty spots.

On Saturday, we came equipped because Carter noticed the GaGa Ball court nearby and wanted to play.  I've heard of GaGa Ball since Jacob was in elementary school, but I'll be honest--I never knew what it was or how it was played.  So before the game on Saturday, Carter taught us how to play.  I can see it being a little more effective with more than two or three people, but at least it was a good reason to be outside for a bit.

Saturday was a mixed day for basketball.  Jacob's team had a great game against much lesser competition, but because they won by so much he was told to stop shooting.  He ended up not getting the ball much and came home really discouraged.  He's been frustrated with this team for a while, for multiple reasons.  He's definitely having a "grass is greener" moment about almost any other team he could possibly play for, but can't seem to understand that this team is his only option right now.  He can't play in nationals with them because he's too old (they reclassified earlier in the season), but he may have an opportunity to hop onto an older team with the same organization to finish out the season.  But mostly he's already looking ahead to August when his favorite coach ever is planning on getting a group together.  He was insisting he didn't want to play on Sunday, and it generally made Saturday evening pretty frustrating.  On the bright side, I managed to finish planting a few more things in the yard, including my morning glory seeds, my Mother's Day geranium, and my experimental pumpkin patch.  I battled mosquitos while I did it because it had gotten humid and rainy while we were gone, but I only ended up with a few bites.  Now to see if it will work!

We drove back to Lyons bright and early Sunday morning, and while we waited for the game to start, Carter and I played more GaGa Ball and checked out the pond in the garden.  It was full of frogs...and tadpoles!

Its coloring was so beautiful in the sun!

If you click and zoom in, you can see three frogs here!

This is the first frog, after he hopped in for a swim!

There were so many tadpoles in the water!  Everywhere you looked there were tons of little swimmers!

Jacob's team won their first game easily, and Jacob felt better after contributing nine points.  In the second game they played the team he wishes he could be on, with the kids he has trained with previously.  We knew they didn't have a shot to win, but it got worse when Jacob went up for a shot and came down on an opponent's foot.  He collapsed awkwardly and then limped off the court.  We could see him on the sideline with his shoe off, trying to move it around and then walking it off.  But by the time Craig went to grab ice, he insisted he was fine and was ready to go back in.  He scored one more three-pointer (to add to a foul shot earlier), but he definitely wasn't at the top of his game.  By the time he got in the car it was clear he was in pain and very worried.  Craig happened to take video of the shot, and when he zoomed in, the image was horrifying.  Jacob's ankle was turned and touching the ground.  It was very much like those plays that SportsCenter tells you to look away from.  Oddly, it wasn't his ankle that hurt, but the side of his foot.  He could barely walk by the time we stopped at our lunch spot--another round of chicken and waffles!--and we knew we had to take him in for an x-ray.  I convinced Craig and Jacob to just wait and go into a real orthopedic office on Monday rather than deal with all the cost and potential pitfalls of urgent care.  But the rest of Sunday was spent with a very upset kid who was blaming us for making him play, since he didn't want to in the first place.  Sigh.

He was still tentative about putting weight on it when he woke up Monday, but he said it didn't really hurt.  I took that as a good sign.  In fact, by the time he left for the doctor, he realized he could walk on it pretty normally.  It was mostly just the lateral movement he had trouble with.  Even still, he went in first thing to have it looked at and fortunately, there was no break and no bad damage.  When the doctor saw the shot Craig had of the play, he was shocked Jacob hadn't broken his ankle.  He was very lucky indeed!  He had some bone and tissue bruising, but the ankle was fine and he could resume activity as his pain level allowed.  So that was very good news since he was sure he was going to be out for months.  But by that afternoon he was already out (carefully) taking shots.  Can't keep a kid away from something he loves, I guess.

Of course, now we have the challenge of deciding when he should play again.  He is taking this week off from practice, and there is not a tournament this week.  Next weekend is the Binghamton tournament, and after that we're supposed to be in Pennsylvania.  The prevailing opinion right now is to skip Binghamton (much to my dismay as I would like to visit my friend and godson) and try for Pennsylvania, but Jacob just wants to skip it all because he doesn't want to play for the team anymore.  But we've also floated the idea of going to Binghamton and just trying to slowly get him back into game shape--not playing a ton, perhaps, but playing in real game mode here and there to see how he feels.  He insists practice is fine for feeling that out, but I think games are just different.  Normally I'd balk at driving 3+ hours for limited playing time (see my lacrosse posts from three summers ago for reference), but if I already have other reasons to go, it's easier to make it feel worthwhile.  We'll see how his recovery goes and whether we can make it work.

