Friday, May 29, 2020

A Homeschool Mother's Journal ~ Pandemic Fatigue

I used to love this format when I was a new blogger years and years ago.

On my mind: I am feeling kinda blah about blogging today, but I am doing so because I wanted to record our lives during this pandemic. I think I have Covid-19 Fatigue. That's a thing, right?! As we open up here in western North Carolina, we are seeing more and more cases. The death rate in our county has doubled in just 10 days. It is interesting to me the difference in how people are being affected around the country and how they are responding. Of course, we are a huge country so we are bound to have a lot of variety. I worry about what is going to happen in our area when the tourists start arriving. We are a major destination year round. Our city doubles in size with tourists when it is in full operation. 

Outside my window: There is finally a bit of sun. We have had rain for days and days. My small vegetable garden is doing well. I need to get out there and weed it, though.  

What I am working on: We are planning our next big project. We are going to paint the stairwell and put down pet-friendly carpet treads. I am really excited about this project. Our stairs are so worn out and really need some new life breathed into them.

What we are watching: Gotham. We are on season five. My crew loves it and will be sad when it is over. We have also watched the latest season of Call the Midwife.

In our homeschool this week: We FINISHED physical science. What a relief! I thought we would never be done. Dean just has a little bit left to do and then he will officially graduate. We are so excited for him. Anne is almost done with 11th grade. We decided to skip Anne's end-of-year testing this year, since it wasn't required due to the pandemic. Plus, she already did the highest level of testing last year. Dean did his testing before the pandemic shut everything down.

Where we are going: This week has found us much more out and about. Anne went to her job three days. We also went to Sam's Club, a board game store and Target. It was interesting to note that more people weren't wearing masks now that it is required than they were a few weeks ago when it was voluntary. I would say that 75% were wearing masks. I was surprised and dismayed by that. I think it is rebellion on their part, not to mention selfish and self-centered. It is sad that so many see wearing a mask as a punishment or a right being taken away from them instead of realizing that they may be saving the life of someone around them. It is a small sacrifice to make for the betterment of the community. Speaking of masks, Anne said that the only family that came in without masks at her store this week had a 4 pound preemie with them. Crazy...

My favorite thing this week: Going out for ice cream and walking around a graveyard.  Everything feels new again after our long time at home.
The broken gravestone says, "All is well".
Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Week 10 of Quarantine ~ A Gentle Change

We have entered Phase II here in Western North Carolina. With that change, many more people are out and about. Not surprisingly, the number of cases and deaths are rising quickly in our state. I am concerned about going back out into the world, but also see that we are stuck with this virus for a long time. So we are going to need to learn how to live with it as safely as possible. That means taking all of the precautions possible (masks, social distancing, gloves in some cases and picking events carefully) while dipping our toes back out into the world. Anne was asked to come back to her consignment job and she accepted. It is a tiny shop with lots of precautions being enforced. We are taking a calculated risk and hoping that she is safe there. They added a day to her schedule so she is now working 16 hours a week. She is overjoyed to be back at work and in the world. I am cautiously optimistic.

With our move to be a bit more in the world, we needed more masks. Rebekah and I have struggled to make masks that we like. Neither one of us are particularly handy with a sewing machine. I traded our family's signature Banana Sour Cream Cake for three homemade masks from a friend. They are fantastic and way better than what we were creating. I may need to trade her for more.

Anne also had the opportunity to take three online classes this week with the University of North Carolina School of Dance. It was a prep program for those who have been accepted into the summer dance intensive that will be online this summer. Anne auditioned and was accepted into the program. She will be taking two weeks in June. This week was to make sure everyone's technology worked and that they had an idea of what they would be doing and if they were properly placed in the correct level. She did great and really enjoyed being back in ballet. She did feel a bit rusty. It is going to be a shock to do ballet classes 7 hours a day 5 days week. We also realized that without electricity in the dance shed, it was going to be too hot for seven hours of dancing. Keeping her technology charged was going to be near to impossible. So, we are clearing out the guest bedroom and turning it into a dance room for the two weeks. I feel very blessed to have such a large house to move things around and make it work during this time. That is a change for me. I usually feel burdened by the size of our house and property.

She also did her Rockette's class online and in the living room when it was raining really hard this week. The dance shed was super dark. They did a dance from the musical, Chicago.
Vocational Rehab called us and they are ready to start doing career testing with Dean. We are hopeful that will be set up and underway in the next few weeks. Voc Rehab is so slow. It takes forever to get anything done, but I am very grateful for the program. Hopefully, Dean will have a job by the end of the summer. He really doesn't want to go out into the world at all until the virus is gone, but that really isn't realistic.

