WHATEVS…

Sierra's online journal

A Day in the [Quarantined] Life May 13, 2020

(Day 15: Bullet-point your whole day.)

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THE WORRY MONSTER – Just wait. We’ll get there.

7:15am – Wake up to the sound of my alarm, which is set to play a random song from a Spotify playlist called Wide Awake. Today’s selection? “You’re Too Weird” by the Fruit Bats. Feeling attacked, I turn off the music and lay in bed a bit longer, listening to the birds outside and feeling thankful to see sunshine through the curtains.

 

7:30am – Head to the bathroom to get ready for work, which entails:

  • Brushing my teeth
  • Using my fingers to comb my messy hair into less messy bun
  • Tying a robe around my mismatched pajamas

 

7:45am – Hunt for a shaker cup in the kitchen. Find it in the last cabinet I’d expect to. Silently curse my husband for putting it away someplace weird then silently thank my husband for having put the dishes away at all. Make a protein shake using unsweetened chocolate almond milk (because I bought the wrong kind…I prefer the unsweetened vanilla) and vanilla protein powder (because I bought the wrong kind…I prefer the chocolate).

 

7:58am – Begin my commute to work which entails walking ten steps from the kitchen to the dining room, firing up my laptop, and opening all the websites I need to access for work.

 

8:00am – Cram as much of a regular work day as possible into the three hours my company has authorized me per day. Today’s interruptions were minimal and included:

  • 8:35am – Kissing my girl good morning and supervising her breakfast selection.
  • 9:40am – Discussing with my girl the fact that I don’t want her to go outside to play with Neighbor Child 1 and 2** yet because I want her to do her school work first.
  • 9:55am – Bathroom break.
  • 10:00am – Discussing with my girl the fact that I didn’t like that she snuck out the front door to play with Neighbor Child 1 and 2 while I was in the bathroom. Subsequent to that, accepted her pinkie promise that once I was done working, she’d come in to do school work “straight away.”
  • 10:45am – Diffuse my girl’s emotional upset over an ongoing disagreement between her and Neighbor Child 1.
  • 10:55am – Agree to my girl grabbing a morning snack for her and Neighbor Child 2. She stated that Neighbor Child 1 is home doing school work. I remind her that she’ll be doing school work soon, too. She pretends not to hear and bounces out the front door with two packs of mini Oreos. She’s wearing a bike helmet. She’s always wearing a bike helmet.

 

11:15am – Call out the front door to tell my girl it’s time to get school work done. Endure a brief spurt of grumpiness from her about leaving Neighbor Child 2 to come inside. Begin watching the three required videos for the day and try my best to keep her engaged long enough to write 5 “snap words” and a list of 5 words each for -er, -ir, and -ur words.

 

12:00pm – Grant my girl a bathroom break. With her tablet. Which lasts 30 minutes.

 

12:30pm – Refuse my girl’s third request for lunch. Promise her said lunch when her last assignment is done. Continue to battle over her task of writing a realistic fiction story. Ignore huffing and pouting for as long as possible before snapping and shouting like a lunatic, “Fine! Let’s stop doing school work! You can just repeat the first grade!”

 

1:15pm – Rejoice over the fact that she finished her story AND tackled her art project: creating a “worry monster.” Tell her she’s done a great job when she proudly proclaims, “My worry monster is wearing blue and purple pajamas and he’s surprised because he has a brand new bed.” Serve lunch to my girl and breathe a sigh of relief that she’s chosen to eat at the table on the porch.

 

1:20pm – Make myself a sandwich, which I shovel into my mouth while standing up over the kitchen sink.

 

1:45pm – Sort laundry. Decide it’s time to put on actual [non-pajama] clothes and brush my hair with an actual hair brush.

 

2:00pm – Unload the dishwasher. Immediately reload it with all the dishes that have been piled up in the sink for the past 24 hours.

 

2:05pm – Hear the hose turn on. Run outside to tell my girl, who’s still wearing a bike helmet, to turn off the hose. Listen calmly as she explains that she and Neighbor Child 2 are “watering the flowers” [that we don’t have] out front. I concede and tell her to turn it on just long enough to fill her watering can then turn it immediately off. She complies. Repeatedly.

 

2:20pm – Venture out into the light of day for the sole purpose of telling my girl that the flowers are watered enough. Decide to make an outing of this trip outside by setting up a camp chair and reading a book in the sunshine while my girl and Neighbor Child 1 and 2 play outside. Encounter the following interruptions:

  • 12x – “Mom, watch me…”
  • 1x – “Mom, can I grab a snack for all of us?”
  • 1x – “Mooooom, I’m hurt!”

 

3:30pm – Let the wind get the better of me and finally relocate from the front yard to inside the porch. Continue reading until my girl follows me. Wearing a bike helmet. With her tablet. On full blast. Ask her to turn it down some, which she does. But it’s not enough. Give up. Close my book and resort to playing a game on my phone.

 

4:00pm – The husband returns from work. Breathe a sigh of relief while he takes over parenting. Escape inside to sit in solitude for the first time all day. Except for the dog. Who is whining to get outside again.

 

4:30pm – Heat up dinner for my girl, which she again chooses to eat on the porch. In her bike helmet.

