Camping at James River State Park

When Jay and I were dating, we went camping in Florida over winter break.  Most of the details of that trip are gone from my memory, but I do remember one pretty clearly.  We had just finished a really yummy dinner and he asked me, “If we get married, can we keep going camping like this?”  Um….YES!  Six weeks later, he put a ring on it.  Fourteen years and two kids later, we still love camping together.

Friday

Friday we left for our trip to James River State Park.  For dinner that night we had chicken & veggies cooked in foil packs, the same meal that I’m pretty sure convinced Jay he was ready to start talking about marriage 14 years ago.

Saturday

I’ve been counting down the years until Bubba would turn 6, the minimum age for tubing, canoeing, or kayaking at the park.  I ended up deciding to take the kids tubing Saturday morning because I remember enjoying that as a kid.  I just had a whole paragraph typed out about Bubba’s bad attitude during this trip, but I’ve decided I’m not going to let that define my memory.  Instead I’ll choose to remember the rapids that felt big from the water but look tiny from the bank, the magic of watching the bottom of the river zip by you in the shallow parts, and our stop on a sandy island to poke around.  Tubing was just as fun as I had remembered it.

I know Gerry Brooks would not approve of this photo, but I couldn’t help myself.   In the afternoon I took the kids to the Discover Area, a natural playground of sorts.  They played, and I prepared for my upcoming book club in the shade.  I love these slow moments.

 

Saturday night we took a wagon trip to the Tye River Overlook with a park ranger.  (Jay took this shot of us on the ride, and I happen to love it!)  The ranger had an electronic owl call to attract screech owls.  On our third or fourth stop, right about the point that Bubba fell asleep in my lap, we finally got one to respond!  It talked to us from a nearby tree for several minutes, but we never spotted it.  On our last stop we heard both the whinny and bounce calls, and two owls called back and forth to each other.  We joked that we had just helped to make an owl love connection.

Sunday

This day started out the best way…with a run.  I took the Cabell trail, and in keeping with tradition, got slightly lost.  The trail map and markings are great at the park….about 95% of the time.  But when there’s an arrow pointing left and no real trail going left, you just have to make your best guess.

 

The night before, Bubba asked to join me on the morning run, but we all knew that would be fun for like the first 5 minutes.  So I promised him a short run together when I got back.  He turned out to be a much better running partner than expected.  We took the Cabell trail in the opposite direction from what I had just run and figured out where I went off course.  I’m still sticking with the fact that it was a signage error….not mine. 🙂

Later that morning we went to two programs led by the rangers.  We watched Cobb, the corn snake, eat his weekly meal of a tiny thawed out mouse, then both kids held him.  We also learned lots of interesting ways to start a fire, and Chica got to try it out with a magnifying glass.  When I asked the kids at lunch today what their three favorite parts of the weekend were, both of these were mentioned.  I was slightly underwhelmed, but they were enthralled.  Doesn’t it often work that way??

If I’m being honest, I feel like I have a hard time connecting with this one these days.  I’ve written about that a bit, but that feeling keeps nagging at me.  So when she expressed interest in kayaking, I jumped on the opportunity to spend some time just with her.  We rented two boats after lunch on Sunday, and it was everything I hoped it would be.  She was (is) brave and strong and chatty and positive and encouraging.  We docked our boats twice and explored.  At lunch today both of us voted kayaking as our favorite part of the trip.

As if we hadn’t already packed enough into this day, I ended up sending the kids on a scavenger hunt before dinner.  I hid some Dollar Tree toys around the campground with clues, and they rode their bikes to find them.  The hunt was followed by a few (mostly drama free) hours of playing together.

Monday

I was feeling brave this morning, so I decided on a morning bike ride instead of run.  I’m still so green at riding trails.  I picked the longest, easiest trail in the park, the River Trail.  Most of it was a really wide, grassy path, but the end had several super steep downhill sections.  I’ve been reading about taking risks in my math teacher book, and I know risks are how we learn.  So…..I leveled my pedals, stood up, stuck my elbows out and butt back, cried out “Jesus! Jesus!” a few times, and went for it.  I lived to tell about it, y’all.  It was kinda fun.

