Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sometimes the universe smiles on you in the form of berries

In college I had a friend who had a shirt that said "I need attention" and at the time I thought it was hilarious and now I think "Huh.  That is kind of awesome."  Sometimes we all need attention and I love that I now have enough life experience to ask for it when I need it, like in that last post.  And you guys are awesome.  Thank you for the texts!  And the emails!  And the comments!  And one of my friends had cookies delivered.  I keep them on my desk and feel loved every time I eat one (which is multiple times a day).  I feel encouraged!  And sometimes a little silly, but when you are locked up with four children and have this much work to do some days are great and some days are not so good and it's OK to reach out on the not so good days.

Today is Wednesday, which is the day none of the kids get new work.  They are supposed to use this day to finish work assigned on Monday, but they don't have any Zooms and it is much more flexible time.  Currently Wes is playing a video game and the little ones are making boats out of foil then floating them in the bathtub to see how many coins they will hold.  I wonder if I can count this as an inquiry based learning professional development exercise.  The teenager, who we all call "The Bear" in the morning (as in "Don't poke 'The Bear'"), is still asleep, and probably will be for a while because it is cloudy outside and his room is super dark.

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I have two concurrent meetings at 10:00, a drive-by birthday party at 12:00, church supper pickup at 4:30, and possibly a streamed chapel service tonight.

I have done some brainstorming and figured out a few things I can do to stay sane during the quarantine:  I made a playlist of music that is fun to sing and also meaningful to me and I play it in the car when I get to go places like the grocery store or pharmacy.  Monday I went to a restaurant to buy chips and dip and then to the pharmacy.  And then I went past my house and took a couple laps around the middle school because I had so much fun singing a song from last semester's choir repertoire that I had to do it a second time.  On Sunday I let myself watch as many streamed church services as I wanted and didn't let myself be self conscious about it.  I've been giving the kids a little longer leash and have been using the saved time to tick some things off my to-do list.  Which was great until I got an email to let me know one of the kids was goofing off during a class zoom.  And yesterday I asked if Ryan would supervise/enforce lunch so I could use that hour to do one of the bigger items that actually required some concentration.

Monday night, fresh off the thrill of using an expired jar of enchilada sauce without dying, I decided to finally try out some dubious skincare products I impulse bought from Trader Joe's about eighteen months ago.


I've also made sure that we have plenty of popsicles because the kids never fail to be absolutely thrilled by them and it is fun to make them happy.

Yesterday I zoomed with my students while sitting on Mary's bed because it was the quietest place that had a good wifi signal and now my students probably think I sleep in a twin bed with a picture of ducks hanging over it. 

Finally, there was a mixup with our curbside order and we ended up with ten nondairy yogurts in various flavors and a BOUNTY of fresh berries.  Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  I do not know what to do about this, since they probably do not want us to bring them back to the store.  I don't think we paid for them, I think the two bags just got mixed in with ours.  What to do?  I am thinking of calling to explain and offering to pay for the extra things, but will that make their lives more complicated?  Easier for everyone to just let it go or just me?  Recipes that involve raspberries?  Because there are a BUNCH of raspberries.  SO MANY berries that I would have thought were way too extravagant to buy for ourselves are now in my fridge.  I may have to call and pay for them, but either way, it feels like a gift to have so much beautiful fruit in my fridge.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Slow unraveling

This morning I sat morosely at the kitchen table with my coffee and when Ryan came over to ask what I wanted to do today said "Go to a swim meet.  Go to Central Market for a sangria and watch the kids play until it's dark.  Go to church.  Hug someone."  And then I walked back upstairs and got back in my bed.  So quarantine is going well. I miss my people, friends. I am spending more time than ever talking to people on various digital platforms, but I really just need to be in the same space as people. I miss incidental conversations with my work friends. I miss chatting with strangers at the grocery store. I miss physically being in my church. After this INSANE school year and all the things that have happened, I was really clinging onto my routine. And now it's gone. I have the role of "encourager" in a couple of areas of my life right now, not least of which is the kids and their online education. It is a role I enjoy and feel like I am reasonably good at, even now, but I feel like I need my own encourager. Ryan is a good encourager. But I have built a solid network of people I find encouraging and made sure I checked in with them often. And now I can't do that. I really need to look another person in the eye. Hug someone. Have a conversation that does not require a calendar invite. Have someone who gets it squeeze my hand and tell me to have a good week. It seems like such a small thing that could easily be replicated via video chat, but I am not finding that to be the case. Being an adult with healthy social skills and boundaries is hard when you just want to say "can you please pat my hair and tell me I'm going to make it through this?"

