Trust Fall

MEA weekend is a wonderful long weekend that Minnesotans in the education world look forward to. This year, it also marked the end of my job. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive, and was so looking forward to a long weekend with nothing on my mind.

And then I woke up.

The very next morning, I had a job offer in my inbox. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great…but I was really hoping to have some days where I didn’t have to think about a job and weigh pros and cons.

Hiking is, however, a great activity to do while thinking serious thoughts.

And Joe finds the best spots.

Hello up there! Henry and I were going at a little slower pace, talking about engines, so it was fun when we got to switchbacks and could see Joe and Charlie up above us.

We liked the stone steps, too

Up at the top!

An old shelter house built by CCC workers back in the day.

We had lunch in Lacrosse at a favorite spot of ours, and then headed to our lodging for the night in La Farge, Wisconsin.

It’s a cool old farm! Here’s the house

The farm cats were very friendly and curious. They leaped into any open door they saw, even if it was a trunk.

Or a car.

Why, they even leaped on top of Joe’s shoulders!

The farm animals were fun to observe

I was a pretty big fan of the donkey

There were even sheep!

There were trails and nooks and crannies all over the property, and it was so fun to explore. Henry and I found a good sittin’ spot.

Joe and Henry did some swing time

while Charlie and I took a hike up the hill to a fantastic viewing platform

Panorama capture of the view:

Cat!

The next morning, I headed up the hill to do some sunrise yoga, and Henry snuggled up on the couch to read one of his finds from the bookstore in Viroqua the day before.

It was COLD, but very beautiful with the frost everywhere.

A dog friend came and joined me.

Back at the house, the cats were scrambling for breakfast.

A loaf of fresh-baked muffins, bread, and fresh eggs were brought over from the main house. Truly a delight. We’d been instructed to give leftovers to the animals, so that was a great diversion for us! One of the goats had gotten out of the pen, and he kept trying to climb on top of Joe.

For a mid-morning warm-up, we hit Wonder State Coffee on our way back through Viroqua.

Our next destination was Des Moines, but we went by way of Yellow River State Forest.

I was verrry uncomfortable with the narrow dirt road up the hill. Our car isn’t exactly built for…terrain. But the trees were an amazing yellow, and it was great to stretch our legs for awhile.

The reason for our visit was to celebrate Julia’s marriage!

On a cold weekend, the sun really came out for the event

While it was a very short visit, it was definitely a sweet one!

Details are still getting worked out on the job front, but I did end up accepting the position. So, as long as bureaucracy all works itself out accordingly, I expect to be teaching at a school in Uptown very soon. In the meantime, I’m trying to take it easy and enjoy some slow, uneventful days!

Balance

A few weekends ago, Joe was up at the cabin with the car. Getting everywhere car-less was my favorite part about the weekend! We took bus rides, long walks and scootered along the creek. Our first destination was TRUCKSPLORATION. It’s one of our favorite annual events that was cancelled last year. Felt good to be back, checking out all the community helper vehicles.

In the Viking’s Table truck that provided a tasty lunch for us.

Gotta love a walk home that takes you by Lake Harriet.

The next day, after a glorious scooter/walk to church, Sarah drove us all out to an apple orchard.

None of us actually wanted/needed apples (our apple tree fruited this year, so we’ve got oodles), but I pushed hard for the corn maze, and we all wanted to hit up the pumpkin patch.

The boys leading the way

Charlie made an excellent choice

Sarah did NOT understand why the pumpkins were neatly cut from the vines.

Ahhhh! Family dinner. Charlie looks forward to seeing his cousins all week.

The next weekend, a local ski hill opened up their chairlifts for rides to view the fall foliage. It’s still pretty green here, but it was a total win of an event. It was fun to get the views, and at the top of the hill there were bonfires, food, and live music.

Afterward, we hit up a big ol’ potluck with friends

Testing out Gigi’s new bike

I also tried a beginner aerial yoga class that was…incredible! I’m super excited to do more.