So, it was a bit of a crazy few days, but much like the car accident, things could have been so much worse.  So, amidst the busyness and the decisions and all the other stuff that keeps us on our toes, we'll just keep looking for the bright sides and the blessings (and the blossoms, for that matter), and keep on chugging.  

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Winding Down...or Are We?

So, in the midst of all my car drama, something else pretty important happened this week.  Most of the COVID restrictions in New York were discontinued.  Most of the capacity and masking regulations went away or were decreased considerably, and with it a lot of stores decided to do away with their requirements, primarily for vaccinated people.  For some people, this is groundbreakingly exciting.  For us, it honestly doesn't change much.

On one hand, we have unvaccinated kids.  Jacob is eligible, but I'm still a bit torn on letting him get vaccinated.  He had COVID and likely has some immunity as it is, and his case was so mild that I feel like he's not at serious risk.  While the vaccine is likely safe, on the off-chance that some of these conspiracy theorists have any valid points, I'd rather spare my kids those issues if I can since their risk either way is low.  The one thing that might change my mind is if it ends up impacting their ability to attend school (or attend unmasked by fall), as the benefit balance may then swing the other way.  But because our kids are currently unvaccinated, we need to protect them.  When we're with them, we will wear them for emotional support.  When we're not, we will likely stay masked just because anything we bring home can still go to our kids.

The other problem is that I don't trust people.  The fact of the matter is that places are not going to check vaccine status, and there are passionate anti-mask folks out there that think all of it (masks, vaccines, checking vaccine status, the virus itself) is wrong anyway, so I know they are definitely going to take advantage of the removal of mask mandates.  If they're not masked and not vaccinated, they have a greater chance of catching the virus and passing it along.  And while passing someone in a store likely won't be enough to catch it, it's still enough of a concern that masking feels important to us.

On the bright side, I went to Wegmans last night and 98% of the people I saw were still masked.  I didn't expect that, so it was a pleasant surprise.  The garden center today was on the other end of the spectrum, which was fine in the outside or partially enclosed areas, but a bit more disconcerting in the store part.  It'll be interesting to see how it plays out elsewhere.  Craig saw someone in the gas station store without one, and they didn't lift their store mandate so he got questioned.  I think the variations in rules is going to be confusing and many people are just not going to care.

I try to keep in mind that cases are low, so the odds of ending up near one of those careless people (aside from the fact that many more might be asymptomatic) is relatively slim.  I feel fortunate that things seem to have retreated for now and that we can be outdoors more often.  It definitely makes things feel a bit more normal, even if all of these other returns to normalcy don't help us a lot.  

Honestly, as much as I still feel a bit weighed down by this pandemic, I suppose I'm running out of reasons for that to be the case.  We have one kid home from school for one day each week.  Sports are back up and running for both kids.  We go pretty much anywhere we please.  We feel comfortable seeing our families.  I don't wipe down my groceries anymore.  We ate in a restaurant twice in the last week.  But ultimately, we still mask and we still work from home, and those are biggies.  Otherwise, most areas of life seem very close to what they once were.  If nothing else, it is night and day compared to where we were a year ago, even if it's still not quite where it was before all this started.  

The work part is this giant conundrum for me.  On one hand, I miss the office and the relationships it offers.  I can feel very isolated and distracted here, which is hard.  On the other hand, being home allows me to sleep in, skip the commute, keep up with laundry and dishes, eat what I want, and wander into the yard to visit my flowers whenever I want.  All of those things are great, and the flowers alone have been a much needed mental boost, so I sometimes wonder how I will function once I no longer have them and need to go back to the same old routine.  I mean, things were fine then, but now that my eyes are open to all the other advantages, will it be that much harder to go back?  Quite possibly.  

