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The FIrst Days

What Happens in the Garage…

My boy turned 23 on Friday and because of this I have decided to be a little lighter this weekend with the blog. Luke’s preferred state of being was the pursuit of happiness and he was damn successful a good portion of the time.

Especially with his buddies. Luke had just the best group of friends and these lads practically lived at the house. At some point, I don’t know when, the garage became an extension of their hangout space. Maybe when some of them took up butts? lol Maybe when all of them discovered pot? lol Don’t judge me; they hid it well! #LifeWithTeenagers. I honestly don’t know, but this citified gal, who swore there would never be a couch in her garage like some sort of redneck family, suddenly had TWO couches, a Lazy Boy, and a coffee table in there! All that was missing was a bed, lol, and if one had been there, some of those lads would never have left. 🙂

And if those garage walls could talk! I asked the lads if they had any stories they wouldn’t mind me sharing and instantly one of the boys said, “Anything that happened in that garage isn’t fit for publication.” HA! Hilarious! And he probably isn’t far off. A few things did come up that were *safe* to share. Here’s the text thread:

“All I know is that we smoked a ton of weed and played poker once till 6 am. And Luke cheated I’m pretty sure because he got pocket Aces like 25 times.”

“He had to have been cheating. Kid had like 30 Aces literally up his sleeve, lol. We also used to try and freestyle rap when we were freshman which I’m sure was painfully embarrassing.” (There is video of this somewhere and it is HYSTERICAL.)

“Me and Luke and Eric got the chair that’s in there from the side of the road in Holden and Luke sat on the chair in the trunk of Eric’s Pathfinder the entire ride home, lol”

The infamous chair lives on….

“The garage was the spot to hang out and just shoot the shit with one another. Either after school or on the weekend. So many good times with the crew. I remember that we’d always end up freestyling on the couch. We’d all say a line or two and then pass it to the person next to you. The couch and the garage was our place and is something that I’ll never forget.

So, one Christmas, when I found the sign in the photo above, I just had to get it and give it to Lukester. And there it still hangs. I have so much more I could write, but I will leave the stories, as the sign suggests, right where they happened. And I suppose, friends, the walls of that garage wouldn’t talk as I suggested above. They would probably hoot and howl and shake with laughter. Good times. Xxx

The FIrst Days

Rage

As always, these views are my own.

Let’s just cut to the chase: Luke felt targeted by the administration at his high school. Now, read this carefully. I am not saying he was; I am saying this is how he felt. But as I always tell people- a child’s perception is all that matters.

I have had my own students over the years that I am not sure felt the love the way I wanted them to. One of them in particular, whom I adored, really struggled with understanding anyone’s else’s point of view. He was diagnosed ADHD and ODD, had difficulty with peer relationships and authority, and anytime he didn’t like what I had to say to him, which was often, he would respond, “Why you always want to fight with me, Mrs. Inwood?” 🙂 Now, we weren’t *fighting* lol, but at nine that was how he described confrontation or debate. Those were the feelings elicited when he struggled to accept something he didn’t agree with. And again, that’s all that matters. I worked my hiney off with this kiddo… he was post losing Luke -which makes me try harder…. but I am not sure I reached him.

Now my Luke did not make the situation between himself and teachers and administration any easier. And I know how hard it is to not lose your cool when confronted with a sneer and a smart remark. But two events are forever burned in my memory and have shaped me as an educator ever since.

Game Changer Number One. Luke had this teacher, let’s call her Mrs. Smith. Now Mrs. Smith had been a teacher for a good many years at Wachusett, but I am not sure anything could have prepared you for Luke Inwood, lol. From Day One, Luke and *Mrs. Smith* did not get along. She was old school and wanted him to fall in line and do what he was told and not sass her about it. Sigh. So THAT didn’t happen. Next thing I know, I am being asked to go to school to have a meeting with said teacher and Luke and a school administrator – also not one of Luke’s favorite people. Actually, let’s just say it. It was the admin he felt so targeted by. So, here the four of us are, sitting around a table for what I understand to be an opportunity for us to have a discussion around how to solve this relationship problem and get Luke through this class. But that isn’t what happened. For, I don’t know, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, it felt like a lifetime, Mrs. Smith sat there and berated Luke. Went on about how horrible he was in her class and all his shortcomings and how if he didn’t fix it, well, that was his problem. What did I do? Shamefully, nothing. #IHaveRegrets. I want to tell you I was in shock. And I was. Who talks to a child this way? A student? None of us said anything, really, after that. Luke mumbled something about trying to do better and we got up and left. We walked down a set of stairs and when we got to the bottom, I stopped, looked at Luke and said, “Wow. You were right. She IS a bitch.” I told him to try and have a good day ’cause THAT was going to happen and headed out to my car. All I could think of was, if that was how she spoke to Luke in front of his mother, in front of her boss, what kind of barrage was he facing in the classroom behind closed doors? It made me sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I honestly don’t remember what happened after that. I think we pulled Luke from the class. Or maybe he failed that one. We never confronted Wachusett about it, I can tell you that. We chalked it up to Luke being an incredibly difficult student and what could you expect to happen? UGH. I feel sick just typing the words.

