Monday, November 25, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Nothing Gold Can Stay

Ah, but it was amazing to have a butterfly burst into being in our home because we were reluctant to throw out a green worm in our local, organic broccoli.

Every day was an adventure -- would he still be there? Where would he be?

But alas, I fear that the Lucky Attack was fatal, just belatedly so.

One week after we discovered his existence in our kitchen, I came home from work to find Broc's lifeless (but still beautiful) body in with the Christmas Cactus.

It was a beautiful week, and while he was only with us a short time, he was a sort of tiny miracle that came from a small act of kindness.

I did the documenting of his short life in part tongue-in-cheek, but I was genuinely saddened to find his empty husk of a butterfly body last week.

Even though it was sad, it was also kind of lovely to celebrate a beautiful moment that passed quickly but that we stopped to appreciate and enjoy.

As one of my students said in an index card condolence card, RIP Broc. Fly free in the flower fields in the sky.

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

#Microblog Monday: A Very Good Day

Last week I had a spectacularly bad day; the kind that makes me call Bryce to say I need Five Guys, Ping Pong, and wine, stat. 

But I don't want to talk as much about that day, which left me feeling exhausted and utterly drained. 

I want to talk about Friday, which was amazing. 

One of the things that made Thursday hard was an emotional moment where a student of mine who is in foster care (not a foster family, but foster home) shared that her birthday a week ago sucked, and it was so hard being away from her family, and her mom didn't have money for a present, and she had cake with her foster parent but no presents, and it was the same as her nephew's birthday and she was missing that, and she just cried and cried. I asked if she had wanted anything in particular, if she had something that she'd been hoping for but didn't get...and she said, "If I could have anything, I would just want my family back together." And my heart just broke. She asked for a hug, which I gave gladly, and then she said, "You give really good hugs," and my heart hurt a little more. She went down to lunch, and I went to the back of my classroom and sobbed silently, and then my TA suggested that I go take a moment in the lead teacher room. 

That's mostly bad stuff, though. The good stuff started to happen when I was in the lead teacher room, because that's when I called the school psychologist to see if maybe, just maybe, we could have a little birthday party on Friday, and I could run out that evening to pick up some small presents and then wrap them all up separately and then bring them in and we could make her 13th birthday a little more special than it seemed it had been a week before. 

I was worried this was a boundary issue, but the psychologist said no, this was an unusual situation and there was no reason why we couldn't. 

So I may have gone a tiny bit overboard...

Fancy coloring book, set of gel pens, brainteaser puzzle (she loves those and is freakishly good at them), happy cactus bookmark clips, lip balm, a set of scrunchies (because those are cool again somehow), and a bag of lemonheads. 
I wrapped it all up in tissue paper and butterfly stickers and had two cards, one for me and one for the psychologist, which we weirdly wrote very similar things in completely separately. My TA had a metal cat magnetic board for her door (to put pictures of her family on), glow in the dark sparkly butterflies for her room, three yummy chocolate bars, and a card too. 

We set it up so 9th period my students stayed with the science teacher and we all met at the school psychologist's office eventually. She was guarded but when we said it was for her, she perked up and opened the cards first ("because that's what you do" she said), then the presents, and was excited but (understandably) understated. We had cupcakes, and hugs, and I went back up to work with my students who are not separated from their families and have nice birthdays, but who at some point will need a little something extra and I will be happy to provide that for them, too. 

She stayed after school and came back up to my room, and I asked her if it was too much, because I was worried it might have been overload. She said, "I LOVED it. I just want to hug you guys forever. Thank you so much." 

To be safe I called her guardian before she got home on the bus to let her know we'd had a little celebration and that was what the bag of loot was, and that we just wanted to do a little something to make her 13th birthday special, just to cover our bases. 

And then I sat at my desk, and felt all warm and fuzzy and like my heart was exploding. That was probably one of the best days of my teaching career. 