 

5:00pm – Negotiate with my girl about dessert. She proposes she gets two scoops of ice cream tonight and promises to not have dessert for a week. I remind her about our weekly Family Movie Night coming up on Friday and point out that she’ll want dessert then. She insists she won’t. I know she’s lying. I counter her with one scoop of ice cream tonight, dessert on Friday, and no dessert otherwise until next Wednesday. The offer is accepted. She chooses to eat on the porch. Neighbor Child 1 and 2 bring over their dinner to dine with her.

 

5:15pm – Contemplate baking banana muffins, which would require me to get up off the couch and actually do something. But I’m enjoying doing nothing. And eating tortilla chips. In peace.

 

5:45pm – Finally bake the muffins.

 

7:00pm – Wrap up a half dozen muffins to send home with Neighbor Child 1 and 2. Shout the “one more hour” warning to hubby and our girl, who have started hockey practice in the driveway. She is not wearing a helmet. Curl up on the couch to read a little more.

 

7:58pm – Cart the musical instruments out the front door for “Bell Time.” (Every night from 8:00 to 8:02pm, residents in our town are encouraged to ring bells and/or otherwise make noise as a showing of “alone, together” during the pandemic. We participate nightly, as do Neighbor Child 1 and 2.)

 

8:00pm – Shake my tambourine while shooting a pleading look toward my husband that screams, “Is it 8:02 yet?!”

 

8:02pm – Shout good night across the street to Neighbor Child 1 and 2. Cart the instruments back inside and begin the nightly prodding that is getting our girl off to bed. This process includes:

  • Having her brush and floss her teeth, use the bathroom, and put on pajamas.
  • Snuggling with her until doomsday or until she falls asleep, whichever comes first. [Spoiler alert: It’s usually the former.] Thankfully, it was a dad night. WINNING!

 

9:15pm – Watch 3 episodes of Community on Netflix with hubby while eating dinner, which tonight is reheated cheese tortellini.

 

10:20pm – Contemplate baking cookies because why not? Decide against it and proceed to watch 3 episodes of Some Good News on YouTube with hubby while wishing I had cookies and reminding myself how much I effing love John Krasinski. Sob like a hot mess during Zac Brown’s new song.

 

11:30 – Lay on the couch and think about tomorrow. Realize it’ll look a lot like today only with 200% more Zoom calls, thanks to virtual dance class (for my girl) and virtual PTO meeting (for me). Chastise myself for not having made cookies earlier.

 

12:30am – Press “publish” and get ready for a shower and bed. Only to rinse and repeat tomorrow.

 

** Yes, we are supposed to be in quarantine. And we are. However, we do fraternize outdoors with Neighbor Child 1 and 2 (brothers, age 6 and 5 respectively) and their mom. My logic: If my [former] daycare is open and offering care to multiple families right now, surely I can let my girl play with the two boys across the street whose family has the same level of potential exposure as ours does. And that’s to say women and children stay home, dads report to work at staff-only establishments. So, yeah. Playdates for daaaaays.

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

[Not for the] Movie Buff May 11, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 1:23 pm
Tags: , , , ,

(Day 14: Post your favorite movies that you never get tired of watching.)

Some people count down to the release dates for new Blockbusters, purchasing advance tickets and attending midnight screenings. Some people are genre-specific about their movie selections, thereby becoming almost experts in the field. Some people pride themselves on having seen (and being able to quote) all the cult classics. Some people are avid followers of certain actors or certain directors, devouring whatever work they produce. I’m none of those people.

When I’ve got free time, I’m more apt to pick up a book or open my laptop to get some writing done. If I need a distraction that takes a bit less attention, I’ll work in a puzzle book or do some coloring with my daughter. And when it’s time to settle in and zone out in front of a screen, I tend toward 30- to 60-minute television shows, usually of the trashy reality genre. (I have no shame.) So it’s pretty rare that I watch movies at all. And when I do, I virtually never watch the same film more than once.

My lack of movie experience is appalling to some. For example, my husband (who at the time was still just my boyfriend) tried like hell to get me to sit through Star Wars when we were still in high school. Or maybe it was The Lord of the Rings. I’m not sure because to date, I still haven’t seen either. Same goes for Harry Potter. And when my friend Jen discovered about twelve years ago now that I’d never seen the ’80s classics, she set out to introduce me to such obligatory titles as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink.

I haven’t seen a scary movie in the theater since high school (The Blair Witch Project) or opted to watch one on DVD since college (The Amityville Horror). The one time I agreed to go see a horror film (28 Days Later), I walked out of the theater after the opening scene because it was too gory for my taste. I don’t like superhero films, with the exception of Daredevil because, well, Ben Affleck; That and hubby managed to convince me that it was a love story. I did get suckered into seeing the first of the Twilight films with a group of friends but didn’t feel the need to see the others as I’m not big on fantasy.

So what DO I like? Chick flicks for daaaaaaays. If it falls in the rom-com genre or stars Noah Centineo (my guilty pleasure), it’s for me. There should be a love story woven in there somewhere. Bonus points if the story line makes me cry a little bit. Hubby likes to jest that if it’s got subtitles or came from Sundance, it’s also for me. Which is sometimes true. It was extremely difficult for me to devise a list of my favorites because the pickin’s were slim. And I’m sure the ten titles I’ve come up with (out of all the movies in the world!) would make a true movie buff cringe. But I like what I like. So here goes, in no particular order:

Dirty DancingDirty Dancing – This is my obligatory answer when someone asks me what my favorite move is. I’ve seen it countless times and will watch it any time I get the chance. I can quote it. I can sing along to every song on the soundtrack. As a young girl, I was certain I wanted to marry Patrick Swayze.

