What goes around

The other day it was raining (again), cold (again) and the boys were virtual (again) and after zooms followed by a lot of other screen time because there was nothing else to do, we needed to get out of the house (I promise a poop story isn’t coming). We got in the car and I started driving aimlessly a bit until I remembered that my front headlight was out and that was a perfect excuse to drive into Old Town to the auto repair shop my grandfather founded over 55 years ago.

My Opa sitting at his desk

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I grew up in this shop as my Dad and Uncles took it over as the years went on. As kids, we would play in the parts room on 99 degree summer days while sipping on a Nestea from the coke machine. We went with my Oma to the bank to drop off the day’s deposits (if we were lucky also hit the toy store, Why Not?) and we were allowed to eat Cosmic brownies for breakfast. We counted the employee hours on the time cards with my Opa and learned that 7:59 is “late” when you are supposed to be there at 8. My Dad’s white “Fritz shirt” was easily his most identifiable look, and in that time spending so many hours of childhood watching him work we soaked in a little bit about how cars are fixed and a lot of bit about how business is run without even realizing it.

As I got older, like my brothers and many cousins, the shop became my first job. Washing cars, mopping floors, answering phones, running credit cards, picking up parts – our duty was to be doing whatever we could in the background to help – starting from the bottom and learning how to work our way up. One of my favorite things to do was to drive customers to the metro after they dropped off their cars, listening to their stories and getting life advice from many of their impressive careers. As a 16 year old, it was where I spent many a morning waking up at 5am to help my dad before school to repair the 1988 Isuzu Trooper which would eventually become a car of my own.

It was also a place to learn accountability and owning up to mistakes as we all made them in our teenage years (Sorry Dad for that time you had to call a costumer because I misjudged the tightness of the parking spot and dinged the car. Thanks customer for not giving up on the business).

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And then when I had kids of my own, the trip to the shop to burn some time and energy was a frequent one. I used to bring the little boys up there to tinker with Papa’s toys, sneak lollipops he kept in the bottom lefthand drawer of his desk and run around with their uncles. There was a long stretch of time when train obsessed Wells was certain that only Papa’s screwdrivers and batteries could fix trains that would no longer go (I later learned that Fritz was constantly buying AAA batteries to ensure that he was ready at any moment for a drop-in train fix). Then there was that whole husband in Afghanistan thing while I was home with 3 kids under 5 and I would often wearily wander in after preschool pick up but before naptime and leave with a belly full of lunch because Fritz would order in for us and listen to my woes while the boys happily tapped away on giant calculator or used the old check writing machine to punch in different numbers.

But then we were off to Tampa and by the time we moved back to the area, Fritz was 1.5 years into his cancer diagnosis and treatment had made him too sick to work full time. The few times the boys and I tried to swing by the shop, we would find him sitting in his truck on a warm summer day with the heat on full blast trying to get the chemo-induced coldness to go away, or asleep in his big chair, hoodie and hat on because the exertion of sitting up for a few hours wore him out. But of course, because he refused to really believe that his body was deteriorating, he would also startle up and pretend that he was just getting out of his truck or quickly open the desk drawer to reveal that he hadn’t forgotten to keep buying lollipops.

After he died almost 2 years ago, naturally our trips became less frequent. We lived a little further away and the boys were in school all day so even if Marme was there working, we would miss the window to pop in. And truth be told, for a long time I couldn’t go past the very front office because the sight of Fritz’s empty desk and scraps of paper with his handwriting just made me too sad.

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So back to last Monday…

We got to the shop and Marme wasn’t in her usual front spot, so we walked through the door found her sitting at Papa’s desk and for once I seemed to forget that I had stopped going back there. I asked my uncle if someone would take a look at my headlight and he took the keys and pulled the car around himself.

Then, like it was the most natural thing in the world, next thing I knew Cullen and Bennett were right next to him, lifting up the hood and peering in. Wells and Griffin grabbed a Nestea from the coke machine and took off to the back of the parts room to climb the stairs while Marme asked if we wanted to drive her to the bank when the car was done and (shhh) maybe the toy store after.

