Moving on

My post from Thursday failed to load.  Come to find out, I’m out of space.  So I’ve created a new blog.  You can continue the journey here: Mother’s Heart Journey


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Working Wednesday

Gosh, I seem to be on a roll with the alliteration this week. 😂 Today really was a day filled with work. Between helping teachers solve problems, recording stories for read aloud, helping Monkey and Squirrel with their schoolwork, and attending meetings, the day was pretty much filled. I find myself on the phone or on zoom most of the day. Our days are starting to fall into a pattern.

Working hard
Staying comfy

While our days seem to be settling into a pattern, we are failing in one particular area. We haven’t been outside since finding out the basketball court was closed. I’m wondering if that is contributing to our moodiness. We tend to snap at each other more quickly and take things way too personally. Tomorrow Nathan goes back to work and I think the kids and I need to make a point of getting outside. I ordered some gardening gloves. Maybe it’s time for us to do some weeding.

We’ve come to depend on our technology for more than just work and school. I’d set up a virtual play date for the kids with their friends at 4:00. Unfortunately, right about that time the internet died! I had been in a meeting for work when I got kicked out. Monkey Boy and Squirrel Girl were very frustrated to be so close to seeing their friends just to have it taken away. Finally, around 4:20, we were able to connect again and they spent a bit of time being silly with their friends.

For some reason the internet issues got under my skin and I stayed irritable the rest of the evening. I’d also been having some abdominal pain throughout the afternoon (still am) and it probably contributed as well. I tried to keep it from showing, but Monkey Boy definitely noticed. Unfortunately, he thought it was his doing. He is extra sensitive these days and I can’t convince him that my mood and reactions aren’t his fault.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day. It will be the first day that we’ve been distance learning with Nathan not at home. I’m not sure how that will effect us. I know I’ll be praying throughout the day that his hospital will continue to not have COVID-19 patients and he will be able to come home to us in the evening. 🙏


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Tearful Tuesday

I’ll start by saying it wasn’t all bad. But quite a few tears were shed today, so I thought I’d go with the alliteration.

As usual, I started my morning with Bible study. I’ve gotten into the habit of sitting in the closet to read my plans so I don’t disturb Nathan while he sleeps. He discovered me there this morning. I’m not sure what he thought. 😂

I took a few moments to check my email before waking up the kids and getting ready for CG. I don’t remember why, but I got a bit irritated and felt like I was running late by the time I went to the garage to log into the zoom workout. Then my iPad wouldn’t connect for some reason, making me even more irritated. I finally used my phone and turned off WiFi. My best guess is that the signal was not strong enough in the garage today.

I was only 20 or so minutes into the workout before I was in tears. I love working out with CG, and this trainer happens to be my best friend, but I hated having it on zoom because I was all alone, had no one to grumble to or commiserate with, and most of all I couldn’t ask for the modifications I needed due to my wrist injury. Yesterday I had tried to do everything without modifying and my wrist and elbow both hurt the rest of the day. Burpees, mountain climbers, bear crawls, shoulder taps, and pushups were all a part of today’s workout, and I just can’t do any of them. I cried because I hurt, because I’m tired of hurting, and because I felt so alone.

I made it through the workout, even through my tears. When I returned inside the house, I was immediately bombarded with questions and pleas for help. Nathan left to get groceries and gas in my car and I took care of the kids needs, ate breakfast, and checked emails once again. It wasn’t long before it was time to join a zoom meeting with the librarians from the district.

While in my meeting I started getting texts from Monkey Boy. He is a stickler for schedules and I had arbitrarily assigned recess at 10:00 last week, so he wanted to know if we were doing recess. I told him to go ahead. But he continued to text and ask what he was supposed to do. I reminded him that his teachers don’t tell him what to do at recess, but he complained that there were more options at school. Nothing I suggested was satisfactory. I turned off my video in the meeting long enough to stomp through the house and give him more time on his computer. What is it about being on the phone or in a meeting (or in the bathroom!) that makes kids suddenly need our attention right now?! This would not be the last time he did it to me today. 🙄

The rest of the meeting went fine, but it went on much longer than I expected. Nathan got home with TONS of groceries that we had to find space for, but we should be set for quite some time. His concern is that when he goes back to work it’s only a matter of time before his hospital will have to start taking COVID-19 patients. And he’s decided that if he has to take care of someone with the virus, he does not want to come back inside our house. He’s said he will be packing a bag to have in his car just in case. So he wanted to get our kitchen ready so that I won’t need to leave the house for any reason. He really doesn’t want me going to the store.

