adventures, Boat

Home for Christmas

In the 20 years that Rob and I have been married, we have called many places “home.”

Our first home was a 1968 Fawn Springbrook mobile home that we purchased with a money order for $1000. We had it towed to an RV lot in Pleasant Beach Mobile Home Resort on what was then Wixom Lake (and is now just the Tittabawassee River, after a series of earth dams broke in 2020) in Albright Shores, Michigan. We celebrated Christmas there in 2001, 2002, and 2003.

In 2005, we closed on a 4-bedroom house in Harrison, Michigan on Christmas eve. We had no decorations that year, but we went on to celebrate seven more Christmases in that house. In 2007, Iliana was born, and Santa became busy making her presents!

And of course there were lots of memories with grandparents!

In August 2013, we moved to Texas and celebrated Christmas at Lakeshire Place apartments, unit 501, in Clear Lake City/Webster. We were unable to bring any of our decorations, so we found a used tree and made our own ornaments! My parents moved to Texas in November, which was an early Christmas gift! We flew to Michigan to celebrate with the rest of our family.

In August 2014, we moved to our second home in Texas, the S/V Breaking Tradition, an Ericson 35 sailboat on East Pier in Legend Point Marina, Clear Lake Shores. This had 100 square feet of living space, which made for a creative, cozy Christmas!

In August 2015, we upgraded and moved to the S/V Morning Mist, an Irwin 37 center cockpit. We lived in the same slip in Legend Point for the next two Christmases.

Starting a new tradition, Iliana put reindeer feed on the bow…

We visited my parents Christmas eve and rented a hotel room for our Christmas relaxation!

In 2016, we also celebrated on Morning Mist.

2017 was the year it all hit the fan, although it wasn’t finished hitting the fan until mid-2018. At Christmas time, things were relatively calm. I had tried to give my notice (about resigning at the end of the year) before break, but I wasn’t able to get a meeting with the principal until right afterward.

We moved to our fourth home in Texas, the M/V Loco Lobo, which was a gigantic 47 foot Chris Craft Commander that everyone in Legend Point knew. It was very fitting, since Rob was the harbor master at Legend Point at the time. We had intended to fix up the boat before moving on, but in August, Morning Mist’s a/c quit working, so we moved in to Loco’s slip on the Island Pier sooner, right before Harvey hit. But it was a lovely Christmas, nonetheless.

Iliana enjoyed meeting the Grinch and having pancakes with Santa (and Miss Kemah!).

We enjoyed two more Christmases on Loco, which had to be relocated to West Pier after a piling (which had survived Harvey) failed in our slip on the island.

In 2019, we managed to catch Santa on film!

2020 brought the pandemic, but we kept busy during the shutdown…by moving into our new apartment! We celebrated two Christmases in the most beautiful place I have ever lived, a spacious apartment hidden above Boaters’ Resale of Texas, the store Rob manages.

While 2020 was a stressful year, it also marked a number of changes for our family, including my return to teaching. Santa was very generous that year!

After Thanksgiving this year, we excitedly decorated our apartment, ready to enjoy another Christmas in this home…

…What I didn’t say was that shortly after Thanksgiving, we learned that, due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control, we would have about a year to find a new place to live. This came as a surprise, since we expected to be renting the apartment for a number of years.

We considered renting a house or fixing up Loco Lobo. My time on land has spoiled me, and I really wanted our next home to be at least as nice and clean as the apartment. It could be done with Loco, but it would take a lot of time and money (and most of the year to do it).

Then, unexpectedly, a customer wanted Rob to look at his Morgan Outisland 51 foot sailboat. We were leery, because we knew we couldn’t pay what the boat is worth, if it is in good shape. Still, Rob looked at it, and it was beautiful! It was in Waterford Harbor, the marina where we went for my work Christmas party. Before we knew it, the boat was ours!

So today, we closed on our sixth home in Texas and our eighth home since getting married, the S/V Cruise Forever in Waterford Harbor, Kemah, Texas!

And a special thank you to Joe, the boat’s previous owner! We are definitely going to have invite you over for a happy hour or two!