So all that good weekend outdoor time with wonderful people has been what powers me. Work was just feeling worse and worse. Seeing their art all up when we did critiques was inspiring and happifying. Here are some particularly fun ones

But still…it wasn’t enough. I hated the way I felt in the class space most of the time, and I spent hours awake in the middle of the night stressing (and trying not to stress, but then stressing that I couldn’t stop stressing…you all know what I mean). Diving into a particularly difficult age group–that I have no experience with–during a pandemic last year was obviously challenging. But having 40 of them, who are post-pandemic stressed and have forgotten how to exist at school together, in a collaborative classroom with art supplies…well, I just don’t have the classroom management experience for that. One day.

Two weeks ago, I decided to put in my notice. Today was my last day in that classroom. As I have been packing up the things from the room that are mine, I took a closer look at one of the collages I made in grad school and have displayed. It’s a really big collage, but I liked this particular area. Felt fitting for me right now.

I’m thrilled to be done, and to have nothing definite on the horizon. Getting to see the boys tackle their own new challenges, like riding a two-wheeler and learning cello are making me feel so happy.

It’s also a good reminder that skills take time. While sometimes we have to frantically doggy paddle when life dunks us into the ocean, swimming can be way less stressful and be handled more gracefully if we master basic strokes first. I’m incredibly lucky that I am able to opt out of the deep water that I’ve found myself in, and figure out where my shallow end is to build up my skills and strength.

WEEKENDS

I think most of you who follow this blog know that I’m not exactly loving the experience of teaching middle school. With class sizes around 40, I’m feeling that first-year-teacher inexperienced feeling pretty strongly. It can be scary, exhausting, overwhelming, annoying, frustrating, etc.

Then, the other day, a student showed me a drawing. I had been teaching them about one-point perspective, and their assignment was to practice their newfound perspective skills to draw a room that they would love to be in.

She drew my classroom.

!!!!!!!!!

Still, the daily grind is a lot. So, I’ve been really trying to take full advantage of the weekends. A few weeks ago, my neighbor asked if I’d like to learn how to can tomatoes. “Of course!” I said, thinking it was more of a hypothetical question. But 91 year olds don’t ask that many hypothetical questions. She promptly instructed me which farmer’s market to visit, what time to get there, and how many tomatoes to buy. “What time will you be over tomorrow morning?” she asked.

So I woke up early that Saturday to buy a half-bushel of tomatoes, and grabbed a crepe for breakfast while I was there.

Then we headed over to do some canning while Joe played his weekly game of tennis.

Donna showed the boys how to skin, but Henry preferred washing and salting the tomatoes and cleaning the rims of the jars.

Charlie was an expert skinner and jar stuffer

It’s fun to do things with experts.

We played Taboo while we waited for the cooking and sealing to take place

We ended up with 14 jars…21 pints in total volume

That afternoon we celebrated Lukie’s second birthday!

The kids are all getting so big

Sunday we hit a Van Gogh exhibit. Some of his works were digitized and then turned into an animated film that was projected onto walls and floors of a gallery space.

I liked some parts better than others, but the music was great and it was fun being covered in colors

I also hit a friend’s performance at Aster Cafe. It’s so great to experience live music again

The next weekend, my parents came up for a visit!

The weather was PERFECT, so we went on lots of walks.

We actually hadn’t been to our park in quite awhile, so that was a good spot to stop and do some sand adventuring.

You might have noticed Joe’s not in any of these photos as well. He was up at his parents’ cabin building the floor of our future Tiny Home.

Men At Work

This weekend, he’s got the car up at the cabin again, so we’re currently exploring via bus and scooter. Today, we hit up Trucksploration, one of our favorite annual events.

We hit ’em all. The Sheriff’s Mobile Control Center was their favorite this year.

In the Vikings Table coach bus/food truck

We walked over half-way home, since it was a nice route along Lake Harriet, before catching the bus again.

Then we had an apple-picking session in our front yard.

Harvesting can be so rewarding! Here’s my amaranth.

Tomorrow we’ll be hitting up an orchard & corn maze with friends. I just love fall.