Friday, April 03, 2020

Scenes from a homeschool


I am so sick of screaming children!

Dorothy has been losing her shit AT LEAST once but usually more than once a day, which then agitates Cooper.  Harry and Jack are OK, although I notice Harry is extremely crabby in the morning if he wakes up and watches the news, so we have asked him not to watch it, which seems to help.  Both of them have their phones and text and face time their friends, so I think it's just a little easier for them to still feel engaged,

I reached a breaking point yesterday when Cooper's teacher sent an overwhelming email about e-learning which starts for K-12 on Monday. He needs us to go to at least 3 separate places everyday and use 3 apps, one of which I have never even heard of, and I burst into tears. I ended up emailing him and the principal and saying basically, that's too much work for me as a working parent with multiple kids, and I need a very simple email (not google classroom-- I cannot go one more other place) with the minimum work Cooper needs to complete each week to advance to third grade.

 I am working full time.  Ben is working full time. We have been doing school every weekday this whole time, but I am not going to be able to manage all of this stuff for every kid.

We are living in a magical quarantine land of plenty-- plenty of food. Plenty of money. Plenty of space. Plenty of streaming TV services and premium movie channels on cable.  Plenty of computers. And just enough time to juggle all the balls we have in the air. We are extremely lucky, and I know that, but even under these best of circumstances, the second grade ask was too much.


The district sent this ridiculous, overreaching infographic about an ideal school day that made me have panic-attack breathing:
I would say during this time, most parents are working 2 jobs from home. AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE THE LUCKY ONES. Otherwise, maybe there's a parent who is the homeschool parent, but that might mean they lost their job and are balancing stress about that.  Or one or both parents has to leave the house to go to work and not in a high paying healthcare job, necessarily. Surely there are young kids home alone during the day. And what about the thousands of kids in our district who are homeless????

I think our teachers are amazing, and the creative out-of-the-box thinking they are bringing to learning in the time of COVID-19 is wonderful.  But I think they are getting some truly idiotic pressure from the district which can't seem to grasp that not every child is an only child and not every parent can be a full-time educator at home. 

I can likely give my kids that exact schedule above in my perfect quarantine, but it still stresses me the eff out. And we are the exception, not the rule. 

TL; DR: Tone deaf response from the district made me panic.

But we carried on with our cut rate clothing optional homeschool:

Thursday, April 02, 2020

I cannot even believe it's QUARANTINE DAY 19

And yet, here we are.

It's hard to write about every day because they are all THE SAME, which is relaxing and comforting but also kind of a drag.

The kids had a lovely time for April Fool's Day. They froze cups of coffee for me and Ben. We streamer-ed Dorothy and Cooper into their rooms and took off all the couch cushions on the downstairs couches. I put google eyes on all the food in the fridge, and the boys kidnapped Dorothy's favorite doll and left a seriously creepy video. They also strung a doll up on her bedroom door. Luckily, she thought it was HILARIOUS and retaliated by absolutely trashing the basement while they were outside playing badminton. (That joke was mainly on us, though). She also hid their rackets in a tree.

Dorothy has started playing cars in a very girly way:

 I was happy to come home from a walk and see Harry putting the badminton net together, but ever since, all the boys do is shriek at each other in the back yard and come in angry. Also the back yard is now just a mud pit.
 Beatrix and I are BOTH getting fat.
 They use the slime as fidgets during read aloud
 Dorothy's math packet is all about fact families, and she likes to actually draw them as a family. I love it so much.
 One chapter book down!  Everyone but Jack has finished at least one chapter book, but t be fair, he is reading a giant 500-pager.
 Streamer dance party!
 This is going to be SO WEIRD in a couple of days whenI forget I did it and the pickles are just staring at me.
 She really enjoyed April Fool's day.

 Her reaction to the kidnapping video:
 SO CREEPY, boys
 But not as creepy as this:
Harry, carrying Dorothy's abandoned stroller on our walk
 Yay for sunshine!