 

UnfaithfulUnfaithful – I’d repeatedly watch Olivier Martinez do just about anything, really. But I’ve only seen this one twice. The first time was with my mom, who loved it as much as I did but for her it was all about Richard Gere. The second time was with my husband (who was my fiance at the time). He hated it. And we argued over the fact that we could each only see things from our own perspective and were incredulous that the other didn’t agree. Which I believe was the director’s intention so…job well done.

 

MannequinMannequin – This one takes me back to my childhood. Any time it came on television, my sister and I would hunker down and watch. In fact, this may have been my very first love story. The love story that made me fall in love with love stories, I suppose. Plus who doesn’t love Hollywood Montrose?

 

The Motorcycle DiariesThe Motorcycle Diaries – Yes, you’ll have to read subtitles to enjoy this one, unless you know Spanish. It’s a story of adventure, bromance, coming of age. And it humanizes Che Guevara in a way that history books can’t.
 

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliet – I’m talking about the 1996 film from director Baz Luhrmann. Mercutio is a drug dealer and Tybalt, portrayed by John Leguizamo, makes being bad look so good. My friends and I saw it several times in theaters and several more times when it came out on DVD. And the soundtrack, featuring such ’90s icons as Everclear, Garbage, and the Butthole Surfers, was the anthem to my middle school years.
Seven PoundsSeven Pounds – Will Smith can do no wrong in my eyes. If you ask film critics, though, perhaps THIS was the “wrong” Smith did. But I loved the mystery of it all and watching it unfold.

 

 

The Color PurpleThe Color Purple – I fell in love with the book in high school and after discussing the novel in class, our teacher wheeled in the A/V department’s cart and popped in the VHS for us. Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover. A story of triumph over oppression. Family above all else. There’s lots of dark themes to wade through but it tells such an important story.

 

Girl InterruptedGirl, Interrupted – A motley crew of young women come together in a mental hospital. I remember watching this one repeatedly during high school, mostly because I was (and still am) in love with Angelina Jolie.
 

My Sister's KeeperMy Sister’s Keeper – I felt compelled to head to the theater when this one came out after having read the book by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors. At the risk of spoiling the movie for you if you’ve read the book (or spoiling the book for you if you’ve seen the movie), the book and the movie have wildly different endings. And this is probably the only movie I can say this about but…I liked the movie’s ending better than the book’s ending.

 

40 Year Old Virgin40 Year Old Virgin – Who doesn’t love Steve Carell, am I right? This one is always good for a laugh, no matter how many times I’ve seen him exclaim, “Kelly Clarkson!”

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

So This Is Seven May 10, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — sierrak83 @ 10:16 pm

(Day 12: What are you excited about?)

wp-1589138798174174386129708385880.jpgOur girl turned 7 this week and despite the “stay at home” orders still in place, I think we managed to make it a kick-ass birthday for her. She’s been all smiles from Thursday (her actual birthday) through Saturday (when her “party” took place) because those three days were all about her. But in the process, it occurred to me that there’s a whole list of things I never expected to do altogether in the span of just three days… Or perhaps at all.

 

 

Watching our girl blow out her birthday candles without our families there with us.

received_2321103880423498135614402624580713.jpegLike most of you, family is huge to us. A birthday never passes without a family gathering of some sort. My dad, my sister, and my sister’s family along with hubby’s mom, twin brother, and dad and stepmom are always there to sing her “Happy Birthday,” watch her blow out the candles, and enjoy a piece of cake. Not being able to do that this year was rough but she made the best of it. She accepted video calls throughout the day to “see” the people she’d normally see and enjoyed having birthday dinner (and cake!) with a smaller group.

 

Scraping “Mother’s” off of the “Birth” Day cake hubby bought.

received_2341190944750167980186156042466448.jpegUsually, my sister makes her birthday cake and it’s always something giant and artistic and worthy of Cake Boss. But this year, we’re saving that one for whenever we’re (legally, safely) able to throw her a party. So I offered to make her a cake or order one from a local bakery to celebrate with in the day of. Her decision? She wanted the chocolate-on-chocolate cake from Costco. Two layers of rich dark chocolate cake coated in a chocolate frosting with chocolate ganache in the center. Yeah, that’s my kid. Anyway, when hubby got there, there was only one left on the shelf and it said “Happy Mother’s Day” on it in bright red icing. Our girl was not amused. Thus led us to scraping “Mother’s” off and using M&Ms to spell out some semblance of the word “birth” in multicolored candy to appease her.

 

Discussing where to position Sven and Lars, our Christmas elves, in May.

received_6034268638506305180730602374931038.jpeg“We have to make it magical for her!” If insisted. Of course that meant our Christmas elves would make an appearance for her birthday. They showed up on Thursday morning, dangling from balloons we’d hung the night before. And when I checked my email that morning, there was one from Sven that explained Santa had granted them three vacation days to spend with us before Rudolph would pick them up on Saturday night. They brought a gift and she was so tickled to see them!

 

Watching our girl slide down a water slide, in May.

screenshot_20200510-2136066524566687041828975.pngIt was a gift from Memere. And hubby “had to make sure it worked and wasn’t damaged or anything.” It was only about 60 degree so he insisted he wouldn’t hook up the hose to it. Fast forward about a half hour and our girl is rushing out of the house in last year’s too-small swimsuit and sliding down into the icy pool at the slide’s base as passersby were walking by the house in pants and hoodies. Surely if there was a Mother of the Year trophy available, it’s this act that would’ve earned me my nomination.

