May 31, 2020

Black Lives Matter

5/31/2020 — cori

The events of this past week are weighing heavily on my heart. What an unjust world we live in where a white police officer can murder a black man, and feel justified doing it, live on video while we all watch in horror. This has to stop! This police brutality. George Floyd and the family he left behind are etched permanently into our hearts. This fear that African Americans live under every day of their lives. This racism that is prevalent in our society that allows this type of inexcusable behavior to continue. Jane Elliott captures it best in this short clip:

After watching this video, I was intrigued by this brave woman speaking about the truth of racism to an all white audience. I was inspired by her no-nonsense attitude and how she is just not going to stand for it any more. We need all white people to have this attitude. We all need to educate ourselves and stand in solidarity with the oppressed people in our society.

I did a little research on Jane Elliott and came to discover that she was greatly distressed by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. She taught 3rd graders in Iowa at that time. She decided to teach her third graders what discrimination looked and felt liked. It turned into what is now a famous experiment called, "Blue eyes, brown eyes."  Here is the article explaining the history and results of this experiment.

Since the Black Lives Matter movement started 6 years ago, I have been a huge supporter. I never understood what people didn't like about that phrase; why it caused such backlash among white communities. And then I read a passage in Brene Brown's book, Braving the Wilderness, where she gives voice to why this phrase is so important:

If we care about citizens and the police, shouldn't the rallying cry just be ALL Lives Matter? No. Because the humanity wasn't stripped from all lives the way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens. In order for slavery to work, in order for us to buy, sell, beat, and trade people like animals, Americans had to completely dehumanize slaves. And whether we directly participated in that or were simply a member of a culture that at one time normalized that behavior, it shaped us. We can't undo that level of dehumanizing in one or two generations. I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement to rehumanize black citizens. All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion. Not all people were subjected to the psychological process of demonizing and being made less than human so we could justify the inhumane practice of slavery.

Why would I write about this on a blog that is supposedly about the stories of being a mother? Because as a mother, I am heartbroken over how we are treating each other. It is up to us as mothers to teach our children how to live with kindness, compassion, respect, and love in this world; to honor the dignity of all human beings - not just those in our own tribe. It was mothers who taught their children that slavery was reprehensible and those children grew up to live that truth. Now we have to teach our children that racism is reprehensible and pray our children grow up to fix this horrible divide in our country.

My heart breaks for every black mother that has to have a conversation with their precious 5 year old about racism and how they should act in case they get pulled over by the police. It breaks for every black mother that lost a son or daughter at the hands of police brutality. It breaks for the daily burden they carry, the micro-aggressions they live under day in and day out. It breaks because it doesn't have to be this way. Racism is a lie. It is a made up construct used to put people in different boxes. We are all humans. We all live, love, learn, cry, dream, eat, suffer, breathe, die. Skin color doesn't change that.

White privilege is real. Until we acknowledge that and our part in it, this great divide will continue in our country. This deep hurt has remained because white people don't speak out against it. If we were the ones suffering from it instead of benefiting from it, you can guarantee we'd be up in arms. Humanity is intricately interconnected. What happens to one of us, affects all of us. I will be working towards the good, peace, and betterment of this shared humanity for the rest of my days. I can't not do it.

May 26, 2020

The End of Quarantine...for now

5/26/2020 — cori
We have officially declared it, "The End of Quarantine." The shops are open again, for the most part. I'm even seeing alot of older people out and about again. Which, to me, says they feel safe enough to leave their houses periodically. Something we all long to do. Bennett went to the store with me for the first time in 2 months. Can you imagine not stepping foot in a store in over 2 months?! I even have a hair appointment scheduled. It has been 3 months and 2 weeks since my last hair coloring. It shows. They have opened at only 30% capacity, but they are open. This is the new world we live in. And air travel is picking up again. Thank God! Because it was so wonderful to have Gavin home after 5 months of not seeing each other.

He came to celebrate Bennett's graduation. Even though that meant sitting on the sofa watching it on a computer screen on a cold, gray, rainy May day. At least we were all doing it together.

