Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Days 3 & 4

So day 3 was the first day I had to begin "teleworking" since the university is technically open to assist students and faculty as we try to keep the spring semester (and as many functions as possible) going.  At this point, it's a lot of answering questions and troubleshooting.  For example, one of my staff members is responsible for getting the next term's schedule published but we're having a terrible time with the program that handles scheduling and we need to get the fall schedule published ASAP because fall registration starts in mid-April whether we are on campus or not.  Anyway, here is my work setup in my room:

Jason is working at our family PC because there are 2 monitors and he is able to dock his work laptop there.  I understand why 2 monitors is helpful when you're doing software development.  In this photo you see my work laptop on the left and my Chromebook on the right.  Often, I need to reference something on a university website while I am doing setup in our system so using my Chromebook as the reference is helpful and almost like having double monitors in my office.  I squeezed in a mid-afternoon BodyPump class in the basement because all my emails stopped and I didn't have anything immediate that needed to be done.

As for the kids on day 3 - we didn't let them sleep in and the younger two got outside for most of the morning but then came inside and played video games or did video chat with friends.  I know there will be a lot of screen time while we're all home, but I just hope to be able to minimize it some.  All three are staying on top of whatever comes up on the internal school system - which isn't much.  We finished the day making Miso Udon Noodle soup.  Just trying to keep our days as "normal" as possible.  

Day 4 started just like day 3 - work to be done for Jason and I.  Had to ask Jason to turn the heat back on as it goes down automatically when we aren't here.  Ha!  When you're sitting still at a laptop, it gets chilly quickly.  St. Patrick's Day started off pretty overcast and chilly, but the sun came out by the afternoon.  Work got slow mid-morning so I did a BodyFlow class.  It felt good to stretch and BREATHE deeply.  I really should have gotten out for a walk while the sun was out but just didn't feel like it as I am just so conflicted about my work responsibilities.  I want to be available but that means sitting and staring at my email waiting for something to come in.  I have a few things I can do, but I also know there will be plenty of time to do them.  

As for the kids - I feel bad for them.  Yesterday, Piper didn't want to do much of anything and I understand.  Bryce got out in the morning and then played video games for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  It took him the entire day to his laundry because he kept forgetting it.  I took the kids out for Shamrock Shakes at McDonalds after dinner and that helped a little.  

I am trying to give the kids some time to sort of get used to our slow pace.  I want them to do some "thinking" time each day whether that's reading, watching something educational or working with a science kit (we have many).  But I also know that much of it will need to be at their own pace since both Jay and I need to work.  This is very frustrating, but I also know how lucky we are to have a home with ample space, plenty of food, salaries, and nearby neighbors so that we aren't completely cut off from human contact.  

I'm expecting that we'll be hearing soon from the governor (since the president is pretty much a waste in this) of what the long term plan is.  The two weeks they initially announced was just to buy them time.  Other states have announced 6-8 weeks of schools being closed and social distancing so I expect Maryland will be doing the same. And I am okay with that - it let's us all sort of get comfortable and plan.  We'll see...

Monday, March 16, 2020

COVID-19 - Our New Normal - Days 1 & 2

I figured now is as good a time as any to wake this blog back up.  Since we know we'll be social distancing for many weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to document our days.  I'm sure we'll be telling our grandkids about this....

Thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak, the state closed schools at the end of the day this past Friday for two weeks and my institution has all of us "teleworking" for a few weeks.  Jason's employer has also said to telework until at least April 3.  It's going to be a lot longer.  I'll be surprised if we are back before May 1.

We have taken the precautions seriously as are my parents and Jason's parents.  Aside from taking some food to my mom's briefly yesterday, that was our only outing this weekend.  Thank goodness it's mid-March and the weather is starting to turn so the kids can go outside.  Grateful for sunshine even on a cool day.

We had gone to Costco last Tuesday evening and they were fully stocked - it was a pleasant experience.  Very different than when I dropped in quickly on Thursday for one item.  It was right after the governor had announced schools would be closing and state agencies basically shutting down so the place was a madhouse.  I also had already scheduled a Peapod delivery on Saturday morning so we crossed our fingers that they had everything.  They did.

So we are well stocked with food and supplies and with no need to go anywhere.  I canceled my gym classes and massage over the weekend.  I also cancelled Piper's planned sleepover too.  Just trying to do our part to prevent the spread.