A year ago we could only dream of starting to come out the other side of this.  We hoped it would be sooner rather than later, of course, and thank goodness we didn't know how long all of this would go on.  But now that things are starting to happen, it's harder than I imagined and it's a lot more to process than I expected.  It's not so much a fear as it is a simplification of life for us and a desire to keep others safe.  I worry so much less about the virus itself and more about just making smart choices so we don't have to worry about the virus or things like quarantine.  For a long time it wasn't clear what those smart choices were, so after all this time that part is a little easier.  I still worry about Jacob playing basketball, maybe more than anything else, but the benefits seem to outweigh the risks.  School is a slight worry, but not enough to keep them home.  We're not afraid to eat in restaurants, but where the kids are involved we're still keeping it to when it's truly convenient or needed.  Particularly now, we don't have time to be quarantined, so if we can avoid that (and the virus), I'll take a couple extra steps to up our chances of staying safe.  It's not a big deal for us.  Others may feel differently, but for now we're okay.  But reopening is definitely a lot different than I thought it would be.

I'm definitely trying to keep perspective on life these days and be grateful where I can.  The accident felt pretty big, obviously, but even within that there were a lot of things to be thankful for.  I'm safe, I was alone in the car, the car can be driven until we can get it in for repairs, and we have insurance that should take care of everything relatively cheaply (compared to what the repairs would be, anyway).  I've been on the worse end of things before and it was horrible, so in comparison this seems much more manageable.  If that wasn't enough, I had extra doses of perspective this week, too.  On Thursday I took Carter to his therapy appointment, and as I waited in the waiting room, I saw multiple parents with kids who clearly had far more severe issues, ranging from non-verbal and immobile to likely somewhere on the mid-functioning spectrum.  It makes our problems seem tiny in comparison, since our kids mostly seem normal from the outside.  We can at least fake it, but those parents have 24/7 hard jobs they probably didn't willingly sign up for.  Our stuff feels hard, but nothing like that.  Then today, as we were driving to Jacob's tournament, I saw that my former co-worker--one who got let go the same day I did and who I enjoyed seeing at Knighthawks games periodically--announced that her 13-year-old daughter has cancer.  She's only about seven months older than Jacob.  She's an adorable girl who thought she had a pinched nerve, but instead has sarcoma.  I don't know the prognosis, but it's still cancer and it's still scary to know she'll be going through all that treatment.  She's so young to live with the side effects, the life-long worry, and the risk of death.  It's heartbreaking, even though it's clear she's going to fight it like crazy.  She's a tough martial arts girl, so hopefully she can kick cancer to the curb.  That alone makes our day-to-day stuff seem so simple.

On the brighter side, I'm almost done with round 2 of planting--my garden went in today along with our experimental pumpkin garden and some morning glory seeds that I'm going to try to have climb our lamp posts.  I planted my Mother's Day geranium in the ground and last weekend's plantings are starting to grow little sprouts.  If the weather holds out tomorrow after basketball I hope to lay down some mulch and plant some vinca flowers under our front yard tree.  It only pops up shoots and weeds inside the edging, so rather than be annoyed all the time, I'm going to dig out what I can and camouflage anything else that comes up by having flowers already there.  Some of this feels excessive (and expensive!), but I figure if we're still going to be spending a lot of time here, the least I can do is enjoy watching things grow again.  Oh, and since we're having no luck finding a deck builder for our pool, we got lucky yesterday when my mom found a neighbor selling a nice pool ladder for cheap!  We were hesitant to buy new stairs for this summer (after ours broke for good last year) since we'll likely need something else for the deck, but that temporary problem got solved for $20 (assuming we can fit them in the van)!  So, much like it's been for the last year, it's the little things that brighten our days and keep us chugging along.

Speaking of chugging along, Memorial Day is next weekend, Jacob has just two four-day weeks left of school, and Carter is down to 4-1/2 weeks.  Carter potentially has medication (!) and (voluntary, remote) summer school coming his way in the weeks ahead, and there are two basketball trips on the horizon for Jacob, so we won't be chilling out much at all coming up.  After a quiet year, I suppose we're up for it all, but we're still taking things one day at a time.  Some days that's all we can handle, but it's amazing how quickly they add up in the midst of it all.  Even if all of this hasn't been the way we planned it, we have a lot of life to live.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Almost Normal (But Somewhat Out of Practice)

This past weekend felt weirdly close to a normal, pre-COVID weekend, probably as close as we've been since it all began.  In fact, it marked the first time we stayed in a hotel as a family since the middle of October 2019, more than 18 months ago when we went to the then-defending NBA champion Raptors' preseason game and saw the championship trophy in person the same day.  Now the Raptors are out of the playoffs, so it's clearly been a while.  It seems crazy that it was our first hotel stay in a new decade that's nearly a year and a half old already.