 

Hearing our girl exclaim, “I can’t believe it’s a blizzard outside!” and confirming with a glance out the window that she’s right… You guessed it… In May.

So to recap: The US economy grinded to a halt nearly two months ago (and has largely remained that way since). Schools are closed for the remainder of the academic year, so from March through June. A fabulous foreign species known as “the murder hornet” (which sounds to me like the name of a semi-pro prison-based dodgeball team if you want the truth) landed on American soil. And snow was forecast for May 9. In our area, it ended up being “just” flurries but thanks to the wind gusts yesterday, DID look blizzard-like for a few minutes. But oddly enough, this didn’t even make the top ten of strangest happenings in 2020 so far.

 

Setting up a folding table by the road to hold the cupcakes for our girls birthday parade.

screenshot_20200510-2138035481454982125659445.pngOur girl never NOT has a party. And we usually go all out. This year, though? No can do. Venues aren’t open and gatherings of over five people are prohibited. We’ve promised her a big party as soon as we’re allowed, which we’re all hoping will be this summer. But in the meantime, we jumped on the latest bandwagon by celebrating in the trendiest of ways…. With a car parade. Our friends and family did not disappoint. They came rolling down the street with their cars decorated, silly string flying, music blaring, horns beeping, and shouts of celebration streaming out their windows. It. Was. Awesome. But I hope to never have to organize one again because I hope all those people will be able to come to our house, walk into our backyard, and party with us for longer than it takes to drive by and grab a roadside cupcake. It was equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming to witness.

 

Taking a family selfie to excitedly show off the new face masks we were gifted.

img_20200509_152000914962917121487753.jpgMaureen, our former daycare provider who cared for our girl from the time she was six weeks old until the day she (Maureen) retired, is a crafty person who loves to sew. She’s come to our girl’s birthday celebration every year since birth and always gifts beautiful, handmade gifts. A few years ago, for example, it was a quilted library bag that we still love and use to this day. This year, it was face masks. And we LOVED them

I’m so excited that our girl’s birthday was everything she wanted it to be and I’m so thankful that she has taken all of this covid-related wackiness in stride. We are so lucky to call her ours.

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#QuaratineHairDontCare

 

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

Teacher Appreciation Week May 6, 2020

(Day 12: Write about five blessings in your life.)

Wednesday, March 11 was a beautiful day, given that it wasn’t quite spring in Connecticut yet. I remember it clearly. The world was abuzz with covid-19 talks but no one really knew what was coming. Work was more stressful than usual. My anxieties were already ramping up more than usual. And I’d never been more thankful to slip out of the office mid-morning to head across town to my daughter’s elementary school, where I often go on Wednesday mornings to meet her class at the library.

colorful chalks

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

When I arrived that day, though, I found her class preparing to leave the library, having moved their class time up a half hour to accommodate for a whole-school event that I was fortunate enough to attend with them since I was there anyway. All the students—kindergarten through second grade—were being rewarded with a sidewalk chalk party for adhering to the “positive behavior” covenant they all chant daily during morning announcements. So there I was, among a sea of roughly 350 students and roughly 30 teachers and staff, watching kids excitedly scribble drawings and messages in the courtyard. There was laughter and frantic running around and general childhood levity. I’m so thankful for that time and I’m so thankful that the kids had that moment to celebrate. Because none of us knew then that the following day would be their last day of school in the traditional sense.

This pandemic has affected us all in so many ways, on so many levels. But for now, I’m going to stick to describing what it’s like for me, personally. I’m working remotely. Limited hours—down to 16 weekly from what once was 38—but working still. Every day. And also trying to play teacher. And also trying to prepare three meals per day and the eleventy bajillion snacks my girl asks for non-stop. And also trying to maintain my household; laundry and dishes and floors don’t know that I need a break. And with whatever time is left in my day, I’m also trying to preserve my own sanity. Quell my own anxiety. Make sure I’m mentally up for the challenge of yet another day like the last.

I’ve helped my daughter navigate through paper packets and access multiple platforms for school work…Microsoft Teams, Lexia, ST Math, RAZ Kids. As an active member of our school’s PTO, I’ve also tried my best to continue moderating our school’s Facebook group for families by sharing relevant information and answering questions when I can. I’ve taken my girl to the “teachers parade” the faculty organized for the benefit of our kids. I’ve tried so hard to keep on top of every Spirit Day and Theme Week being catapulted our way from every direction. But it’s a lot. I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I’m spread too thin. So when the rumblings of Teacher Appreciation Week began several weeks ago in the PTO groups I’m part of on social media, I initially felt a bit jaded by it all. I’m the teacher now. Who’s going to appreciate ME?! But since then, I’ve come to my senses. I’ve realized that even though we’re not physically in school and even though a lot of the hands-on “get your work done” prodding falls to me right now, our teachers absolutely deserve our appreciation. Perhaps moreso now than ever.

Today’s prompt is to write about five blessings in my life. And being that it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I felt it appropriate to pen a few notes about the teachers who I’m most blessed to have in my daughter’s life right now. 