Monkey Boy had all of his work done by lunch and Squirrel Girl was not far behind. I reminded them both that last week I had assured them things would get easier when their own teachers were the ones giving them the directions instead of a district coordinator. They said their teacher made longer videos, but she explained assignments better. I was relieved to hear it.

While the kids did PE and AIM, I was busy on a project for my principal. working on that took me all the way to 4:00, so I called it quits too. Nathan and Monkey Boy played video games and Squirrel Girl read on her kindle while I got started making dinner.

Just as I was serving up dinner, Monkey Boy looked in the pantry to find where the Lucky Charms cereal he’d asked for might be. Unfortunately, the store had been out. Nathan said he got Fruit Loops instead. MB said he doesn’t like Fruit Loops. He lost it and just cried and cried. I know that to him it feels like this virus is taking everything away from him. Nothing I can say can make that feel better. We told him it was perfectly okay to be mad and upset with the situation. He went on and on about the things that he missed. Particularly his friends. So I sent a text to the parents of their core group of friends and asked for a zoom play date. Because he desperately needs to feel connected to his friends. I know he misses them so much. Hopefully they will all be able to spend at least a little virtual time together.

We were able to end the day with smiles. Nathan chose to play a game, in which Monkey Boy beat us all by a long shot (I came in last). One thing I will say about my monkey… he never tends to stay down for long.

I know we are going to have a lot of ups and downs in the coming weeks. The district has extended distance learning until at least May 1st (though most of us suspect we will not be back to school at all this school year). I pray that we all keep Ephesians 4:32 in mind.

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Mild Monday

I took a much more relaxed approach to today than I did all last week. This meme captures exactly how I was feeling.

I clung to the feeling of being needed to give me purpose and direction in such an uncertain time. Nathan reminded me more than once that there is no such thing as a distance learning emergency and if I’m not glued to my computer the entire day, the teachers and students will survive.

So after a quick check of my email this morning, I took the time to do a zoom CG workout with Nathan. We pulled the cars out of the garage and told the kids to get started on their school work and not to disturb us. If they didn’t understand something, they were to move on to something else and we would help them when we were done. It worked! We got our full workout done with no interruptions! Of course, now my wrist and elbow have been hurting all day, but that’s a different matter.

After showering and helping Monkey Boy with his work, I did get a phone call from a teacher needing help. When I finished that phone call, we went to the park for “recess.” We played PIG at the basketball court and had a great time (I won twice!).

Unfortunately, just as we were about to leave, I noticed that there was a sign, pointing the opposite way than how we approach the basketball court, that said that it is closed to the public. Oops. We truly didn’t see the sign. And when we did see it, Monkey Boy got super upset. Basketball has been the one thing that he’s enjoyed about this whole thing and now he doesn’t have that either. I have never wished more that we had a trampoline or place for a basketball hoop to give him some stress relief. 😢

At lunch, Monkey Boy said he wished I would just give him 2 choices like at school. So that’s what I did and it helped. I think I may make a menu of lunches for the week for him to do his “lunch count” like at school.

For Specials, it was art day! We enjoyed watching Mr. Cherry’s video and then the kids drew their favorite snacks!

Monkey Boy’s snack

They both worked on their AIM projects and then put in some more effort on core classes. While they did that I worked on a digital collection for 3rd grade, recorded myself reading a couple of books, and helped a teacher do a recording and email it to parents. I almost didn’t realize what time it was until the kids came in to find out how to get onto zoom with their friends (we’d scheduled it over the weekend). I took that as my cue to be done working and shut down my computer.

Monkey Boy chose our Family Time tonight and he wanted to watch Jumanji. So Nathan made a yummy ramen meal and we ate in front of the tv. Overall, it was a nice day. I just wish MB didn’t feel like everything he loves is being taken away. 😢

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Social Sunday

As I said yesterday, today was all about socializing.

Church in the morning via live feed. I actually watched part of the church service in Jamaica first. I loved hearing Luke sing and Pastor Dave’s sermon. 🥰 I pointed out to the kids the curtain behind which the stairs to the rooms we’d stayed in were hidden and the sound of the rooster in the background. It surprised them to learn that church is held outside there! They thought it was cool that I knew the people on the screen, but I think they had a hard time following what was being said due to the accents. I loved it, though. And it made me sad all over again that we won’t be going to Jamaica in July after all. 😢

Pastor Dave finished his sermon just as our church service was starting up. If we can’t be in there in person, I’m glad we at least have the option to watch service online. If anyone is searching for a church, this might be the perfect time to try a few out online so you don’t have to feel awkward in person. Or was that just me when I was looking 9 years ago? I’m so glad I have my church family through this difficult time.