Heading into the weekend we were basking in the glory that was finally getting into the sunny 60s we should have been having for a couple weeks now.  Everything is exploding outside, from the pretty stuff you want to see, to the stuff you don't (stupid weeds are already out of control).  I took a little walk around the yard on Friday during lunch, which was one of the things that kept me sane last year.  This is what I found...  

This entire azalea is now in bloom.  It's not the healthiest thing--it gets a fungus every year--but it had a ton of buds this year and they are gorgeous!

Found these cute wild violets in the way back near where I want to plant pumpkins.

The weather wasn't the only thing making me absolutely restless on Friday afternoon as I finished off work for the week.  We found out literally Friday morning that Jacob's tournament that was supposed to be in Buffalo that weekend was now going to be played in Syracuse on Sunday, which meant getting a last minute hotel.  So between that, getting my new hair curling tool (!), and the weather, I was definitely distracted!

On Saturday morning, I wanted to get out for a run before a busy few hours prior to getting on the road.  It was a solid three miles of distance but with a couple short walking stints.  Hopefully now that the weather is better I can get more consistent and get my bike up and running, too.  But at the end of my run I captured this sort of ethereal photo of the crab tree next door against the bright blue sky.

After my run I ran out to Five Below, Old Navy, and both Lowe's and Home Depot because Lowe's didn't have what I needed.  I needed to pick up a bunch of miscellaneous things at Five Below, I tried to get a new set of masks for Carter at Old Navy because a few of his went missing (no luck, oddly), and I mostly needed shepherd hooks from Lowe's but figured I'd pick up mulch and garden soil if I was going to be waiting in line anyway.  They didn't have any hooks, though, so I went to Home Depot, which was an absolute madhouse.  But I braved it and got what I needed.  That meant I could come home and try to work on the yard a bit before we left for Syracuse.  

I put potting soil in two hanging pots I got from the dollar store weeks ago and hung them on their hooks where our two trees used to be.  I put soil in our rectangular planter that held my beloved zinnias last year, then decided I overbought on seeds (they were so cheap at the dollar store and appeared to be the same brand as I had last year) so I brought out an old hanging pot and another pot I had kept on the patio last year and filled those, too!  I had a mix of zinnia seeds--some from last year's packet, some that I tried to preserve from my favorite blooms last year, plus a couple new packets of zinnias and a pack of something called cosmos.  So now I have all sorts of pots planted and just have to wait!

This coming weekend I hope to have time to plant my garden, put down some mulch, and attempt two other experiments--planting morning glory seeds in the soil under our lamp posts in the back (in hopes they'll climb up) and throwing down some garden soil in a patch in our way-back to plant all of our crazy pumpkin seeds from last year.  I'm not sure it will get quite enough sun, but I think it's worth a shot!  More critters back there, I suppose, but we'll see how it goes.  Anyway, I wrapped the planting up as quickly as I could and scrambled to get things together to leave.  I feel like we're a little out of practice for these weekends.  My list is still good but the last-minute stuff felt harder this time. 
We wanted to get on the road before 4pm so we could make it to our dinner destination, FLX Fry Bird, the same place we discovered a few weeks back when we were out that way for a tournament.  We were supposed to have another tournament nearby this spring and wanted to go back, but that one got changed so we figured this was a good opportunity to try again since it was only about 10 minutes off the Thruway.  Ironically, we just found out today that we'll be back at the same spot as the first tournament, so we could return again--haha!  The kids will ask, trust me!  Anyway, dinner was great!  We took some pictures in our joy upon arrival...

Carter was very excited about his chicken and waffle with syrup.  Look at that happy boy with his giant piece of chicken!

This was my meal--basically the same except I tried gravy this time instead of the "loaded" one I had last time with burger toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and a secret sauce.  This was really good, though--nice peppery gravy!