I watched as my Uncle, built so much in stature and in personality like my dad, took time out of his day to patiently explain what tools he was using, the steps to get to the headlight and then sat back and let the boys take over. He gently explained to them what to do, but didn’t step in so that they would learn, and even gave a classic Fritz eye twinkle when he found a Pokemon card stuck inside the hood and teased them for it. We pointed out that in a short two and a half years Cullen would be in high school and could start mopping the floors and washing cars. My cousin, a now seasoned mechanic, noticed Bennett standing under the a car on a lift and began explaining to him how everything was connected. Bennett enjoyed it so much, he asked if he could just hang out there for the rest of the afternoon to “learn stuff”. The phone rang and my subconscious piped up, “Foreign Car Service, how may I help you?”.

It wasn’t until later that night I realized we had a full-circle moment, one in which I neither planned or was expecting in any way.

So much can change and yet, there are so many ways to keep experiencing a life that didn’t go as we imagined it would.

And so maybe like the Fireflies, Fritz – knowing that we are still aching so much without him – had to blow out the bulb in my headlight and give us a little nudge to remind us that he is still here: still teaching, still working, still growing the foundation that was set for us so long ago.

Next time, I’m bringing the Cosmic brownies.

When a Moment Becomes a Memory

My boys have been having “sleepovers” on weekends since they grew out of their cribs and I’ve taken so many pictures of them sharing sleeping space because there is something truly comforting about knowing that they feel safe and secure with one another.

However, at some point probably in the last year or so Cullen started declining to join in, instead staying up to read and spread out in his own space. Eventually he did it so often that I finally, without really thinking about it, stopped adding the 4th pillow to the pile out of habit.

No one warns you about that point of parenting: when things that are totally normal and routine fade from a present moment to a memory. It happens and it happens so fast and without warning, not like when they are babies and you know when they “supposed” to stop nursing or potty train or finally stop putting things that are not food in their mouth. There is an inching away from childhood comes in the places you didn’t know you were supposed to be tracking it, like in weekend brother sleepovers.

As they get bigger these little moments that stop are sometimes moments you had no idea were so big until you realize you might not witness them again. When I finally realized that C was probably never going to curl up on the floor with the brothers again, I mourned a little but that I didn’t remember exactly the last time he participated, especially after so a nearly a decade of the weekend sleepover being a thing.

Then one night not too long ago, the other boys begged Cullen to host them in his room and the usual ‘no’ was met with a rolled-eye ‘fine’. And so the 4 of them, and the dog, lay across in a line and I snapped the sneaky pic I’ve been getting for forever.

In the morning I would find Cullen that moved into the guest room by himself at some point during the night but I loved knowing that as they fell asleep there were three little boys grateful for the security of sleeping in their big bro’s room. And this Mama’s heart was certainly glad she got to see what was maybe the last time they would.

Even though now I know one-by-one they will all eventually stop joining the sleepover, my hope is that they always find comfort with one another.

Love you so much boys.

FIVE

Yep, that’s right, our baby Griffin is five today!

Five is such a special birthday – officially moving out of baby/toddler/pre-school years and off into big kid world. And this one especially for me marks the true end of an era after spending 12 years with kids at home, Five means that in the fall everyone will be in school full time. But there will be plenty of time to process that later this year, so for now, we focus on my guy.

It has been a big year for our littlest man, especially as we moved in March right when school shut down and we had to explain to him why he couldn’t see his friends anymore. He was not interested at all in joining any zoom preschool meet ups and extremely frustrated to lose his one-on-one time with me as we navigated the virtual spring. But he is a tough one and eventually grew to love the extra time with his big bros and now is part of the very large crew of boys in our neighborhood.

We are super grateful that this school year he is able to attend Pre-K in person 5 days a week – he is thriving in school and learning so much to get ready to Kindergarten. Recently, I subbed in another class in his school so was able to actually walk him into the building for the first time this year – he grabbed my hand and said “Mommy, this is so fun! It is like the olden times before the germs when you walked me every time!”