There is some work to do before we move in–it needs new heads, the refrigerator and freezer need to be repaired, and I would like to replace the carpet with linoleum. We need to work with Iliana to set up her room the way she would like it. We are aiming to be moved in (or at least moved out of our apartment) by the end of January.

I hope your Christmas is every bit as amazing as ours has already been!

Family Fun

Christmas Break!

Happy Sunday, all!

Today I have more pictures to share with all of you. The past three weeks have been an eventful blur, due to some exciting news that I will share in another post, when the time is right!

But first, our Christmas activities! I will admit that we didn’t do one everyday, but we have kept in the spirit.

We made God’s eye ornaments…

Then we broke into the foam ornament-making kit and let the creative juices flow!

Then it was time to make some extremely tasty dipped pretzels…

…And friendship bracelets!

The dipped Oreos were especially yummy!

The foam snowflakes were fun, and Rob’s coronavirus snowflake helped to commemorate our adventures last March!

Because we hadn’t eaten enough sugar, we made cookies and had a popcorn and cocoa bar!

We made fancy s’mores and I drank plenty of my beloved St. Regis non-alcoholic wine!

We enjoyed green waffles, and I made myself waffles eggs Benedict…

I deviated from my usual French manicure for the season…

Rob and I had a lovely time at my work Christmas party at Waterford Harbor, a very nice marina not too far from where we used to live. We even briefly crashed a party with some boaters afterward!

Shortly after the party, some things happened and we missed a few days of Christmas activities. I did, however, count down every morning on social media, with selfies at morning duty! The teachers follow themes with our dress during December.

Then Iliana got me back on track my starting the cookie house!

And we even made some bead and pipe cleaner ornaments!

So here we are on Christmas break! I have just over two weeks off, so I will have time to catch up on everyone’s blogs and share more of our adventures.

I hope your holiday preparations are also fun and low-stress!

Family Fun

Thanksgiving Week!

This week marked our ninth Thanksgiving in Texas. Over the years, we have celebrated with Friendsgivings, potlucks at the Yogi Bear campground, and small gatherings with my parents. Last year, we have a socially distanced meal with my parents, and it was the first time we had them over since the start of the pandemic.

Our week began with a trip to the Shard Yard with our friends from Michigan.

We had a great time creating our masterpieces!

For Thanksgiving, my parents decided to do their own thing and go camping, so we created a feast for three.

I’m pleased to say it was a resounding success, and produced so many leftovers that I will not have to pack lunches for the next week!

Everyone relaxed while I cleaned up, and then I surprised them by bringing in all of the Christmas decorations!

We enjoyed this year’s matching pajamas!

We put on some final touches…

And had some fun taking selfies!

Since my job keeps me busy, Christmas involves a lot of planning ahead. I finished all of my shopping before Black Friday, and I bought enough activities for Iliana and me to do one each day, from Black Friday until Christmas. The first activity she chose were ugly sweater cookies.

The next day, we made chocolate candies!

Every year, we have intended to send out Christmas cards, but last year was the first time it actually happened. I had discovered Postable, which prints and mails your cards for you. I like to send postcards, with a short message. It’s a good way to update everyone without having to write a long Christmas letter. Unfortunately, none of our digital cameras were working, but we used my phone to take some fun pictures!

And the winner….

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you have a joyful holiday season!

Family Fun

Fall Adventures!

Happy Thanksgiving week, y’all!

Since it has been awhile, I thought I would share some pictures from our adventures this fall. It has been another whirlwind of a school year, and while I usually do a good job prioritizing self-care and family, while still getting the important things done at work, at this point my writing has not made the priority list. But things have been going well.

One of the newest additions to our life this fall, is Rob’s wind surfing board!

For Halloween, Iliana made multiple costumes for herself, and she enjoyed some independence at a lock-in at the library!

And of course, none of us are too old to carve pumpkins.

Last year, Ili decided that she was too old for trick-or-treating, so we drove to Clear Lake Shores Island and handed our candy from our tailgate. This year we did the same, but Iliana noticed that many teenagers stopped by for candy. So she left Rob to hold down the fort and did some trick-or-treating of her own!

And in case you are wondering, I went as the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!