He came just in time to help Chloe install her new stereo in her car. Honestly, it never would have gotten done without him. He's the only one who understands wires and stuff. It only took an hour. Now Chloe is driving around town with a touch screen, bluetooth stereo listening to her 80s rock'n'roll. She's a happy camper.

And it was hot enough to enjoy a bowl of ice cream on the back deck and play "Heads Up." Wild and crazy times, I tell ya. This game has us cracking up. These people are such cheaters!

Of course we made time to go to the park to hammock.

And it was one never-ending game of spike ball after another.

All together again. It feels so good. Until next time. Carpe Diem!

May 24, 2020

Graduation 2020

5/24/2020 — cori

This was not how any of us envisioned Bennett's graduation from high school to turn out. Graduation during the a pandemic is a scary proposition. Schools all over the world had to come up with alternative ideas. Our school opted for a virtual ceremony. But that didn't make the achievement any less special. It just made it look a little different.

This is what the ceremony looked like in our house during the live broadcast (I was sitting on the floor next to Gavin). We watched it on Chuck's laptop. Our closest relatives all joined in on the festivities and supported Bennett by watching it with us from the comfort of their homes and sending him lots of supporting text messages and phone calls. He felt very loved today.

We even had an official graduation cake.

 The day before, we took pictures.

It was so nice to have Gavin home to join us for this special occasion.

Old Town Fort Collins has wonderful murals on the wall. And since that is Bennett's favorite place to be, it was fitting to take his graduation photos there.

Also, his favorite ice cream place was right across the street. It was hard eating ice cream with masks on, but we managed.

This is the best representation of the past 10 weeks. We gladly wear masks to do our part to help the common good. Even in our joy, there is still a twinge of sorrow for the many families devastated by such loss over these past few months.

We're looking forward to July when we get to join with all our extended family and friends and celebrate in person with games, memories, laughter, and food. Times like these will be much more appreciated after so much social distancing. No more will we take for granted time with others, whether mundane or marvelous. This is the lesson of the pandemic.

May 21, 2020

Another Quarantine Milestone

5/21/2020 — cori
I'm actually surprised by how many milestones occurred over this unexpected period of quarantine. We've celebrated Chloe's 16th birthday, Bennett's Prom and Bennett's Graduation, and the last day of 10th and 12th grades.

But now that the world is gradually opening up bit by bit, we were able to complete one of the biggest, most anticipated milestone's of Chloe's life - taking her driver's test. I had 3 different appointments set up through the DMV. Each one came and went because the DMV was still closed due to the lock down.

You cannot even imagine Chloe's disappointment. Of all my kids, she was the one most ready to take this driver's test. She's a fantastic driver. Just look at all the hours she's accrued since she got her driver's permit a year and 2 months ago:

Thank God, now-a-days there's an app that logs and tracks all the drive time (unlike with the boys - let's just say there was a lot of fudging going on with their driving logs). This girl LOVES to drive!  But no matter how good or how ready she is, there was absolutely nothing we could do. Everything was out of our control. She learned some important life lessons about waiting, patience, expectations, and acceptance. I think all of us have come out of quarantine with these life lessons secure in our back pockets.

The law in Colorado states that driver's between the ages of 16 and 16 1/2 need to show proof of 6 hours of Behind-the-Wheel instruction with an approved driving school prior to taking the driver's test and getting their license. We had all three sessions lined up for the last week of March/first week of April. And then covid put life into a tailspin and all our best made plans were laid to waste. She was able to get one session in before the driving school closed. Two months later she completed the final two.

If someone could graduate from driver's school Suma Cum Laude, it would be Chloe. Her instructor said she's one of the best students she's ever had. Chloe told me they small talked the entire time (each session is two hours, one through town, another in the mountains, and finally the highway). Her instructor even "broke the rules" and let them listen to the radio, usually a big "no-no." She even told Chloe that some kids are so insecure with their driving that they spend the entire 6 hours of training just driving around the school parking lot. So proud of my girl. The instructor even called her "a girl after my own heart" after Chloe said she preferred 80s music on the contraband radio.