And unfortunately, *Mrs. Smith* was not the only one Luke had issues with. In his mind, of course, it was all the fault of the teachers. I know better, of course, having had the pleasure of interacting with some of the educators who truly tried to reach Luke where he was. But perception is everything. And Luke had his.

Game Changer Number Two. It is March 11th. It is a Wednesday. How do I know? Kept the emails that followed. :/ So, I arrive home and make my way upstairs to change out of my school clothes. I know Luke is in the house because the Altima is in the driveway, but he wasn’t in the basement. As I top the stairs I look left and there he is. Laying in his bed, just shaking. His whole body is vibrating.

“What’s going on, bud?” I ask him and make my way into his room.

“I have never felt so much rage in my whole life,” he tells me. ” I feel like my heart is going to explode out of my chest!” He is clearly distraught and tells me about a run-in with admin over d-halls and other infractions and we will never know what else. I am desperately afraid for him and his mental health at that moment. I’m also not sure I am going to be able to get him back to school. He is that angry. And hurt. And disheartened. What is a parent to do?

Well, you write an email. John reached out to school about how outrageous it was they they were beating Luke down this way. Because that’s how he felt. Beaten down. But the email we get back does not address our son as an individual, as a child who clearly doesn’t look like the other students; nor does it try to meet him where he is . It is, quite simply, more of the same. Thank you for not helping.

So, the next day Luke goes to school. He goes to school. This in itself is worth something. And then he goes to D-Hall that afternoon to satisfy the system. He is THERE. And you know what happens? He gets in trouble. He gets in trouble because he didn’t bring work with him. “And as a senior he should know better.” That is a quote friends, from the email I receive that night warning me that if Luke doesn’t bring work to the d-hall, that he is finally showing up to, HE WILL BE ASKED TO LEAVE and issued another d-hall. Because you can’t make this sh*t up! So you tell me…. if you are Luke Inwood… how are YOU feeling at this moment? We all know the answer to the question. Four weeks later, he is gone.

So here’s what I need you to know: Now, don’t get your knickers in a knot. Are you blaming the school for what happened, Miss Patty? No. No, I am not. A lot of factors came into play losing Luke, but there is no denying high school had its role. But you know I like to say, when we know better we do better. So what’s better? We can’t simply be punitive in the education system. Behind every behavior is something and it is our job in school to do our darndest to figure out what the *something* is. I had the opportunity to go into my district high school and share my story and my thoughts about this and it was a fantastic experience and I believe it helped give the people present perspective. I will gladly visit your high school, TOO, to spread my message: No child gets up in the morning and says “Today, I am going to go in and really going to F*@# with that teacher.” That is Never the case. They get in there and talk themselves into a bad situation and then we back them up into a corner and like a caged animal, they don’t always make the best choices. They feel trapped. They lash out. WE have to be the adults. Remember that student I shared with you earlier? Well, every once in a while I would have to look at him and say to myself, “Breathe, Inwood. He’s nine. You’re fifty. You have strategies to deal with this. He does not”. And then I would give myself a time out, lol. Or call for back-up. I love my school psychologist. Or talk to his parents. Or sometimes I would just hug him. And he would be so shocked lol, he would roll his eyes and giggle and we would get passed it. Or sometimes we wouldn’t. But we need to remember who the adult is and who is the child. And they may be six feet tall, with facial hair and a potty mouth, but on the inside… they are six. They are children. They are somebody’s baby. And he was mine. #NotOneMore

The FIrst Days

Addy

4:15 pm. Monday, April 13th. I arrive home from work after a visit to the Rutland pharmacy. As I climb out of the car I can hear the lads in the backyard hooting and hollering and having a great time. And I smile. Because there is nothing like young sirs living it up to make a momma’s heart happy.