I did some thrift shopping, and Iliana was happy to borrow some of my finds…

I found myself a lovely non-alcoholic wine that is only 1 smartpoint per glass…

Iliana spent a month designing a mouse trap car that ended up winning first place for distance!

And finally, right before break, Iliana’s class put on “Colonial Day” for the school. Ili was the schoolteacher, and she used hornbooks to teach phonics. She had fun but decided that she will leave the reading instruction to me!

So there is a quick update on our fun! I will do a Thanksgiving/gratitude post at the end of the week.

Family Fun

5k’s and a Brief History of my Running Habit

In first grade, I learned that I was a slow runner.

We were in P.E. class, playing a game called “Snow White.” One person was Snow White, and they stood in the middle of the gym, while the class ran across. Snow White tried to tag as many people as possible, while avoiding getting tagged by the Wicked Queen.

I was a lanky, energetic 6-year-old, and of course I raised my hand eagerly when the teacher asked who wanted to be Snow White. It surprised me when the entire class burst out laughing when I was chosen. The teacher said, “Now, just because someone isn’t fast, doesn’t mean that they can’t be tricky.”

I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t fast, and that apparently this was common knowledge in the first grade. I was quickly tagged by the Wicked Queen after everyone safely made it across the gym.

And thus began my dislike of physical education class.

In fourth grade, when we did relay races, I was moved to a different team for each round. I was the only one who was moved in this way. And everytime I was put on a new team, the members of that team groaned.

We did physical fitness testing every year, and I learned that I was not flexible. We had to do this v-sit, forward bend, where they would measure how many inches we reached past our feet. The last time I did it, I got -10. My teacher told me that I needed to be more flexible.

Our teacher had a quarter mile track drawn in the grass behind our school, and we would occasionally go out to run a mile. I learned that for some unknown reason, my legs would start screaming at me well before a quarter mile was up. I could, however, walk indefinitely.

Over time my legs became very muscular, but I was never able to run. I even tried a couch-to-5k program in Prevention magazine. I could do intervals of running and walking, but I never could run very far in a stretch.

We moved to Texas, and Rob and Ili rocked her school “Mustang Stampede,” while I took pictures from the sidelines.

And then this happened….

Yoga has changed my life in many ways, and running is one of them. Stretching my hips and hamstrings allowed me to take a larger stride and run without pain. Shortly after I started practicing yoga, I decided to sign up for an untimed 3k “Family Fun Run.” Ili ran the 1k.

By August, it was time to try a real 5k. Rob and I signed up for the “Night Moves Trail Run.” We would run the race at night, then camp in the park where it was held. My training was going well, and I knew I could do it!

We excitedly lined up at the starting line, and everyone was too shy to go to the front of the group. Knowing I would be passed, I marched to the starting line and announced, “I am going to be victorious!”

Once we started, I was in the middle of the pack, and Rob was in a commanding lead. Then we entered the woods, where the trail was poorly marked. After tripping over a few roots, I walked with a group of other runners, trying to find our way with someone’s GPS. I actually stopped at the rest stop and poured water over my head. Then there was more getting lost, until we found our way to the road, just in time for an ending sprint.

Much to my dismay, Rob was not at the finish line to cheer me on. My time was terrible–I had finished my first 5k in 57 minutes. But still, I had finished my first 5k! I marched to our tent to give him a piece of my mind, but he was not there. In fact, he was nowhere to be found.

At this point, I was starting to get worried. We had been given GPS trackers, so I asked the officials if they could track him down. It turns out that the GPS trackers were not working.

Finally, after an hour and a half, a very exhausted Rob ran across the finish line. It turns out that he had gotten lost by himself, since he had been in the lead. At one point he had ended up on the 10k course., and, regrettably, he had not stopped at the rest stop.

I decided that my medal was well-earned! And surprisingly, I finished in the first half for my age group.

September came along and brought with it another trail race, the Zombie Run. This time, it was light out and the course was well-marked. However, we had to wear belts with strips of ribbon velcroed to to them. During the course, we would encounter “zombies,” who would try to pull off the ribbons. Once all the ribbons were gone, we were “dead.” There were prizes for the winnings “survivors” and “zombies.”