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

March: What I Read

I can't read anything but my social media feed these days, but I did manage to limp through these:

8. Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen: Solid meh

7. The Summer We Lost Her by Tish Cohen: Schlocky but really distracting.

6, The Other Mrs. by Mary Kubica: This is flawed in terms of both plot and character, but I could not help but be super hooked.

5. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom: This was quirky and delightful-- you might want to read it, even though it's from 2014.

4. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield: I read this because of the Girl Next Door podcast digital book club, and I liked it, although it took forever for me to get into it.

3. These Ghosts Are Family by Maisy Card: Loved this! It jumps around in time, which I usually don't like, but it's just so well done, I couldn't help but love it.

2. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell: She's SO GOOD at churning out the creepy page-turners.  Loved it!

1. When You See Me by Lisa Gardner: I fell in love with Lisa Gardner when I has postpartum insomnia after Harry was born and needed a book that would be so entertaining, I wouldn't care if I was sleeping and so engaging, I would forget I couldn't sleep and fall asleep mid-read. These thrillers are perfect! Creepy enough to blame on not sleeping, really fun to read, and wholly engaging.  Now, I anxiously await each year's release and gobble it up on one sitting. 202's D.D. Warren book does not disappoint.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Day 16!!!

Today was dreary, and I didn't even go for a walk outside.

I did obsess over my online grocery cart that I want to pick up on April 7. Groceries, you guys! They are taking up all of my head space. The groceries I have coming on Tuesday this week are weird because I bought whatever was in my cart already, thinking I could stick my cart in the pick up space I wanted and then modify my order, but you can't modify your orders anymore, and the grocery store broke its very careful pattern of releasing pick up times 3 days out, and I just happened to check and see the 31st up for grabs. Basically, on Tuesday, we are getting my panic cart, and I want that to not happen again next week.

I also made a perfect lasagna from random things in the house to use up cottage cheese and this week's spaghetti sauce that I made from scratch-- and I added more from-scratch sauce to it because that's just something I whip up whenever now.

We cleaned the house like a normal Sunday, and the kids played hide and seek most of the day. Harry and Cooper also have this game where they make cars out of LEGO bricks and then batter them until one of theirs falls apart and then they make more. **Shrug**

Tomorrow, I am going to start the day with everyone making to-do's because I have 100 midterm essay exams coming in to grade, along with another small assignment AND ALSO my adjunct online class has its regular stuff due. I think the secret to online teaching is grading stuff ASAP, so I plan to have all grades posted by Wednesday.  As a result, I need the kids to take a little more ownership over their learning. (We don't start virtual learning from school until 4/6, but we have been doing school at home this whole time, and we all basically love it).

So, everyone needs to do 5 things for school:
1. Lexia
2. Silent reading
3. Write in their COVID-19 journals
4. Math (either on Kahn Academy or Moby Max, in a workbook, or on worksheets-- they can pick)
5. Read aloud. We are doing Harry Potter book 1 and plan to watch the movie when we're done.

Except for #5, which we all do together, I am fine with them choosing when they want to do each of these other things.

I also want them to
1. Connect with a friend (however they'd like-- Harry and Jack have been texting and FaceTiming. Harry and one of his friends often stand across the street and shout at each other. Cooper's teacher encourages them to email their letter buddies, and Dorothy hangs out on our deck and has a screaming convo with her BFF next door on  her deck)
2. Go outside for 60 minutes (we take a walk together that covers this, but if they can all get 60 more minutes, that's for the best)
3. Make something (art? food? music? I don't care)
4. Do something unexpectedly kind for a sibling
5. Clean something (dog poop in the backyard? a mess they made? a mess someone else made-- again-- I don't care what).

I also have high hopes that I will get freaking dressed before 5pm.  This was not always the case last week, and this whole weekend has been PJ's except for Zoom hang out time.  Wish us luck!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Happy 2-week quaran-versary! Some goals for the week

I don't recommend getting sick at the outset of a global pandemic-- especially not maybe WITH the pandemic (still no test results, is a travesty, etc)-- but I WILL say, it provides excellent perspective.