I climb the stairs to the kitchen and as I am coming in to the kitchen, Luke is strolling through the patio doors. He is soaked because he has fallen through the ice after one of the boys threw his chap stick in the pool and he tried to bear crawl to retrieve it. Sigh. Kids. But there is a smile on his face so it can’t be all bad.

“I picked up your prescription, bud” I tell him as he heads to the bathroom to grab a towel.

“Meh, I stopped taking it on Friday.” he responds, already heading back out the door.

“You could have told me and saved me a trip!” I holler after him. I shake my head and shove the prescription in my basket in the office. In case he changes his mind. But the next day, Luke is dead.

Adderall. My good friend Jane was the one who alerted me to the issues around Adderall and suicide. I don’t even know how it came up, I think maybe when I was filling her in on the ins and outs of Luke’s hardships over the past few months and mentioned he had been taking Adderall and lost a shit ton of weight. Jane started to cry, right there at my island. Jane was experienced with Adderall and the negative effects it had on people she loved. Jane was convinced the Adderall had pushed Luke over the edge.

And so began my research. My son had been taking Adderall since September and friends, it pains me to say, I didn’t know much about it. We have that blind trust in physicians sometimes, you know? But when you do an internet search for Adderall and suicide, well… it will make you cry. Adderall is no freaking joke, it’s essentially speed, and to take yourself off it cold turkey like Luke did… let’s just say, it can have serious consequences.

For those of you that don’t know, Adderall is prescribed for ADHD. It is one of many medications, Ritalin and Concerta to name a few, that aim to help with focus. And I don’t take issue with that. I recognize that ADHD medications can be very successful for some people. My issue is that I didn’t know. I didn’t know that suicidal and psychotic thoughts were a side effect of this med. More importantly, Luke didn’t know. And it makes me want to SCREAM. Did you know that doctors are not required to share side effects with patients. YOU have to ask. You have to read that sheet that comes with your pills. And I do. I’m sure you do, too. You read all those side effects, but you don’t really worry about it, because surely nothing bad will happen, right?

But we are talking about suicidal thoughts, here, friends. We are talking about kiddos who have diagnoses who are already struggling with anxiety or depression and then we put them on a drug and we don’t say, “By the way.. if you start having thoughts around suicide, that is not normal. That might be the medicine and you need to tell me about that immediately.” At ten or twelve or sixteen, if we don’t warn the kiddos that this is a side effect, they aren’t going to think it’s the medication, they are just going to think that they are *f’d up* as my boy liked to say, and they are going to be skinny and sleep deprived and listen to that voice in their head telling them to just end the hurting. Suicide.

So here’s what I need you to know: The photo for this blog is Luke’s prescription. Yep, still have it. This is one of those things I have kept to torture myself. #IHaveRegrets. We have called the conditions that came together in losing Luke the perfect storm – between his anxiety and depression, the issues with school, and the lack of sleep… and going off the Addy cold turkey was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sigh. But Luke didn’t know. I want the people you love to know! So, if you or someone you love is on medication, please talk to your doctor about the side effects, no matter how minor. Talk about what suicidal thoughts are, even with your young kids. In my humble opinion, if they are old enough to take the drug, they are old enough to have the discussion. And lastly, make sure your loved one knows and understands the dangers around quitting medication without talking to a doctor first. Many meds need a gradual withdrawal from your system. #BeInformed #NotOneMore Xxx

The FIrst Days

Better Late Than Never

Buckle up, friends. I had discontinued my telling of the Rise and Fall of Luke Inwood because we were handling all that Covid stuff. Spirits were low and I didn’t want to add to it, but… here we are. It’s time.

Speaking of time, I have had a number of parents tell me one of the things they are relishing during this period of Learning at Home is not having to fight every morning with their kiddos about getting up and getting out the door to go to school. Is this maybe one of the biggest battles we face with some of our children? Preach, sister! lol

I feel like you are either a morning person or a night owl from birth, and for kids who are night owls that daily struggle to wake up and get on a bus for school is excruciating. EXCRUTIATING, I say! I have detailed to eternity my daily routine of shaking Luke’s leg and my whole schtick I would go through to eventually get him on the bus. UGH. In those last years, either I was driving him to high school or he was driving himself, but despite our best efforts and intentions… he was ALWAYS late. Curse you, Dunks! Lol.

