The Rose of Sharon (hibiscus) tree – I have a slight sad about this, but she couldn’t really be saved.
The full berry patch – which, as it turns out, contained a LOT of poison oak and poison ivy 😬😬😬.
The goddamn monkey fudging grape vines 🎊🎉🎊🎉.
The pool deck – which, as it turns out was not based on anything. There was no structure, support or concrete underneath it at all.
No more hog weed or haunted bamboo!
The chipmunks and *skunks are almost certainly fully evicted as they were living in the pine tree and berry patch respectively.
The hideous side of the house which was, quite frankly, dangerous has now been ripped out. They did discover an awful retaining wall that has just been made of poured concrete and shale stucco**. That’s going to add another $3000+ to the bill, as it needs to be dealt with else all our new work could be destroyed. Repair work will buy us 3-5 years before it needs to be replaced so 🤷🏻♀️.
*Yes. Skunks. I have seen them wombling through a few times, and a week or so ago I spotted two …Cavorting in the neighbours garden.
**It’s cracked to pieces, full of holes and has a bloody triffid living in it.
The front is a separate part of the same main job. They have:
Ripped out all the bushes.
Grass all dug out – will be installing new sod*
They will be:
Installing a new kerb.
**Installing an underground drain.
*The back yard is simply going to be grass seeded rather than sod, in order to save some $$$$
**Both of these projects will, in theory, deal with the major flooding issues in our basement – or at any rate a decent part of them. We will still look to install a sump pump. Hopefully next year.
There’s other things happening too. It does turn out that the neighbour’s grandkids had occasionally developed signs of poison ivy/oak and they hadn’t been able to work out from where as there’s none in their yard. I apologised of course, but as I’ve witnessed said (teenage) grandchildren crashing over our fence into the berry patch with very little regard for my property? I don’t feel too guilty and their grandma said pretty much the same thing!
Obviously if it had been the little ones I would be far more concerned! I’m not a monster!
So yes, this year’s major house project is the backyard.
We are attempting to budget one project per year. Last year we had to get the chimney done. Then the A/C happened. Then the plumbing disaster. So this is the first time we’ve been in a position to choose what we do.
House ownership of something that is 120+ years old is… Fun 😬😬😬
That’s two in the school since the start of the year. Which may not sound like a whole lot, but the first one was Day 2 and was a staff member!!!
This next one is in #1 Son’s grade!
Though fortunately not in his class!
And so round and round we go again. I’ve told both kiddos and reinforced my masking rules again. Fortunately they are part of the pooled testing programme so get tested every Monday morning anyway but it does not help my anxiety.
I simply feel like we are just waiting for it to hit again. And please allow me to explain just what it is I fear – exactly.
It’s not that I’ll lose my kids. Statistically I’m aware that’s improbable. They’ve had a version of the virus before. Though over 8 months ago and not Delta.
It’s the long term effects on their health and overall well being I’m terrified for.
For example, #1 Son still has his cough. And there’s little data on long hauler syndrome in children. But we’ve seen the effects on previously star athletes and similar.
Forgive me for not wanting that for my children.
So just at the point I was beginning to contemplate relaxing my grip on my anxiety, the midden has hit the windmill again.
However tomorrow I will probably begin discussions on one of the highlights of my year:
I disappeared. I know I did. I’m aware. The Instagram kept me on the social media radar, as has The TikTok to a lesser extent.
Though my work there is veering more into feminist/political content far more than I ever intended this blog to do.
I also completely hate, and I mean truly loathe and despise the new WordPress interface. I used to simply compose posts on my phone, add gifs and photos practically instantly, then post up. Now? I can’t do it. And with everything that has gone down in the last 20+ months? I just didn’t have the head space for it at all.
Now? I need something more to focus on. There’s been so much anxiety and fear, and despair and depression. I’m coping – I have kids, I have to cope – but the Black Dog is definitely nipping at my heels, and in a way that isn’t usual for me.
I usually simply shut down. Climb into my box without even being aware that it’s what I’m doing, but right now, it’s sheer exhaustion. On a weekday I am crashing out regularly for a minimum of an hour, sometimes two, long nap. Usually after the afternoon school run, but not exclusively. Today it was after – from 2:50ish til about 4:20ish. I can’t help it – I try so hard to keep my eyes open, but it just… stops. And although I am walking to and from the Elementary school twice a day most days (on rainy/stormy days the hus-creature tends to take pity on us and agrees to take the car) it’s only a 40 minute walk in total, and we are already speeding up.
It is uphill in both directions though – and yes that is possible 🥺🙄🥺🙄
So, let’s divide this post up into some things of note that have occurred since I was last here. The first obvious one would be:
Yessiree Bob, both kiddos are now proud Winthrop Wild Cats. And while I can’t believe that #1 Son is now in Fourth Grade, I find it even harder to credit that TT is now a KINDERGARTENER.
Those of you who followed me purely on the Book of Faces know that #1 Son basically rocked out Third Grade entirely remotely. We did an entire full school year via Zoom and associated technological processes. And for a kiddo with ADHD and related issues? I truly, truly, could not be more proud of him. He met his academic expectations in 99% of all subjects and areas within them. And the areas he didn’t? I truly don’t remember where those are.
