Stuff I’m…

Reading:

Technically, I am still reading We Were Eight Years In Power and Ready Player One, and The Professor (at home) and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (at school) and The Secret Garden (with Rolo). However, the fact that I was reading the first one back when I last posted a “Stuff I’m” post, you can tell I’ve not been doing enough reading. I did manage to plow through Good Omens between these posts, but I’m ashamed to say that screens are winning the attention battle right now.

Watching: 

Somebody Feed Phil – Sergio is back in town with us for ten days and he introduced me to this food and travel show. Netflix dumped several food shows all at once. I really enjoyed Ugly Delicious as well, but something about the host of Feed Phil totally speaks to me. It’s just a genuinely nice show.

Brooklyn Nine Nine – I’ve been re-watching all the past seasons on Hulu. I don’t think this show gets enough credit. I love it. I audibly laugh at least once per episode. Great cast. It’s up there with The Office, Frasier, and Parks and Rec for shows I can watch over and over and always find entertaining.

American Vandal – We’ve only seen two episodes, but the premise of this show really hits my funny bone.

Eating: 

Home cooked meals – Sergio didn’t get much home cooking while living in Arkansas at an extended stay hotel, and Rolo and I changed our meals to very easy things for busy weeks. We’re all enjoying some slow cooked food for a change. Sergio smoked steaks the other night. That was yummy.

Avoiding:

Packing up for the move. Applying for jobs. Having a yard sale.

Doing: 

A lot of grading. Applying for a teaching license in New Mexico (my Arkansas renewal came through about four days after we decided to move). Hanging out with Sergio while I can. Watching Rolo and Sergio play MarioKart (I played one round and made everyone nauseous with my poor steering and then my thumb cramped hard). Researching the school situation for Rosalind in NM.

Hating:

Nothing much! Spring is here, so the excitement of that far outweighs the tiny bit of inconvenience that comes with it. Minor inconveniences are things like the ugly snow as it melts, trash defrosting and being just everywhere around town, excessively slushy backroads and driveways so that you can’t yet take off snow tires even though all the main roads are beyond clear, too much light at bedtime. These are all very minor things in the grand scheme of things.

Loving:

Springtime sun! The birds starting to come back! I saw a squirrel! Sergio is here to visit! Only 4 1/2 weeks of school left! Easy driving! Warmer temps! I got the class notebooks graded in time for midquarters after thinking I couldn’t get it done! Cheese fries for lunch! The end of the swim, piano, and scout seasons coming up soon and giving us a bit of a breather! Summer is so close I can taste it!

 

Swerve

Hello, Loved Ones. Let me start by apologizing. We apologize for sucking so hard.

I have put off this post a bit because I do not enjoy disappointing people. I prefer to deal with that sort of thing by NOT dealing with it at all. Avoidance for the win!

Again, we suck so hard, and we know it, and we get it if you just feel too tired to stay engaged in our lives anymore. We would appreciate it if you would stick with us, but we absolutely get it. I don’t think of Sergio and myself as flaky people, but when we flake out, we do it with gusto.

Okay, okay, I’ll get to the point.

We are no longer moving back to Arkansas. We are instead moving to New Mexico.

I know that sounds weird because Sergio already moved back to Arkansas, right? The timing is a cosmic comedy of epic proportions. But the kind of comedy that makes you drop your shaking head into your hands. That kind of painful, have to look away kind of comedy.

The only way to explain this, to offer any justification, is to be honest now where I wasn’t so honest before. Sergio and I were both initially very relieved and excited at the idea of moving home to Arkansas. When you are offered a way out of Alaska at the height of winter, you sometimes overlook the problems with the offer. It is especially easy to overlook the problems when your friends and family are such a large part of the opportunity. However, the mental fog lifts not long after the light starts returning, and after we moved beyond that initial pleasure of telling everyone, imagining our lives back home, and sort of reveling in the ease of the plan, my brain kicked back to life.

Sergio and I had always had an agreed upon mental list of criteria that any future opportunity had to meet in order for us to give up our very comfortable jobs in Alaska. Proximity to family was definitely on the list, but it wasn’t the ONLY thing on the list. Yet, we took a job offer back home that met ONLY that criteria. Not a single other item was checked off!