The rest of the day was just packing up and hot.  Real hot.  The most exciting thing that happened was that we found a black widow spider building an egg sac on the top of our tent, under the rain fly.  I snapped this picture and took a short video before Jay killed it.

 

And finally, a few more pictures just for fun!  I asked Jay to send me a few of his best photos from the weekend.  Apparently he either really likes funny face photos, or that’s all we ever do when he pulls out the camera.

   

 

 

 

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Summer Week 1

My typical back to school conversation goes like this:

Friend:  How was your summer?
Me: Great!
Friend:  Did you do anything fun?
Me:  Yes!  We went camping.  We visited my parents in Richmond and went to Kings Dominion.  We swam at the Y.  I took classes.  It went by too fast.

Yes, camping and Kings Dominion are highlights for me, and much of my time will be taken up with grad school, but each summer has so many other small moments worth remembering.  Moments like eating ice cream for dinner and baseball games and bike rides.

So I’ve decided to try to post at least one photo and memory each day this summer.  This way I can look back on August 7th and remember that the summer was more than our two trips and studying.  I fully realize that this plan might go the way of summer chore lists and never make it past the first week, but it can’t hurt to try, right?  So here goes….

Day 1  Last Day of School

The hours and hours of work I put into the end of year video certainly felt worth it when I watched students sing along:

This lovely lady will be a senior next year, and we ran into her at the GO Center picnic.  Michelle taught her in third grade, and I taught her the next year in fourth.  She made such an impression on both of us.  I’ve always known she will accomplish big things in life!  I had another favorite student stop by the day before with her mom, and two more on Friday.  It’s such a gift to watch our students grow up and become the amazing humans that they are.

 

And I got this letter from a current student.  Day made.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2 Code Girls

As soon as my semester at VCU ended, I decided to tackle my summer reading list.  Up first was Code Girls because I wanted to hear Dorothy Braden Bruce speak during the Randolph College Reunion.  At 98, she was witty, charming, and fascinating.  My favorite moment was when the interviewer asked her if she was scared to head to Washington to do a job that she knew nothing about.  In a very matter of fact way, she said, “No.”  She felt fully prepared for whatever she might face because of the education she had received at R-MWC.  I certainly knew that feeling, and I think so many of the other women in the room did too.

As an added bonus, I ran into two class of ’03 friends who where enjoying their 15th year reunion.  What a great surprise!

Day 3  Conquer the Cove 25K

 

I spent the first 8 miles with Ruth and Rhonda.  Their company made the miles pass quickly and put me in a good mood.  I didn’t really mean to, but I pulled ahead of Ruth when we hit the long, uphill fire road.  I’ve decided, for now, that I like fire road climbs better than single track climbs.  I think that the hilly downtown run that (the other) Ruth and I do a few mornings each week paid off!  I ate lots of pickles, saw one tiny turtle, tried to run with gratitude, and stayed mostly dry and clean-ish until the last 5 minutes.  Maddy coming up from behind motivated me to keep pushing all the way to the finish.  Being kid-free after the race allowed Jay and I to hang around, cheer for our friends finishing the marathon, and take the long way home.  It was a perfect day.

Day 4 Small Victories

I accomplished something this morning that I’ve been wanting to do for months….I cleaned off our porch.  It had accumulated an unruly collection of toys, tools, and broken junk, and there were weeds climbing up from both sides.  Tonight Jay and I enjoyed the first of many hours of summer porch sitting.

We spent an hour at the YMCA pool this afternoon.  The last time we went, Bubba got up the nerve to try the swim test, but he didn’t pass.  He tried again today and earned the red band, granting him access to their super cool slide!  I’m proud of that kid!!

Day 5 Enchiladas

During the school year I forget how much I like to cook.  We get stuck in a rut of Chic-fil-A, pizza, hamburgers, and waaaay too many Lunchables.  At least for now, while I’m not taking classes, I’m enjoying cooking again.  Last night Chica helped me make chicken piccata, and tonight Bubba helped me with enchiladas.  Neither of them was really a fan of what we cooked, but they’re not a fan of much when it comes to food.