We were really in great spirits once we left and finished off the last 45 minutes to Syracuse.  The hotel was decent, especially considering we got it that day.  It was close to the highway, close to the gym, and close to the mall!  We ended up going out to the giant mall in the evening just to keep ourselves awake and check out a few things.  Jacob ended up getting a couple things and we browsed (and once again no luck at Old Navy on the kid masks, which was so weird) until most things were closed (as it seems they close before the mall due to COVID now--probably staffing).  

We headed back and pretty much just started getting ready for bed, but not much sleep was had that night, by any of us.  The kids flopped around, and Craig and I dealt with elbows and kicks.  Craig was worried about Carter falling out of bed, and I just couldn't sleep deeply for anything, for no other clear reason, despite taking sleeping medicine.  Morning came too early and it was hard to drag ourselves out of bed.  I finally got up and showered, but in the end it wasn't soon enough--everyone followed behind me and we ended up running late.  Again, out of practice!  Breakfast was limited but we did what we could to grab items before leaving.  We just should have packed before that and eaten in the car.  Oops.  On the bright side, before all that I did get to curl my hair with my new CHI Spin and Curl, which curls my hair SO good!  I have lost my touch with curling irons, and now that my hair is so long, I was ready to try something fun and different.  This makes it so easy and it looked really cute.  I loved seeing it in the mirror looking so pretty and different than how straight it is 99.9% of the time.  One of those little things that can make me happy when things get complicated, I guess!  I won't do it often, but maybe once in a while when I need a boost.  And maybe when that gets boring I'll finally cut off a couple inches!

Even though we were running late, only part of the team was there when we arrived.  So in the end it wasn't a big deal.  We got out to a great start, and Jacob scored 7 of the first 9 points to put the team out to a big lead.  But then things got more challenging and eventually the lead slipped away.  They ended up losing by four points in overtime, which was a bummer.  Carter and I ran out for a caffeine fix for me and a donut for him in between games, and then we watched game 2.  Jacob ended up with only two points in that one but he played really well and his team squeaked out a win.  Because there wasn't a deciding third game, if they could have won that first game, they'd have won the tournament, so that first loss was a big bummer.

Streaking toward the hoop (in black)

We stopped at the outlets on the way home and I finally found masks for Carter at Old Navy #3!  We looked at Nike and Under Armour and the big boys got breathable masks for working out.  We stopped in Victor for a late lunch (Chipotle for the boys and wood fired pizza for me!) before heading home.  After unpacking and starting laundry, I managed to summon enough energy to hack my way overgrown burning bushes, too!  It was so needed because I couldn't really see anything off the porch!  All in all, it wasn't a bad 24 hour trip, and it felt like a very complete, well-rounded weekend, even if we're not the smoothest travelers at the moment.

The beginning of the week has been a story of highs and lows.  Last night Carter had his second soccer game, and he rocked it!  After not scoring in his first full season (other than maybe a shared goal), he got THREE goals!  It was awesome.  He said his coach said to move out of the pack, so he did and it worked!  It was so cool to see!  His team is really good, too, so it's been fun to watch.

Tuesday was not so good.  I had to go to the doctor's office for the follow-up to the sinus CT scan I had last week, but on the way I got in an accident.  Much like my last accident that happened when I was pregnant with Carter, this one started with a swerve.  A dump truck was changing lanes and didn't see the car that snuck into the exit lane behind them, and that car swerved when the truck almost hit it, which set off a few swerves that made it over to me two lanes over.  I ended up hitting someone in the side and banging up my front driver side, which I think might have saved me from getting hit harder in the front by a different swerving car.  Fortunately it was driveable and I wasn't hurt, but the driver of the car I hit has a sore back and neck, unfortunately.  And the worst part?  None of the vehicles that started it all apparently had any damage because all of them (including one that ended up turned the other way) left before the cops arrived.  So I'm guessing I'll end up liable, which sucks.  But I'm thankful it wasn't worse.  The ironic thing is that my past accidents have both happened while pregnant and I totaled my car both times, so in comparison this seems simple.  But I'm still frustrated.  It just complicates everything, costs money, and will probably screw up our insurance.  And I know this probably just makes me look like a terrible driver, but I'd really appreciate if people would stop swerving in front of me!  Adding insult to (near) injury, I couldn't reschedule my appointment until July 1, which puts off this part of working on my smell issues and also puts off getting a first opinion on the issue I'm having with the pulsating noises in my right carotid artery.  I guess I can work on acupuncture in the meantime and look into smell training, but it really just sucks all around.  Oh, and we had a weird outbreak of carpenter ants in our bathroom today after seeing a few here and there in the last month, so that was concerning as well.  I need to talk to my friend who works for the company that treated our mice last year, but it's not going to be cheap.  Pretty sure they're coming from around our toilet, which probably has the wood they like courtesy of water seeping under the toilet when it overflows.  That might mean we need to remove the toilet to find the nest (we need a new one anyway), but I think we probably need to replace our valve, too, since it leaked the last time I touched it.  Everything just keeps adding up.