Her instructor mentioned that Chloe could take the driver's test through their school, not just through the DMV. So we signed her up on the spot. Yay! Finally, no more waiting! This past Monday, Chloe passed her exam easily. We were hoping to drive directly to the DMV to make it official with a license. However, new safety regulations require an appointment (before you could just go, take a ticket, and wait forever for your number to be called). The earliest appointment was for May 29. *UGH!!* Devastation! Massive expectation disappointment. BUT....there's now a light at the end of the tunnel and my sweet girl knows she will spend the rest of the summer driving herself all around town to visit friends (and hopefully to a job) and just enjoying the carefree life of a completely independent 16 year old.

May 17, 2020

Quarantine - Week 9

5/17/2020 — cori
I have officially reached my tipping point this week. You can only watch so many movies, play so many games, take so many walks around the neighborhood, read so many books, talk about the same old things with the same people, look at the same four walls. I am loosing my ever lovin mind. This is the sanitized, non-breakdown version. The real thing was much messier. 

I know all the right answers. I know we've been doing this for the greater good. I know millions of people have it much worse than I do. I'm thankful we've remained healthy and no one I know has died of this vicious virus. I willingly wear my mask wherever I go with no complaints. We've been the lucky ones who haven't lost their jobs. I have the most loving, wonderful husband and kids that I've gotten to spend oodles of time with. I know there's so much to be thankful for.

But I am also human. I am not Pollyanna (contrary to what many think). I miss other people. I miss going on adventures. I miss going out. I miss traveling. I'm tired of trying to come up with activities to relieve everyone's boredom. My heart breaks for all of Bennett's missed experiences of his Senior Year. My heart breaks for all of the people who've lost loved ones. My heart breaks for so many older people I know who feel alone and trapped in their homes indefinitely because of their high risk status. I'm just down in the dumps. So, that's what this week has looked like.

It wasn't all bad though. It actually started off AMAZING with Mother's Day last Sunday. Chuck is always the most creative gift giver. He and the kids came up with this idea to wear a hat with all the job titles I do as a mom taped on the hat. All of them wrote up something little and then presented to me. Gavin joined us via zoom (thus the grainy photo above). My heart melted. It was the most precious show of affection and affirmation. Then, on top of all that wonderfulness, Bennett and Chloe bought me a pasta maker - which, if you know me, is the perfect gift!! I can't wait to make real pasta!

I also got a beautiful love note written on my mirror.

We ordered Jimmy John's online and went to a park and had a picnic for the first time in forever. As you can see by Chloe's blanket, it was a wee bit chilly. But the sun was out and we were someplace other than home. It was absolutely wonderful!

After playing a million games of spike ball, which we brought with us, we hung up our hammocks and basked in the glow of the dappled sunlight under the giant pine trees. As you can tell, Chloe likes to be close to us at all times. She spent most of her time in Chuck's hammock on top of him, even though her blue hammock was less than 3 feet away from both of our hammocks.

Bennett decided to use the quilt we brought (in case we had to spread our picnic out on the ground) to keep himself warm in the mid-50s breezy weather. But you didn't see any of us complaining.

These two share a special bond. Wes adores Chuck. When we were leaving their house after Thanksgiving this past year, Chuck gave Wes his business card and told him he could call him any time he wanted.

So, can you guess who Chuck's talking to here? That's right. Apparently, Wes had lost Chuck's card and recently found it again. He called him twice on this day. It was precious. It certainly was a bright spot in our week.

At the beginning of the week, my computer keyboard and tracker died. It took calling our IT department (Gavin) and Chuck working together on the phone for over an hour to configure this contraption to finally get my computer to function as more than a brick. Chuck did more digging and learned that all we have to do is replace some cord in the tracker thingy, but apparently it will take like weeks to get the parts. So I've made peace with my new setup.

Part of my sadness this week might also have had something to do with the fact that this was my last week of work. Not only that, my last day working for this organization. I am now unemployed. This was our last staff meeting. We lost 40% of our funding for this coming school year. My boss was going to have to lay people off and combine classes. I only taught one class and knew it would be helpful to bow out on my own accord to help make things easier for her. Plus, I just felt I was supposed to be doing something other than teaching (more on that to come in a future post). I was at peace with the decision to leave, even though I love what I do. So, that was sad. 