 

Mrs. Kibbe

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Photo credit: Whoever was responsible for the slide show in our recent school newsletter.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical at the start of our girl’s first grade year. Her teacher looked so young and in my mind that equated to inexperienced and ill-equipped to effectively handle our girl. I couldn’t have been more wrong. We met each other briefly at Open House at the start of the year. And I’d made small talk with her on Wednesday mornings when I’m able to join library time. But I didn’t get the opportunity to really talk about our girl with her until parent/teacher conferences in November. When my husband and I left that meeting, I said to him, “She sees our girl.” Mrs. Kibbe began fostering our girl’s leadership abilities from the beginning of the school year by giving her the title Lost Things Manager, a position that entails selecting a helper or two to put away anything that’s out of place at the end of the day; Our girl spoke proudly of that responsibility so often. She’s worked as a team with us on some personal/social struggles our girl was facing and has created opportunities for our girl to get some additional challenges to keep her stretching her mind. Since the start of the school year, she has made herself readily available to all parents and often responded to messages outside of school hours, a sure sign that her students are not just forgotten when the bell rings at 3:20. Since we began “distance learning,” she’s been a tremendous asset to not only her students but us parents, as well. Her understanding of our girl and her needs has truly impressed me so it was no surprise that when I mentioned to our girl (before I knew for sure) that there was a chance she wouldn’t be able to go back to school until the fall, she said, “That would be awful. Then I wouldn’t get to see Mrs. Kibbe anymore.” Not her friends, but Mrs. Kibbe. And my girl is right. The worst part of this quarantine is missing out on the last third of the year in Mrs. Kibbe’s classroom. 

 

Miss Donna

Miss Donna

Miss Donna & the “Minis” at Nationals (Wildwood NJ, summer 2019)

When our girl expressed interest in dance lessons at three years old, we didn’t have to look far. At the recommendation of a (practically) family member, we chose Suffield Performing Arts Center in the summer of 2016 after a short visit to check out the studio and to meet Miss Donna and her daughter/co-teacher Lizzie. We liked the recital pictures and the fact that the little girls were dressed like little girls. We liked that competitive dance was an option, not a requirement. We liked that the teenage dancers welcomed our girl in excitedly that day to stretch with them and that our girl joined them with no hesitation or fear. I cried watching her that day. And at her first dance recital in May 2017. And at her first dance competition in winter 2018. And most recently, while watching my girl follow along to her ballet technique class on Zoom from our living room. Miss Donna is a no-nonsense woman who expects discipline and hard work from the girls…but who also knows when it’s time to let loose and let them run wild for a bit. Her choice to start Zoom classes shortly after the Governor’s “stay at home order” took effect shows what I’ve always know; she loves her dancers. Remote classes have allowed the girls to not only continue dancing but also to continue socializing with each other and with her. Miss Donna probably doesn’t realize the enormous impact her decision has made on my girl because I’ve heard classes from the next room and know that my girl chooses not to talk much during these virtual meetings. But when class is over, she’s amped up and talks excitedly about what they did and what the other girls were talking about. Her whole demeanor changes. Twice per week, my girl gets to feel normal for a couple of hours. And for that, I’ll never be able to thank her enough. 

 

 

Mrs. Annis

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Photo credit: Whoever was responsible for the slide show in our recent school newsletter. 

From the start of her Kingergarten year, my girl has insisted that PE is her favorite part of school. So when I met Mrs. Annis myself during Open House in fall 2018, I introduced myself and told her how much my girl loves her class. She asked who my student was and when I said my girl’s name, Mrs. Annis’s face lit up. “I love her!” she gushed. Her comments on my girl’s report cards are always complimentary and when I’m at the school, Mrs. Annis has taken several opportunities over the past couple of years to personally tell me what a pleasure it is to have my girl in class. When “distance learning” began, it’s Mrs. Annis’s videos that my girl is most excited to see. When the “Physical Education” channel on Teams is bold, indicating that there’s a new post for her to view there, my girl’s eyes light up. I don’t know what sort of voodoo she’s done but Mrs. Annis has truly helped foster my girl’s love for physical activity, which I hope will continue throughout her lifetime.  

 

Coach Shelley

Coach Shelley

Coach Shelley (right) and assistant coach Jess (left) pose with the U6 green team, fall 2018

When our girl decided she wanted to play soccer, I’ll admit that I cringed a little on the inside. Soccer was perhaps my least favorite sport to watch, mostly because I don’t understand a lick of what goes on on the field. But what our girl wants, our girl gets. We were assigned to Coach Shelley’s U6 “green team” in the recreational soccer league in fall of 2018. She saw something in our girl that we hadn’t seen and began to foster her soccer skills in a way that neither myself nor my husband were equipped to do. She pushed her and mentored her and taught her the art of playing defense. And after two seasons, Coach Shelley recommended we look into the Academy program, a sort of stepping stone between the recreational and competitive leagues in our town. We took that leap in fall 2019, and our 6-year old was suddenly playing on a U9 team on a bigger field and with more rules in play, including assigned positions. Gone were the days of a pack of tykes swarming after the ball. Without Shelley’s guidance, I never would’ve looked beyond recreational soccer and our girl wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow on the field as much as she has since joining Academy. Though spring season is canceled due to covid-19, I’m looking forward to seeing what Fall 2020 brings for her soccer skills. 