The kids have a checkup with our new dentist on Thursday afternoon which I think we'll still go to and I have a dermatology appointment on Friday morning which I think I will keep as well.  Neither of those people draw sick people and I know they will be using precautions and we will wash our hands/not touch our faces too.  A far cry from a crowded restaurant.  😁

I'm proud of the kids so far with getting outside and keeping busy beyond just electronics.  I know it's early but we are adjusting.  Last night all five of us were in the family room (not that common these days!) and we laughing about stupid things as the girls and I worked on a new puzzle.

We'll need to enjoy each other's company to get through this.  But we will get through it. I would say our spirits are fairly high right now.  We are trying to think of things to occupy ourselves.  Trying to make sure Bryce doesn't eat all the food and that kids aren't on devices too much.  Boredom hasn't set in yet - I know it's coming.  But for now, I will enjoy that it's still novel.  Ha.  Novel. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Goodbye to Elementary School

So considering I haven't updated in a year again, I thought it appropriate to post this photo comparison.  My girl at the beginning and end of fifth seems like it went so fast.  And I know that in the next three years, before she is done with middle school, she will change even more!

I'm feeling the end of school year blues even more this year and I think a lot of it has to do with the beginning of the end of elementary school.  Bryce has two more years and Piper has four, but it reminds me how fast time is passing.  I won't have 3 kids in the car in the mornings to take to before-care.  I won't have 3 kids at dinner talking about what happened in their shared school that day.  It is enough to make me want to cry!

I think Caroline is ready and that elementary school has become old news in the past few months.  She is showing that the elementary school restrictions are no longer needed and she is ready for the "freedoms" that middle school provides....even if she doesn't know it yet.  Not that it won't come with growing pains, but she is ready for a challenge that elementary school can no longer provide.

I know I will long for the safe and secure feeling that elementary school provides but I also look forward to seeing how she grows with these changes.  Ultimately, we have to let our kids go so they can learn and grow and with any luck if we do it just right, they'll end up closer to us.  I have to keep reminding myself that holding on too tight will result in a child who struggles harder to get away.

I am proud of Caroline and how effortless elementary school seemed for her, especially these past two years.  However, I know this is just the first step and I'm looking forward for all that she will accomplish in the coming years.

Time, please slow down!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Summer Time Blues

I get this way EVERY mid-June.  I really need to go back and find more examples.  While all the teachers and all the kids (and probably a lot of moms) are sooooo excited about summer finally being here and the crazy schedule of the school year on hiatus, I get sad.  This is really the only time of the year I have working mom guilt and really wish I didn't have to go to work.  But it's not just that.  It's also that the end of yet another school year means that my kids are a year older and it realize how quickly it's going.  It's especially hard when my kids had a wonderful school year and I'm sad to be leaving those fantastic teachers behind and have worries that they will lose their momentum or not have as great of a year next year.  (Yes, I'm an advocate of year round school since I know "year round" does not truly mean they are in school year round. But obviously that is not going to change any time soon around here...and I digress.)  Strangely, I'm also sad that with summer here, I won't be getting my kids up and to school each morning for a bit.  As stressful as it is sometimes to get all four of us out the door by 7:30, I realize that it wasn't so bad and I am going to miss it.  I'm going to miss our morning drives to school and hugging/kissing them as I drop them off.

I am looking forward to seeing Caroline in fifth grade next year and all the exciting things that come with being a fifth grader but I also see it as her last year in the "safety" of the sweetness that is elementary school.

I'm looking forward to seeing Bryce in third grade where he will start to get "real" grades for the first time but that always worries me because I know how hard of a time Caroline had transitioning to third grade.  But we are prepared as parents this time, at least.  I just know Bryce has a hard time with changes.

I'm looking forward to seeing Piper as a first grader doing what her siblings would call "real" work but I also am sad that my baby will have the cute, fuzziness of kindergarten behind her.

This summer should be fun too.  My mom will continue with her usual Mondays (Mondays with Bertie!) and I know she's really missed them this school year as it was her first time she hadn't seen my kids on a weekly, child care basis since, well, we had kids!   And then the other four days we will have a off for the summer teacher coming to the house to supervise/entertain them.  (I don't like calling it babysitting since they truly are not babies and they can do so much for themselves including hurt one many adding refereeing to her responsibilities?)

I just need to get into that summer swing of things where I get to leave a little earlier from work because I don't have to drop the kids off in the mornings (cry) and we spend our long evenings outside enjoying the warmth.

But don't mind me....just wait for me to get sad again in August when I'm stressing about a new school year starting and how I'll handle all the fall schedules again after taking it easy all summer.