Now truth be told he usually wasn’t late by much. I don’t do tardy, so when I was his driver he usually slid into the lobby of Wachusett just on the bell or barely after. Minutes. When he was driving himself his number of minutes increased to ten. Consistently. It was like he was just a beat behind. If School started at 7:20, that boy would roll up at 7:30. Every day. But you know what, friends. He was THERE.

Unfortunately, there is no gray and no exceptions to the “You must show up at school on time” rule. If I remember correctly, and I may not, every three times Luke was late, he got a detention. And he was always late. Now let’s just think about this. How many detentions can one child serve? And to what point? And if they don’t serve, they go to Saturday school. No, it is not as glamorous and cool as the scenes you remember from the Breakfast Club, lol. And for our boy Luke… it was another brick in the wall.

I think you have probably come to some conclusions around what Luke looked like in a school environment and I think it is safe to say…. he didn’t look like the usual kid. But our school systems are SO RIGID, we can’t think outside the box and ask, how do we make this work for this child? He’s here, at least. Maybe we let the tardies go? Maybe we say no tardy unless he’s twenty minutes late? Flexibility? Unique cases consideration? Pshhh… That is not the reality of our school systems, friends.

In February of 2015 Luke was DROWNING in tardies and d-halls. DROWNING. When you hate school you can’t sit through classes all day and then be expected to sit through d-hall and then be expected to go to Saturday school on top of all that. John and I were concerned about Luke’s mental state and we wrote an email to the school hoping we could *figure something out*. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for Luke and we were desperate. Rules are rules are rules, Mr. and Mrs. Inwood. Sigh. Thank you for not helping.

The last Saturday in March, two weeks before he would die, Luke had Saturday school. I am sitting in my chair drinking my coffee when I realize the time is getting late and Luke is not going to make it to his d-hall. Because you can also be tardy to Saturday school, friends. They lock the doors and you can’t get in. See you next week, sucker. SO – I am panicked, because I am the MOM and panic is my job. I jump up from my chair, start yelling “LUKE, YOU’RE GONNA BE LATE!” at the top of my lungs and promptly smash my left foot into the hand weight that I had left in my path post-workout. True story. It is one ugly toe now, lol, but it makes me giggle and sigh every time I look down at it. Luke? He didn’t make it.

So here’s what I need you to know: I am a rule follower. Well, my boss will tell you I like rules that work for me, lol. But truly, I am the one you find walking between the lines. I do not suggest that we take individual circumstances into consideration lightly. I like my kids in a row at school, I want homework turned in on time, I want you to raise your hand if you have something to say. I like expected outcomes. Control. But what I have learned- in the years of raising Luke and then losing him – is that life is not a one size fits all experience. Kids have changed, friends. Whether we like it or not, they are more sensitive, more complicated. And we have to respond. Educators are taught to meet a child where they are academically and then work like hell to get them to where we need them to be. Why should it be any different for behavioral and mental health concerns? And I want to be clear, here. This is not a Wachusett thing. This is an everybody thing.

I am going to say when we know better we do better. And we damn well know better now, folks. If you are raising your own Luke Inwood, don’t just ask what can be done differently, demand it. #IHaveRegrets. If you are teachers or administrators, don’t be afraid to get out of the box and really, truly consider the needs of these special circumstances kind of kids. There are only ever one or two Luke Inwood kind of kiddos in a grade. They don’t need more discipline. They need help. I dream of a future where we identify each of these kiddos and meet them where they are. You might be only asking to add minutes to a start time, but it might just add moments to a life. #NotOneMore.

The FIrst Days

I Am a Rock…

A few individuals have crossed my path these past weeks, all of whom are struggling – struggling due to trauma, Covid19, heck, just LIFE. I have offered to help, as one does in these situations, but my services were declined. “I’m fine,” they tell me. “It’s okay.” “I’ll be alright.” And so I go on my way. But I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head, that perhaps this is not the whole truth.

Somewhere along the way we have been taught that it is weak or unacceptable to share our feelings or to ask for help when we need it. The goal is to appear strong and capable. Was I the only one taught that you don’t share your problems or your *dirty laundry* as it used to be called? I am not sure where all this managing on our own, or “faking fine” as I like to call it, has gotten us.

