Happy to report that I’ve figured out how to shop.

I hate shopping. I mean, I really hate shopping. I hate spending money, and when I’ve got a TON of shopping to do, I get really anxious and stressed. Today, I had all the Thanksgiving shopping to do, and the list was long (spanning three different lists – one for the actual holiday, one for Pie Day, and one for general groceries).

The key is a book and multiple stores. I went to three different stores, bought only what I was in the mood to get at each one, and read for a while before going in and before driving to the next one. Yes, it did take about an hour or so longer than it should have, but I emerged unscathed and not afraid to tackle the rest of it tomorrow.

In other news – Sam is back to not sleeping at night. Not sure if it’s just being a teenager (because that’s what he is now) or if it’s that he’s naturally a night owl, and periodically, his body reverts to that. But either way, he didn’t get a hell of of a lot of school in today. Some, but when his eyes are falling shut as I read to him, it’s not a good feeling.

We also got Jessie’s hair cut today, and while it looks stunning, I’m waiting for her to freak out. It’s her first real hair cut (as opposed to tiny trim) since the Great Hair Crisis of 2015. She says she loves it – but my girl is a mistress of self-delusion, and may well be lying to me and herself because as we learned four years ago, there’s not a damn thing you to do once you’ve inadvertently cut off all your hair. She almost talked Julie into getting her hair cut as well, but I nixed that idea. Julie would have done it, just to keep her big sister smiling, and then would have fallen apart later. I only let them get their hair cut when they’ve been begging for a few weeks and I’m positive they really want to do it. And even then, the odds are 50/50 that they’ll end up in tears that first night.

I watched my cousin Lea’s baby boy this weekend. Or rather, my Jessie watched baby Michael this weekend. The whole time, I kept thinking back to me at her age, watching Lea. There’s sixteen years between Lea and I, and it’s completely surreal to have the generations repeating themselves.

It’s oddly disconcerting – Jessie uses my phrases with babies. Which makes sense, but it’s still… just weird. She says “avec moi” when she wants them to follow her – and I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Except for me. I used to joke that the only French I retained from high school were phrases that went along with motherhood – with me, right now, and I’m so tired.

Then Julie fed him her ice cream cone in the car on the way back, and all I could remember was taking little Lea up to Erickson’s and getting two kiddie cones that we’d trade back and forth.

That’s the thing with raising kids. It just never stays the same. As soon as you figure out how to handle a newborn, you’ve got a baby. And then a toddler, and then all of a sudden, she’s dancing off to preschool. And then you turn around and she’s taller than you are and trying to figure out if the outfit she wants to wear is professional enough for the networking event she’s got tomorrow. At court.

I mean, yes, it’s teen intern program. But still – I know from how ridiculously fast she went from 0-16 that it’s a matter of minutes before she’s actually dressing for real court. Or the office, or wherever she ends up. Because she’s still all over the place on what she want to do and where she wants to go.

I’m in no rush. She’ll get there, sooner than I’d like, and way before I’m ready. But for tonight, she’s wearing some flannel pants with owls on them, and eating cut up hot dogs mixed in with beans. She’s bugging her brother and dancing her sister around the kitchen. For tonight, she’s sixteen, and I’m going to pretend that it’ll last forever.

I don’t like the phrase “the new normal” and yet, that’s where we are. I’m adjusting to a new normal, in a way that I haven’t in years.

Forest Grove did not go well for Sam. It was a disaster, from start to finish, and looking back, I really wish that we hadn’t even attempted it. On-line public school is so much better for him, he’s so much more confident, and I know that he’s learning. He’s going to school every day, it’s just school that’s in his living room, with his dog, and an iPad to fiddle with, but he’s learning and growing and it’s so much better than it was.

Both the girls have settled down too. September was so hellish, and October was just trying to catch our breath and figure out what to do next. But now it’s just … normal. Jessie gets up, I drive her to school, come home, Julie’s up and getting dressed. I drop her off and then come home and Sam has school until it’s time to do the whole thing in reverse.

There are still a lot of elements that need to be worked out. As per usual, Sam’s case is completely unique and nobody knows quite what to do with him. Because he’s visually impaired, he requires a lot of services that are paid for by the school – but because it’s on-line school, there’s debate on who pays for what. Academic services are relatively easy to figure out – orientation and mobility is a bit more challenging. And at the end of the day – I need help figuring out how to make the curriculum accessible for him, and that’s all still got to be organized. We’ve got another IEP assessment coming up, and we’ll see what happens with that.

I’m still here, only now, I’m shoving off any major decisions about what I want to do with my life because right now, what I’m doing is raising these kids. Sam’s education, at least for the next little while, is essentially my part-time job while the other two are in school. It’s like he’s attending public school, with a full time aide. So he’s getting a FANTASTIC education. Which is what matters.