This race was a challenge, because we had to sprint everytime we encountered a zombie. It was actually a relief for me, when I was finally “dead.” In the end, I finished in the top third of my age group, with a time under 40 minutes. Rob was a “survivor” and finished in second place overall.

The rest of fall passed without any fanfare, until we were greeted by a chilly December, and my friend suggested that we run in the “Santa Hustle” in Galveston. This was my first road race, and the temperature was in the 40’s.

We ran in a loop, and the longest stretch was into the wind, along the seawall. There were over 1000 runners, and all three of us set personal records, because we were so cold and wanted to get it over with! My time was 34:58, and I finished in the top quarter of my age group.

That was the last 5k I ran, for a long time. The next school year was extremely difficult, and it took me a couple years to get back on my feet. Then 2020 and the pandemic happened. We did a virtual race, the “Social Distancing Run,” but that was hardly scientific.

So here we are, just coming off of a spike in Covid, but still with things returning to normal, especially in Galveston county, where the virus hasn’t been as bad. September 30 is my 43rd birthday, and when Rob asked me what I wanted, the answer was easy.

It was time to start running 5k’s again.

I am determined to eventually run a marathon, but I want to keep doing 5k’s until I break 10 minute miles. Then I will move on to 10k’s, and so on.

So we found ourselves a race in Galveston, and I actually trained a little bit this time.

This race was a road race along the seawall, and it was not officially timed. However, I do know that I finished in 33 minutes (not sure how many seconds). So it definitely was a personal record! Rob finished 4th overall.

After the race, we enjoyed a walk on the beach…

…and a lovely lunch with a view!

We picked up Ili, who was with her grandparents, and she wanted to go sailing. She enjoyed being on crew, so I had an easy time!

Iliana was right at home at the helm!

When we got home, Iliana informed me that she is going to start training for her first 5k, and she asked me how I stretch. She and I have the same tight legs, so I showed her how to do my pre-run yin stretches.

I should have known where this was leading! As soon as her stretches were done, Ili changed into running clothing and said, “Come on, Mom! It’s time to start training for my first 5k!”

She did impressively well, for her first day of training. And I think I will sleep very well tonight!

adventures

St. Nicholas Brings Us a Snow Day!

Well, I was going to write a post this week, about my housekeeping routine. Kind of a “week in the life” sort of thing. Since I have been super stressed, it would be a self-care routine as well. While I have been feeling a little better physically, I still have been very sore and tired, definitely from stress.

So, Sunday I decided not to do any work for my job, and enjoyed a Weight Watchers meeting and got my nails done. I chose a fun, glittery color for my toes.

Housekeeping is self-care for me, and I always do Fly Lady’s “Weekly Home Blessing Hour” on Sunday. So I tidied up, Swiffered the floors. changed the bedding, took out the garbage, cleaned the mirrors and glass surfaces, and dusted. I mostly got caught up on the laundry and washed and vacuumed my car. I employed our trusty cleaning robots to assist in my endeavor.

I prepared Iliana’s and my lunches for the week and got all of our dinners tracked and ready-to go. Things were off to a good start.

Then, Sunday evening, I got an email from work saying that we should be fine to go to school on Monday, but that Tuesday was up in the air, due to the latest possible hurricane. A quick look at the forecast told us that it would not be anything more than a category 1, so suddenly the possibility of a “snow day” seemed enticing!

By bedtime, I had received another email, saying that school would release at noon. The traditional public schools in our area were closed, but since we don’t have bussing and are smaller, getting the kids home before the storm hit would not be a problem.

Morning duty wasn’t too wet, but the sun had already gone into hiding.

We made it home, and since we are already well-provisioned for an emergency, we did important things like dropping off the dry cleaning, lest I have to iron shirts because we waited too long.

Everything was uneventful, until we woke up around 4 am, to the sound of crazy wind and rain. Some quick research let us know that Nicholas had made landfall as a category 1, and the eye would pass over Houston. And it also let us know that many of the surrounding counties were without power.

We lost power shortly after that, so we filled out water jug. I knew we were unlikely to lose water, so we didn’t bother getting the 50 gallon tank.