It was at this point that I started panicking. My gut was screaming at me at literally every hour of the day that we had moved forward with a decision too quickly. I was not sleeping. At all. Remember not too long ago when I got a weighted blanket to ease my anxiety and help my sleeping? Yeah. If my life were a plot-driven narrative, that would have been foreshadowing for you guys. I was not sleeping for a very specific reason.

We moved forward anyway because Sergio is a far steadier person than me. Despite us both realizing that some parts of this move weren’t exactly ideal at this moment, we both really did like the idea of being home again and figured it would work out eventually.

Only three Wednesdays into Sergio’s new job, an offer that we had pursued back in December came tumbling unexpectedly back into our lives. It felt cruel. If this offer hadn’t been postponed due to Federal budget confusion, we would have always been headed to NM. We would never have teased people with the idea of moving home only to snatch it away again.

We actually just dismissed the offer outright at first. It’s too late! The wheels have been put into motion and there is no going back! Except that when we gave it some thought, we realized that the wheels could just be turned in a different direction. Nothing had been done yet that couldn’t be changed. So we slowed down a bit and gave it some thought, and after a few long phone conversations, we realized that the only thing standing between us and taking this opportunity was the thought of disappointing our families and friends. And this is where you get to blame our parents instead of us because had they been angry, or sad, or unsupportive, we probably would have just stayed the course. Instead, they were very understanding and supportive. With that burden lifted, we accepted the offer.

I’ve slept pretty soundly ever since. My gut is quiet and calm again. I think that is a good sign that this was the right call.

It doesn’t mean we don’t regret that our initial plan wasn’t the right plan. It would have been very nice if it had been.

I do think there was a purpose to this poor timing though. Hear me out. I was always going to wonder what opportunity we had left on the table in Arkansas if this NM move had come up first. There would have been a part of me always looking toward home as the ultimate goal. By doing it this way, I got to experience all of the feelings that came with moving home and now understand that the adage “You can’t go home again” is an adage for a reason.

I hope our friends and family will stick with us through this decision. I mean, we may not be just up the road like you expected, but we DID STILL shrink the distance by over 50 hours for most of you. Come on out and see us soon.

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Mom-ing So Hard

I don’t enjoy when Easter falls right on the heels of Rosalind’s birthday. The reason is that I am very lazy. It’s too much to do a birthday and then BOOM! Easter bunny duties as well.

Basically, I was already stressed out at the idea of having to Mom it up so much on two consecutive weekends when Rolo decided to make a real challenge for me.

Weekend One: Birthday sleepover in which five children were around my house for hours on end. They didn’t all stay the whole night, but they were all there for a long time. I was definitely up past my usual bedtime. I was also miserable with allergies and have more than one picture of myself resting on the kitchen floor in between making lunch, dinner, breakfast, and cupcakes for the kids. I was taking those pictures to send to my husband so that somebody felt appropriately bad for me.

Week Between Weekends: I mostly recovered from being sick by Wednesday. I did, however, tell my students on the Monday that I didn’t intend to move out of my chair or speak anymore after giving directions, and I was true to my word. On Wednesday, Rolo asked to go to the doctor for her rattling cough. I knew she didn’t have pneumonia or a sinus infection (pretty much the only two things we go to the doctor for), but I obliged. She was put on Flonase. I didn’t have to mom so super hard that week, but it was just made all the more difficult since we were both tired and sick. We were just two tired and sick people bouncing off of each other all week.

Weekend Two: I managed to remember on Friday afternoon while grabbing some dinner groceries that Easter was THAT VERY WEEKEND. I bought eggs and some basket goodies. My bar for Easter gifts is pretty low, if you can’t tell. I had to go back later that night to find plastic eggs at the craft store next door. On Saturday we managed to dye ten real eggs. I even managed to gather my energy to let her try a variety of dying methods. Rolo then had the audacity to write a letter to the Easter bunny asking if it would PLEASE hide eggs OUTSIDE for once! How dare she. Rolo lived to regret the decision to have eggs outside when the difficulties of searching for eggs in the snow presented themselves. The most unexpected event was when a neighbor dog came and stole eggs right out from under her nose. Rude.