 

 

Day 6 Gifts

This morning when I returned from my morning run, I found some out-of-the-blue gifts in my chair on the porch.  That Jay Proffitt is one smart dude.  He knows I like practical gifts, hence the work gloves and shovels.  He also knows that my enthusiasm for weeding our flowerbeds might last longer if I have the right tools to use.  And finally, he knows I lose stuff….hence the triple pack of gloves.  Love.  For the last few mornings he’s enjoyed his coffee on the porch while I pull weeds.  I think he’s always wanted to keep me company like this when I cook, but I have to concentrate way too much.  Weeding is mindless, so we’ve enjoyed those few cool minutes just chatting before the sun comes up and over the house.

After dinner tonight we went for a one mile walk on the Creekside Trail starting at the Farm Basket.  I think Bubba’s the only one that’s not afraid of the swinging bridge, but he was not so sure about the big sinkhole right before the steps.  I was so thankful that Jay put his video editing work on hold for an evening and came with us!

Day 7 Home

 

 

 

 

This was the first day we didn’t go to the pool at the Y.  I had great intentions of cleaning up and planning for the summer camp sessions I’m leading next week, but it just didn’t happen.  I read a bunch and played Carcassonne with Bubba while Chica played Minecraft.  In the afternoon we invited friends over to play in the sprinkler, and after dinner we rode up to New Covenant to let Chica learn how to get on and off her new to her (and almost too tall) bike.  We got it earlier this week from a Facebook Marketplace post.  She fell that day while trying to stop and scraped up her knees, so she was pretty hesitant to get back on it.  But as you can see in the picture, she got over that today and was thrilled with herself for learning how to stop and work the gears.  Watching them both finally ride confidently makes me so excited for our trip to Damascus in the fall.  It will be our first go at the Creeper Trail with no one being pulled in a buggy!

The kids are spending the night with Nana and Papa, so Jay and I enjoyed the best kind of date at Mr. Goodies.  I didn’t snap a picture, but we both commented like 17 times about how good it was.  I’m pretty sure it tastes even better than normal when you are kid-free. 🙂

 

What Will They Remember?

I wonder what my kids will remember.

I think I will remember the sideways, white rain I saw through the window behind Jay.  It was the sound of stuff banging around on the porch and the sideways rain that told me it was time to take cover.

I will remember the strange calm that came over my two sweet kids as we sat it out at the bottom of our basement steps in the dark.  “This is an adventure. We will be fine.  Tornadoes are over very quickly.”

I will remember that all of the neighbors resurfaced from their basements at the same time.  “Are you ok?  Yes.  Are you guys ok?”

    

I will remember texting nearby friends…thanksgiving after thanksgiving as each one of them replied that they were safe.

I will remember learning through our spotty cell connection that friends had lost their entire home.  Everything.  In the dark of our living room there was no way to hide the reality from our kids.  Later, with tears running down my cheeks, Chica asked, “Mom, are you crying?”  Yes.

I will remember that Nana’s house didn’t lose power, and we had a place to go.  Unlike so many friends, we could get out of our neighborhood easily.

I’ll remember that I tried to do homework on our unexpected day off, but I spent much more time scrolling Facebook, overcome by thankfulness for the good in our community.

I hope my kids’ memories are slightly different.

I hope my kids remember playing Catan by headlamp.

I hope Bubba remembers losing his first tooth at Nana’s while we waited for power to return.

And perhaps most importantly, I hope they both remember that people are more important than stuff, and we will do everything we can to protect them when scary things happen.  And when we can’t protect them, God can.

There are reports of 20-25 families in Elon that lost their homes.  Here are links to a way to help two families that we know:
https://www.gofundme.com/24dvh5h8
https://www.gofundme.com/5ev5htk

 

 

Surprised By Yes

I find myself saying no often as a mom.  Yesterday the no’s included:

No, Chica, you cannot play Minecraft on that one morning where you’re actually ready for school early.  In a strange turn of events, you’re distracting Bubba.  Sorry.

