Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Week Who Knows What Day or Time It Is

We're far enough into the global pandemic that it's too fuzzy to count the weeks any longer. I mean, I could count them, but I would have to look at a calendar.

Apparently I began this post in May of 2020. Yes, over a year ago. It must have been right around the time that staying home because of Covid went from feeling like a brief moment of sacrifice we were going to make for the greater good to something larger and even scarier. 

We left school for spring break in 2020 and never went back into our school buildings. In our district most students didn't return until late January of 2021. We've been back in school for the year since mid-August. Things are normal-ish, but of course nothing is really normal at all. 

I've been thinking about the things we get used to. People are adaptable. Think of every time an app or online service you use has updated, slightly changing its look. The first couple of days are jarring, annoying every time you open that app, and then you stop noticing the change. I work in an old building and the blowers for the heat/air are relatively loud. There's almost always significant background noise from them, but I don't hear it any longer, it is simply a part of my auditory landscape. I only think about it when someone else mentions they're bothered by the sound.

Here are some other things, for better or worse, I've gotten used to in the last 18 months or so:
  • wearing masks and seeing others with masks on
  • daily news updates about the Covid numbers in our state
  • near-daily emails home about the Covid cases in our school
  • making plans and putting a mental asterisk next to them, just in case Covid changes things
  • checking attendance requirements for places I want to go (masks? proof of vaccination?)
  • random shortages/bare spots on store shelves
  • guessing whether mail I send domestically will arrive somewhere in two days or two weeks
I'm hoping there's a day when most of these become unusual again, I have no idea how long it will take to get there. 

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Three Weeks In

That first, productive, week off of school, during our actual spring break, was a bit of a fluke. Once I was back to working, albeit from home, things were slightly less peaceful. The first week I was back at work the children still did not have school work. This was fine for Harper, who has been fairly content to binge watch and check in with her friends, but was less fine for Michael. While Michael is also a fan of electronic diversions, he is not as skilled at self-entertaining and spent a week being really bothered by the fact that no one was able to pay much attention to him during the day.

Last week, when there was actual school work for the children do to, was marginally better. However, as is expected, we're all getting on each others' nerves a bit. I know how fortunate we are, given these circumstances. There's plenty of space in our home, plenty to do, plenty to eat. Still, we're all feeling the sting of the things that we aren't able to do, the people we aren't able to be with, etc.

We're under "stay at home" orders until May 1st; however, I can't imagine that it won't extend beyond that. What kind of amazes me is how quickly my mindset has shifted. At first, it seemed kind of wild that our spring break was going to turn into two weeks of online learning. Now we're almost certainly not going back to school this school year. I find myself mentally working through scenarios in which none of our summer plans are happening, and accepting that there's a possibility we might not return to school on time in August. (That has not been stated as a possibility by our district or by our state leadership.) Basically I'm not taking for granted anything that was supposed to happen within the next six months. The idea that it may be months before we are "back to normal" is both horrible and fine. We're getting by. Is there any other way to take this than to get through one day at a time?

I'm also trying to keep in mind what a privilege it is to be able to stay at home to this degree. No one living in our home has to leave home to work. We have the technology to meet our work/school/entertainment needs. We have the access and means to keep our pantry/freezer/fridge stocked with minimal interactions with the outside world. We have a safe neighborhood for walking in. We are even able to worship with our church online. It is not lost on me how absolutely fortunate we are.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

One Week In

So! In our part of Ohio we've basically been on relative lock down for ten days. The children and I were on spring break this past week so things have been very loosey-goosey at home, in a way that is probably not sustainable if we want to hold on to any shred of normalcy. I "go back to work" tomorrow, as we prepare for the students to begin e-learning the following week. Of course every teacher I know has been preparing already, but it is still nice that there is a cushion of time before everything has to be rolled out.

I'm trying to figure out how to do some recording of this time, without just making a list of what we've done to keep from going insane.

Something that has helped me has been getting up, showering, making the bed, and putting on pants without an elastic waistband. I have not forced this onto my children, but I can see the slippery slope that ends with me staying in bed until noon every day. And really, that wouldn't hurt anything, but it's also not how I want to spend the next however many weeks.

I have tried to do something productive every day. Early last week I washed some sheets and then, reader, I ironed them. I think about ironing the sheets every time I take them out of the wash, but there's normally not time for that nonsense so I fold them and hope for the best. Here's some photographic/video evidence of my deeds:

For the record, it takes a very, VERY long time to iron a king size sheet when working it inch by inch along a standard sized ironing board.

This is a time-lapse video of ironing a pillowcase. Yes, it has come to this.

