Monday, February 18, 2019

#MicroblogMondays: A Home Away From Home

Last weekend at the cabin in the Finger Lakes felt like a dress rehearsal for this week -- our much needed multi-night long weekend in Grafton, Vermont.

It's bothering me that I can't remember exactly when we started coming here, but I think it was 2008 or 2009, then 2010 for February Break, then Christmas three years in a row, some summer weekends on the way home from Maine, an Easter weekend getaway, and now this glorious February extravaganza.

Grafton is one of our favorite places, a romantic spot that is truly away from most things stressful and is all about eating, drinking, reading, and hiking. As soon as we descend into the valley, we feel this immediate dropping of the blood pressure and a sense that we are at our home away from home.

This time, we've read books by the fire, I've done three mini puzzles, we've played Movie Memory, had delicious dinners, gone to two independent bookstores, and hiked around town.

It is pure relaxation. Which is good, because the rest of break needs to be spent writing IEPs. Balance. Rejuvenate first, then go back to work work working.

Happiness, foggy glasses, snow, freezing just a bit

Picturesque Vermont barn in the snow

Snowy frozen river footbridge 

I am in love with this barnside mural

The Tavern and Historic Inn... We stay in the cottage across the street in a quiet, our of the way room

View from our room in the morning

Mini puzzle in a tin!

This one is called "Silver Birches"

And this one is "Red-Eyed Vireos" by Charlie Harper. I may be addicted to these travel puzzles! 

Ahhhh, reading by the fire after a Vermont country breakfast

Hiking up Bear Mountain

Not bad for a shot out a moving car... This moon was truly spectacular and barely captured here.

Books from Misty Valley Phoenix Books in Chester

Books for me bought at The Northshire Bookstore in Manchester

Bryce's book stack from the Northshire.

Delicious Italian wine at fancypants dinner

I really do feel so fortunate to be living this beautiful life.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Things We Left Behind

Sometimes when you go to a place like the cabin we stayed at this past weekend, you leave things behind -- magazines for someone else to enjoy, a note in a guest book, perhaps a razor or toothpaste by accident.

We decided to leave a little more behind than I'd bargained for, and I am proud to say that I felt a lightening of the load rather than a sitting in sadness.

I've had the things I didn't want to bring into the new house in my car in bags and small tubs -- books and blankets, mostly. I hadn't had the wherewithal to find a place for them yet, so I drive around with my scabbed-over wounds underneath folded reusable grocery bags. When we were packing up and checking all the rooms, I saw a bookshelf with books for small children, and had an idea.

I could leave some of the books that have been in my backseat for months here, where tiny guests could enjoy them. We don't really know the people who own the cabin, and so the ones that had nameplates from our shower with notes for Baby T___ won't be an issue -- they won't know that's a sad thing, a life event left unfinished and unfulfilled. I still felt guilty momentarily, leaving them when there are SO MANY loving notes to a baby that didn't exist, not for us.

But then I thought -- the people have grandchildren who come, and the guest book had a lot of families with babies. This was a way to give those books a home where they'll be loved in a getaway setting, loved by lots of tiny hands.

And it got my backseat to be a little less weighed down with sadness and heartbreak.

The letting go is still a work in progress, but I felt like the fact that I didn't cry my way home and I smiled as I shuffled them in amongst the other books and set up the "Little Owl" and "Little Bat" finger puppet board books I bought for us YEARS ago on the child's desk in one room means that healing is definitely happening. It felt good to leave those things behind.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sweet Sweet Respite

Thank you so, so much for the love and encouragement you've given me in response to this incredibly draining school year. This past week did NOT get any better, unfortunately. Every day felt insanely crazier than the last. There was a meeting for the student who is emotionally disregulated where I was at odds with administration and had to go find my principal at the end of the day to make sure I wasn't fired (good news, I'm not, he even said he'd hire me 5,000 times over and then sent me a very nice text later in the day to reiterate that I am valued and respected, even when we disagree, which is quite something). I did hear from the student's parent who thanked me for my advocacy and for "seeing" the child through his behavior. So that's something.

But all in all, the week was super crappy.