No, you cannot keep playing when it’s time to go.

No, you will not get a treat if you don’t eat your sandwich.  My answer hasn’t changed since the last seven times you asked me.

There are other frequent no’s:

No, you can’t knock on your friend’s door at 6:45 on a school night.  I know we just got home, but your friend is probably already getting his shower.  And nope, 7:30 on Saturday morning just won’t work either, Bud.

No, we’re not going to sign you up for a sport right now.  I’m barely holding on to our current commitments.

No, we’re not getting a pet.  I don’t like/need/believe in/want to take care of/have time for pets. No no no.

And then the one that crushes me a little every time:

No, I can’t do (fill-in-the-blank) with you right now.  I have homework.  Lots of it.

I worry about that all the time.  I worry that this is what they will remember and what will define these years for them.  When I shared that worry with a friend last week, she said, “No.  They will remember a mom who had a goal and worked hard to achieve it.”

I hope you’re right.

——————–

Friday nights are usually my one night off.  The week is a hard push to Thursday, my class night.  Thursday nights, after class, are for catching up on all the balls I’ve dropped during the week.  By Friday I’m just over it.  I declare to my unsurprised family every Friday, “I’m doing nothing tonight.  No-thing.”  I want to curl up on the couch and spend the evening in an internet mind-suck, guilt free.

Last night I had the phone in hand, pillows propped just right, and blanket pulled up, when Bubba decided to join me.  He pushed his way up into the warm corners in the way that only he can do.  “Can we play a board game?”

No. This is my night.  My night to lay here and be warm and numb and do nothing.

But, I said: Yes.  It was an “ok-I-guesssss-sooooo” kind of yes, but still a yes.

He was surprised.  I was surprised.  Jay was surprised.  Bubba rushed into Chica’s room to grab Chutes and Ladders before I could change my mind.

So here’s the biggest surprise of all: I had fun.

Here’s why…
1. Apparently Jay and Bubba played Chutes and Ladders recently.  Jay helped him work out the ever maddening problem of knowing which direction to move.  There was no more, “Hey!  You’re going backwards!”
2. The kid moved for me.  That’s love right there, y’all.  I stayed warm under the blanket, and he counted out the moves for both of us.
3.  He’s gotten fast.  One main problem with this game is that it takes so blasted long.  But when you don’t have to remind a kid it’s his turn or wait for him to figure out which way the numbers are going, it gets better.  Promise.
4.  We talked math.  I can’t help it.   Here’s one of my favorite examples:  We were on the same spot.  I rolled a 3, and he moved me 3 ahead.  Then he rolled a 6.  Instead of counting up 6 from his spot, he counted up 3 from my spot.  I love hearing him try to explain those understandings that just come naturally to him.
5.  And the ABSOLUTE biggest reason I had fun:  He’s a good sport.  Chica is just rotten with sportsmanship, and she always has been.  She’ll cry if she loses.  She’ll cry if she thinks she’s going to lose.  She’ll quit rather than lose.  Lately she’ll actually just refuse to play anything rather than lose.  I’ve tried everything I know to do to help her with this, but I think it’s going to continue to be a long, slow, uphill climb.  I guess either Bubba is just wired completely differently, or all the sermons I’ve preached to her stuck to him.  Whatever caused it, that boy is good at winning and losing.  He’s competitive, but encouraging.  It was a night of no tears and no pouting, and it was refreshing.

We ended up playing one game of Chutes and Ladders, one fast game of Candy Land, and at least three rounds of super hero dominoes.  To top off an already great evening, we had ice cream right before bed and talked math.  Talking math is my current love language.  (Joking…..but actually not really.)  Out of nowhere he starts telling me he knows what half of 180 is.  He explains he’s thinking about how many school days there are, “And I just can’t get that number out of my mind.”  Yep.  My kid.  I get ya buddy.  His explanation was so unexpected that I made him say it again so I could record it.