G continues to be very curious – he loves examining things to see how they work and is always asking questions about everything he takes in. He is probably our biggest personality too – he loves making people (especially the other boys) laugh, he is always dancing but usually leads with the booty shake, he is strong and fast and we sometimes call him “Tank” because are pretty sure he will be a long stick face-off guy who wins every time because he just knocks his opponent over.

But when Griff is not wrestling, he has the sweetest other side. He loves to sit still and build legos and very recently got into art. He is constantly drawing (my favorite is when I find little happy stick figures in-between my list of things to do in my planner). He is gentle and cuddly and some males in my family might also say that I spoil him just a tad – but have you seen that face? It is so hard to say no!

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Griffin my darling boy,

We love you so much! Your growing up is so bittersweet because I know each milestone with you is the last time we will experience that particular phase of life. You are the very perfect child to enjoy it with though because you have such a passion for everything you do. I think too because you look to your big brothers, you know how much fun getting bigger is and you are so excited to be like them. I will forever cherish our last year home together and will miss you so much when you head off to Kindergarten.

We are so proud of everything you accomplished this year – you can ride a bike with no training wheels, swim on your own and finally remembered that 15 comes between 14 and 16. You can get yourself dressed, write lots of letters and numbers and continue to know more about dinosaurs than I ever knew possible. You’ve been resilient throughout “the germs” and were so excited when we were able to go to the library and the zoo again. Maybe this year, we will get to go back to the “Dinosaur Bones Museum” – I still feel bad every time you ask to go telling you that it is still closed.

I asked you this morning to describe yourself by saying “My name is Griffin and I like…”, you answered “dinosaurs, sea creatures, playing, rock music and being with you guys.

Nailed it.

Happy Birthday my big 5 year old! You are such a gift to us and we are so lucky to have been chosen to be your parents.

We love you so much, Griffagram!

The Post About Christmas

Here we are a few weeks past Christmas and it already feels so far away but as the boys keep growing and the feeling of the morning changes, I want to make sure we are still remembering the magic of the day.

We heard the rumblings of waking kids around 6am. Santa brings their stockings up to a little tree in their room so they are able to open those once they are all awake before waking us up. Normally, we make them wait until 7 to go downstairs but Wells and Griffin came in with their “cute faces” and we conceded to a 6:45 coffee making time.

Getting ready…

I know this looks like so much, but we take them to the $5 and Below store to shop for each other, then they get 3 things from Santa and 1-2 from us. I will never tire of seeing their excited faces though! We all wrap our gifts for the family ahead of time then they wake up to see what Santa added.

As always, I mostly enjoy watching them get excited for one another…

And their gratitude for the simple gifts they pick out.

I took them one by one the same afternoon to shop at $5 & Below and by the time I was on kid 3 the employees were all having fun seeing what they chose. I am always impressed by how much they take their brothers’ individual personalities into play while shopping.

It was such a great morning and Santa really pulled through on the boys’ big items. Cullen got new lacrosse gloves, B an electric guitar, Wells a Pokemon booster box and Griff the Indominus Rex vs. Ankylosaurus Breakout Lego set (which you have to say just like that every time you talk about it). But the big winner was Kev, who totally surprised me by getting 10 years of this very space printed into books. I’ve talked about doing it for a long time because I would be devastated if anything happened and all this family history was lost and somehow found the time to sit down and make it happen. All 13 volumes now sit proudly on our bookshelf for us to flip through anytime. He’s the best.

And here are some videos of those big moments:

I hope your holiday celebrations were wonderful as well. As another year passes, as always I am grateful for your love and support of our family (especially if you came here through the new sign up system – I am going to keep the blog pretty private for a while but will always leave it available for family an friends to read!).

Merry Christmas, my darling boys!

How the Rest Went

Here we another almost two months without a post (longer really, considering my last post was actually about a trip we took in mid-October) and there really isn’t a good way to pick back up so we will just dive right in.

But first, a quick housekeeping thing:

-I will no longer be sharing the blog link via Facebook. My account got hacked a few weeks ago and I will not be reinstating it. To keep following along you can use the items in the sidebar (or at the bottom if you are on mobile) to connect with me on instagram or signup to receive emails of the posts as the are published. I will miss the comments and stories you share back with me on FB so do know you can always leave a comment directly on the post!