Not two hours after egg hunting and basket perusing, Rosalind yanked a tooth right out of her head. We had neither one been aware that it was even loose the day before and here it just came right out. Now I was on the hook for tooth fairy duties. This was getting ridiculous!

Tuesday: The very next night, Rolo came running into my room at 1 am with the dreaded words, “I puked.” This is deja vu, right? Didn’t we just do this like a month ago? By the time she was on her third puking jag at 3 am, I went to get my computer from the car to make sub plans. I was up until 4:40 am trying to get sub plans in order. She woke me up with her puking twice more (she was sleeping in my bed after 1 am) before I gave up and sat her up on the couch with cartoons at 7 am. She didn’t puke even once more all day! I’m glad and all, but it still felt sort of insulting somehow.

Nine year old Rosalind hasn’t proven to be less work than previous ages. False advertisement.

 

*Her cough has mostly gone, so I guess the Flonase was the right call. Her puking seems to be a bug that is going around. I’ve run into no less than three parents today, all with almost identical stories to my own. All the kids puked relentlessly for six hours and then made instant recoveries. No big deal. Knock on wood, I’ve been able to return to my normal amount of lazy mom-ing since yesterday.

Dear Rolo,

(Sorry this one is a little late, Future Rosalind. Perhaps you’ll remember one day when you read this that I was sick throughout the weekend of your birthday sleepover, and our internet went out for a couple of days, and you’ll be able to forgive my tardiness with your annual letter).

Dear Rosalind,

You are NINE years old. The time seems to be flying. While I will always wish that I could revisit you at all your ages, I really liked eight years old. It feels a lot like how much I enjoyed year four. There must be something about the every four years marker. Each of these ages present their own unique challenges, of course, but the rewards outweigh them by a long shot.

In some ways you change less and less drastically each year. There are parts of who you are that are fixed personality traits now. I no longer look at you in blob form and wonder whether you will grow up to be kind, talented, smart, patient, quiet, studious, or any other number of things. I pretty much know what you are already and just wonder how these traits will manifest over time. Smart? I think so. Talented? Are we talking about piano or soccer or chapter books about pigs? Because the answer varies. Patient? Only with babies and toddlers, but with them, endlessly so. Quiet? Not at all, but I notice more and more that you do require quiet time to recharge. Studious? Sometimes. Kind? Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You aren’t evil or anything, but I don’t know that people will one day point out kindness as your defining feature. Acerbic, perhaps? I can list millions of examples of your kindness because you really are deeply caring and kind, but outwardly you can cut a peer down with one quick phrase. It’s not something you have found a perfect balance with yet, but I have faith that you will. I would actually say stubborn wins the award for your dominant personality trait. Intense. Anxious. Enthusiastic. Curious. Intuitive. Funny.

Knowing who you are as a person has opened up a whole new world of parenting. This seems to be the year that you entered the “companion” zone. I would not go so far as to say we are friends because I am firmly a “parents can’t be friends until close to adulthood” sort of a parent, but you are suddenly really delightful company.

You chat with me. You ask good questions. You can carry on a conversation (though you often get chastised when you ask questions and then immediately interrupt the speaker to state what you think the answer is…over and over and over until I lose my chill). You have great taste in television. I was feeling bad about our parenting skills when I realized that your favorite shows are not age-appropriate (The Office, The Good Place, Futurama), but then I realized that all of your most tolerable friends are allowed to watch the same stuff, and I felt less alone in my bad parenting. It’s not just tv shows either. Your dad and I stumbled into showing you a bunch of Stephen Spielberg movies this year. You will sit and watch musicals with me. We share a certain number of Youtube interests. You have developed a funny new appreciation for Tenacious D that cracks me up.

I know my focus on your interest in pop culture seems weird, but what I’m really trying to say is that you have reached the point of being in on all of our references, inside jokes, and useless knowledge. It makes you loads more interesting to hang out with!