——————-

I’m struggling with how to end this post.  Goodness knows I’m not going to conclude with some challenge to my mom friends about more yes’s.  Because, let’s be real friends, my ratio of no’s to yes’s is like 2,348 to 1.

Instead I’m just going to hope for all of us that the yes’s are the spaces where the strongest memories are made.  That’s true for me as a mom, so hopefully it will be the same for them.  Carry on.

 

 

 

Bingo, Ice Picks, and the F-Word

At ages 6 and 9, our tough parenting decisions involve Bingo games, ice picks, and the F-word.  We’re not even to double digits yet.

Maybe I should back up a little….

One of Bubba’s favorite parts of kindergarten is playing Bingo.  I think it’s more about the pencils he wins and less about the actual game, but he loves it.  So when I found a Bingo game while perusing the aisles of Walmart, this seemed like a better option than some other toy that would be destined to die a slow death in our front flowerbed.  I bought it and enlisted Grandma to bring prizes so we could all play at his family birthday party.  As to be expected, Bubba was all about it, and Chica quit when she realized she wasn’t going to win.  Good sportsmanship is an ongoing battle with that one.

During the same trip to Walmart I spotted these.  Bubba really liked our neighbor’s Halloween projector, and he would prefer to sleep with as many lights on as possible.  I knew he would like it and managed to convince Grandma to bring this to his party too.  He’s been sleeping with snowflakes on his ceiling ever since.

Fast forward to this Friday morning.  Most Fridays Jay joins his dad and a few others for Man Breakfast at The Kitchen, so I’m in charge of getting Bubba to the bus.  I wait as late as possible to drop him off at a friend’s house (TY!) and head to work, rolling in right on time.  Leaving later than normal means more time to do dumb stuff, and this Friday morning was no exception.

See the pointy thing on the end of that light?  The part that looks like an ice pick?  I knew Bubba’s plan was to take it into his room to pop a balloon.  That sounded kinda fun, actually.  I carried on with answering emails and checking my grades on Blackboard, and I realized way too late that I was hearing the repeated sound of the pointy thing on something other than a balloon.  It was the box of his new Bingo game, with all of the parts inside, and I went from 0 to crazy faster than he could say, “Chica made me do it!”

There was lots of yelling.  Turns out Chica did encourage him.  So there was even more yelling and promises of great big ol’ consequences for both of them when I had a chance to talk to Dad about it.

When I got home from school that day it was the first thing I talked about with Jay.  And you know what?  He wasn’t nearly as mad as I was about the whole thing.  This caught me so off guard.  I expected wanted him to be just as peeved, and his chill was frustrating to me.  “It’s what boys do.  I’m sure I’ve destroyed plenty of boxes before with sharp things.  It’s not like he did it out of anger.  That’s a different thing.”

My reaction to disagreements like this is just silence.  So I sat in silence for an uncomfortably long time (for him) and tried to sort it all out in my head.  Yes, it was an inexpensive thing, but I had picked it out for Bubba based on our sweet conversations after school each day.  My feelings were hurt that it didn’t mean more to Bubba.  I’m an adult, but I’m also human.  Jay’s family and my family treat “stuff” differently, and 13 years into this we’re still trying to work out how our family approaches the “stuff”.  Bubba has a habit of destroying things, so how many times before it’s something that really does matter?  Sure, he didn’t do it out of anger, but he did do it on purpose.  And Chica?  WHAT made her think that was a good idea?

13 years are enough to know that not talking about it isn’t going to work. Oh, and by this time the kids had realized what we were discussing.  They were unnaturally still and quiet, trying to listen in from Bubba’s room.  So I made them turn on music to stop eavesdropping and went ahead and said the hard things.  We pushed past the stinging part and came up with a consequence and a plan, Jay’s perspective tempering my too-strong reaction, as it often does.