We watched two INCREDIBLE and INSPIRING commencement speeches with Bennett this week. If you didn't get to hear Oprah's, you can watch it here.

And Mr. Obama's speech was a soothing balm. Bennett said he enjoyed this one the most.

Miracles still exist. My menu board is living proof. Somehow meal ideas keep showing up on this board and we keep making and eating them. We only nixed Monday's meal, but the rest of the week was spot on.

We spent a lot of time watching shows this past week because...quarantine + boredom = lazy butt movie night. This  (plus episodes 7 & 8 of "The Last Dance”) was the most interesting thing we watched by far this week. You will not be able to look at Amazon the same after watching this. 

And lastly, this was the fantastic book of the week. It was nice to have a fast paced fiction book to read after weeks of reading about heavy, depressing topics. It is about an American Christian archeologist who has the find of a lifetime in a Palestinian settlement. The Christian, Muslim, and Jewish archeologists work together at this dig site and some amazing things happen. I enjoyed learning alot about archeology, the tension in occupied Israel, and some of the fundamentalist leanings of ultra-orthodox Judaism.

May 10, 2020

Quarnatine - Week 8

5/10/2020 — cori
Here we are, still chugging along in this new, unpredictable world of ours. Restrictions have eased up a little over the last 2 weeks. But life still doesn't look much different for us. It's business as usual around here. The kids do see their friends more often, but that's the only change.

Because the weather has decided to be more spring-like, Spring Fever has set in. We were in the mood to work outside and do projects. Chuck had spent last fall building these corn-hole boards. This past week seemed like the perfect time to finally finish them up.

We needed a lot of supplies in order to do all our projects. So Chuck, along with the entire population of Fort Collins, braved our local Lowe's. He said it was extremely hard to social distance. However, everyone did wear masks. So, I guess that's good. We're still learning what staying safe in the midst of a pandemic looks like. We can't hide in our houses forever, but we also don't want to unnecessarily put others or ourselves at risk. Apparently, nobody knows the answer to that question. Testing and tracking the entire population sure would help. But our government has chosen not to anything instead. So it seems like we're on our own. End of we can finish the story....

So this turned out to be the finished product. Pretty impressive, I think. Bennett and Chuck worked hard taping and measuring so everything would turn out to look this awesome. It was hard for the math challenged in this family. But we persevered.

Chloe and I re-stained the privacy dividers on our deck. All while the neighbor's yappy, idiot dog barked at us non-stop. It drove me to need a large bowl of ice cream.

I spent the rest of the afternoon crouched in this position planting pansies. It just feels good to work hard, get dirt under your nails, sweat, and accomplish something that in the end looks beautiful.

Since Graduation has been cancelled, the school organized a "drive-thru" graduation. It was actually more of a car parade of seniors picking up their caps and gowns. All the teachers and staff were stationed throughout the parking lot cheering, holding signs, and celebrating the class of 2020. It was a thoughtful and kind effort to try and help make this occasion memorable and special for the kids even though they won't get to walk across a stage. 

This is the principal. She talked to each and every senior. She's so involved in the kids' lives. She is an amazing principal. I so appreciate her.

At the end of the drive-through graduation, the kids were supposed to put on their cap and gowns and take a picture next to the mascot at the front of the school. This picture captures the moment Chuck was able to "help" Bennett orient his cap correctly. See, even seniors still need their parents.

Another teacher that Bennett really liked asked to take a selfie with him and gave him a very kind note telling him how much having Bennett in his class last year meant to him. He also gave him a copy of the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. My all time favorite poem.

We were forced to play Quiddler again most of this week. Chuck insisted on playing until he won. It was hard. Very hard.

Then we rediscovered "Heads Up" on our phone. This is similar to Taboo, but with less word restrictions. This was dinner and game night the other night. So much fun!

We watched the INCREDIBLE documentary of Michelle Obama. She is so inspirational. I read her book last year and knew of her huge heart, sharp mind, and giving spirit already. This was just as enjoyable as the book and filmed so well.