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The Ballad of Broc the Butterfly

We have a lot of wildlife in our new neighborhood -- we've seen deer, foxes, heard coyotes, seen bobcat tracks and black bear scat, and we have all kinds of crazy birds.

Most recently we've been visited by our neighbor's guinea hens -- he lives across the marsh, and we thought they were turkeys until they showed up behind our house doing a weird cluck/quackle noise, and then Bryce drove over while I watched them roosting on our deck boxes, and we discovered that a) they aren't turkeys, b) they are "free range," and c) they eat ticks and slugs. So, uh, we are the proud timeshare borrowers of some guinea fowl! They are awful cute.

Bryce the Pied Guinea Hen Piper

But then, we discovered we had wildlife INSIDE the house. One evening, we discovered a butterfly in the kitchen, on a mug near the (anemic) basil plant.

Broc, birthday 11/12/19 to our knowledge. 
It sort of looked like it had just hatched. Which was weird, because we'd had snow, and it's November.

But then, we remembered that in October we'd had some local broccoli, and when I cut it up, I was surprised by a bright green worm/caterpillar.

It looked something like this:

It was cold outside, and I didn't have the heart to send it down the drain or anything, so we just sort of... let him be. I admit, that's a little weird, to let a little green creepy crawly go loose around the house, but we have some potted herbs in the windowsill, so I think that's where he went. Because honestly, until the butterfly appeared, WE TOTALLY FORGOT THAT WE HAD A GREEN WORM IN OUR HOUSE.

And so, we christened the butterfly, which we found out thanks to Google Lens is a cabbage white butterfly (which makes sense because the picture above is from google and it is a cabbage white larva), Broc. (For the broccoli we found him on.)

We were sure he'd be short lived, but he showed up the next day:

Broc on the bar with some sugar water and the basil plant for familiarity
We were worried he didn't have anything to eat. Bryce put out a brussel sprout, but I think that's more of a caterpillar food than a butterfly food, so I put out the sugar water and a little fork ramp.

The whole time we were so nervous that Lucky would discover Broc, because Lucky is the Great Moth Hunter, and if he found Broc, that butterfly was toast.

The next day, Broc was still with us!
On the dining room cookbook bookshelf, under a lamp
But then, I didn't see him. Once we found him on the floor, just sort of sitting there, but most of the time we found him on the table, or on the side of the bar or bookshelf.

Then, yesterday, we saw him sunning himself on the sliding glass door window.

He's got SPOTS! 

It was like he wanted to go outside, but clearly, as you can see, there is snow and he would die pretty quick. 
I started to worry. First, he was in the bottom 1/4 of the sliding glass door, prime hunting grounds for Lucky. Second, the only flowers we had at the time are some dead mums (I did terribly with late fall gardening and killed all my mums I meant to pot with pure neglect), Bryce's orchids, and one early blooming Christmas cactus. I don't think Cabbage Whites go for any of that.

So then, I became the sort of person who buys flowers to serve as a food source for home-hatched butterflies.

Picked this one for the hydrangeas and the mums, which I think the butterfly can get nectar out of.
He didn't find it on his own though, and this morning we found him again in his favorite spot in the sunshine.

Still snow. Looking real pretty, Broc! 

This time, though, he did not escape Lucky's notice. It was very confusing for Lucky to see something white fluttering at the window and then have us freak the fuck out when he went to catch it, like he's done a million times with white moths without any fuss from us.

But Broc is sort of family now.

And so we were devastated when we thought Lucky had gotten the best of our fluttery off-white friend:

Wing dust from where Lucky batted Broc off the window

Wing dust on the sill from where he assailed Broc some more closer to the ground. 

We frantically shooed the cat away, and found Broc down in between the runners of the sliding glass door sill, looking all in one piece but traumatized.

Bryce used a piece of string to airlift him up to the flower arrangement, where he'd be safe from kitty paws and also have some food options.