I had to skip Tap on Wednesday because it was icy and I was worried I'd regret it if I went and ended up in an accident, so instead I ended up staying at work until 6:00, pretty much every day. Except Thursday, when my stomach decided maybe it would join in on the stomach bug fun and I experienced horrific nausea and stomach pain and exhaustion, went to bed at 8, and then went to school on Friday only to have hideous diarrhea attack me at the end of the day along with the pain, which was a) embarrassing and b) no fun at all. Awesome to leave Math class multiple times for the toilet, and to want to leave at 3 because we were going away for the weekend, but then actually leave at 3:30 because my ass and the toilet were best friends after school.

BUT, we made it to our weekend destination, which was so well timed and perfect it was like a little glimmer of positive karma.

We won a weekend stay at a log cabin in the Finger Lakes through the silent auction for our previous fertility clinic's fertility preservation for cancer patients program fundraiser, which we attend and support almost every year. We were supposed to go in December, but selling the house and moving proved to be impossible to get away from, and the weekend we were supposed to go turned out to be the weekend where the offers came in, so it was a good call to postpone until things were more settled.

The drive down was harrowing -- we had insanely high winds Thursday through Friday, and even into Saturday, gusts up to 55 mph, and there were snow squalls to contend with. On top of the weather, the way that our GPS took us from the cat boarding place we found (amazing, they had their own room with an electric fireplace and we could spy on them through a video camera app) was less than scenic, full of dilapidated barns and a whole lot of nothing for the snow and wind to swirl around in, and at one point I was fairly certain our car would break down and we would be eaten by people wearing human skin face masks.

But that didn't happen, and we made it to the cabin, and the owners showed us around and gave us the lay of the land, and we were THERE.

Except we hadn't gone grocery shopping, and the restaurant that was recommended to us said they couldn't at all accommodate for a gluten allergy, so we drove 30 minutes to the nearest Wegmans, ate at the burger bar (gluten free buns! heaven!), and got groceries for the short stay at the cabin because we had absolutely no intention of going ANYWHERE once we got back.

We made the cozy  bed, had our customary first-night champagne, read by the fireplace, and got to know our taxidermied friends in the cabin.

Ahhh, finally in pajamas, bed made, and sitting in front of the fireplace. 

Lovely living room. That TV never went on, not once.
Would have covered it with a blanket if we could!

This is Charlie.
We made friends with him after getting over the shock of 1/3 of a deer carcass hanging on the wall. 

Bryce really took a shining to Charlie. 

This is Baz. He may not be as well crafted as Charlie, but he had his charms. 

I am ashamed to say that I did not notice Charlie until after we got back from the grocery store. How I missed the front third of a buck, I'll never know, but I blame exhaustion and a hangover from the week.

The next morning we got up, had a lovely breakfast, had coffee, relaxed a bit. I did a puzzle (I am in love with 100 piece "travel" puzzles, just the right amount of challenge, done in one sitting), and then I had to go take the roughly 2 hour round trip drive home, because I forgot my medicine. If it was just my blood pressure medicine, maybe I could have skipped it and took it when I got back, but I forgot my anxiety medication, and that is not something you can mess around with. I was PISSED.

But I did a good job on the puzzle...

That fish looks like it is thinking, "awwwww, fuuuuuuuck." 

When I got back, we had a snack and then got ready to go for a walk. It was freaking freezing, but there were trails around the 23 acre property and three ponds, and we were planning on ribeye and roasted potatoes and green beans for dinner, so we figured we should get out. The directions said, "follow the mowed path behind the red cabin," so that's what we did, except we were in the log cabin, but there was a mowed path behind us.

It went up into the woods and then spit us right back out by the first pond.

There was another path, that you can sort of see to the right and north of the icy slope leading down into the pond, and so we took that. Which took us through the woods, where we saw a LOT of tree stands for deer hunting. It didn't phase us, because Charlie, so we kept on going. There was another pond that had bird houses around it and signs that said things like "Daniel Tiger's Restaurant," which I thought was cute. The couple who owned the three cabins had grandchildren and there was a high chair in the mudroom, so I was like, "isn't that cute!" There was a red cabin, that looked a bit more like a house than a cabin, and a playset that had names painted on it. Bryce was like, "um, this looks like someone's house..." and I said, "it said behind the red cabin, and that there were three ponds... this has to be it! And look, there's another trail!"