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So now, let’s back it up to the end of October.

1.For Halloween, the neighborhood all put tables at the end of the driveways and spread candy out for kids to grab. A large majority of people brought their fire pits out and sat in plenty of space behind to distantly socialize a bit and watch the kids go by. I actually really liked the way it worked out! And while there were plenty of inspiring family curated costumes, mine we were blow up things, a tree man, and Cullen just didn’t change after his lax game earlier that day. (And cousins Mabel and Annie came around with us too!)

2. G and I went back to the zoo for the first time since Covid and he was SO happy, especially to see the cheetah since he is in the Cheetah class. I am going to miss doing things like this with him when he is in school full time next year!

3. We got to spend time with Nana and Pop on a beautiful fall day, for the Army/Navy game and on Christmas Day.

4. And we spent time with Marme too, watching as Cullen inches to passing her height, making the annual Gingerbread house, wishing Fritz a Happy Birthday, and on one virtual learning day when our area was calling for rain but The Farm was expecting snow, we packed the laptops up and took advantage of the flexibility to switch locations and enjoy the weather.

5. The kitchen reno continued with a major hiccup when the cabinets we ordered came in the wrong size. We ended up having them cut instead of re-ordering and things are finally almost done in here. I will do a whole post on the experience once the final touches are in but for now, we are thrilled to have our dishwasher back and so much space to hide all the kids’ stuff.

6. I took a whole bunch of pictures of our family style meals with the intentions of doing a whole post about them, but instead shared a few in insta-stories and got great ideas back from a lot of people for additional meal planning ideas. With the boys home all day I definitely feel like soon as I am done with one meal, we are just prepping for another (and the snacks – stop it with the snacks!) so I am having trouble feeling inspired to get creative for dinner. I find that keeping things super simple and setting them out this way so they can make their plates how they want without the whining of who doesn’t like what works much better for us.

7. We had a super quiet Thanksgiving with just the 6 of us. However, at that point we still didn’t have countertops, a sink or a dishwasher so we borrowed Nana and Pop’s empty house (complete with lots of sides Nana left behind – what a treat!) to have our main meal. It was weird not being with extended family but we spent a lot of time feeling very thankful for each other.

8. We rejoined Mt Vernon for an easy, educational and socially distant outing.

9. Cullen missed the wall playing wall-ball… good thing we needed a new door anyway.

(If you are reading this via the emailed blog post, I’ve recently realized videos don’t embed there so you’ll have to go to the link to see the damage)

10. And finally, as we moved into December, the boys’ school went all virtual to be on the safe side and dare-I-say-it, it wasn’t so bad. We slept in only to wake up in time to roll onto zoom and wore a lot of PJs all day (Kudos to all those moms still getting their kids into uniform from home.) We should be back to our hybrid schedule in January but if I’m honest, heading into Christmas in such a casual pace was kind of nice.

So that’s the past two months in a nutshell, minus Christmas which I hope to share separately soon. We are continually grateful for our health and security and looking forward to safe and happy 2021!

A Ray of Sunshine

Just over a month ago we lost, suddenly and unexpectedly, a very close family friend. I’ve known Donna my entire life as she was the wife of my Dad’s best friend from childhood, Danny. Danny and Fritz’s birthdays are a day apart (this coming weekend, in fact) and so many of “Dad and Danny’s Birthdays” were spent with our families together growing up, and the 4 of them traveling together as their children got older.

One of Fritz and Danny’s birthday trips to Bermuda

Donna was a literal ray of sunshine, with her big laugh and big love. She always took the time to comment on every blog and instagram post I shared and the way she loved my family so much from afar only makes my heart ache more knowing how that was just the smallest fraction of the fierce love she showered her own family with.

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Shortly after Donna’s passing in early October, we needed to be out of our house due to some work being done and we figured since the boys were mostly virtual that particular week anyway, it was better to be at the beach if you can’t be home. As always, we were super grateful Nana and Pop had a spot ready and waiting for us to hide away for a few days.