Heal up, little Broc! And have a mum snack while you're at it! 
But then, I saw him looking all tilted sideways on the hydrangea a few hours later.

His little body looked all crooked and a little broken, too. 
Bryce begged me to leave him alone, that if he was going to be okay, he would, and if he wasn't, well honestly it's just a matter of time before the life cycle gets him anyway.

But this evening...

He's alive and well! And on the move throughout the flower arrangement, and hopefully snacking on that mum.

One day we will have to say goodbye to our new friend, Broc, but for now... he is a survivor. So he fits in real well in our house.

And that is the tale of our newest family member who hatched in the kitchen, Broc the butterfly who immigrated to our home in a bunch of broccoli and came into the world with wings on our basil (we think).

Monday, November 11, 2019

#Microblog Monday: Oh, Seth Meyers

I love Seth Meyers. I think he's hilarious, and smart, and maybe even hot. I love his show, and those videos where he invites Melisandre to his wife's baby shower and Jon Snow to a dinner party and coaches them in social graces.

So I was super excited when I saw he had a Netflix comedy special called "Lobby Baby." I feel like a total tool now, but at the time that I suggested Bryce and I watch it while eating pizza on a Saturday night before we played an hour or so of ping pong, I honestly thought it was a political title.

Like, "Lobby, baby!" in terms of pushing for a political agenda in Congress. Not a total crazy thought, right?

Instead it was 90% adorable and hilarious, but 100% about his wife and then two children, and how his second child was literally born in the lobby of their apartment building. Once that story came out, I had this "Ohhhhhhhhh yeahhhhhh, I totally remember reading about that in People magazine" moment of clarity, and realized that I had willingly yet unwittingly watched an entire special on new parenthood.

I knew what I was getting myself into when I watched (both of) Ali Wong's specials while pregnant, and Amy Schumer's special while she was also pregnant.

For some reason I was caught off guard by Seth Meyers. Maybe it was because once I realized, I was feeling all well-adjusted and like, "Yeah! I can watch and enjoy a comedy special on parenting and babies and not feel sad! Look at us!"

Well, until this nugget was dropped:

"It's fun to be a parent, because I think in a lot of ways it makes you a better person in general because you just have more empathy; you care more about the future of the world."

It's followed up by "In other ways it makes you morally a worse person, because now there are things you would never have done before that you will do for your kids." Which is a setup for a joke about entertaining the thought of stealing a missing toy piece from his son's playmate's house, but... BUT.

I don't think he had to go there. I do not think that having children is the quality that makes you more empathetic than someone who does not, and that caring about the future is not limited to people with progeny. It makes me super prickly.

Also, at one point he talks about how he and his wife don't like to hang out with couples who have just one kid, because they're too uptight (not having the other kids to mellow them out), and parents of two kids is just too much... but he loves hanging out with parents of 3 or more kids because they are super relaxed and don't worry at all about bangs or sounds in the other room. Which is funny, but also left out "people with no kids" entirely. I mean, I get it, as new parents you want to hang out with people who have similar experiences as you, but people with no kids being mentioned not at all sort of left me feeling icky.

I get it. It's a comedy special, ha ha ha, don't take things so seriously, blah blah blah. I won't lose any sleep over it. But I will say that it knocked Seth down a few notches in my regard. (He's still hot, though.)

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Three WOMP WOMP Moments

There are some times when I feel like the soundtrack to my life could be Debbie Downer's WOMP, WOMP. Recently, there were three that left me feeling like I need to get placards for me and Bryce to wear that say "REALLY, our life is NOT SAD, we are QUITE HAPPY!"

1. Where I Am Socially Awkward

A few weeks ago, I was delivering copies of the teacher's union newsletter to classrooms. When I volunteered for the newsletter, I thought I was volunteering to help write and edit it, but instead what I had apparently signed on for was literally just delivering it in my building, which I guess is a fine way to serve the union but not exactly my intent.