After service we tried to do a Group FaceTime with two families for Sunday School, but couldn’t get connected to one of them, so we did our best with our usual group. Hopefully we can figure it out for next week.

After Sunday School, it wasn’t long before we needed to get lunch ready so Squirrel Girl could have lunch with her Girl Scout friends. It’s funny. They are super talkative in person, but they barely spoke on Zoom. 😂 The adults that stuck around had to ask questions to get a little bit of conversation going. We hope to try again with a project for them to work on to help stimulate them.

After lunch Squirrel Girl came up with a game for us to play. She found some pool diving toys and hid them for us to find. We took turns doing the hiding.

Not even close.

We played until it was time to Zoom with family! We had a great time hanging out with them. Considering 3 of those boxes were broadcast from Florida and the other 4 were all in the same house, we wish we’d discovered this option a long time ago!

Next year’s Christmas cards? 😜

Afterwards I took a much needed nap thanks to a couple of margaritas and awoke to the wonderful smell of fried rice for dinner. 😋

I’m grateful technology has made it possible to still be social while being distant. I can’t imagine trying to get through this without our friends and family.

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Simple Saturday

Today was VERY lazy. We did nothing productive. But I think we needed it.

I woke up at 6:30 to the sounds of Monkey Boy putting the dishes away. It was my fault. He had forgotten to do it yesterday, so I told him it needed to be the first thing he did in the morning. Silly me didn’t think about the fact that he is almost always the first person awake in our house. Even though I awoke at 6:30, I didn’t get out of bed until nearly 9:00!

After eating breakfast, Nathan and I played a game of Patchwork because the kids said they weren’t interested in playing anything. But just as we started, Squirrel Girl wanted to watch and learn. After Nathan trounced me, SG decided to play against me. Then she beat me!

The rest of the day the family kind of split up. I think we’ve had a bit too much togetherness. 😜 The kids watched tv, I read a book, and Nathan joined some friends virtually to play D&D.

I got a phone call from my dad and we talked about everything and nothing for almost an hour. We haven’t gotten to do that in a long time.

Towards dinner, I reminded the kids that they had a few assignments left to complete before tomorrow, then struggled through helping Monkey Boy while he tried to shut down. He finally got it done, though.

Unfortunately, I kind of had a small meltdown as I made dinner. It was silly. I don’t know exactly why. Nathan made a suggestion about dinner, which I’d already started making, and I lost it. Nathan held me while I cried and couldn’t stop.

Dinner ended up being a huge hit (without his suggestions) and I was told it was a keeper. It was just a simple sheet pan meal of meatballs and green beans. I’m pretty sure Nathan was just trying to make me feel better, but Monkey Boy and Squirrel Girl joined in, so I guess I believe them. 😜

Tomorrow will be a big socializing day. Virtually, of course. But just like we all needed some alone time, we all need to see our friends and feel connected in some way. Hopefully it will be just the thing to get us through the week.

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We made it! It’s Friday. We got through a whole week of distance learning. We didn’t make it out unscathed, but we got through it and we’re still speaking to each other. 😜

I was able to show Squirrel Girl an email from her teacher that said what I’d been trying to to tell her all along. She’s doing more than most and should not be so hard on herself. It helped her attitude, that’s for sure. But didn’t really speed up her pace.

Monkey Boy, on the other hand, had a rough day. He felt frustrated and had a couple of meltdowns when he didn’t understand the directions for an assignment. I’ve noticed with him that if he doesn’t know something instantly, he beats himself up become he thinks he should know everything. I was not able to keep my cool when he yelled at me as I tried to help him understand, unfortunately. Thankfully, Nathan talked with him and helped him to see that it’s hard to give/receive instructions when you’re not face to face. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t know how to ask his questions in a way that his teacher understands. Hopefully this experience will improve all of our written communication skills.

At “recess” we went down the street to write messages for a friend and also down by the bridge to the park. Along the way we ran into (at a safe distance) one of the pastors of our church! We talked from across the street as we all walked towards the park.

At the park, MB wanted to shoot some hoops while SG and I drew our artwork. Unfortunately, he got the ball stuck again and there were no lawn guys around to save it. So Monkey Boy did what monkeys do best. He climbed.