Since I’ll forget what we decided by November 18th, 2018 when this post pops back up on my Facebook feed, here’s what I told them when it was time for the talk:

“We love you.  We love you more than stuff.  And we have already forgiven you.  But what you did this morning was a bad choice.  It hurt my feelings that you destroyed a gift that I picked out and bought for you with money I worked to earn.  So when we talked about what to do next, we decided that we wanted you to know what it feels like to spend your own money on a gift that you’ve picked out for someone.  Here’s the list of chores you’re each going to have to do, before you get any screen time this weekend, and how much money you are going to make for each one.  Then we’ll take the money that you earn to the store, and you’ll get to pick out a gift for a kid that might not get many gifts for Christmas.  And I bet that when you think about the kid receiving that gift, that you will want him or her to take care of the gift and not destroy it.”

So here we are on the other side.  They’ve finished their long list of chores, minus the one Bubba needed me to help him complete, that we’ll do once this post is done.  We didn’t do the shopping yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

Here’s hoping that I remember when the parenting decisions get even harder, that it’s always best to keep talking.  It stings, and it’s confusing, and they’re listening in, but it’s worth it.  In this house where there are two perspectives, they are both needed.  Keep talking and keep listening.

Oh, and the F-word?  That’s the next tough parenting decision we’ve got to make.  Ugh.  Bubba asked this week, “What’s the F-word?”  I was on hold on the phone when he asked it, so….well….we just never got back to it.  My wise (?) friend told me to say, “It’s fart,” and be done with it.  Another, maybe wiser, friend said he surely already knows it and just wants to see what I’ll say.

Tonight the F-word is “figure”, as in we’ll figure that one out tomorrow.

Yep. I Cried.

That’s me on the left

The year was 1992.  I had my Umbro checked shorts, two pairs of Keds, a Saved By the Bell inspired sleeping bag, and a pillowcase my mom had sewn for me.  No worries that I didn’t really know the super-shy partner I had been assigned, thanks to a pair of inseparable besties in my GA group.  I didn’t care.  I was heading to CAMP!

It was just as glorious as all the big girls said it would be.  The songs, the mountains, the pool, taps at night, counselors that doted on us, Poptarts for breakfast…..all of it.  Unlike many girls my age, including my assigned bunk-mate, I don’t think I spent one second being homesick.  It was way too fun for that.

Summer after summer I found myself back there.  I got called Haley Mills for my Parent Trap haircut.  I learned songs that I still sing to my kids when they are dragging on a hike.  I met Jesus there.  I got my first job there.  Actually, working at camp is the only job that I’ve ever had except teaching.  I learned hard life lessons there.  I became brave there.  Eventually, during our years on full time staff, we started our family there.

So all of that to say I had some unexpected mom emotions well up in me this week as I helped Chica prepare for her first week away at overnight camp.  Something like fear mixed with sadness mixed with worry mixed with get-yourself-together-she’ll-be-fine.  I can distinctly remember my reaction to moms who stuck around just a little too long when they dropped their kids off at camp:  “When my kid gets big enough to go to camp, I will not be doing that mess.  I will drop her off and go.  Not try to make her bed for her, not cry, NOT baby her.  Moms like that just make it worse.”

Except that day came today, and it didn’t go like that exactly.  I did not make her bed, and I did not cry in front of her.  Actually, I didn’t even hug her goodbye for some reason.  But as she stood up on the steps and introduced herself to everyone, I bit my lip willing the tears not to come.  I saved them, but only until I was back in the car.  

I stared here at the cursor for a few minutes trying to think of exactly where the tears came from.  The tears came from so many places.  Thoughts of my mom getting me ready for camp and wondering if she felt all the same things.  Realization that a week will go by where I won’t remind her to brush her hair, and she’ll be just fine.  Hope that she’ll find a friend who gets her and will make the week that much more fun.  Knowing that having experiences apart from us, from me, is what growing up is made of.  Jay joked when I got home that “even stone-cold Tracy” cried.  Yep.  And I’m owning it this time.  

Have a glorious week, Chica!

Cheerleaders

This week for my biotechnology course I had to build a bioreactor and its subsystems that would allow me to capture and measure the carbon dioxide gas produced in order to determine the volume of ethanol in my dextrose and yeast solution.

Translation:  I had to use yeast and sugar water to make alcohol and tell how much I had made by capturing the CO2.

Needless to say, with more than a decade between me and my last biology and chemistry courses, this was a challenge.  (And that was an understatement.)

I’ve been working on this project for about three weeks now.  Here is a rundown of the steps:

  1. Attempted to not freak out by assuring myself that all other elementary teachers in the class are in the same boat.  “He won’t let us fail,” was my frequent self-talk.
  2. Started a list of, “What I Know.”  For many minutes that list consisted of one statement:  Yeast is a fungus.  This is all I could remember from teaching fifth grade science.
  3. Began research.  I alternated between YouTube home brew videos, that were probably not credible sources, and scholarly articles that I could not understand.
  4. Drew first plan.  It was a joke.
  5. Met with my 5 person planning team via video conference.  One I couldn’t see, one I couldn’t hear, and the other two were nearly as clueless as I was.
  6. Spent a week revising plan after plan, muddling my way through mole calculations and projected volume.
  7. Found a God-send in Cheryl, a like-minded fourth grade teacher who doesn’t make me feel dumb.  We have sent countless Facebook messages and emails, shared chicken scratch calculations, and used Google Hangouts at all sorts of odd hours of the day.
  8. Consulted two other people who don’t usually make me feel dumb:  Jay and Papa.  One night I even made them both talk to Cheryl over Hangouts after dinner.
  9. Submitted a plan and received very vague feedback.
  10. Gathered all of the materials.  This consisted of very grouchy trips to Walmart, the pet store, and Michael’s with my two little people.  After dinner I made Jay continue the shopping, with them, while I wrote a paper for another class.  No rest for the weary….him or me!
  11. Felt pretty ready when class started.  We were supposed to build it in class, and I had about 95% of what I needed.  Except my ideas were all wrong.  My containers were too huge, and I spent most of our building time trying to find new materials in the lab while editing my design.  I shed the first of many tears over this thing that night.
  12. Forgot about it for almost a week while I Love Math Day happened.
  13. Day 2 of in-class building went so much better.  Something said in class made me think of a way to stir the solution:  LittleBits.

So the listing the steps idea sounded like a great plan when I started this post, but now I realize if I keep going, probably only my mom (and maybe Cheryl) will keep reading.  So let me just skip straight to the point:

I had a decent trial run, but my first and second, “Ok….let’s do this for real!” were complete flops.  I came home in tears last night, puddled on the sofa while Jay tried to talk me back to life.  I was doing every last thing that I don’t want to see my students or own kids do when they face a challenge.

But this morning I was at it again.  Fueled by enough hours of sleep and the promise of an entire free day ahead of me, I started in on the research again, determined to figure out the trick of immobilization.

And it worked. Tiny, glorious CO2 bubbles floating up a clear tube into my graduated cylinder brought me some ridiculous joy.

So this afternoon as I was prancing downtown to meet my family during my one hour break from data collection, I couldn’t help but consider those truly crappy moments of this challenge and what had gotten me through:

The cheerleaders.

*Jay with his calm spirit, reassuring words, and frequent reminders of, “I’m proud of you.”
*Cheryl who understood what I was going through and said, “I feel like I’m in the waiting room at labor an delivery,” while waiting to hear if my design was working.
*Chica who asked me fantastic questions about what I was doing this morning on the phone.  “What did you do differently?” and “Can you make it thinner?” she asked. Her sweet questions helped to slowly bring me out of the dizziness and back into the problem solving mode.
*Alissa and Rachel, my running amigas who are also both in grad school.  They text me about translation theory and Sherlock, I send them pictures of my moonshine creator, and we all laugh at how different but the same our lives really are.
*My students who seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing, and the sweet little guy who told me I had inspired him to build something one day.
*My mom and mother-in-law who are relentless in their support.

May this project be a reminder to me of what my kids need next time it seems impossible.  Most of the time they don’t need a, “Suck it up,” or a lecture on how failure is just an opportunity to learn something.

They need a cheerleader, and hopefully I can be that for them.

(Ok….back to tending my graduated cylinders and watching bubbles trickle up.  1060 mL of CO2 and counting.)