The other satisfying thing that happened this week is that Michael, with minimal assistance from me, cleaned out and organized his room. Here are the after pictures:

He seems pleased with the end result, which I (likely, foolishly) hope will help keep him motivated to maintain its current state. Time will tell.

Harper has mostly retreated to her room with her phone and computer. I did force her to wash her sheets. Michael is loving the family time this situation has left us with, Harper, not so much. We'll just keep taking it one day at a time.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Well Hello There

I started this blog when I was a stay-at-home mom in the fall of 2005. At the time it was a way to remain connected to the "outside world" when I was home with baby Harper. I was looking for an outlet and, ultimately, a form of social connection. It was a way to flex a creative muscle and feel less isolated.

Our governor just issued an order to close schools for the next three weeks and most of my children's activities have been indefinitely suspended or cancelled outright. It's too early to know whether I'll need to report to my school when our week of official spring break is over so we'll just take it one day at a time.

I know some of you have been blogging all along. Others of you who used to be part of the blog world have let if fall off a bit (or completely) as I have now that my kids are older. Perhaps social distancing measures will bring about a blogging renaissance? If so, let me know where you're writing so I can follow along.

I'm aware that it's a poor idea to start writing without a purpose. I suppose my purpose is just to wave into the void a bit. Hello.

Friday, November 01, 2019

NaNo Again

I've decided to give National Novel Writing Month a try again this year. I completed the challenge successfully in 2016, but haven't gotten very far in the years since then. This year I have gone in with some pre-writing done, which I hope will give me a better chance of seeing it through.

The local NaNoWriMo community is wonderful, although November is such a busy month for us that I've never been able to attend any of the in-person events. For those of you who don't know anything about National Novel Writing Month, you can check it out by clicking here. It isn't too late to join!

October was kind of a stinker of a month for our household, so I'm happy to kick it to the curb. November means birthday celebrations for Harper and I, as well as a delightful week off of school for Thanksgiving. I'm already thankful for the break!

Wish me luck with the NaNoWriMo challenge. I may post occasional updates here, just to help me feel accountable. Is anyone else I know participating this year? Send me a message if you'd like to be official "buddies" on the website.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Something I Never Thought About in 6th Grade

Well we're all back to school in these parts and I just saw a headline about the new locking systems that are being installed on our interior school doors over the next month and a half to provide another layer of protection against mass casualties.

It reminded me of a brief conversation I had with Michael on the way home from school today. He was telling me about learning about his teachers. One of them used to be in the military and he said he's so glad she's in our school because she knows what to do with a gun. I mentioned that she didn't keep a gun in her classroom and his reply was, "But if she could get it away from someone trying to hurt us she would know how to use it." The most horrifyingly sad part of this exchange was how matter-of-factly he mentioned it and was on to the next thing.

Our children think of someone coming in and shooting at them in their schools as a thing that could possibly happen. We have to do better for them. 

Monday, April 08, 2019

Mary Oliver and My 6th Grade Teacher

I've been participating in a challenge this month to walk one extra mile a day. I realize that isn't much of a challenge for many people, but it has been a test of time and commitment for me. I'm pleased to say that I've walked that mile 8 days out of 8 so far, we'll see how the rest of April goes.

Even a nice, gentle walk (or any activity) can feel torturous if I'm watching some kind of clock or distance count down. In order to peacefully walk on my treadmill, which is where most of my extra miles have taken place, I set the time/distance/speed and then promptly cover the digital display with my Kindle and read as I walk.

The last couple of days I have been reading Mary Oliver's Upstream. In one of the early essays in the book, Oliver was describing various birds and mentioned loons. Just reading the word, "loon," nearly took my breath away as I was instantly flooded with memories of a favorite teacher. Mrs. Freiburger was my 6th grade teacher and my 7th grade science teacher and she absolutely loved loons.

Aside from the loons, here is what I remember about Mrs. Freiburger as a teacher: she read us great books, we did lots of creative writing in her class, her last name was one of our spelling words early in the school year, and she loved science. Twice I got in "trouble" in her class and I still remember her reprimanding me because I cared so much about her opinion and I was upset I had disappointed her. What impresses me most, all these years after middle school? When I think of Mrs. Freiburger I feel happy. The memory of being in her class just makes me smile. Her passion for her job and care for her students still feels like a gift to me 30 years after being in her class.

I have no idea where Mrs. Freiburger is now, but I would drop everything in a heartbeat to have lunch with her. Wherever she is I hope she is enjoying her retirement and has endless opportunities to observe her beloved loons.