So we kept going, and saw another cabin that looked suspiciously like a house. With a Dish and everything. Bryce wasn't feeling good about it, but it didn't look lived in necessarily, so I was like, "this is another cabin, maybe?" but we were pretty far into the woods and had no clue where we were in relation to the log cabin. The clincher for hightailing it elsewhere was a stack of logs with a metal band around them, peppered with bullet holes. Hmmm. People-leather masks seemed a little more likely.

We went in a different direction and passed a beautiful pond, and some pretty running water under ice, and an insane number of tree stands.

The pond with the bird houses, not pictured

Pretty water under lacy ice! The shot-up logs are to the right, not pictured

Beautiful frozen pond with lonely tree and cattails. 

Another lonely tree in the marsh beyond the frozen pond, and a moody sky

Freezing our tuchuses off, but having fun doing it
Then, we came across the ACTUAL RED CABIN. And realized that we had just spent a fair amount of time trespassing all over land belonging to people who had, no joke, at least 50 tree stands, a fence made out of a giant mess of felled trees, and a set of shooting target logs at the end of their driveway. We heard a rifle report at one point and thought... oh jeezum, that was real stupid of us.

To be fair, there weren't really markers on any of the trails, and we are a VERY VERY BAD JUDGE of what constitutes 23 acres. Hint: it doesn't take an hour to walk around 23 acres. But, we made it. We didn't get shot by a rifle or an arrow, we just froze our faces off. Which is better than having our faces eaten off.

We read by the fire, Bryce doing a bunch of his PhD math things, and me reading Disrupting Poverty: Five Powerful Classroom Practices before finishing my book of short stories by Denis Johnson. That may sound awful, but it was lovely. We had some wine, and a yummy steak dinner, and just relaxed, relaxed, relaxed. It was LOVELY.

Before we left, I did another mini puzzle and we had some additional fun with our dead animal friends.

Love this one..."Loonscape" by Charlie Harper. Definitely challenging but also doable!

Which one is Charlie? Hard to tell...

Putting our best Baz faces forward

Then we came home, picked up the cats, and got back to reality. Sometimes all it takes is a little dose of relaxing retreat somewhere elsewhere to recharge for the week. Seeing as how it's the last week before February break, I'm going to need this extra recharge. Whenever I'm stressed, I'm going to just envision this:

Our new home is very relaxing and awesome, but going somewhere different where no laundry awaits, no lesson planning is anywhere nearby, no cats need to be fed or moved off the bed so they don't puke on your bedspread...that's priceless.

Monday, February 4, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: This Year Is Trying To End Me

I know I've mentioned before that this has been a tough school year, but HOLY MOSES it feels like it is just taking everything I have.

Today was a terrible day.

I probably cried at least 4 times, in my room, in the stairwell, in a friend's many things went wrong. I cried for the students whose home lives are beyond hellish and who seem to have whole warehouses of decks stacked against them, yet are still told "You have to learn to be responsible and manage your time" when they don't get assigned work done at home (clearly NOT by me). I cried for my student who is horribly emotionally disregulated and who can be such a sweet boy, such an insanely intelligent boy with a goofy sense of humor, but morphs into an explosive, almost superhero-who-just-got-his-powers-and-doesn't-know-how-to-control-them-and-might-destroy-everything-trying-to type person who flips tables and screams and then is remorseful but it's too late, the room has been wrecked and you can't stay at public school if you can't be safe and school appropriate, but there's no other program for him this year and going home this week means lots of time alone.

I feel ineffective, and exhausted, and like I could spend 20 hours a day at school, trying to keep up with the meetings and the parent calls and the planning and the grading and the paperwork as it IS now annual review season and I will be writing IEPs imminently. (Luckily this year I only have 9 to write, thank goodness for small favors.)

But good news in the muck and the suck -- I had an amazing opportunity to use Virtual Reality headsets with my social studies class to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island museum, and they LOVED it. My 12:1:1 social studies class is the absolute highlight of my day. Also, I am supremely thankful that I don't have other crises going on at the same time as this year -- I probably would have had to take a leave if I was also going through infertility or adoption with this caseload. I can give all my mom-ing to these kids, and my energy, without having to save any for a process that sucks the soul out of you as well.

I just feel like I don't have much left at the end of the day, today in particular.

I can only hope tomorrow is better, and hang on to the fact that February Break is two weeks away and we are in the second half of the school year, and know that I am doing everything I can to try to love on and support and do what's best for these students and the loads they carry that no 13-14 year old should have to. I hope that's enough.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!