Monday, June 09, 2014

I Must Blog

It's been almost 6 months since I felt compelled to throw a blog entry up here.  I have had so many moments where I've wanted to blog but I just haven't actually done it.  I blame social media and the ease of things like Facebook and Instagram to post quick photos and funny little updates about the kids.  However, I feel those mediums lack the ability to emote which is why I think "real" blogging is still a great outlet.  So with that, I guess I'll post some updates especially since I was laying in bed last night thinking about how old my kids are and almost crying.

So here are some random updates with a bunch of thoughts thrown in:

Piper read a book to me last night.  READ A BOOK.  It was a level 1 reader and based on the description on the back, she really should be at a pre-level 1 based on what she's done in class.  But I let her have a go at it since it has those little pictures embedded in the text for the words she clearly wouldn't know. (Um, Crystal Kingdom?? Ha!)  Based on knowing Piper and how she can sometimes be with her homework, I was sure she'd wear out after a few pages because she was really working hard to read and sound out words.  But she didn't.  I kept encouraging her and helping her to sound things out and she kept on motoring through.  I was so very proud and told her what a hard worker she is.  She was tickled.  But then last night as I was laying in bed thinking about it.... I realized something.  My days of reading to my kids at bedtime are numbered.  And that makes me sad.  For 10 years I've been reading to my kids and for 10 years I've had nights where I didn't feel like doing it but other nights where I was so happy to.  We no longer read to Caroline and while we still read to Bryce (Jay is reading Tolkein to him and I'm reading the Redwall series to him), it's not the cute storybooks anymore.  All the storybooks have made their way into Piper's room and with her reading, it means it won't be long until she no longer wants those "baby" books in her room. (As Caroline called them.)

I also had the realization recently that I no longer have little kids.  Piper is almost 6 and with that, she is no longer truly little.  Tears.  When I talk about my kids to people they are true "kids" and not little kids.  I have all elementary aged kids.  And don't get me wrong, I don't miss all the tethers of having little kids (naps, car seats, baby food, completely supervised play), I'm just sad at the realization of how fast they are growing.

Caroline is almost done with fourth grade and with that she'll begin fifth grade in August.  Okay, well, duh, fifth comes after fourth but fifth grade is the verge of scariness to me.  Scary.  Having kids in elementary school is so comforting.  They are in this great environment where they all have the same specials teachers and see the same things going on.  But after next year, that alllll changes and I will never have all 3 kids in one school again.  And not only does that change but Caroline will be in the dreaded middle school.  I can't even utter those words without getting a bad taste in my mouth.  It's not the actual school per se, but the notion of middle school in general.  Even the "good" ones are tough.  It's just a bad age.  And I am not looking forward to it.  The drama, the angst, the emerging teenage-ness of it all.  Caroline already had attitude and thinks she knows it all and has had some drama so I worry about how we'll guide her in these tough years.  I worry about my connection to her and how to help her navigate her social world when it has changed so drastically since I was a kid.  Even if we don't allow her much social media access via websites and a phone, her friends will have them.  And that's so stress inducing for me!  And while I know Jay and I are fairly savvy when it comes to technology, teenage trends with apps and such move faster than the speed of sound it seems.

Bryce seems to be my most stable kid at the moment.  I should worry that I even said that because I am sure it will incite some oddity to happen or for him to start going through a phase.  When you have more than a couple kids, I think one of them is always going through something (Piper seems the phasey one at the moment.)  He's finishing up another season of baseball and has shown marked improvement.  He and Jay do that together and I love seeing them on the field together.  They clearly are very close and I hope they always are.  He's shown a lot of improvement in school this year although we really have to keep on him about trying his best and not just doing the bare minimum.  If anything is going to get him into trouble academically, I think that will be it.  He has a good mind for mathematics and it's obvious how much he hates showing his work when he can figure things out without doing any work.  His reading has really come along and he finally finished Harry Potter (1) on his own and has moved onto HP2.  This is a big deal for him as someone who didn't like to read in the beginning of the year.  We continued to urge him to practice to make it easier and then tried helping him to find things he likes.  Here's hoping we can keep him reading this summer.

As for Piper's phase, she's become very needy lately.  We've always deemed her "Piper Cry Cry" since she seems so easy to cry about things but lately it's been tough.  She wakes up at least once every night and will usually complain about some random body part hurting.  At first we were alarmed and now we don't believe her and either send her back to bed with nothing or a placebo dose of Tylenol.  She also seems to always have an ache, pain, cut, itchy spot to complain about.  It's like she's a little old lady....which is funny since she calls ME an old lady sometimes.  She's still pretty cute and I don't want to lose that little girl in her too soon.