 

Miss Megan

Miss Megan

Her smile says it all

My husband and I are both full-time workers so from the time our girl was 6 weeks old, she went to a home daycare that we absolutely loved. And when our provider announced in 2016 that she would be retiring that spring, we were gutted. Thus began the hunt for a preschool for our then 4-year old, which led us to The World of Imaginations. Miss Megan was our girl’s first real teacher. And though our girl entered preschool already knowing much of what would be covered on the academic end of things, her time with Miss Megan introduced her to the concept of “circle time” and schedules and classroom responsibilities and etiquette. It was around this time that our girl started playing school at home and participating in themed days based on what they were learning about in class. Preschool graduation day was a rough one for me but thankfully our girl was able to stay on as a “school-ager” at the same daycare. And though she’s no longer a preschooler there (known as “Miss Megan’s friends), our girl still gets to see Miss Megan daily and loves the team of teachers who care for the school-agers, too. Unfortunately, I had to withdraw our girl from The World of Imaginations because of covid-19, a decision that came after a lot of emotional struggle. I look forward to the day I can re-enroll her when the worst of this pandemic is behind us. 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

What If….: Quarantine Edition May 5, 2020

(Day 11: Something you always think “What if…” about)

“We are the sum total of our experiences.” -BJ Neblett

We’ve all done it. Slipped down that rabbit hole where we question our past decision and dream about how life may have been different if only…. But I realized long ago that life as I know it life as I knew it pre-pandemic is pretty awesome. And if I were to go back and alter any single decision from my past, it could’ve changed the trajectory of my life in a way that would’ve led me to Not Here. So are there experiences that I wish I’d handled differently? Absolutely. But I refuse to waste any time regretting the experiences that have made me me.

On the other end of the spectrum, some of us have also invested time into thinking about our futures and all their possibilities. Guilty as charged! What if I wrote that book? What if I changed careers? What if we had another baby? What if we moved to a new town? Dreaming about a future even brighter and more fulfilling than my (pre-pandemic) present is exciting. It used to leave me with a heady confidence, a sort of the world is my oyster sort of vibrancy. Nowhere to go but up!

And then Covid-19 happened. And the first few weeks felt….unusual? But bearable still. Working remotely? I can get used to this. Home schooling? I’ve always wanted to try that. Stores and restaurants and theaters and seemingly everything else under the sun is closed? Think of the money we’ll save by staying home!

And over the next few weeks, my optimism started to wane a bit. Getting my school-loving smarty-pants to buckle down and get her work done comes with a fight every day. She misses her teacher. Hell, I miss her teacher. And the PTO. And dropping in for library time with her class on Wednesday mornings. Dance class on Zoom is a welcomed distraction for her, but it’s just not the same as giggling in the back room before ballet or chasing her friends around in an impromptu game of tag between jazz and tap. Cranking the volume on the TV for family movie night is all well and fine but really can’t compare to the big screen. Dance competitions? Canceled. Spring soccer season? Canceled. Dance recital? Not looking good.

I waited as long as possible before breaking the news to her about the fact that we can’t throw a party for her birthday just yet. She listened excitedly as I laid out the plan which includes a car parade instead of a party for now and the promise of a big bash as soon as we’re able. Like this summer. I could practically see the images in her mind of water balloon fights and sprinkler play and all the water activities she asks for every May but is told that it’s too cold to have at her birthday party. Like every other covid-19 related blow, she took that news in stride in such a way that I was both in awe and insanely jealous of her resilience. And I thought, what if she loves celebrating her birthday later? What if this is a blessing in disguise? 

Over the past few weeks, my what if-ing has taken a darker turn. What if things never go back to how they were? What if I don’t have a job to return to? What if our country plunges into another Great Depression? What if the stores never restock and we’re faced with food and supply shortages? My anxiety has been spiraling more than usual. I cry. Often. I worry and stress and let my brain create every imaginable worst-case-scenario.

Today’s announcement from the Governor of Connecticut was not unexpected in the least, though that didn’t make reading it any easier. Schools will remain closed state-wide for the remainder of the academic year; we’ll continue with distance learning. The last shred of hope I had that my girl could finish her first grade year in class with her teacher was ripped from me. No field trip, no field day, no assemblies. (Side note: I can’t imagine what the parents of seniors are feeling!!) Nope. When my girl returns to school, she’ll be a second grader. Entering a new classroom with a new teacher and a new batch of friends. Everything familiar from early March will be gone. What if we can’t even go back in September? What if she falls behind? What if she can’t cope with this blow? 

I reached out to my husband at work, which I find myself doing when the day feels too heavy to lift. And he did what he does every time. He reminded me that this isn’t going to last forever. That things will start to return to (closer to) normal over time. That we’ll get through this, together. He suggested I take some time for self-care, which I haven’t really been doing at all lately. He told me to pause. To be in the moment. And to not think about the next thing on the list or the next thing to be missed. And he’s right. There are too many unknowns at this time. What if-ing is futile because no one knows what things will look like when businesses reopen, when kids go back to school, when covid-19 is a blip in the history book.

So today, what if what I’m doing is enough? What if the fact that my kid’s school work is done and she’s still smiling is all I need to allow myself some me time? What if I don’t vacuum the house or fold the laundry? What if we order dinner so I don’t have to cook and the kitchen stays clean just for one day? What if I just breathe and not try to posit what the future beyond today holds? What if I lay all my worries and stress down? What if this, right here, is what I’m meant to be doing? 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

Musings of [don’t you dare call me] a Millennial April 27, 2020

(Day 10: Write about something for which you feel strongly.)

 

By definition, Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1996. So by definition, I am a millennial. But don’t you DARE lump me into that category. I’ve always felt pretty strongly that I’m more of a gen-x’er at heart. And that feels more and more true the older I get. And I’ve come to terms with the sad reality that that’s what’s happening. I’m getting older. In fact, it has already begun to happen. I am old. 