Most days I would choose to hang out with you! As a person! Not because I’m your mommy, and I love you, and need to smoosh your cheeks with kisses, and sniff your hair and be in your general vicinity just because your survival depends upon it, but because I just enjoy being around you. I mean, I will totally still ALSO smoosh your cheeks with kisses and sniff your hair if you’ll let me, but you pretty much never let me. And frankly, sometimes I’m kiss-sniffing your hair these days to check if you actually used shampoo in the shower. Since the answer is sometimes no, the urge to sniff your head is decreasing slightly anyway.

You’re a fantastic travel buddy, a fairly adventurous dinner companion, a bullheaded poop-face, a flash of quick fury and almost instant regret, a caretaker of babies, a frustrating friend, a budding makeup artist, a comically conservative dresser, a voracious reader of graphic novels, an anxious gamer that prefers open worlds with few consequences, an epically bad phone conversationalist, and just a generally decent person to hang around about 83% of the time. Yeah, we should probably continue working on the other 17% and completely nail down a few of those pesky behaviors. Like seriously, the shampoo is just RIGHT THERE! Use it! But you are only just barely nine now. I suppose if you had everything figured out already, it wouldn’t make for a very exciting childhood.

Happy birthday, Rolo Cate!

Love,

Mom

A Total Break

Spring Break has come and gone in this corner of the world. I know most of you (or your children) just started your break, but ours is over and done. Rosalind and I spent our time doing absolutely nothing. Not an exaggeration. Out of the seven days of the break, I believe we did not step out of our house on at least three of those days. Rosalind sometimes woke up and went to bed again in the same clothes, having never changed all day.

WE. DID. NOTHING.

I think the grand total of our activities was 1. Haircut 2. Trampoline Park 3. Cookie Booth sales. All of that was spread out over the whole week. Wouldn’t want to exhaust ourselves with more than one activity every day and a half.

But that’s it. I didn’t use the time at home to accomplish much either. We cleaned the house the first Sunday of Spring Break and then managed to mostly keep it that way. I came to work one day to grade. I tried making a home workout routine and did that . . . twice, I think?

I guess my point is that when you aren’t traveling, and your husband has already moved, and it’s all pretty much just a waiting game, Spring Break is a giant black hole of wasted time.

Rosalind was more than thrilled with the homebody arrangement, further proving that she is made up of at least 96.5% Sergio.

Fourteen From a Distance

Today is our 14th anniversary! Let me just tell you, the romance is in no way impaired by the distance. Snort.

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Sergio called me while he ran to get lunch which was 9 am my time. He asked me whether I had envisioned myself one day living alone in Alaska on this date 14 years ago, to which I was able to honestly respond, “Not in my wildest dreams.”

We also discussed his lunch choice (buffalo chicken salad), the progress of my license renewal, and the pros and cons of a home gym. And that’s 14 years together.

Happy anniversary, Sergio!

 

Once In a Lifetime Kind of Trip

This is where I admit that I haven’t been totally honest with you lately. I’ve been hinting at honesty but not totally open. I told you that Sergio had to move “a bit” before Rosalind and I do. Well, he’s already moved. He left on Saturday.

I felt slightly squirmy about announcing to the internet that we’re here on our own, but I can’t really move forward with blog updates without revealing that piece of information.

Revealing it now also allows me to keep you updated on the other half of this blog, Sergio! He and his father completed what feels like a Herculean task to me. They drove from Fairbanks to Fayetteville on winter roads in six days.

Let’s break that down. On good roads, it takes 60 hours to drive from here to there. Let’s add another eight for things like potty breaks and winter weather. They drove about 68 hours in six days. They’ve been through the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. They’ve gone through North Dakota (just as a big winter storm hit because of course it did), South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, and the teeniest bit of Arkansas. Oh, and Alaska. On the AlCan Highway. In winter.

Sounds like the best time, right? Imagine at least 30 hours kind of like this…

They averaged 11 hours each day. In the car. On icy roads. With the occasional friend here and there.

They didn’t stop and sightsee. They didn’t do fun stuff. They just drove all day every day. The few updates I received looked something like this.