So, not the best day today, but hopefully we can work through this stuff quickly and get back on track soon.  

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

News and Notes, A Long Time Ago and Far Far Away Edition

We've once again reached that time of year that I can't help but reminisce about Knighthawk championship games and trips.  Last year on this blog I recounted the trips I took to Phoenix and Washington/British Columbia, plus the fun days we had on Knighthawk home championship games.  Even two months into the pandemic, those trips were so bittersweet, let alone now when we're 14 months in and haven't done anything of real interest in ages.  In the midst of our less-than-exciting weather lately (stuck in the lower 50s when it should be in the mid-60s), I was reminiscing about the day I left for Phoenix when it was a gorgeous 70 degrees and I took the most lovely bike ride with my new bike.  I think back to my other trip, too, when it was super warm and humid as I ran on the New Westminster river walk and stood out in the warm sun before going into the arena.  Without that kind of weather and without a trip on the horizon, those moments feel so impossible these days.  Not to mention that all those games took place in full arenas when social distancing wasn't even a real term.

This past weekend was Mother's Day weekend, and we ended up doing our Buffalo swing on Saturday.  We stopped in at my parents for a little bit (since I just saw them a bunch last weekend) so I could drop off flowers, and then we headed to Craig's family because we were having the "remote" version of the fundraiser dinner we had a couple years ago when I won the amazing Mixtape Tour concert tickets.  It really hit home again with this event's return how far removed we are from life when we last attended.  Not only could we not imagine being in the same room as a couple hundred other people right now, but the concert itself would be unthinkable.  Sitting near a dozen people I don't know, unmasked?  Yikes!  We just didn't know how good we had it, and we never could have imagined what the next year held.  Even still, I have to admit that the take-home dinner was delicious!  Salad, rolls, charcuterie-to-go, filet, mashed potatoes with a brown gravy, tiny carrots, and cheesecake with strawberries, all in a cooler bag with insulated wine tumblers and a bottle of wine for each couple.  And the way they prepared the meat, it heated up perfectly at home, so it was just as good as it was in person.  We missed the dressing up and browsing the auction items in person, but it was still a fun evening hanging out with family.  We drove home pretty late, stuffed to the gills!  

Sunday was a bit of a mixed day.  I woke up still feeling a little full and still tired (which I think was the product of the ongoing very long week, starting with the garage sale, into the Confirmation, and ending with my work Day of Giving and the hangover from that).  Jacob had basketball training in the morning, so it was just Carter and me going to church.  We're now choosing to sit in the gym for the foreseeable future since the main worship center is optional masking while seated.  I'll admit it's a bit disappointing.  There was definitely an older crowd in the gym.  I was a little bummed that Jacob missed his first Sunday to take communion, but hopefully soon.  Carter picked out a carnation for me on the way out of church...


And he made this cute flower for me in Sunday School...


When we got home, he eagerly gave me his gift from school, which he'd been excitedly talking about all week.  Even his teacher mentioned what a good job he did.  And it was really pretty great.

It's hard to get him to write more than a line or two, so when I saw this letter, I was super impressed!

He also made me this tissue paper candle.  I have a similar one in different colors from Jacob, probably from around the same age but without the words or photo.