We also watched the heart-breaking movie, "Just Mercy." Chuck and I had already seen it and wanted the kids to watch it. You can't and shouldn't be the same after watching this movie. I have been a huge fan of Bryan Stevenson since 2014 when I first read his book with the same title. We've supported his organization, Equal Justice Initiative, ever since then. You can't watch this movie and not change your opinion of our "justice" system and the death penalty. Deep, heavy, and moving.

We ate a week of declicous food! I must say, it was wonderful. And we followed it to a tee up until Friday, then we veered way off course. But it's all good.

One night, Chloe wanted to drive us somewhere. So we ended up at the high school. We took these wonderful pictures in memory of their last year of high school together.

And we practiced taking a picture by the mascot so that Bennett would be better prepared for drive-thru graduation.

May 6, 2020

If You Were A Disney Character Who Would You Be?

5/06/2020 — cori
This is what quarantine has done to our conversation. These are the last dregs of conversation in our house. We actually sit around talking about this stuff with all seriousness. And some of us can't just commit to one character. We feel we are more complex than that and can't be limited or defined by just one persona. An astute Disney connoisseur would recognize the fact that all of these characters don't technically fall under the "Disney" umbrella. But it made for a nice title, so I'm sticking with it. I will leave you in suspense no longer:

Chuck probably asks once every few weeks if we can watch this movie. Again. For the 284th time. It never gets old. He still laughs hysterically. And all because of his favorite character: Megamind. In his words, " I just love the story of the bad guy/criminal turning into the good guy. And his penchant for style and presentation." There you have it. I don't think Chuck has ever been a "bad guy" per se. But he does relate to Megamind's 'penchant for style and presentation.'

Chuck feels that Donald Duck is another accurate representation of who he is. He feels that, "he is so persistent … but also very narrow-focused … its just funny to see him trying to figure something out (like a flat tire) and then having everything conspire against him and seeing him just utterly meltdown but also not give up." Yup, that's my husband. And I love that about him!

Who doesn't love Kronk in "The Emperor's New Groove?" Gavin finds him hysterical. He feels that he plays the dumb henchman role perfectly. *Side note: Gavin has never been nor is currently employed as a dumb henchman. He also appreciates the genius of the voice actor. I don't know exactly how this represents Gavin except for maybe his silly side.

Gavin's other favorite character comes from the same movie. He loves Pacha because he is "just a really nice and selfless guy." This is a much closer representation of who Gavin is, always looking for a way to help everybody, smart but not showing it off, can think of solutions to complex problems, and loyal.

Emmett is truly the best representation of Bennett. Even their names are similar. Emmett is famous for saying, "Just tell me exactly what to do and how to do it." And oddly enough, Bennett is famous for saying the same thing. Emmett is a happy, go-lucky, friendly guy. So is Bennett. Bennett says he likes him because, "he’s funnily naive and dumb." Everybody loves Emmett. Everybody loves Bennett.

Talk about being complex. Bennett also associates himself with Maui from "Muana." Of course he does. We all knew that's what he would say before we asked him. He also says, "he is funnily self-centered and he’s just awesome overall." And to think I thought it was the muscles and tattoos.

Apparently Chloe isn't as complex as the rest of us tortured souls. She picked Rapunzel from, “Tangled” and that is it. Not only is there the strong physical resemblance but she says, "she’s caring and loyal but is also searching for something missing in her life." So well put, Chloe. That sums up Chloe in a nutshell. Plus, Chloe likes to stand up for herself and is highly independent, just like Rapunzel.

I see myself a lot like Ariel from "The Little Mermaid." Not that I like to swim or that I used to be a mermaid. But I identify with her idealism, with her naivety about the goodness of the world around her, how she wants to experience new and different things, about wanting to be liked and fit in. However, I have not sold my soul to Ursula to achieve any of these things. Plus, I love to sing (out loud, in my car, music blaring, with no one listening).

Lastly, anyone who knows me would agree. I am Dory. Dory is me. It helps that our names are so similar. I have the worst short term memory. So does Dory. I love to help people - even if they don't necessarily want my help. So does Dory. I love meeting new people. So does Dory (in her case fish).

And there you have it. Now you probably know us better than you ever really wanted to. Thank you, Quarantine, for giving us this little experiment in self-revelation and transparency.

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