Shoes and socks off for better grip
This mama was getting super nervous!
Especially when he kicked the ball down! 😮

I really don’t like those basketball hoops!

Right as we were finishing our school day, I got a phone call telling me to have the kids look out the window. And there on our sidewalk was MB’s best friend from school! He had brought his puppy (whom we adore) to see us. It was so hard not to open the door and snuggle with her!

🥰 Oreo 🥰

And then our friend attacked our sidewalk with more chalk! 💕

I loved getting to see them, even if it was through the glass door. But as MB said, it made us miss them even more!

After that visit, we FaceTimed other friends and MB and SG used Messenger Kids to talk to even more friends. I know they’ve needed social interaction and they really haven’t had any this week. I’m hoping to fix that somehow.

For our family time, it was SG’s turn to pick. She decided she wanted to watch Frozen and eat Chinese food. So that’s what we did. And when it was over, it was time to get ready for bed. But before heading that way, we had a cuddle party! 🥰 They’ve both been very snuggly lately. I know their emotions are all over the place and they need extra hugs and reassurance.

I’ve noticed that Monkey Boy has been focusing on the negative quiet a bit lately, so I told him to think of all the things that were good about the day. Slowly but surely, he started to find some positive. I think we are going to have to start doing this every night.

I’m looking forward to a bit of a relief from the weekend!

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Joy or Fear? Your choice.

My day started with Bible study, as usual. And then a friend of mine contacted me about the fear she is feeling right now. It’s taking over her every thought. She’s terrified of this virus. It’s stealing all of her joy.

The podcast Bible study I’ve been doing since January 1 ends every episode with “He is where the joy is.” I’m clinging to my faith through all of this and choosing to look for the joy.

I believe that God puts us in each other’s lives to support one another and point Him out when others are have a hard to seeing His presence. Today I felt compelled to remind my friend to focus on what she can control and quoted the serenity prayer.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”

I think we should all repeat this prayer multiple times a day.

When I finally got showered and dressed it was nearly 8. This is much later than the rest of the week. Monkey Boy wanted to know why I hadn’t gone in to wake Squirrel Girl and took it upon himself to do it for me. He’s lucky he’s still alive. 😂

It soon turned into a busy day of work from all three of us. Nathan, who would have been in Chicago for a convention, spent his day painting. SG did her work sitting on my bed while I worked nearby so I couldn’t observe her work habits and hopefully keep her on track. I’m not sure it worked. She is still behind in Reading, Social Studies, and Math (she financial caught up in Science and Writing around 4:00).

I am continuing to have them stop at 10:00 for recess, preferably outside. Today we took chalk to the front yard and decorated our sidewalk and the one across the street. It was a beautiful day and I loved getting to spread joy for others.

Monkey Boy’s
Squirrel Girl’s

Once again, Monkey Boy was done with all of his work by lunchtime. Which makes me wonder if he’s completing everything or if SG is doing more than is required. Either could be the answer or maybe both.

At lunch, we opened an envelope sent from some friends we don’t see nearly often enough. Those sweethearts sent homemade bracelets that said “Happiness” and “You Can Do It.” We loves them!

You can do it

For Specials I suggested that they watch Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems or Draw Every Day with JJK. They watched both. Drawing brings them joy.

While there were tears when I told SG it was time to put her work away for the day, we finished the day on a good note. SG helped with weeding while MB bounced his basketball (he’s obsessed!).

She chose this as her chore!

After a nostalgic dinner of chicken and rice casserole, it was Nathan’s turn to pick family time. He chose to play Dragon Castle. Spending time together to focus on the joy.

What do you choose? Joy or Doubt and Fear? I know what I pick.

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Technology Deployment

I spent the morning at school helping with the technology deployment. We were distributing chromebooks to families that needed them for distance learning. We had over 100 families that had requested technology, but by noon less than half had actually come to pick them up. I’m not sure how the afternoon went.

The sky as I left to go to school 💕

When I got home a little after noon, Monkey Boy told me he was already done with all his class work, but Squirrel Girl hadn’t even finished her Reading/Writing assignments. I have to wonder if he ACTUALLY got everything done or if he skipped some of the directions. I didn’t bother checking.

After lunch was Specials time, and being a “Wellness Wednesday” I found a yoga video for them to do.