Yesterday we finished home school for the week at 2:30, so I loaded everyone up in the car and we drove to a park to go on a socially distanced hike with our masks on.  As I told a friend later, I think that will be one of those experiences that the kids remember fondly and I remember as a stressful, labor intensive, bickerfest.  They fought in the car, groused about masks, argued about which trail to take, my mask kept falling off, my glasses were so fogged up I finally just took them off, which meant I was holding my glasses in one hand and phone in the other (no pockets) and trying to keep my mask on with no free hands and blindly trying to keep four grouchy children together in the woods.  When I was able to put my glasses on, and when they were not foggy, it was quite pretty, and I could almost see that we were having fun.


We stopped in our little downtown to pick up some extra good pizzas on the way home and the kids watched Arthur in the car while I waited in line. We ate good pizza while they had a Sponge Bob marathon and I dug into a book I bought twenty years ago and used to read at least once a year. I love rereading books that I loved during a different part of my life and this one has been excellent. I remember how challenging it felt then, and now it is just as inspiring, but in a deeper, knowing way since it is a story of sisterhood and mothering, things I have experienced since my first reading when I was NINETEEN. The friend who suggested I reread it encouraged me to read it because I had expressed to her how lost I was feeling without my community. She said she loved the idea of the Red Tent in the book, how during times of difficulty, the women had the Red Tent, this place of privacy and community and bonding. I have something similar in a group text right now, but what I really want is to SIT BY these people, together, in one place.


In lighter news, I had been putting off getting a haircut for about six months before we got locked down and now that I'm not blowing my hair out and at least making an attempt at making it look nice every day I got so sick of it I asked Ryan to give me a haircut. He tried to get out of it but I finally convinced him by threatening to do it myself. I sat on the kitchen island with a glass of wine on a group video chat with some friends while he carefully trimmed my hair, occasionally referring to a YouTube video of a woman cutting a CHILD'S hair. He was super nervous but as I told him, I do not care what it looks like, I just wanted it to STOP TOUCHING MY NECK. I actually am really happy with it and am wondering why I usually spend a hundred bucks for a haircut (it's because they give you wine and a head massage).



Mary fell off her bike the other day and James ran to get her a popsicle and when he couldn't find any, made them both ice cream sundaes.


James and Mary think it's pretty great to be quarantined with their best friends.


He went with a new look for his class Zoom on Friday.


Ryan and I have big plans to TV it out today while both of us catch up on some work. There are ELEVEN DAYS left in my semester, friends. Eleven days left in my academic career. Less than two weeks until the Great Jumping Off Point. I have very mixed feelings about this reality. Am I glad to be done with this particular job at this particular institution? Am I thrilled about the next step? Am I sad about leaving academics? Am I SUPER NERVOUS about it finally all being here and no longer an abstraction? All yes! As I said before, being an adult with healthy social skills and boundaries is hard when you just want to say "can you please pat my hair and tell me I'm going to make it through this?"

Sunday, April 5, 2020

The forecast is better for this week, literally and metaphorically

Last week's rosy update was brought to you by the fact that the outside had not also issued its own "safer at home" order in the form of three days of rain and forty degree weather.

Our afternoon bike rides were so much fun that it was easy to see all the possibilities for even a sucky time like this.


But then the weather went to hell and all there was left to do was turn on a movie and tackle the odd sock collection. This new requirement for happy fun movie time was met with even less enthusiasm than you are imagining.


I took this picture to document a yet-to-be discovered phenomenon in which sitting down with a book in an empty living room ATTRACTS OTHER PEOPLE to come sit near you and start talking to you and each other. (Also, notice how clean and shiny the floor is! James tracked a bunch of mud into the house from the back yard and I rage mopped. Very satisfying work)


I engaged in a little theraputic baking after my 4:00 pity party was over on Saturday. This required several steps. First, I had to find three forgotten packets of yeast in the back of my spice cabinet, score! Next, I had to make sure the yeast still worked in spite of being six months past its expiration date. It did! When I was proving it it got so big it almost escaped the measuring cup! Next I had to channel all of my frustrations into fifteen minutes of bread kneading. This was no problem either!

Now that you know my secret future educational goals and have decided to stick around, I can really let it all hang out. Something that I have learned about myself is that I require routine, tradition, and familiarity to feel my best. So we are DOING OUR BEST with couch church. And yes, you WILL stand up and sing, I did not endure teaching you to sit through church as a preschooler to let it all fall apart now (but seriously if you're really going to fall apart and wreck it for the rest of us you may read a book in your room).



We are having a "Love Feast" instead of Communion, since our pastors cannot directly interact with our elements, BUT! Our Love Feast could be anything and I am an Enneagram One.


While I was shaping the loaves of bread, my friend sent me a video on Marco Polo of the aftereffects of the giant Prosecco-splosion that had occurred in her kitchen, including a two foot wide dripping SPLAT mark on the ceiling. It made me laugh so hard that I took her one of the loaves of bread when it was ready. It was a BOOST to do something nice just for the heck of it, friends. I will have to remember that during future 4:00 pity parties.