On the ride down there I thought a lot about Donna and the unfairness of her passing, especially in a way that no one knew was coming, and vowed spend this time just soaking up how much I adore this family of mine. (It certainly helped that the beach was practically empty aside from us.)

I hadn’t used my real camera in a while I almost forgot how differently I see the world through it – so many little details I never want to forget.

We stayed off social media while we were there, and left our phones in the condo when we were down at the beach. We watched movies and doing virtual school wasn’t painful (that beach is enticing). We got to take Griffin to see a real-life sea creatures (!!!) who are ancestors to real life dinosaurs (!!!) at the Aquarium (timed, limited capacity, masks on, sanitizer everywhere). I went in the ocean and played with the boys (not my favorite thing to do, but oh how thrilled they were I got in!).

While refreshing and reconnecting with my own people, I thought often of the many pictures from over the years of my parents with Danny and Donna and hoped the boys will also always remember us as being so much fun too.

Danny and Kids, our hearts are with you and breaking for you. Donna is so loved and we will continue to honor her by living with a big heart and a big smile.

Fritz, Danny – Happy Birthday – I wish so much that all 4 of you were celebrating together this weekend. I hate for all of us that Dad and Donna are both now missing from the party.

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Friends, hug your loved ones tight…

and also wait a couple weeks to upload and edit pics because then you can finally get around to a blog post and remember you took this gem:

Love you so much, boys – being your mom is my greatest honor.

You’re Not Drinking Alone if Your Kids are Home*

*While tempting, I’m sure, I am not actually encouraging you to start drinking while facilitating virtual school and anxiously awaiting election results. But I do have a story to tell…

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A couple of years ago Kevin was deployed to Afghanistan and I was in a fog of a parenting phase with the boys being 5, 3, and 1 and super needy all the time. The days were long and busy and I couldn’t wait for him to get home and start co-parenting again (you know what I don’t miss at all? Waking up with toddlers at 5:30 in the morning). However, I was fortunate to have both set of grandparents nearby to pop over and help when I needed a break… until that one time my parents showed up with no help at all.

You see, they had spent a long weekend in New Orleans and while there text me that they saw something I needed and bought it for me, but it was a surprise they would bring over when they got back. I was excited – what could it be? A fun new piece of art from an antique store? They earned a free night from their hotel chain and were sending me to get some rest? They were nice nice and rested from their trip so were going to take my kids for a night? The possibilities were endless!

And then they came home and stopped by, heads hanging a little bit in shame, and handed me a sign while saying “Sorry, it was really funny after we had a few drinks, but also true until Kev gets home, right?” and then burst out laughing again.

Thanks for the great parenting advice, parents.

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I hadn’t thought about that story in a while until recently when my friend Whitney reached out and asked if I would try to try some free wine – um yes, please!

But Whitney wasn’t just being nice, she recently became an ambassador for Scout & Cellar, a clean crafted wine club delivering wine straight to your door with no added sugars, chemicals, additives, pesticides, and with low sulfites and wanted to spread the word about their brand.

Scout and Cellar prides themselves on sourcing grapes from mom & pop wineries and small farmers worldwide, while maintaining the delicious flavors and having the smallest footprint on the environment while growing, bottling, and getting the wines into your hands.

They are a wine club – You chose 4,6, or 12 bottles to be delivered monthly, every other, or quarterly for a fixed price and best of all they also have a “Do the Right Thing Guarantee” – If you get a bottle you don’t like, they will send another bottle or credit your account, no risk involved.

The cutest sampler arrived in the mail last week and while I am home alone with my kids most of time the these days, I avoided using them as an excuse to day drink and waited until Kev got home from work to have a little tasting party.

We enjoyed our wine, reminisced on those crazy years when the boys were so young and appreciated that Kev hasn’t needed to deploy for a long period of time since then (and that my parents did indeed help me all the time, despite their questionable sign purchases).

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If you are interested in checking out the wines for yourself (or getting started on your holiday shopping because who is saying no to wine this year) I encourage you pop over to Whitney’s website and check them out.