Dean is counting down the days to being done with school. He only has 10 days to go. What will happen after that is still up in the air. I do feel it is important that he has a schedule and responsibilities each day. We are working on plans. We still don't know if one of the camps that he was hired to work at pre-Covid 19 is still going on. The other camp has been cancelled.

The highlights of this week in school was our Yum Yum box. It was from the Philippines, and we had lots of fun eating the snacks and learning more about the country. I think it was  the best box in a long time.

We also wrapped up our English class with a light and fun family read aloud. It was The Quilt by Gary Paulsen. My kids love Gary Paulsen books and I thought ending with it would be nice. It is a story about women living through home life during World War II while dealing with death, loss, joy and all of the hard work of running farms while their loved ones are away at war.

The movie, Suffragette, was amazing. It touched my kids to their core. Dean, who has been raised to love and care for everyone, could simply not comprehend why anyone would want to deny women the right to vote. We have covered this topic before, but this movie brought them so much more. It left an impact that has carried through the entire week. The discussions have been rich and meaningful.

I hope you all are well!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Week 9 of Quarantine ~

I had a lovely Mother's Day. It started with bagels and cream cheese from my favorite shop. My husband had them all laid out for each of us to pick.

It is tradition for my mother, daughter and myself to go out for part of Mother's Day on a little "girl's adventure". Usually we go out for lunch, not allowed during quarantine, so this year we decided on a hike. However, we wanted to go somewhere very close and not very crowded. We decided to go to my favorite local graveyard. I took the following paragraphs from a blog I wrote in 2009. However, it still remains true. I love graveyards. I am very Victorian in that way I guess. 

"So here is a confession for you. I love graveyards. I love walking through them, looking at all the gravestone styles, thinking about the history and lives that have gone before me. I love doing little math problems in my head to see how long people lived. I love moving the leaves and weeds away from old graves to reveal their names to the world again. I love reading the old names that aren't heard much anymore: Prudence, Horace, Constance, Judd, Jedediah, etc. I love how time slows and ebbs in a graveyard.

My kids and husband think that I am a bit strange in this way, but they play along and go with me to graveyards. They even have learned to like them, too. Of course, I have found over the years how to make it more interesting to them. I have taught them how to tend graves, walk through a graveyard properly, and do grave rubbings. "

So it just made sense to go to such a calm and beautiful place for our Mother's Day quarantine. Our cities largest graveyard opened for the first time in weeks on Mother's Day and it was more crowded than usual. Even so, it was still very easy to avoid others. We had fun finding unique graves. We only covered a few of its 87 acres and I am already itching to go back. 

O'Henry's Gravestone (He was buried under his birth name.)
My Mom just wanted a hug for Mother's Day. We covered ourselves in sheets fresh from the dryer and had a hug. It was nice to be near her again.

The rest of the day was lovely as well. For my gift, the kids cleared a large area of weeds for our planting grass, and my husband replaced three doorknobs inside the house that were worn out and didn't match well the original doorknobs in the house.  We wrapped up the day with takeout from a local Mexican restaurant. 

The rest of the week sped by in a blur. I decided to work on painting baseboards and the inside of closet doors. Everything always looks better with a fresh coat of paint. We are getting so many projects done. The kids did school work (there isn't much to go). Anne took two online dance classes. David worked from home this week (he is at work one week and works from home the next). We went to to grocery store (Sam's ) and found almost everything we needed/wanted. I even got Clorox wipes!!

Lastly, I perfected my homemade bread. I am very happy with the latest version. It does take about 6 hours to make and 20 minutes to eat!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Week 8 of Quarantine...The Great Outdoors

The 2019-2020 school year is wrapping up. I am very pleased with how well the end is going. We are full steam ahead and no one is complaining. That is a refreshing change from some years. Since my teens are not overwhelmed by out of the home distractions, they are cheerfully finishing the school year. Anne has even proclaimed that she wants to keep going and start her senior year immediately. We spent a bit of time deciding what she wanted to do for her last undecided credit. She decided that she wanted to do a year of piano lessons using the app Flowkey, my limited skills from three years of lessons in high school, and the array of piano books in our home. I think that will be a lovely addition to her high school credits and will leave her graduating with 28 credits. I will talk more about her senior year in a few weeks, but I don't want to get ahead of ourselves.