Going back to bed was the sensible option, of course, but enjoying some coffee and a book sounded like more fun. So it was time to employ the camp stove.

Our alcohol fireplace provided a little ambiance.

A few hours later, the power came back on and the storm seemed to be over. I took Jasmine for a walk, to see what I could see.

We had picked up the Jeep from the marina, in case we encountered flooded roads. Which we did not.

There was a slight mishap in front of the store, as well as some downed branches and bent street signs. There had been 70 mph gusts, but for the most part the winds were 40-50 mph.

The sky still looks grey and hurricane-y. But it probably won’t stay this way for a week, like it did after Harvey.

Space City Weather reported that Clear Lake had a 6 foot storm surge, so we decided to check on the boats. The docks were a little hard to find!

Our boat is fine for the moment, but it does have a piling that is failing. Rob is going to check on it throughout the day, as the water goes down.

So that was our adventure! Nicholas has become a tropical storm again and moved on, although we might get a little more rain. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to getting some much-needed relaxation on my unexpected day off!

Philosophy

Peace

I never asked to be here.

I never asked for the lockdown, right as I was getting my act together. I never asked to have my tools taken away and to be left with a virtual facsimile. I never asked to lose the ground that I lost during that time.

I never asked to live in a time when my friends were forced to live without an income. I never asked to stand by helplessly, doing what little I could to prevent them from losing their dreams, their livelihood.

I never asked to raise a child in quarantine. I never asked to be tasked with creating a cocoon of safety within our apartment, while the future of our country, possibly the future of the world, seemed so uncertain.

I never asked to watch from afar as my friend’s husband spent a year on a ventilator before passing away. I never asked to listen to my friends as they helplessly watched their loved ones slip away.

I never asked to worry while the Covid virus attacked my brain. I never asked to be plagued with what-if’s after I exposed my parents during the winter freeze. I never asked to wonder why I recovered on a day when 1550 people lost their lives.

I could keep going on going. The Delta variant has caused me so much anger, so much sadness, and so much frustration. After seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we are forced back into the darkness.

For a long time, frustration was all I felt. Frustration with the people who refused to take it seriously. Frustrated with our leadership and the constant threat of lockdown. Frustrated with the lack of objective facts, so that I could make my own decisions.

One day I was angry that students were sent home from school to quarantine, because I know how much the pandemic has hurt their education. Then the next day I spoke with a young mother who was facing the possibility of losing her husband, and I was assuring her that we would look after their young child, emotionally. It was one of the many times I have cried at work this year.

And that conversation is also what led me to let go.

I can’t control what happens in Washington. I can’t control what happens in Austin.

I can’t control the policy decisions that are made about the pandemic. I don’t need to choose a side or form an opinion. That is not where my energy belongs.

In realizing this, my body and mind are finally able to relax.

There are many things I can do. I have strong resistance to the virus, after having it and being vaccinated. I am on the front lines, and that is where I belong.

School has always been an oasis of safety for our students and their families. When I first started teaching, at age 24, I was called into an emergency staff meeting to discuss a shooting that had taken place in the community, involving one of our students. We provided support, safety, and familiarity, which helped that student’s brother through an impossibly difficult time.

Since then, I have been in staff meetings where we discussed talking to students about Sandy Hook, hurricane Harvey, exploding factories, and the pandemic. I have sat in a hallway, singing “Old MacDonald,” while a tornado passed over our school.

I have sat through lockdown drills, assuring students that we will keep them safe.

And now our country is polarized, as never before. People are frustrated by their lack of control over the situation. People are fearing for their health against a novel virus. People are overwhelmed by the lack of factual information and feeling unsafe in the face of weak leadership.

I can provide their children with consistency and routine. I can do whatever I can to keep their children safe. I can show grace when people lose their temper, because I know it isn’t about me.

And I can listen. I can care. I can withhold judgement, regardless of their situation, because this is not something for me to judge.

We are here. I can accept that. No matter what led us to be here, we are here.

And the only way we are going to get through it, is by helping each other.

Health, Uncategorized

Exhaustion or Covid?

It has been an exhausting school year already.