I am so happy to be breathing well and smelling things and seeing my family again that none of the things that would usually annoy me about all of us being in the house together are annoying in the slightest. Well, maybe like a little annoying, but mostly I am just happy to be in our little bubble, working our asses off, and trying to game the grocery delivery system so we never have to go to the actual store.

BUT. I have been sucked into social media BIG TIME lately. I have also noticed that I am not appreciating the moment as much as I claim to want to. For the, my happiness canary in a coal mine is not taking pictures, and there have been days without pictures, which leads me to screw up my Instagram 366 project, etc. (see look at how delightfully trivial my problems are!)

SO.  This week, I have 3 goals:

1. Read 7 books
2. Limit social media to 1 hour a day. My screen time is like 5 freaking hours a day, and I am always stuck in the scroll.

My afternoon walks (where I see NO ONE and catch up on podcasts) are a huge happiness highlight for me.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Since we're hunkering down, let's get tigers for our back yards: Quarantine Day 13

I would really like the results of my COVID-19 test.  I am worried that I really did have it. After an hour-long walk with the kids, yesterday, I came home and coughed and coughed, and my chest burned a little. (Note: the HMO told me I could rejoin my family after 72 hours of being fever free but shouldn't go anywhere but my house and outside on walks for 14 days. AS IF I EVER WANT TO LEAVE MY OWN AREA AGAIN. But it took a WEEK for me to feel well enough to even take a walk around the neighborhood).

I am really struggling with whether it is better to sleep more or get up before the kids and have some time to get my shit together. I am sick of being so tired that every time I sit on the couch I fall asleep, BUT ALSO, I am also sick of not having a single second to myself. Today, we got up at 6 to do a little work, have coffee, and watch Tiger King.  (Hi, you need to watch this show if you aren't.  WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?)

Ben's job is really busy right now because his department deals with unemployment in the state, and DO YOU THINK SO, but more than that his job is structured in a way that demands total absorption and participation. Mine is more amorphous, and I can largely set my own deadlines, which means that I am the default parent.

Have you read this article about how COVID-19 has killed feminism? A big yep from me. I make less money. I have more flexibility. Therefore, I am the caregiver AND the worker. Not that Ben is a slacker-- he is just faced with more rigid working conditions.

I love feeling the baby move, and her movements are getting more reliable. I am 19 weeks on Sunday and feeling more than a little guilty about bringing a baby into this mess.

I am having trouble READING.  This is a happiness stumbling block I need to solve ASAP. One of my book clubs is choosing a new book, so that will help. The other one is reading something I have already read, and I am trying to revive my other book club. My friend dropped off a bunch of books when I was sick, and I have library books on the shelf.  No excuse is basically what I am saying. All I want to do is scroll FB.


 to the pool
 The most exciting minutes ofCooper's day: watching eggs boil.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quarantine, Day 12

I just panic bought the same groceries I ordered this week because a pick up time opened up at my store ahead of schedule. This means I still don't have pantry snacks or hot veggie options and won't until the second week of April.  Oops. You can no longer modify your cart after clicking submit either.

So! NEW GROCERY STRATEGY. I am going to make a dream cart and just stalk pick up times everyday.  I AM DEVOTING SO MUCH OF MY TIME TO THINKING ABOUT FOOD. And there will be vegetables.

Other things I am going to do:
1. Wake up early.  I have let this slide, but I really like starting my day all by myself.  Right now, I am delaying the beginning of the kids' school day to drink coffee, work on my actual PAYING JOB, MOFOs, and blog.  But the kids are kind of agitated about it, and I want everyone to be as happy as possible, so getting up first is for sure something I ca do.
2. Take more pictures. Not taking pictures is my canary in a coal mine.
3. WEAR MAKE UP. This makes me feel happy.

Speaking of crappy pics: here are the ones I took yesterday: