Saturday, October 7, 2017

Benedict Arnold and the Single Mama

Two months ago, John mentioned that his friend Hodding Carter was planning another historical re-creation of an adventure.  He was planning to retrace Benedict Arnold's voyage that he took when he and 1100 men attempted to take Quebec City in 1775.  It didn't matter that it was a failed mission, but he was planning to build a bateau and he wanted John to join him for the month long adventure. 

John was a part of one of Hodding's other adventures in 1997 and 1998 when he sailed a Viking ship from Greenland to Newfoundland.  It was an adventure I'd heard a lot about.  The idea of having my husband and the coparent of our children gone for a month to do another such adventure honesty made me queasey, but I didn't want to be the reason that John didn't do this adventure.  So I put up some hurdles that needed to be overcome for this to work.  First, he'd have to keep his job, get paid, and hopefully make more money than he normally makes so that I could afford help.

He applied for an academic leave and it took a while to hear back about that.  I was in a bit of denial about what this would mean. But, three weeks before his departure, he got the news that he'd get a five week leave. We do not have family that lives nearby to rely on for extra help.  John and I really do share a lot of the parenting duties and we both work full time.  I wasn't sure what this was going to mean for me and life as I know it. 

We had a great day before he left.  We all went to the Harvest Market, a good old fashioned parade and event that John usually misses because he's out in the field with students. 

We had friends over for a BBQ and then watched a pop up fire show at a community members house.

When we woke up on Sunday, I had a pit in my stomach like I've never had before.  I felt this overwhelming sense of impending doom.  In the days and weeks leading up to his departure, John would occasionally say, "Jeez, the kids are arguing all the time.... they are driving me crazy".  All I could think is "this will be my reality and only mine for five weeks!".  I knew I could do the cooking, cleaning, driving, lawn mowing, wood stacking, etc., What I worried most about was my ability to be patient with the kids.  There are plenty of women out there who are single moms and they do it forever and under much worse conditions.  But being a working mom without backup was daunting, to say the least.

The kids sensed that I was struggling.  Cally said, "we've got this Mom".  I know we do have this. I know I can do this.  I will channel the strength of all the women who have done this for a much longer period of time than this. 

Meanwhile, John arrived in Maine to find Batty, the bateau just built and ready to go (albeit, leaky). Hodding is selling this story to Outside Magazine, so they spent a day in their "period clothing" getting photos taken.  Unfortunately, the period clothing is wool and it was 85 degrees that day. 

As it turns out, John and Hodding were the only two people who were committed to the entire adventure.  Others, including a videographer and the boat builder, seem to come and go.  There are also a lot more dams than Benedict and his army were faced. That is proving to be a bit of a challenge.  Batty is 400 pounds, so it takes a dozen people to move her.  It'll be interesting to see what happens when they get to the "Big Carry"-- 13 miles!

Fortunately, friend have been amazing.  Cynthia and Scott have saved the day by being soccer parents, picking up kids at soccer, inviting us over for a swim, delivering dinner, and reading with the kids.

 Claire and Jenny invited me to join their families for a night of camping at Little River State Park.  They welcomed us with open arms, cooked for us, and provided friendship and fun that we needed.

Hazey biked the machine made bike path at Little River and that made me so proud.

I am almost two weeks in.  John's absence is mostly going well. It's all a great big balancing act, but I've made sure that I get at least a little time to myself everyday for exercise.  That does wonderful things for my head.  I also started watching the Handmaid's Tale. It's dark, but it's my little reward at the end of a long day, when I don't have to grade. I'm also learning to slow down, not over schedule, and leave time for the kids to create, play, and relax.  Today, they spent two hours making a reading nook in their closet, coming up with club names, rules, and doing some decorating.  Seeing them not only get along, but work together, and be creative was a bright light in my day.

The hardest part of this single mama thing is not having to do all the "stuff".  The most difficult part is not having the emotional support that I've come to rely on from John.  He's my best friend.  He is my confident, my therapist, and my biggest cheerleader.  We do hear from him here and there, but I really, really, miss having him to help problem solve when, for example, Hazey tells me he's not a good reader and he feels dumb or Cally says she isn't good at soccer.  

Relief in the form of my in-laws is coming in tomorrow.  I know they will be wonderful about helping me with meals and whatnot, but what I'm looking forward most is for the kids to have someone else to talk to.  Anyone who knows Cally and Hazen knows that they talk a lot.  It'll be nice to be able to have a few more ears in the house. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Music and the Arts

We love Burlington's Southend Art Hop.  Every year, John and I get a sitter and we make Friday night Art Hop a part of our date night.  There are always food trucks, music, performers, and lots and lots of friends that we haven't seen in a while.  This year, we had a dear friend's 50th birthday to attend instead.  That was a family event with Red Hot Juba playing and super fun. 

The kids had a ball, but at 8:15pm, Hazen informed us that he was ready to go home and go to bed.  The band had just started rocking out, Cally was having a ball with old friends from preschool, and we'd just gotten into our groove.  We hadn't anticipated this, but it should not have come as a surprise given it was his first week of school and he'd been biking around the party (at Cochran's ski hill) for hours.  But when I asked if he'd be okay taking a nap in the minivan, he said, "sure"!  And just like that he went to sleep snuggling with a bunch of jackets. 

The next night, we decided to take the kids with us to art hop.  All the same venders were there, but it was much less hectic and busy.  The kids had a ball learning how to make a basket and playing pinball on a cardboard and rubber band arcade. 

The following weekend we headed down to North Adams to attend Freshgrass Music Festival again.  This time, our dear friends the Davidson's joined us.  They just moved East from Bozeman, MT and we were so excited to see them. 

It was a hot day, but the kids had so much fun at the "kids tent", listening to music, and seeing art. 

We had a great day and spent the night at Williams College Outing Club cabin.  We got there in the dark, so it was fortunate we couldn't really see how dirty it was. We had a fun breakfast at a diner where we met up with John's friend Dan Cantor.

Monday, September 4, 2017

First Day of Schol

These two are off to the races!  They are fired up and ready to learn.

Here they come Ms. Paul and Mr. Barker.   Here I come 9th and 10th graders.  We are so ready for all the adventures, fun, and challenges that this year will bring.

Right before school started, we got a surprise visit from the Meyer family.  The kids were so excited to see Kesley (a new Freshman) and Jameson (5th grader). 

 We were all set to head to Maine for a weekend of canoe camping as a family.  We reserved a spot at Mooselookmeguntic, but realized the day before we left that we had tickets to see the Avett Brothers on Sunday night at Shelburne Museum and the forecast was a 100% chance of rain on Sunday.  So, at the last minute, we changed plans and went to one of the remote canoe camping sites on Waterbury Reservoir (a short 45 minute drove from home as opposed to a 4 hour drive).   We paddled in from Cotton brook in Moscow (near Stowe) and found the most amazing camping spot.  We were later told it was the best one there.

It was a gorgeous day!  The weather warm and the reservoir was the perfect temperature. 

We awoke to rain in the morning, but were able to see a bald eagle and a heron on our canoe ride out.  We got warm and toasted and then prepared ourselves for a soaking experience at the kids first concert. John made sure we were ready for the elements and dressed appropriately.  

It was a great concert even if it was soggy!

As a parting shot...... Lobby our unsung hero who keeps our house clear of mice.