I’d like to pause here and acknowledge that when 50-year-old me (or even-older-than-that-me) looks back to these musings of 37-year-old me, I’ll laugh and laugh. I’ll shake my head derisively and think, “If only you knew….” in the same way that I reminisce about how fat high-school-me thought I was or about how self-assured about parenting 30-year-old-me thought I was. I get it. My understanding of this phenomenon called aging will change over time. It’ll evolve with me. But today, right now, this is very real. I’m. Freakin’. Old. 

It happened around day 8 of this lockdown. I was leaning into the bathroom mirror, maybe to daub at some tears, maybe to wipe away some errant Nutella…. You know, typical quarantine stuff. And there it was. A glittery strand of silver sprouting from my temple. My first silver hair. Silver. Not gray. Because I sparkle, obviously. It was the final nail in the coffin of my youth. No denying it. 

How can I be so sure? Well, as I said, the lone silver strand was the final undeniable straw. Prior to that, though, there were a string of indicators that when considered individually, seemed unusual at best. A fluke. Nothing worth mentioning. Some were pretty nuanced. Others were harder to ignore.  But taken in total, they all point to one conclusion; OLD.

 

Ma’am

woman paying with credit card

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This was among the first signs that I noticed. It probably began with some pock-faced teen-aged cashier at the grocery store and surely elicited an eye roll from me when I recounted the story to my husband. “Can you believe it? She called me ‘ma’am!'” But over time, it became more common to hear. So much so that now being called “miss” feels uncomfortable, almost patronizing. As if I’m some white-haired grandmother and they’re just trying to make me feel good about myself.

 

Attraction

You could argue that I’ve always had an appreciation for men who are perhaps slightly too old for me. So looking back, I can see how this change actually began long before the first “ma’am” was uttered in my direction. But it didn’t full-on hit me until circa 2010 when I discovered The Gilmore Girls on Netflix. It was that series that I credit with my epiphany that I’d entered a “sweet spot.” You know the spot. It’s when you think, “Rory’s boyfriend Dean is dreamy” but also “Damn, Luke is hot!” and suddenly realize that men almost young enough to be your son AND men almost old enough to be your dad are equally attractive. Tell me I’m not alone.

 

Slang

I distinctly remember a conversation with my husband that took place about nine years. We were getting ready for my nephew’s sixteenth birthday party when, in passing, I referred to us as his “young, hip aunt and uncle.” My husband chuckled and told me that by merely using the words “young and hip” I’ve proven that I’m anything but. I argued the point without a whole lot of conviction at the time because I didn’t yet know how much was at stake. He was right. I just didn’t know it then. Since that night, my nephews have opened me a whole world of new slang that, if I’m honest, I have no idea what any of it means. Squad. Life. Say less. No cap. On fleek. Are they even speaking English sometimes?

 

Spending

In my youth, splurge buys included things like weekend excursions or a new car. When the bills were paid and money was left over, I’d pony up for concert tickets or hit the casino. Hubby and I would throw a party or satisfy some whim. But over time, extra money began being filtered into adult (read: boring) things. A new dishwasher. Replacing the roof. Preschool tuition. Our parties began to involve less alcohol and more pinatas and goody bags full of useless junk that other old people like us find ways to slowly discard without their kids noticing. The real eye opener for me was when my husband and I picked out our new washer and dryer last Christmas…and were actually excited for what we knew Santa would be delivering.  

 

Age spots

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Do you see it?!

A couple of years ago, I noticed a birthmark on my left hand. It’s one tiny circle of skin that’s just a tad darker than the rest of my hand. “Hmm. That’s strange. I don’t remember that being there before,” I thought. Then I considered the fact that maybe it was dirt. But scrubbing didn’t get rid of it. So maybe it’s a stain of some sort. But weeks later it was still there. That’s when I came to terms that it’s an age spot. My first. And to date, still my only. 

 

Too young for you

I enjoy a good meme as much as anyone. And I’ll openly admit that I watched Jersey Shore when it hit MTV. So when the “she’s too young for you bro” memes began, I was fully on board. They were hilarious. Pauly D’s exasperated face and block letters insisting that “she’s too young for you bro” if she doesn’t know what X is. And X was lots of things. The original Nintendo console. A screen shot from Limewire. A picture of “Tom” from MySpace. The lyrics to the opening of Fresh Prince. But recently, X has started to become things that I’ve never seen before. (I’m lookin’ at YOU, Roblox and Fortnite.) This begs the question, Am I too young, bro? Turns out, no. But when you’re too old to get the “too young for you bro” references…then what? What kind of world is this?!  

 

Musical Taste

woman with headphones listening music

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I recently wrote a blog post about some of my favorite songs. And while working on that post, it drove home a point that until then I’d only let rattle around in the back of my mind. As I age, my musical taste continues to change. Sometimes drastically. I went from a CD wallet full of discs marked as explicit to Spotify playlists leaning heavily toward country, folk, and instrumental. Foxy Brown has been replaced with Kacey Musgraves, DMX with Ray Lamontagne. 

 

All kidding aside, having lost my mother when she was just 48 years old, I’ve always placed high regard to the following quote, source unknown: “Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.” So I’m going to take my age spot and my one silver hair and all the changes I’ve noticed in my personality and tastes and I’m going to embrace it all. Aging is a beautiful thing and I can’t wait to see the person I become. 