Back to work at 2:00 and by 2:30 SG wasn’t much farther along and she was in tears because it was taking so long. I hate that she compares herself to her brother. They approach work with very different attitudes. She is a perfectionist and he just does what he needs to do to move on to fun. Honestly, I don’t know what is taking her so long. According to the estimates of time it shows on the Learning Plan, they should only need to be working a total of 140 minutes. Yet after a supposed 3.5 hours of work she wasn’t even half done. I asked her if she was getting distracted, but she said she wasn’t. I’m not sure what to do to speed her up. At 2:30, I told her she needed to be done for the day because it was just too upsetting.

She asked me to read my favorite childhood book to her, but I had a virtual faculty meeting to attend. I could see her disappointment. It killed me. After the meeting, I walked away Friday my computer to spend time with family. The kids and I went outside while Nathan started getting things ready to grill fajitas.

Squirrel Girl decided to pull weeds while Monkey Boy and I tossed the basketball back and forth.

We also rescued a worm that SG must have dug up while weeding!

We got warm and moved back inside where I read the first 5 chapters of Julie Andrews Edward’s Mandy. It is one of the few books that I read over and over again as a kid and it still makes me cry as an adult. I’ve read the book to Squirrel Girl before, but she said she doesn’t remember the story, just that we read it while she was home sick several years ago.

Dinner was delicious and we followed that with fresh baked cookies and watching Masked Singer and LEGO Masters as a family.

Today my takeaway is that we need to find balance. SG can’t spend 8 hours of the day working on schoolwork. She needs to find a more efficient way of doing her assignments, but I’ve been too busy with my work to help her figure it out. I’m hoping to find at least a little time to work on that with her before next week.

By that same token, MB needs to realize he doesn’t get to spend 5 hours on video games or YouTube just because his work didn’t take all day. I think I need to make a list of things he has to do before he can ask for non-school electronics.

We are going to get through this. That much I know. And hopefully we will learn some valuable skills along the way. 🙏

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Remote Learning Day 2

Today went a little smoother than yesterday. There weren’t as many panicking cries for help because something didn’t open the way they expected. The kids seemed to mostly be able to tackle their work on their own.

We changed up the schedule a bit with schoolwork starting at 8:00. They worked until 9:00 when I made them take a brain break. They both chose to read. They got back to work until 10:00 when it was time for recess! We left the dogs at home so we could jog to the park and play a bit of basketball.

Dribbling the whole way there

I had an online meeting at 10:30 (or so I thought), so we headed back home. Apparently the meeting started at 10:00 and I caught the tail end. Oops. At least I tried!

At 11:00, Monkey Boy had an online meeting with his class. I know the kids were excited to see each other, even if it was over video. Squirrel Girl had her meeting with the same teacher at 12:00. We had a hodgepodge lunch when she finished.

Following lunch it was time for Specials! Since they did Art yesterday, today they did PE. MB is obsessed with basketball these days!

Then it was back to work! There was still unfinished work at the end of the day and a few assignments they couldn’t get to work, but we put all work away at 3:00 anyway. For them, anyway.

As for me, I didn’t have quite as many teachers emailing or texting me questions, but there were still quite a few. I reached out to each grade level to check in and remind them I am here to help. I also assured them that they were doing a great job and I am so proud of them!

In emailing with some teachers that had already had some time to video conference with their students, it was clear that kids need to be made aware of the etiquette of online interaction. So I put together a presentation and recorded a video of myself presenting it. Those I mentioned it to were thankful that I offered to do this.

I’ve also thrown out the idea of recording daily announcements like we had on normal school days. I think the 6th graders that were signed up to be announcers the rest of the year would be excited to be involved. I just need to work out the logistics.

I also fielded questions from parents that happen to be friends. I know it’s beyond frustrating for them when something doesn’t work. They don’t have the background knowledge I have to work around the problem. Thankfully I was able to help at least a little.

Overall, I’m trying to be there for the teachers as much as possible. I always have been, of course, but right now they depend on me more than usual. I miss being able to interact with the students, but I’m glad I’m being useful. I don’t think I could stand it if I had nothing to do right now.

To all of you trying to help your children through this week, bless you. I know there will be tears. Probably some yelling from the kids and from you. Some not so nice language. But remember that the school work is not the most important thing. Yes, do what you can. But also take time to enjoy your family.

We ended the day with family time. It was Monkey Boy’s pick, so we played a video game called Frantics. Lots of laughter and good natured teasing. A perfect way from us all to let go of the stress. We all needed it.

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