It wasn't too exciting of a day after that.  I tried to nap and relax a bit, especially while Craig took the boys out to buy Carter's new soccer cleats.  As dinner approached, I ended up frustrated again (just like last year) because all of the restaurants we wanted to order from had shut down their online ordering.  It appears that a lot of businesses just don't have the staff right now.  With there being extra unemployment payments right now, a lot of low-wage jobs just can't get people.  But the thing is, while I know there are probably some "lazy" people out there that just prefer not to work, most people go where the money is.  That probably means that the people who would otherwise take those jobs can't afford to take them--whether unemployment simply pays more (which probably means businesses need to pay a living wage) or working means paying out too much in child care due to school not being fully in session, I don't know.  It's a terrible, impossible situation right now.  We just ended up making do with leftovers and a frozen meal I had been saving for a "special occasion".  Sigh.  We watched E.T. to finish off the evening.  Not the best Mother's Day, but also not the worst.

Monday was Carter's first night of soccer!  It had been weird leading up to it because we signed up at the very last minute a couple months ago and then mostly heard nothing.  A couple weeks ago I got an email with a schedule change--though I hadn't seen a schedule to begin with--and then we got an email that our coach was unable to continue.  We didn't hear anything else, so the other day I emailed the league and asked what was happening, at which point the head person emailed me back and sent something out to the team about Monday and who would be coaching.  We're still not sure about practices or anything like that, but at least we got Monday's game in.  It was rather chilly--only around 50 degrees and breezy--but at least the sun was out until it set behind the clouds.  We tried to layer up, but as Carter stood in goal I could tell he was cold!  We were pretty chilly ourselves, but it was manageable compared to some of Jacob's sports over the years!

I was a little nervous about how this would go, for so many reasons.  Carter hasn't been too into much of anything over the past year other than screen time, so I wasn't sure he'd really be on board for this when the time came, even though he said he'd do it when we signed up.  He's sometimes skittish around other kids because he hasn't had the best experience at school this year, and doing organized activities as dictated by an authority figure hasn't been his strong suit.  But the kid still loves to run, so I was hopeful he'd at least be into that part.  And he was!

The best part was that as people were showing up and getting their uniforms, I heard the name "Ben" come up, and sure enough, one of Carter's best buddies who was on his last soccer team two years ago is on his team again!  I think that probably gave him an extra level of comfort.

He did well--he definitely moves and gets up the field when he needs to, and isn't afraid to get a little physical.  I had a fear it would be obvious he'd spent most of his time on screens in the last 14 months, but he really seemed to fit in pretty well!  The team as a whole was really strong--their opponent barely got over midfield!  We were treated to a fabulous sunset as we sat, so I couldn't resist getting a shot of Carter with it postgame!

He's been really into it ever since, asking to practice in the yard every day and wanting to know when his next game is.  It's so great to see him into something other than his games, and I think maybe he sees this as his moment to shine because it's something he's good at that Jacob isn't.  It's definitely interesting but I'm so proud of him for giving it a shot and working hard.

So, here we are in the midst of another week.  Tomorrow is another CT scan for me in the quest to chill out my sinuses and find a solution for my smell and taste.  It's probably just a waste of money as I'm more likely the victim of a different 11-years-ago coronavirus, but sometimes in processes like these, you just have to do the next thing.  Acupuncture will be the thing after this!  I don't know if this is allowed, but I'm going to ask the radiologist if they'll capture any images (purposely or incidentally) of my carotid artery that's been giving me lots of pulsating sounds lately.  It appears that a CT scan can see blockages so if they can get a view that might capture something there, it would help me know if it's worth talking to my doctor (or at least having something ready to go if I do call about it).  So maybe it'll be worth it in a different way than I'm expecting.  

Jacob has a one-day tournament in Buffalo this weekend, hopefully the first one I get to see in a while!  I also need to try to set aside some time to get out in my already-overgrown yard and treat plants that are getting diseased a month or so earlier than usual.  It looks like the weather might finally be turning a corner so I'm excited to start planting where I can!  Seeing my seed packets (and our crazy pumpkin seeds from the fall) in the garage got me excited for my flowers all over again!  I can't wait to see what might grow.  It's usually the highlight of my lunch or work break to venture out into the good weather and check them out.  We've got a long way to go before anything grows, but it's nice to know it's finally getting closer to reality as the temps look to stick in the 60s.  Now if I can just make the most of it with some runs and bike rides!

I guess that's the bulk of what's been going on lately.  Same old, same old with work, Jacob has less than a month left of school, and Carter has only five more at-home days himself.  It's hard to believe we're not that far from Memorial Day and all that summer has to offer...hopefully, anyway!