30-Day Writing Challenge

 

 

Opened Doors April 20, 2020

Filed under: Daily Writing Prompt — sierrak83 @ 3:08 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,
(Day 9: Post words of wisdom that speak to you.)
“When one door is closed, don’t you know, another is open.” – Bob Marley 
Today is the one-month anniversary of the signing of Governor Lamont’s “stay at home” order in Connecticut so suffice it to say there are lots of closed doors lately.
Literally.
Movie theaters. Restaurants. Casinos. Amusement parks. Schools. All closed. There are no concerts, proms, beauty appointments. We can’t visit our family members, hug our friends, or step foot inside “non-essential” retail locations.
But today, rather than focusing on all the doors that are closed, I’m going to take a moment to appreciate the metaphorical doors that have opened for me, thanks to this pandemic.

people wearing face mask for protection

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I have a renewed appreciation for essential workers, especially those in healthcare.
This one’s important because while I’m worried about my work hours having been cut and whether or not I’ll have a job to go back to, so many others are putting on their uniforms and marching in to their jobs, where they face potential exposure daily. I couldn’t do what they do. But they’re there, doing what’s necessary to keep us moving forward. Taking tiny steps toward normalcy for us all again. And in the meantime, I’m going to focus on the blessing that is staying home and safe with my girl.
Never again will I have this opportunity to bond with my daughter on this level. 

My Two Kids

My two babies

Speaking of my girl, it’s not lost on me that this time with her is precious. And please don’t think that means this time has been all Pinterest-worthy craft projects and Montessori-inspired “distance learning.” There have been plenty of times when all I have the strength to do is slap some chicken nuggets and a Netflix cartoon in front of her so I can get a moment of solitude. Some days there are power struggles and, let’s be real, I don’t always win them. I yell more than I should. I often count the hours until her bedtime. But you know what else? We read together more now than ever. I get the chance to see first-hand (better than any report card could ever demonstrate to me) her strengths and weaknesses, academically. I’ve been able to teach her new things like navigating online apps to access school content and I’m in the beginning stages of a presentation to answer her repeated “Where do babies come from?” question. Not having to leave the house for her school or my work has afforded us more time to play games, laugh, talk, and just enjoy each other. At first, it was easy for me to not see past this “closed door.” I mourned the loss of her spring soccer and dance competition seasons. I was sad for her that she’d be “missing out” on having a birthday party or finishing the first grade IN school with her teacher and friends. But when I look past all that, I’ve realized that she is truly thriving through all this. Other than brief moments of pouting over the lack of a (non-canine) sibling to play with, she has loved every minute of all this mommy-and-me time. She’s going to look back on this pandemic fondly, of that I’m sure.

 

brown paper bag

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It has forced me to reconsider how we stock our fridge and pantry.
We are so fortunate to be living in a time and in a country where the infrastructure already existed to facilitate changes like “curbside pickup” at stores, Door Dashing take-out to our front porch, and having grocery items delivered to our homes. Before all this, our family typically did a Costco run once or twice per month and I went to the grocery store on Sundays for what we’d need for the week. Beyond that, my husband would schlep to the store for whatever I’d forgotten and/or whatever we decided on a whim that we “needed” at 11pm on a weeknight. Now, though, stocking our house takes a bit more planning. To stay out of stores, we order groceries for delivery. And lots of you are doing the same because the typical one- or two-day delivery from Stop & Shop now takes about 14 days from reservation to delivery day. It takes a bit more pre-planning to make sure we don’t forget items and we think harder about what we “need” before taking a jaunt to the store for something, and never past 8pm since most essential businesses are closed after that. We cook more, order out less, and are more mindful of what we actually need to get by for a couple of weeks. And that’s something I hope to continue even after COVID-19 is nothing more than a mention in the history books.

 

My new schedule allows more hobby time.

background book stack books close up

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At 2pm on a Monday afternoon a month ago, I’d be just punching back in after my lunch break. Maybe I’d be submitting payroll or on a conference call with a client. Maybe I’d be elbows deep in title transfers or planning an agenda for our staff meeting. But right now? I’m sitting in a camp chair with my laptop on my lap, blogging while watching my daughter play in her sandbox. This past month has afforded me more time for writing, more time to tackle my to-be-read pile of books, more time for binge-watching trashy reality TV on Hulu. I bake more. I relax more. I smile more. Instead of rushing home from work to whisk my girl off to whatever extra-curricular she has on her agenda and then home to get her ready for bed only to rinse and repeat the next day, we can breathe. Everything outside the walls of our home has been paused. And that has given us an unprecedented opportunity to pursue true happiness rather than obligations.

 

white printer paper with be kind text on plants

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This is my chance to reassess and reinvent my life.
When this “stay at home” order is lifted (or even relaxed) and life starts to return to normal, I hope to not just revert to the way things were. This pause has taught me to not take the little things for granted; an over-booked weekend of soccer games and kids birthday parties, a night out with friends, stopping by to see my dad “just because.” There’s a whole list of things that I can’t wait to do again the minute I’m able. And every last one of them are things I never really appreciated doing before all this. I hope to be kinder to strangers, more patient with my loved ones, and more resolute in the pursuit of my own happiness. And I sincerely hope I’m not the only one.

 

So today, I urge you to stop what you’re doing. Put the worry and doubt aside. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do or where you can’t go. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and for your kids. Sit out in the sunshine and breathe some fresh air. Pause. And see things from a different perspective. Look at all those open doors!

joy painting brush

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30-Day Writing Challenge