And he learned to play the violin entirely remotely. And the kid has TALENT he really does! He’s agreed to keep it as his ‘in-school extra curricular activity’ for this year, so watch this space to see how that goes. I can’t wait to see how his skill expands with proper 1:1 in-person learning. There’s serious musical talent on his dad’s side of the family, so I know it’s not just the usual parental bias of ‘oh, my kid is just amazing’ – begone Roald Dahl, thou hast no power here!
TT? Well her last year home with me was not what I had planned. I mean, she shared me with her brother – he was around 100% of the time. And he was her only source of social interaction for 95% of the time. We kept her in her Dance Class, but that was remote for most of 2020 and early 2021. The girl has suffered. She has always been my social butterfly and this has become more and more painfully obvious since the start of school.
She runs in every day – she doesn’t even glance back. In fact, 3 days out of 5 she tells us both very specifically:
Mommy/Daddy don’t follow me in!
TT – aged 5
I mean, we get a hug and a “see you after school” but she’s completely independent!
For any of the audience who remembers the year that was #1 Son’s adventures in Kindergarten it already couldn’t be more different. I mean, she’s sassed the Superintendent (Day 1) and the Principal (Day -1 – the week before school started!) but honestly? She’s happy. She’s learning and she’s thriving.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve already had to sign and return a “home – school behaviour form”, but it’s still so much better overall.
It’s not what I wanted for her, it’s not. I fully expected the complete William Wallace effect.
Instead, I’m stuck on the side lines, praying (to a God I don’t believe in – don’t @ me) that masks, hand washing/sanitizer, social distancing (of only 3ft), assigned seating and eating outside (weather permitting) is enough to keep them both safe. But what else can I do? Massachusetts beloved Governor has decreed that schools are safe. That the virus will, of course, respect all of the rules laid out above, and of course will take weekends off.
Believe me, I’ve seen the back of my own skull so many times since the option of remote learning was taken off the tablefor the 2021/22 School Year.
But what else is open to me beyond de-registering them then attempting to homeschool them both? By myself. With no classroom support. I mean, I did manage to teach TT to both read and write her letters, the short version of her name, and read 1,000 books before Kindergarten.
But that’s basic skills only. Social Studies? Science? Art? Music? Digital Literacy? I can’t do those. So, I take all the precautions I can, and pray. And count down the days until the end of the school year 🤬😬🤦🏼♀️
And believe me, my own rules? Draconian compared to those of the District.
Masks are worn at all times – NO mask breaks.
This includes eating – they raise the mask, take a bite/sip, then lower it, chew and swallow.
We wear our masks on the walks to and from school – I am allowing us all to not have to wear them whilst schlepping up the big hill on the way home.
If anyone tries to tell them they don’t need to wear them? I’ve told them to tell them that “these are our family rules and my mom says I have to.” And then to tell me, whereupon I will rain true hellfire and damnation down. I have already sent multiple emails to the school over lack of rule enforcement and policy weakness. I do not give a flying fuck what they think of me – I am keeping my children safe. Every other person can fuck right off.
In case it wasn’t obvious? I AM TIRED. So tired. Once my kiddos are fully vaccinated, I will have nothing left.
And that is looking like being possible from October (plus 5 weeks to full vaccination status)
For every other utter moron who wants to claim their Darwin/Herman Caine Award? Please do so. I’m done arguing with you. Get the vaccine or don’t. I no longer care. But you are not taking my family with you. And if you are unvaccinated? You are not coming into my house. End of. I’m not even thinking about boosters yet – though as I am J&J I am desperate for one – but no needle? No visit. I’m not even joking.
This segues me in a little to the topic of:
Yep, as of next week they both have the dreaded homework.
TT’s is, fortunately, currently nothing more than reading for 20 minutes a day. Which can be in numerous formats:
Reading with someone
Having someone read to them.
Closed captions on streamed programmes – which I have as standard on all my own accounts anyway.
So she has a 5-10 minute bedtime story every night, so adding in additional minutes shouldn’t be too difficult right?
Well, what about #1 Son?
Well, the expectation for homework is: Grade level times 10 for number of minutes. A night. So, for him that’s 40 minutes a night. For a child with ADHD. Oh deep joy. At least it’s being divided into 20 minutes Math – which is a major area of strength for him, and 20 minutes reading. Which again, everything listed above counts, plus:
Reading silently (in his own head)
Now, as I have zero desire to play the ‘let me test you on what you’ve read’ game, option two is out. However has anyone else spotted what I have?
He can read aloud to his sister for 20 minutes, and that covers BOTH of their reading homework.
And yes, I checked with his teacher, reading books at her level rather than his own will count. Especially if he does the voices. Which he does. She’s already noticed that, and she finds it just as adorable as I do!
So he started that tonight and it seems to be acceptable for both of them… For now 😬😬😬
I was going to write more, but I’m hitting a wall, so dear audience?