Trying to cope in challenging times makes me think about the people we love who have died from suicide. I spent countless nights wondering why Luke didn’t tell somebody he was hurting and needed help. So many of the things that weigh us down are not easily handled at seventeen. What kind of strategies does a teenager have? WHY didn’t he ask for help? I have been thinking about the doctor in New York who recently passed away, also from suicide. I can only imagine how overwhelmed with her job she was and what it would be like to be surrounded by so much sadness and suffering. I wonder if she told anyone how she was feeling or just carried on until… well, she couldn’t. Xxx

I would like to tell you I have become a master of asking for help when I need it, but folks, it would be a gosh darn lie. And I give help for a living! As a teacher and with Hope Lives Here, lending aid is my business. Accepting it? Not so much. The reality of this smacked me upside the head not so very long ago. Here’s the story.

John and I are away with friends one weekend in early Winter. We love these couples and have created some pretty fantastic memories over the years. On this given evening, we have been out all night eating and drinking and laughing our heads off. After I drive everyone home (’cause someone has to be the voice of reason, lol ) we are back at the ranch, as I like to say, and winding down. My girlfriend and I are sitting on the couch together and we get to talking about Lukester.

“I read every one of your blogs, you know, and well, I can’t believe that I never even knew some of those things were happening; that things were so hard with Luke.”

“I know,” I replied, well aware that I had kept things pretty closed up.

“We have this great group of friends here for you and we love you and yet, you’re an island,” she announced.

Cue the theme music…. –

I am a rock, I am an island

My friend’s pronouncement didn’t upset me because, well, she wasn’t wrong. Isn’t wrong, as not much has changed. I AM an island. I TRY to share, but it is damn hard, friends. And I think I feel the same emotions everyone else does that doesn’t want to ask for help:

I would rather do it myself.

I don’t want people to know what I am going through.

There is guilt with asking for help.

I don’t want others to think less of me for not being able to handle things.

Should I go on?

I get so upset when I hear about one of my lovelies going through something difficult and I don’t know about it. “What do you mean you lost your job?” or “What do you mean your parents are getting divorced?” or most recently, “What do you mean you just got back from rehab?” I chastise them and remind them I am here for them, but isn’t that the cat calling the kettle black? Of course they’re not talking or asking for help. Why should THEY be any different? We are a society of silent sufferers.

So here’s what I need you to know: Being vulnerable is quite possibly the most challenging of human emotions. It is the purest form of trust and being open. But if we are ever going to forge a generation that leans on one another instead of trying to handle all of life’s predicaments solo dolo, we need to change our mindset and we need to show the kiddos what it looks like. One of my favorite artists, Charlie Mackesy, has a print where a young boy asks his horse, his mentor – “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?” And the horse replies, “Asked for help.” Brilliant.

So in the spirit of that, I am going to try to be more brave, more vulnerable, in the hopes that it might inspire one young lovely to ask for help when they need it most. My first step has been to try and find a few people that I feel can handle my darkest moments and I am working to be as honest as I can with them. Who will be yours? I also continue to be so grateful, to all of the people who ask me how I am doing… and really listen. Even if I’m not giving them the whole truth, lol. #Faking Fine. Lastly, I want to say thank you for the wake up call, my beautiful bestie. I am STILL an island, but at least now it has a landing pad where my friends can swoop in and save the day. With love, Xxx.

The FIrst Days

A Mother By Any Other Name…

Ah, Mother’s Day… for those of us who have lost a child or lost a mother… it is no easy day. But this year, I made an intentional choice to focus on what I HAVE instead of what I am missing. And friends, I have a lot.

I like to think about all the people in my life who have loved and nurtured me… like a good mom would…. like my mom did. As the old adage says, it takes a village. I have had teachers, bosses, and friends of the family who have encouraged me, and supported me, and picked me up after hard days. And what about girlfriends? My goodness! My ladies are incredible women who modeled what it is to be strong, and purposeful, and FUN human beings… as well as good mothers themselves. Heck, even my sister mothers me to death (in the very best of ways, lol)! Telling me what to wear or more importantly what not to, cheering me on with my teaching and non-profit, talking me off the proverbial ledge ( You’re alright! she likes to say). All of these important people, right there when I need them, surrounding me with love, accepting me as I am. Isn’t that the definition of a good momma?

