Friday, October 30, 2020

Sam's 11th Birthday

 Sam turned 11 last month! (No more 10 and under kids for me! 😭) We had a small family party to celebrate.

I think birthday number balloons are so fun! They're great for pictures.

I took exactly one picture of present-opening, and didn't even get my mom's whole head in it. Fail!

We didn't do a fun cake this year because Sam didn't care and he wanted an ice cream cake anyway. So I got the ice cream cake and a little cupcake cake (which was pretty pathetic looking--and tasting 😕).

Hayley took this cute picture of him once the candles were lit.

🎝 The thrill of being sung to! 🎜

His gifts from family had exactly two themes: Roblox gift cards and chocolate!

His actual birthday was the next day, a Sunday, and we enjoyed a fun and peaceful day at home with just us.The night before I set out his presents, like I always do. 

Sam was thrilled with the chair in the morning. I was thrilled with how funny it was that he looked like he had devil horns when he sat in it at a certain angle!

He decided to replace the piano bench with the chair that day. I don't blame him!

And of course he sat in it to actually game, too. We kept it downstairs for the day until bringing it up to his desk that evening.

Opening presents from us, with assistance from John. 😅

He got a green screen (because he's a YouTuber and all).

His other big gift besides the chair was a gaming laptop. Peter channeled his former ITA days at Penn and got it all set up. (ITA=Information Technology Adviser. It was his work-study job when we met.)

The boys tussled in a classic wrestling match in which miraculously no one got hurt or angry.

The birthday person always gets to pick the dinner for their big day, and Sam chose turkey pot pie. It was a fun weekend for our now 11-year-old birthday boy!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The First Day of School (Finally!!)

 After six months away, the boys finally got to go back to school on September 16th, and when that happened, I did a happy dance. 💃 School started about two weeks later than originally scheduled in Massachusetts so that teachers could get things ready with all the new Covid guidelines. My town offered a hybrid model in which there are two tracks to divide the student body in half and your kids go every other day, and we did that. There was also a remote-only option, but the majority of people chose the hybrid model. If there had been an every day option, we would have picked that. My boys do way better in school than they do at home, and we're not afraid of the coronavirus, nor does it pose a significant threat to the boys or I (though Peter is at higher risk). 

10th grade! I can't believe that at the end of this school year he'll be halfway done with high school. 😱

Off he goes! It was good to see and hear school buses in the neighborhood again.

Sam is in 5th grade this year. It's his last year of elementary school. 😭

He was nervous that he wouldn't have any friends in his class, especially since the class sizes are cut down to about 12 students this year, but luck was on his side and one of his good friends from last year is in his class again this year. That's all he needed!

The boys were pretty happy to go back, and ever since school started, they prefer being in school to being at home on the asynchronous at-home days, especially Sam. All it took was a pandemic and a lockdown for them to prefer school over home! 😆

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Boo Boo in September

 It's emotional and a little bittersweet for me to put this post together. I'm shedding tears as I do it. I had no idea that September was going to be Boo Boo's last full month with us. He'd been doing just fine and there was no indication of impending doom anytime soon. He'd been on an anti-inflammatory since April for arthritis and it made him seem like a young dog again. 

Today is the two-week anniversary of his death, and while the pain isn't as sharp and raw as it was two weeks ago, it's still there as I continue to grieve his sudden loss from my life and from our home. He added so much to both of those things. He was my faithful companion for ten wonderful years, almost to the day (we brought him and Yogi home from a shelter on October 9, 2010 and he passed away on October 14, 2020. He was around 12 years old). We went through Yogi's sudden and tragic death together (that one was the hardest, for him and for me), and getting Violet, and Brody's death, and moving to a new home halfway across the country. He and I were together a lot since I'm a stay-at-home parent and a homebody. He was always a huge blessing to me--of comfort, of joy, of faithfulness, of protection, of stress relief, of fun, of unconditional love. I miss him so much. I miss his presence, I miss the sound of his barking, I miss his friendly and mischievous and loving personality, I miss him laying on the stair landing, I miss him running around the front yard, I miss seeing his face in the glass windows by the front door when he was ready to come in, I miss giving him "huggies" and "tummy rubs" (he gave the best hugs--he'd actually lean into me), I miss stroking his silky-soft fur and running his floppy ears between my fingers and stroking his head, I miss the soft sound of his breathing at night from his favorite spot in my room, I miss giving him food scraps and always having a spotless kitchen floor because he'd clean everything right up that fell down. I miss HIM.

When I see his empty kennel now, it helps to tell myself that he's gone on a great adventure, because he has. I know that he's in heaven with his beloved brother Yogi again and that he's so happy there. I really know this, to my core--it's not a euphemism or a fervent yet hollow belief to help myself get through it--it's literally true. We will be together again. And that makes a huge difference in the grieving process, because when you see death as a separation that is temporary in nature, with a wonderful reward of permanent reunion to come in the future, it really helps you to see the bigger picture, and that is so comforting. 

I'm so thankful that in September I happened to take some good photos of him, and I even took a video of him that I will cherish until the day that I see him again. 

Our last selfie together. I had no idea, or I would have tried to look better. 😏

I miss the clicking of his nails on the hardwood as he walked around the house.

I miss him guarding his home so faithfully.

I miss him just being there. His presence and his sweet personality added so much to our home.

I took these pictures on Sunday, September 27th as I ate at the table. He looked so cute that evening so I grabbed my phone and snapped away. Only two Sundays later he was terribly sick and could barely get up from where he laid on the office rug. I had no idea when I took these photos that he had cancer or anything else seriously wrong with him. He didn't seem to feel it at all until his final days, and for that I'm thankful.

He was such a good and beautiful boy.

This pretty sunset picture with Boo Boo in the yard now seem to me to be foreshadowing of the glorious destination to which he was headed only a few weeks later. 

I'll be doing another post or two in the next few weeks with the final pictures of his wonderful life. These posts are hard to do, but they matter, and they're therapeutic. 💔💖

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Norman Rockwell Museum

 On a sunny, mild Friday last month I went to the Berkshires for a nice little day trip with Meredith and Christine. We went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. I'd been there once before, back in 2008 when we lived in Connecticut. Norman Rockwell is one of my favorite artists (and his name always makes me crave Rocky Road ice cream! I'm so sophisticated 😆). I like how he captured  classic scenes of life in America, and I also enjoy his sense of humor and his patriotism.

These were a few of my favorites from the gallery of his Saturday Evening Post covers.

Fitting back then and today (Republican and Democrat). Some things never change!

Adventurous reading!

It was neat to see his actual paintings. They're so beautiful. There were a lot more paintings than this that were amazing, but I only took pictures of a few of them.

Better him than her with that black eye!

I've always liked this family tree painting. It's on the cover of a genealogy book that I've had since I was young. I like how it makes you think about your own family lines and how we all come from people of many different backgrounds and livelihoods. 

First comes the drawing.

We used to have a framed embroidery-type picture of this in our family room in Connecticut.

We walked the path around the museum for a few minutes when we were done in the museum. It was good to get some fresh air and to be able to take our masks off.

Weird angle for me--I look like a munchkin!

We had lunch at the Red Lion Inn, one of my favorites. We had it almost to ourselves inside!

We did a little shopping afterwards, including at my two favorite shops in Stockbridge, and then we drove home, where I then went out to dinner with my high-school friends. It was a good day full of good friends, new and old!