I went to one person's classroom, wearing my TEACH THEM KINDNESS sweatshirt, and I swear to the heavens that she asked, "Are you pregnant?"

I was, understandably, put off by this question, and I was like, "NO, um, WHY would you think that?" I was thinking my maternity sweatshirt wasn't so sneaky after all.

Then she said, "Well, I just thought that because you were passing them out that you were a part of it, that's all."

OH. She said "Partofit," not "PREGNANT." That made a lot more sense.

I fumbled through saying "Well, I'd like to be part of it, but as of now I am just the delivery person." And then I left, feeling like I had a) misheard weirdly, b) had no idea how to fix it without being weird, and then c) made a plan to try to fix it, that apparently was DEFINITELY weird.

I sent a message through facebook -- I am not friends with this teacher (and I fear I never will be now, ha), so I sent a friend request and a terribly incoherent, rambly message that basically said, "Hey, sorry, I feel like I was super snippy and it's because I thought you said "Are you PREGNANT?" when it turns out you said "Are you part of it," and I was wearing a sweatshirt from Target that just happened to be a maternity sweatshirt, and I was super confused because I had a hysterectomy last year, and that's why I was out for 6 weeks, but I am excited to be a part of the union newsletter and I'm sorry I was awkward. Actually, you probably think I'm crazier for sending this message, so I'm sorry about that too, but I just wanted to explain myself."

Are you shocked that I never heard from her and that the few times I've run into her she (in my crazy mind) makes a concerted effort to not make eye contact with me?

Sigh. Verbal Vomit for the lose.

2. Where Someone Else Is Socially Awkward

When we went "away" (a whopping 20 minutes, but it was enough) for our anniversary, we met another couple at the bed and breakfast. We are REALLY bad at meeting new people in situations like that, but this time, we hit it off with another couple who just happen to live 15 minutes from us. So much so, that each breakfast we ended up chatting with them for a good hour past everyone else.

Our first interaction was a little rough, though.

Everyone at the table was talking about kids and grandkids, and then all the guys were talking about work and military stuff, and then the woman asked, "So, you guys don't have kids, right?"

First off, that's an interesting way to ask that I didn't hate but wondered how it came to be, and then I said, "Nope, we don't have kids."

"Well, as a teacher, you must have your kids at school and that's enough." (I cannot tell you how much I hate this statement, even if it has a note of truth to it, teaching and parenting are very different beasts and one doesn't preclude the other).

"No, actually, we did want kids, it just didn't work out." (See me trying to give minimal information?)

"Oh, I'm so sorry. Did you try adoption?" (I can see that she is honestly, in her mind, being kind and thinking of solutions to this problem, but I can see that this is not going in a direction that I like.)

"Yes, actually, we did do 2 1/2 years of domestic infant adoption..."

"OH! Are you waiting now?" (obvious excitement)

"NO, actually, we DID do the adoption process and it was brutal and followed 5 1/2 years of awful medical treatment experiences and we're actually 2 years or so out from leaving that process behind."

Stunned silence.

"Wow, I'm so sorry... friends of ours did international adoption, do you ever think of that?"

(I would like serious credit for self control here) "Ah, yes -- we did consider that, but everyone chooses different processes for different reasons, and we really wanted to do infant adoption domestically. I don't think a lot of people know how that process actually works, it is so, so hard on the heart. You know, we were considered 6 times and to have that up and down and possibility and then have it dashed over and over, it was just too much. But we are happy, now. Honestly. It took a lot to get to a place where we can be happy after the losses, but we are. It's seriously okay."

"Oh, wow, I had no idea. I'm so sorry. Well... you never know, it could always happen naturally!"



Well, that shut that conversation down. I felt backed into a corner, and she was actually just oblivious and trying to be helpful, so I decided to go the education route, and then I resorted to yelling about my missing body parts in a quaint historical inn.