Though I hated the lack of communication from spotty international cell service at the time, it was probably for the best that I was kept out of the loop until they were safer.

It’s a good thing Rolo and I weren’t there. We would be on the road another couple of weeks because of how much we whined, and I would have stress cried daily when the roads were scary. Sergio and Eugenio handled it like pros though.

They arrived in Fayetteville yesterday. Sergio is currently wearing shorts. Eliot has been basking in going outside without coat and boots and peeing on good old grass like a dog should. They’ve earned it.

I hope that maybe Sergio will write his own post about this trip at some point because I clearly only have an outside admirer’s perspective on it, but here are the details I can provide to you if you are thinking of this sort of thing in the future.

Day One: Fairbanks to Whitehorse. He reported road conditions improved after Delta and he was able to maintain the speed limit despite snow covered roads. Flat and straight. Very few places to stop. Know where you plan to fuel up ahead of time, but also be prepared that it’s winter and some places will be closed because…shrug…it’s cold.

Day Two: Whitehorse to Fort Nelson. This stretch is mountainous and icy at this time of year. I think there were some white knuckle hours for this stretch. Almost no communication all day. Still not a lot of civilization.

Day Three: Fort Nelson to Edmonton. Conditions improved when the mountains were left behind. Sergio finally got phone service as they neared Edmonton, but Eugenio was able to communicate the whole trip.

Day Four: Edmonton to Minot, ND. This was a nail-biter because the big winter storm was hitting and they had to decide whether to stay on the path to ND or add hours by veering off path. They decided to keep steady and monitor road conditions. I believe Edmonton to Minot was a really good driving day.

Day Five: Minot, ND to Sioux City, IA. This was the surprise winter weather day. Cars off the road, slooooowwww progress. I don’t think Sioux City had been the original plan for stopping that day, but it took so long to get there that it made sense.

Day Six: Sioux City, IA to Fayetteville, AR. Somewhere on this day they finally left the winter weather behind. Turns out that way more of this continent is cold than I had previously comprehended. Smooth sailing all the way home.

Here is how we outfitted the Subaru before they took off. According to Sergio, it was a total champion for this type of drive. We don’t even have real winter tires on the car. Just the factory all-weather tires that came with it.

We added a cage to the roof rack that we had previously bought. We also installed a tow hitch and used that feature to add a bike rack to make more room on the roof cage. The roof cage is holding three full suitcases (clothes, shoes, towels, sheets, etc.), and two full gas cans covered in a tarp and netting. The tow hitch is clearly holding Sergio’s bike. Inside the car, they had a cooler full of drinks and snacks, two boxes of books, some art we wanted to specifically protect, duffel bags for daily clothes, a tv, a playstation, emergency water, some MRE’s, and a small toolkit. And Eliot and his bed. I was pretty much terrified that they would go off the road and get stuck somewhere, so the water and MRE’s were at least half just to ease my mind. They did not end up needing them, of course, but I don’t think anyone regretted the preparedness.

So there you go. Have a fun and safe trip if this sounds like your idea of winter fun! If you do, I probably can’t be your friend because you are obviously insane.

Shoutout to my father-in-law who was willing to fly 12 hours to Alaska only to turn around and ride through miserable conditions for almost 70 hours to make sure his son was awake and alert, only to get to Arkansas and have to drive five more hours all the way to his house.

File This Under Things That Are Frustrating

I spent a few hours last week updating my online application for my old (and hopefully future) district. It hadn’t been updated since I had last been hired there in 2012, so it took some time. I think it’s probably true of almost everyone, but I really dislike data entry type stuff in which I put the same information into slots that are already clearly covered in my resume and cover letter.

So it was really disheartening to find that midnight of the same night I updated, the district went to a new online system (with NO warning). I now have to do the whole thing again because none of it transfers over or was saved. They also weren’t nice enough to go to the same application service that many other states (including Alaska) use, so that I could just transfer and update that information. Nope. Brand new.

It seemed so fitting when this went by my Instagram feed this morning.

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It feels a lot like how I went out on Sunday and shoveled way more of my driveway than necessary only to nearly get stuck there this morning from the snow that fell yesterday.