Since we started back at the beginning of August, we have been dealing with an increasing surge of Covid cases, due to the Delta variant. At first, I was worried that there would be another shutdown, when all the mask drama started, politically. Then, it just became unreal to watch as more and more students and staff members tested positive or had to quarantine.

Allergy symptoms have increased for everyone since this year’s hurricane near-miss (which was not nearly as scary for us as it was last year, since we knew all along that it would miss us and we would be on the clean side). But allergy symptoms are the same as Delta symptoms, so sitting in half-empty classrooms filled with runny noses can be disconcerting.

Add to it the fact that there was a situation that, while it was perfectly safe, triggered a lot of trauma-related emotions for me. And the situation was compounded by the fact that Covid has left schools chronically under-staffed–and circumstances in our state have made that worse this year.

On top of all that, there are constant cautionary tales of vaccines being useless against Delta. So when I started feeling insatiably tired, I felt the need to hide it. It was exhaustion, right? I could not remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep, and lack of sleep does affect me a lot.

Then the stuffy nose and sinus drip cough started. Nasal irrigation and steroid spray kept it at bay for the most part–these are typical allergy symptoms for me, and they do get worse when I am under stress. In fact, I usually carry a bottle of water or coffee with me, so that I can keep from coughing. But when a cough slipped out last week, I got lots of suspicious looks.

I was rocking my TEA-issued blue N95! They have a weird, perfumey smell to them, which brought back memories of last March.

But coughing wasn’t a symptom I had when I had Covid, and neither was a sore throat, which I started experiencing on Friday. However, the muscle aches and headache, which had been getting worse over the past week, were a definite cause for concern. At least I wasn’t having neurological symptoms….until I realized that my eye had been twitching for a few days now.

Luckily, we had a long weekend, so I could lock myself indoors at home and figure all this out. I googled the Delta variant, hoping to learn that my symptoms were completely different from what I was experiencing.

I do get crazy physical symptoms related to stress. Right before I left my previous job, when the situation was very traumatic, I would get muscle aches, GI symptoms, and a low grade fever, which were all psychosomatic. And my resistance lowers when I am under extreme stress. I had to student teach twice in order to get my degree, and had a crazy holiday season between the two unpaid internships. Due to the stress, I ended up getting shingles in my throat at age 23. I also had psychosomatic symptoms, including a stuffy nose and muscle aches, from the beginning of the pandemic up until I actually caught Covid and recovered. So stress was a definite possibility.

However, I decided that I was likely in denial, so I let my yoga teacher know that I would not be in class for the next 10 days. Then I overate and wondered what to do. Finally, on Saturday, I broke down and got a home testing kit. I made sure to stick the q-tip as far up my nose as it would possibly go. And, ten minutes later…

That’s right–no pink line on my strip (on the top)! I will retest tonight, and then I will be good to go back to yoga and work once the long weekend is over.

So surprise, surprise, after having Covid and then being vaccinated, I don’t have Covid. It’s crazy how the current media coverage makes it seem like the most probable result is not going to happen.

Now that the excitement is over, it is time to deal with the actual issue at hand–the fact that stress has caused me to have all of these physical symptoms. It is time to streamline my routine, to understand the limits of what I can get done in a day, to set boundaries accordingly, and to focus on the things that actually are within my control.

The reality is that I am not going to get Covid again. So instead of worrying about that, it is time to focus on all of the good that I can do during this crazy time.

Family Fun

Back to School!

In the most normal of years, the beginning of the school year is akin to crashing a boat into a dock. But it has been a long time since I have seen “normal.”

The 2017-18 school year began with Hurricane Harvey and ended with me going on medical leave.

In the fall of 2018 I began my break from full time teaching and started subbing in two districts. In the spring, I accepted a long term subbing position, which was interrupted when a factory caught on fire. During the fire, I worked at Odyssey, where I was later hired as a behavioral interventionist for the next year.

I began my new position normally enough in the fall of 2019, and Iliana started attending school at Odyssey as well. Then came March 2020, which was anything but normal.