(And if you need a break from the election coverage and want to watch something just to make you smile – here is Kev’s welcome home video from that deployment, the boys were so little!)

Thanks Whitney for providing us with the great wine and an opportunity for a date – Don’t forget to shop for her clean crafted wines by clicking here!

**I was given the wine samples in exchange for this review but opinions are my own**

My Dad’s Music 2.0

Just over two years ago Bennett became obsessed with the idea of learning how to play the guitar. And I, knowing that he is a dabbler in all things, didn’t want to spend the money on something he would probably then give up on it in a couple months. But he is a persistent one and managed to convince Marme and Papa that he was very committed to the learning. So one night in 2018 I drove him to the Guitar Center to meet them to get out his first instrument.

That particular evening though, only Marme was present to help him pick it out and thankfully Bennett was so focused on getting the guitar that he didn’t seem too bothered that Papa didn’t come too. But for me, it was a reminder that Fritz’s treatment made him very weak and that he was likely too tired or too cold to join us. I was so sad that the cancer was stealing yet another moment from us.

But as Fritz would have wanted, (with all the excuses back home that he didn’t actually feel bad but just needed to “lay back for a bit”) we headed in to the store on a random Monday night and left with the guitar B had been coveting for a long time.

And then time passed… We were busy with school and sports, and the continued twist and turns of my Dad’s illness. Guitar lessons became a long afterthought as we navigated through Fritz’s last months, his death, another new school year, moving and then ultimately Covid shut downs. But through it all, Bennett kept strumming his guitar mindlessly hoping to find a tune.

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Then this fall as we explored starting the boys in piano, Bennett begged to finally have his lesson in guitar instead.

I posted on our neighborhood group to see if anyone had a recommendation for an instructor and got a response from a dad around the corner. He offered to teach B “a few things” as someone who just likes playing music and was happy to pass his knowledge onto our son. They started meeting outdoors in his driveway on Saturday mornings with an approach of whatever songs Bennett was interested in learning, our neighbor would help him understand.

The first song Bennett asked to learn?

Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

A song by Fritz’s favorite band, whose lyrics hang in our family room because it reminds me of him. In fact, I bought the lyric poster one of the first times after his death that I mustered up the courage to go into his shop at the farm, turn music on and have a beer without him there – it very appropriately was the first song that came on.

Bennett came home after the first lesson thrilled that he learned the chords to a song he’s heard playing from the shop for years and even though so many moments were taken from us, I have to believe Fritz sent us this one:

He is still with us – sharing his music with his grandson and smiling down listening to him play the montage of very Papa songs Bennet has asked our neighbor to teach him over the past few weeks (also, how amazing is it that B completely memorizes everything he is taught?).

We are so proud of you B and have a feeling you are going to keep this hobby up – Keep working hard and filling our house with your tunes!

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(Also, if you haven’t read my brother’s version 1.0 of my Dad’s music you should do so here.)

Lately

Well, 7 weeks have passed since my last post and since there is really no organized way to pick up from there, I’m just going to dump a bunch of semi-connected updates in sections. I have several drafts of more poignant posts sitting in another folder waiting for my thoughts to have time to recollect so I can finish them up, but that day is not today.

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So what’s been happening?

Our hybrid school schedule is still going strong and our days in-person are wonderful. The boys love being with their friends, stay on task at school, I get my feet underneath me at home, and we are all generally calmer and happier in the afternoons.

Our days at home are…. well, different. It is messy and often yell-y, and very distracted, and our internet can’t handle 3 zooms at time and I get nothing done, and the workloads are very different so there is lots of comparing and crying…. and yea, it is not easy.

BUT definitely not to the fault of our school who are doing their absolute best trying to keep things fluid and juggle between responding to the kids in the classroom vs ones on screen. Our teachers are amazing and working double overtime to help our kids feel organized and loved and I am very thankful for that.

One thing is for sure, I have a very new appreciation for our actual school building!

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We got so excited to have the opportunity to partipate in things again, we hit the ground running (maybe a little too hard).