I have been blessed with two boys to love. When they were little I slathered them with cookies and kisses and all the attention they would let me give them. I still do with Logan, lol, but at 20 he is a much harder sell. These days my love extends further than just those in the Inwood home. I love my students… UGH! So, SO much. I help them to grow and blossom and understand right and wrong – just like a parent. And we can’t forget my lovelies. Those freaking kids… now young adults… who let me check in on them and joke with them. Who stop by to visit and share a meal. Who let me get on my soapbox or give them much unsolicited advice. lol Are they not my *children*, too? We may not share a last name, but they have my heart forever.

So, on this Mother’s Day, let’s extend our definition of what a momma is. I asked my students this week what makes a good mom and the answers were priceless:

*A mom has to be kind.

*A mom has to be loving.

*A mom has to be fair.

*A mom shouldn’t have favorites.

*A mom should have personality. (I don’t know what this means, but it is HYSTERICAL!)

*Bake, a mom should be able to bake.

Definitely a list I can get behind. 🙂

So here’s what I need you to know: The role of mother is sometimes played by different people over the course of our lifetime. Just because yours is not a relationship of blood , doesn’t make it any less important. We need all our momma figures! May you remember and love on them today. And call, don’t forget to call! Moms, in all their forms, like that stuff. Xxx

The FIrst Days

This… This is My Life

Today I was the kickoff speaker for the Walk Out of the Darkness event at Sutton High School. I was incredibly honored to have been asked to share my story with folks who were walking, many of whom had not been touched by suicide themselves. I had never done anything like this before and I really wanted to get it right. I wanted to talk about Luke and yet still convey a message of Hope.

So I wrote my speech and I practiced. And practiced and practiced and practiced. I had two simple goals for the day: I didn’t want to sound *canned* and I didn’t want to cry. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “But Patty, you cry!” And you are not wrong, lol. Still! It was my goal. High school students do not want to see you cry, I kept telling myself. Only problem was every time I went through the words, I was having what I like to call a *moment*.

So what happened, you ask? What do you think? Sigh. I was making my way on the Zoom launch and feeling pretty confident and then… I don’t even know what words did it… but suddenly, I couldn’t speak. I was choked up and needed to gather myself. UGH! So I took a breath and finished off. For about ten minutes after the Zoom call had ended I berated myself a bit. In usual human behavior, I was focusing on what I viewed as the negative part of my experience instead of all of the good.

My woe did not last long because as I rehashed what had just happened.. the laughs at all the right spots, the tears from the listeners at all the right places, I remembered. Being a grieving momma is a sad thing. There are tears. A lot of tears. This…. This is my life.

Today is Bereaved Momma Day. It is a day to recognize all of us moms with children on the other side of the stars. As much as I appreciate the gesture – a day dedicated to grieving moms, the truth is… we don’t need one day. Every day should be bereaved momma day. Whether you have lost your child in utero, at seven, or seventeen, any time you outlive your child you are immediately thrown into the hardest journey one could even imagine. Actually, you can’t imagine it unless you have been there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

So here’s what I want you to know: For those of you who have befriended a grieving momma, thank you for loving us and supporting us and crying with us. Thank you for sharing stories about our kiddos because we truly love to talk about our child. And if you are a mom missing part of your heart, I am with you. There are no words. Be gentle with yourself, today and every day. Rivers and roads. Xxx

The FIrst Days

The Upside of a Pandemic

Yes, you read that right. There is an upside to the Covid-19 pandemic. This truth came to me, as truth often does… out of the mouths of babes. My students have been writing journals during our time *Learning at Home*, as I like to call it. Each week they have been completing a prompt that asks them about their feelings around different things that have happened since this situation started in March. “How did you first hear about the Coronavirus?” and “What did you think when you heard school was going to be closing?” are two examples of the reflections students have been engaged in. (Thank you, Kristen Collins, for sharing this awesome project!)

This past week the kiddos have started writing about how their days have changed and subsequently, how they feel about these changes. As I read over their responses this weekend, I came across the expected comments about their struggles with trying to learn via Zoom and how much they missed their friends from school. A few are getting extra tormented by their siblings, lol. But what I also came across were the changes the students were enjoying, loving, and so happy were happening. It made me realize that sometimes we need kiddos to remind us of what is truly important.

I love that we are having dinner together at the table every night.

I used to have to do karate or dance every night and now I have more time to relax and watch T.V.

I get to wear my pajamas all day.