Resources that We Love

The past few weeks we have really enjoyed Physics Girl on YouTube. I have tried to introduce her before and the teens balked at watching her videos. However, they love her now. I guess they needed a stronger understanding of physics before they could really understand and enjoy her videos. She is fun, lively and very smart. Her experiments are fun and she travels the world to amazing places such as CERN. She brings our least favorite subject alive.

We are in the final stretch of our unit study of The Hobbit. We should finish it on Monday or Tuesday. We really enjoyed it, too, and the discussion questions from Memoria Press added to our understanding and the richness of the text.

We are also learning so much from the book, Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fighters and The Flaws, by Cynthia and Sanford Levinson. What a fascinating book; it really gives understanding to all of the red tape and stalemates that we experience in government today.

Anne is really enjoying the free Rockettes class that is posted each week on the Internet. It is a great addition to her quarantine dance life.

Getting Outdoors

When we aren't busy with our academics, we are trying to enjoy the outdoors more and more. Yes, staying home is getting really old. Even though our state along with most of the others is slowly starting to reopen, it doesn't mean we as a family are planning on running back out there too soon. We will wait and see for awhile what will happen. I suspect that we are going to have a huge spike in illness. Everyone must decide for themselves what risks they are willing to take. We are enjoying our yard and going to hiking trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We have had a few bonfires in the last week or so. We are putting the Ash tree we chopped down to good use, and it is giving us lots of enjoyment. We sometimes tell ghost stories, make roasted marshmallows, whittle sticks and generally enjoy a calm, media-free hour by the fire. Anne is holding a phone in one of the pictures because she was trying to capture a picture on it. 

We also had a marvelous photo shoot in the woods one day. The whole family went, but only Anne wanted her photo taken. Anne is always eager to do dance shots in different environments. She got lots of attention from people we passed on the trail. (Most people don't go hiking in a leotard and broken pointe shoes. lol) She did wear boots during much of the three mile hike.

The Stores

So I ventured out into the world to get more groceries. The shelves were bare in the cleaning, toilet paper, baking and meat aisles. There was a scattering of other products on the rest of the aisles. One could get everything else, but not of the same brands or sizes I usually choose. I hear that the local chain grocery store still has some of the items that others don't have, but I also am hearing so many stories of how rude the customers are being and that they aren't practicing social distancing. Also, the workers are barely being protected. I am just not desperate enough for toilet paper or cleaning supplies to venture in there yet.

I hope all of you are safe and sound.

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Quarantine Birthday and Goodbye April

The big news is Dean turned 18 this week! We had planned on taking a short trip to celebrate his big day, but the pandemic put a stop to that. So, I was left wondering what to do to make his day special. He loves getting mail and I thought he would enjoy getting lots of birthday cards. I put out a request on Facebook and he got showered with cards. They are still coming in. He said he had a really nice day and loved getting so many cards in the mail.

Lemon cake with lemon glaze

The stuffed animals were a gag gift and part of the "birthday poster bombing" of our front yard by two of his friends

The entire day moved at Dean's pace. We started the day with donuts. Then we played video games and went to Target for a new outfit shopping spree (complete with gloves and masks on). We got take out at Chick-fil-a for lunch. Then we broke mini pinatas filled with candy. We had dinner takeout from Farm Burger and homemade lemon cake. Grandma came and sat at the front door so she could watch the present opening and have dinner and cake "with us". He played for three hours online with his best friend and  another friend dropped off a lemon pound cake on our porch. It was all a great success.

It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up week 7 at home. I can hardly remember the last few days before the world stopped. It has been a shock. I hope I am not the only one who feels a bit brain dead some days. Most days go okay and others are really hard. The reality of this whole experience comes in waves. We are continuing the journey of cutting our own hair. This week Tim decided he couldn't take it anymore and submitted to our amateur skills.

School is moving at a great clip. We really are going to be done soon. We are still reading The Hobbit. Both teens are motivated to finish their least favorite subject, Physical Science. We are making some real strides. I told them if we didn't do it everyday it would be the only subject left and they would have to do it all day for a week or two. That motivated them to throw more energy into it. We did our very last Eureka Kit. It was a printing press and took us a long time to build this one. We learned more about the different types of levers and fulcrum points. 


I can't believe April is over and yet it took forever to pass. Time has become such a strange thing with this pandemic. 

Blessings, Dawn