Cullen and Wells are 2 months into piano lessons and Bennett has been taking guitar with a neighbor. I enjoy seeing them use a completely different part of their brain and although it has upped the noise level in the house, it is fun listening to them learn something new.

One of those posts sitting in my draft folder is about Bennett’s love of music and I hope to share it soon. In the meantime, here is a picture of him making his breakfast while holding his guitar – it always seems to be in his hands these days.

Bennett, Wells and Griffin are all playing rec soccer:

And Cullen is playing club lacrosse. He made the 7th grade team and at a recent tournament, they played in the 8th division and when Kev sent me a pic of our 6th grader lined up again a 14 year old man-child I might have panicked a little. He is having a blast though, working hard, being very humbled and rising to the challenge of playing up.

And if adding all those activities in weren’t enough, we also decided to go ahead and semi-renovate our kitchen. We painted when we moved in but as the months went on we realized we really needed to tailor it to our needs. It has been a long and messy process (lots of e-learning days done on our deck), but I cannot wait have it finished.

It is going to pretty AND functional, two of my favorite things.

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We had a visit from Nana, Pop, Uncle Mike, Aunt Cassie and Baby Luke to kick off football season (although it has been rough for one particular Auburn fan).

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For the first 4 months we lived in this house, the boys had no friends. Then one by one the other boys in the neighbor sniffed us out and now our front yard in the common area playground. Some days, I look out the window to spot several children outside without any of mine among them.

While our grass is not surviving it, we can’t totally say we mind giving the kids a free place to just be kids.

Also, maybe we let things like this happen to – it’s physics, not a safety hazard!

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Last week was my birthday (thanks for the social media love!) and Kev and the boys surprised with a night away by myself at The Willard – highly recommended.

(This was my first time really “inside” anywhere public aside from stores in a while… The hotel was at a very minimum occupancy, had lots of additional cleaning procedures and felt very safe!)

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We (kinda) went to a pumpkin patch. We did the drive through hay-ride at Cox Farm, took quick picture, then stuffed ourselves with kettle corn and doughnuts in the car.

(Let it be noted that First-Time-Mom-Me would have never let her children go to the pumpkin patch outing dressed like this.)

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And other than that, the time is passing so quickly, the boys are growing like weeds, and I can’t keep enough food in the house. We are grateful for our continued health, the opportunity for some “normals”, for living near friends and family, and for one of the most beautiful weather-wise falls Virginia could ask for.

I hope you are staying well and sane in your part of the world!

The Post About the First Days of School

It is quiet in here. Actual real life quiet because as I type 4 of 4 boys are in school in person. It honestly feels weird to have them away from me!

This year we are on a hybrid schedule so some days we will still be juggling the distance learning schedule but we are incredibly grateful for the amazing work our school did to open and so far have been very impressed with all the tools in place, the organization and enthusiasm of the teachers and the rallying support of our parent-friends working together on the group text to figure out if all the kids or just mine can’t hear the zoom.

We were 10000% the people who forgot the health form on the first day and had to scramble to get one printed out while the boys’ sat on the curb of shame because their mom didn’t have her stuff together. New checklist it is!

Things about Pre-Kindergarten:

I’m not a hippo anymore – I’m a cheetah! And that’s okay because cheetahs are meat eaters and I love dinosaurs who also have meat eater kinds!

I know 3 of my friends from last year.

I have another man-teacher and he is my last man-teacher’s big brother!

I got to play dinos and regular animals but not sea creatures because that station wasn’t open today.

I played Power Rangers on the playground and I don’t really know what that means so I just ran around a lot. I was super sweaty!

We made friendship bracelets to meet our new friends in class.

I’m really excited we have Mommy-Griffy time again because we don’t have to pick up the boy for like 30 more hours….right?

I can’t believe Griffin is in Pre-K! He does not go to the same school as the boys yet but we love his preschool (and all the other kids went there when we lived here previously) and he is SO happy to be back. He will be going 5 days a week in the mornings so that really helps me be able to help the boys on their days at home. Thankfully too since there is no more lunch bunch or extended care we now live just around the corner and can maximize my time when he is gone not driving back and forth to our old house. I’m so excited for our little guy and will definitely be soaking up those extra 30 hours of Mommy-Griffy time because when he goes to Kindergarten it will be the end of quite an era. Love you Griffagram!