Caroline has excelled in fourth grade and her new school.  She has a few good friends and we make a point to get them together outside of school from time to time.  She was on tech crew for the school's musical and I think she may be comfortable enough to try out to be in the actual play next year.  I'd really love if she'd find out how to get on the school newspaper club too because she loves to write and even has made up her own little family newspaper on the computer before.  What drama we have had with a particular girl this year has been mild now in hind site but it wasn't without some lessons learned.

And that's all about all I have to say at the moment.  I really do want to start blogging again more frequently....and yes, I need to change my header!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to Everyone!!

This photo was a Christmas miracle.  Had taken a mediocre one in the fall with the foliage and it was beautiful except for Caroline's faces.  In the one decent shot of Caroline, Piper was being a pill.  I was going to use it but then on that beautiful snow day in early December, I told the kids they could go out to play only if they let me take a few photos of them.  I took like 20 shots and this one was the FIRST one I took.  I was so happy with how cute and sweet they looked (good acting) and the way he photo came out with the background and snow.  I swear, I think it was Christmas snow just like what they made Frosty with.

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sleepover Success

I wanted to come and blog about this before I forgot.  On Friday, December 6 we had Caroline's 10th sleepover birthday party at our house.  I was very nervous about it leading up to it given that I didn't know 4 out of 6 of the girls who were coming.  It's one thing to have a kid over to your house for a play date that you don't know but it's another to have 4 of them and have them spending the night!  We sent out the invitations in early November and on the invitations where I didn't know the girls' parents, I wrote a separate little note on the back that they were free to call/email me if they had any questions or wanted to meet me.  Of the 4 girls, I didn't know, only one of the parents seemed a little nervous about the prospect of having their daughter spend the night somewhere with people they'd never met.  I was actually kind of relieved when the mom wanted to meet and it was so nice meeting her and her husband a few weeks before the sleepover.  (We'd now be more than happy to let Caroline go to their house too so the feeling is mutual.)

Anyway, the other 3 girls I didn't know all had their moms drop them off and stayed for a few minutes.  I took all of their cell phone numbers down just in case and assured them they'd be supervised and safe.  I was so happy they had come whereas I think the parents were happy to have their daughter out of the house for a night.  I guess it was a mutually beneficial arrangement.

As for the party, the girls were wonderful!  Seven 9/10 year old girls was a perfect amount and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Well maybe not right away but I wouldn't be the least bit nervous to have any of these girls over to my house again.  It was really fun!  They were all so well behaved and fun.  They didn't all know each other but they quickly bonded and dissolved into giggles and squeals.

They started the night making rainbow loom bracelets (they all brought their stuff) and after everyone arrived, I served some snacks and they hung out in the basement.  After I got cleaned up, I set up a craft activity for them where they each painted their wooden first initial.

Then we did an ice cream sundae bar and brownies (instead of a cake, per Caroline's request) and Caroline opened her gifts.  Then came the part that Caroline was SOOOO excited!  I bought a cheap set on Amazon that had like 48 eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks and told the girls to go to town:

They had a blast!  The girls were just so fun together and I loved that they included Piper for part of the night.  (Bryce went to my mom's, thank goodness!!)  Here's Piper with the girl who did her makeup - she was so happy to be included:

Thankfully, I had stocked up on makeup remover wipes!  But they cleaned up the bathroom when they were done and got out their sleeping bags and sat around talking and laughing.  Around midnight I told them that it was quiet time and they were already watching a movie. (This was the point where I had to drag Piper upstairs to her bed kicking and screaming!) I didn't hear another thing all night!  Caroline said they were up until about 1:30.  This is where having a finished basement made all the difference.  We were a full 2 floors away and they had their own space and own bathroom - it really was ideal.  

The next morning I was up around 7:30 and made pancakes and bacon and they all meandered upstairs ready to eat.  Once again they were as pleasant as could be and then talked and rainbow loomed until their parents came to get them.  

Caroline had the time of her life and I am so glad we were able to do this for her 10th birthday.  I had my first sleepover at 10 years old and remember it fondly as I think she will too.  Quite honestly, this was actually her first birthday party too.  At her old school, there just weren't really any kids that were her friends and so we'd just do things with the girl down the street.  Not that she was in any way deprived but I think this party made up for it and it made me very happy that we were able to do that for her.

I was really nervous about how the evening would play out and if they would be bored or get into trouble but I think their ages are really good ones in that they aren't all into boys yet and they just could enjoy being together.  I was also glad to have met so many other parents and now have more options for girls to come to the house to play.  So glad I kept my anxiety in check and did it.  She really is growing up and was totally ready for this.  She has really sweet friends and I'm happy she's feeling connected at her new school. Whew!