The happy ending is that the topic never came up again, we chatted again the second day, exchanged information, and even went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant last night with their 9 year old daughter, who was a super book fiend and so we had a great time, and this was an unfortunate blip at the beginning of what could be a lovely friendship. But HOLY JEEZUM, that was rough!

3. Where Bryce Faces The Awkwardness

Bryce had a meeting that ended at a local bar where you can play giant Jenga and ping pong and go bowling, all at the same place. It's like a quarter-end thing, a celebration of stuff that's gone well.

He left as they were cutting cake, and was like, "Sorry, I have to go meet my wife at home for dinner, and I'm not a big cake person."

His boss said, "Well, take some cake with you! Bring some home for your wife!"

Bryce said, "Oh, I can't -- she has Celiac disease, so she can't eat it. It wouldn't be nice to bring home cake she can't eat, ha ha!"

Then they said, "Bring some home to your kids!"

Bryce said, "We don't have kids, it's my wife and I at home."

Silence...then, "Bring some for the dog, har har har!"

Bryce sighed. "We don't have a dog, either. I don't think the cat will eat cake, ha..."

He said he felt a palpable WOMP, WOMP in the room, this sort of "Your wife can't eat cake, you have no kids, AND you have no dog? HOW SAD FOR YOU."

It's not often Bryce gets hit with the same sort of stuff I do on the social front, engineers aren't nearly as big on sharing personal details at work the way teachers are, but this one made him frustrated.

"I just wanted to say, BUT OUR LIFE IS AWESOME, PEOPLE!, but I knew they wouldn't believe it."

And that's the thing -- sometimes the awkwardness is ours, sometimes the awkwardness is other people's, but it all stems from this same idea -- that the idea of a life without children is somehow sad, or in need of explanation. I feel like I always want to make it clear that it WAS sad, that it was something we wanted, but that it is no longer quite the tragedy it once once. Because you can't go around being a walking tragedy forever, or no one will want to be near you. It will swallow you up. Eventually, you have to figure out a way to adjust and embrace the new life, whatever it is, because that is what you have.

Maybe I will get a button made that says, "Having kids didn't work out, but LIFE IS GREAT!"

Maybe...not. But yeah, it is, most of the time.

Monday, November 4, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Ten Years!

Having two anniversaries is sort of confusing.

We have our Legal wedding anniversary, which is October 23rd and commemorates the signing of the papers and the waving of the Justice of the Peace's wand (or whatever that actually looked like), and October 31st commemorates our very small backyard wedding. They take place within 8 days of each other and we celebrate them both -- the Legal Anniversary usually with a dinner out and our "serious" cards, and the Halloween Anniversary with a tasty home cooked meal and our Halloween cards and ghouls. I don't quite have ten ghouls, but I have a transforming werewolf arm, a walking dead zombie, the Babadouk, IT, a creepy Donnie-Darko-style rabbit, a highly detailed spider, and this year I got THREE, so that makes... ten!

We went away for a romantic weekend away this year, too -- it is ten years, after all!

It is wonderful to think of the next ten years -- eight of the past ten were spent striving and losing and coping with our family building debacle, and yet they were ten great years. The next ten, I hope, will be untainted with that heavy grieving and remaking our dreams and our life into something different than we'd hoped.

Different, but beautiful.

Out to dinner on the Legal Anniversary

Hiking up a ski mountain for foliage peeping before check in at the romantic B&B

Doesn't do it justice

Cozy reading area of our room



Even though it's blurry I love this picture because he made me laugh right before

Awww, Halloween (post wig hair) looove

Bryce surprised me with a DELICIOUS meal, Berkshire pork chops and white sweet potato puree and red chard

Envelope Ghoul, if Mickey Mouse was a bat

Second ghoul, appetizer inside card

AAAAAAA! Super creepy Marianne ghoul (from the French Netflix series which was so good but so scary)
I am NOT an artist, but I was stupid proud of my envelope Ghoul of many monsters.

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