Things about 2nd Grade:

Only one of my friends is in my class and I am sad we don’t get to play with the other class at recess.

My teacher is really super nice and even laughed after I accidentally hit her with the ball instead of me getting in trouble.

Apparently he completely missed the friend he was trying to pass to and nailed his 1st time teacher right in the stomach. We really like to keep our first day impressions as hot mess as possible.

Get this! There is a girl in my class who like Pokemon! I never met one before.

It was kinda weird eating lunch at my seat but I liked your Pikachu drawing my lunch bag.

We got to have 2 recesses and another time just went outside to go for a walk, so that’s good news.

I remembered how to do my belt after the bathroom.

Is that enough? Can I go change my clothes now?

Wellsie! My big 2nd grader – you’ve taken all the changes in stride and didn’t mind one bit walking into your own hallway without help on the first day. You are really bummed to not be in class with your best friends but I have no doubt you will make lots of new ones this year. We had our first virtual day yesterday and it involved a lot of deep breaths to keep you on track but we made it and will eventually find our groove (and move your Pokemon card bucket somewhere far, far away from the computer). I can’t wait to see all the ways you learn and grow this year!


Things about 4th grade:

I was really, really nervous but my teacher is so nice, she made me forget.

I wore my mask and my face shield the whole time.

I’m still super bummed I’m not with with my good friends this week but I think I will see them next week and that’ll be good.

Recess was kind of frustrating because we couldn’t play basketball.

My teacher used to live in Spain which is really cool. I told her I tried to learn French.

I LOVE having my own chromebook. Griffin – do not touch this, ever.

It is a good thing you made me practice a lot of multiplication this summer because we already started with it and probably would have forgotten most of them. Cullen, want to do my math facts pro homework for me so it goes faster?

I had a good day and even though it is different, I am happy to be back in school… but also totally going to wear PJ pants with my polo shirt on my zooms tomorrow.

Bubs – I am so proud of you! You are a child that fell from my tree and change along with not knowing exactly how something is going to play out can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. We are very grateful for your sweet teachers who spent a little extra time before school started getting to know you and helping you feel comfortable with new the processes. Knowing how loved you are at school is one of the many reasons why we love the place you go so much! You are going to have a wonderful year and I have a feeling despite the oddities, it will be one of your favorites. Keep up the good work!


Things about 6th grade:

My homeroom teacher is pretty nice. All my teachers were nice but I probably liked religion best because we got to listen to some Christian music and she picked a lot of the songs I like.

We didn’t really get recess, just walked around outside a little bit. I hope that’s not what it is going to be like all the time.

The PE teacher said we might play some lacrosse this year, so that’ll be awesome.

The day felt SO long.

I wish we could switch classes, but I get it why we have to stay in the same room.

We aren’t using our locks, but still get to use lockers which I like.

Bennett, my chromebook is way more fresh than yours because it is white.

I’m glad to be in school but also glad we still get to be home some days… I bet we get a lot more breaks with you.

Cullen – goodness gracious I can’t believe you are in middle school. Even more so, I can’t believe if anyone told me on your first day of K that we would be back at this school and living in the same house, I don’t think I would have believed them either. But life is funny like that and we are very blessed to have ended up just where we are. A couple of days before school started I was looking for your first day of Kindergarten picture and we ended up reading the post about that day together. Your reaction? “I really haven’t changed that much.” And since you are almost taller than me so can’t cling to my leg anymore when you are nervous, know that I am still always here for you. Make good decisions, be a good friend and keep growing into the amazing young man you are.

First Day of K / First Day of 6th

And so we are off into the 2020 school year and I hit publish with 2 minutes to spare for pre-school pickup… I miss you boys so much but a little bit of aloneness has been nice.

We love you all four of you so, so much and are wowed by your perseverance and flexibility during Covid. It is going to be a great year!

Now, off to Mommy-Griffy time.