My mom and I have been baking a lot more.

I think the best thing is playing outside with my parents.

And my favorite –

I love that I get to spend so much time with my mom and dad.

So here’s what I need you to know: What a truth, friends! The children are happy that they get to slow down and spend more time with their moms and dads. I have always said that we are doing an excellent job of teaching our kiddos to be overscheduled and stressed out. Nothing better than a quarantine to show them firsthand what they have been missing, lol. Long, lazy days full of daydreaming and imagination harken me back to the summers of my youth. And weren’t those glorious times?! You could spend hours walking in the woods, or doing puzzles, or coloring, or helping your mom make dinner. Wait a minute! That’s exactly what they are doing NOW. 🙂

So as we head into the second half of our required Stay at Home period, maybe we remember what a gift this is.. for us and for the kids. I know how hard it is to juggle everything you have going on at your household, especially if you have littles. Maybe you aren’t going to win any productivity awards in May or even Teacher of the Year (dibs! lol), but maybe, just maybe, you make the Most Amazing Memories with your family. Our children just want to be with us. Who knew? 🙂

I am closing out with the sweetest dang video from Art Garfunkel featuring his family. Stay safe, friends. Xxx

Feeling groovy

The FIrst Days

There You Are

Yes, this past Tuesday was the worst. What’s that? You weren’t asking? lol. Well, I am sorry for throwing this bit of information out there, but it’s facts. It is a dreary day to begin with, obviously, but the Covid situation really amped up the *suckiness* of the moment. (Yes, Google, suckiness is a word. It is the act of being ultimately sucky. Quit underlining it in red, lol.)

People were very kind and reached out as best they could that day. There were a few cards and gifts; thoughtful momentos left at the cemetery; and many, many texts of love. It was all sweet and coming straight from someone’s heart in an effort to help, but I missed my people. I missed my family, and my friends, and the freaking kids. I REALLY missed the kids. And I get it. You don’t organize a car parade to come by and honk and make signs in a situation like this. Some might think that’s a little awkward. Well, most, lol. But the fact is, I needed the ruckus! The day crept by in silence… well, save my crying, and it is not the way we have ever marked April 14th.

Luke Inwood lived large and loud, my friends! It has always been fitting that we have had one hell of a party every year and I have always pictured Luke in a corner, his own beer in hand, smiling his ass off watching his Dad tell another great story to a room full of his friends, young and old. It is also not like Luke Inwood to fade quietly into the night. He is a KING, don’t you know, and I am sure his ego is thrilled when we gather in his name.

The Irish Funeral that laid Luke to rest also marked the beginning of the most incredible connections. I trust that my family and friends know what an important role they served in my healing. But those kids! Over the last few years I have had the honor of getting to know so many wonderful lovelies and they have moved in and found a permanent place in my heart. So when I couldn’t see them this year? UGH! There is a song by Vance Joy called Fire and Flood and it is my song for my lovelies. Every lyric speaks to how much I love them and have become used to having them in my life.

Since we met I feel a lightness in my step

You’re miles away but I still feel you

Anywhere I go there you are

Anywhere I go there you are

Late at night when you can’t fall asleep

I’ll be lying right beside you counting sheep

Anywhere I go there you are

Anywhere I go there you are

Toni, Billy, Paige, Fran, Dom, Thad, Maddy, Madi, Haley, Lauren, Berkeley, Sam, Eric, Marty, Brendan, Justin G., Cody, Ashley F. and Ashley J., Mike O’Toole, Camden, Danny J., all the Taylors, Rylee, Chris, Casey, Hannah, Olivia, Danny L., Justin S., Alex, and Beck. You are really, really, really good human beings. You have let me love you and hug you and be equal parts your friend and your bonus momma. I am lost when I don’t see you. You have made John and I incredibly happy and no matter how much time passes, whenever you show up at our front door, or stomp through the basement ’cause you’re fam and who uses the front door? lol, you will always be welcome. Forever.

So my friends, my family, my lovelies, I miss you all. And when this damn quarantine is over we will have a proper soiree. I will hug you, and squeeze you, and probably sing a note or two, lol. And we will remember our boy, Luke Inwood style, till the sun comes up. #NoAlabama.

Fire and Flood by Vance Joy
Okay… I just watched the video and Vance is way too melancholy. lol Sam Sjostedt, we need to make a video for this. There will be hugging. 🙂
The FIrst Days