We began last year virtually, then had a week off for a hurricane that turned and missed us at the last minute. By September I was teaching full time again. The year was a weird combination of virtual and in-person teaching, with a two-week intermission when I finally caught the plague. At the end of the school year, I was offered my new position, which means that I began the year as an aide and ended the year as department lead.

And so, welcome to back-to-school 2021!

Last Hurrah: A Bike Riding Trip in Montrose

The last weekend before school started, we decided to get an Air BNB in Montrose. It was an adorable little historic apartment!

We packed our folding bikes and headed downtown, where we easily found the Buffalo Bayou trail.

Downtown had more businesses open, than they did on our spring break visit. However, there were more restrictions due to the Delta variant.

2. The “D” Word

It hadn’t surprised me that downtown was stricter, but then Ili and I decided to visit Armand Bayou nature center, once of our favorite woods-walking venues. It was beautiful…

But it surprised me that they had tight restrictions! Some made sense, like wearing a mask when you walk up to the payment window. But others seemed overly cautious for an outdoor place. It was starting to make me nervous.

Then our state entered into a weird battle over masks in schools. Our governor has banned schools from enacting mask mandates, but a local judge ordered one anyway and it was upheld in a higher court. Which means that the schools, who really have no interest in taking sides on political things like this, are strongly encouraging mask wearing.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. I am fully vaccinated and have had the virus, and I have researched the chances of me catching it again. It is a small enough risk, that I am willing to take it. I am definitely not going to stay home or change how I am living my life in a major way.

And yet, I kind of get the reasoning behind requiring the masks at school. Most of the students can’t get vaccinated yet, and kids are getting sick with the Delta variant. From what I have read, the chances of me being contagious are small, but we don’t know for sure which adults have been vaccinated, who has had the virus, etc. So I got myself a shield with pink glasses and created a rhinestone tiara above it! And Iliana got a new set of sequin masks.

While I understand the reasoning behind the masks, I am glad that school is being held in-person this year. There has been a very significant slide, both academically and emotionally, from the year and a half with no in-person instruction for a number of students. Right now, with what we know, I think the benefits of being in school definitely outweigh the risks. I will be glad when the children have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

3. Two Cute Iliana Stories

This has been a year of growing up for Iliana. We recently went to our storage unit and found a leopard print parka that Iliana enjoyed wearing for years. It doesn’t even come close to fitting her now! I asked Ili if she wanted to donate it, and she hesitantly agreed, although she wanted to take a picture of it first.

The next day, when my grocery delivery arrived, the young lady who brought them, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that had been on clearance. On a hunch, I asked her if she had a little girl. She said yes, she had a 5-year-old. And it turns out that her daughter needed a new winter coat and loves leopard! So Iliana was delighted that her coat went to a good home, and she enjoyed the flowers in her room.

Iliana is loving school this year, and she is taking an extra science class, as well as attending science camp through NASA. She has dutifully studied her chemistry lessons every night, and on Friday her teacher excitedly told me that Ili had gotten 100% on her test! We celebrated with ice cream, of course!

Have a wonderful week, and I hope your fall is starting out well!

About Us, Family Fun

8 (years)

Grew up in a small town
And when the rain would fall down
I’d just stare out my window


Dreaming of what could be
And if I’d end up happy
I would pray

Trying hard to reach out
But when I tried to speak out
Felt like no one could hear me

Wanted to belong here
But something felt so wrong here

So I prayed (I would pray)

I could breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I
won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Wanna feel the warm breeze
Sleep under a palm tree
Feel the rush of the ocean


Get onboard a fast train
Travel on a jet plane, far away (I will)
And breakaway

I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging around revolving doors
Maybe I don’t know where they’ll take me,

but
Gotta keep moving on, moving on
Fly away, breakaway

I’ll spread my wings
And I’ll learn how to fly
Though it’s not easy to tell you goodbye
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget the place I come from
I gotta take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And breakaway

Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Benenate Bridget Louise / Gerrard Matthew R TBreakaway lyrics © Wb Music Corp., Almo Music Corp., Music Of Windswept, G Matt Music, Friends Of Seagulls Music Publishing, Avril Lavigne Publishing Llc.

It was been a wonderful 8 years in Texas, and I look forward to many more!