Neighborhood “socially distanced” block party

A few neighbors thought it would be fun to have a BYOE block party, so we did!  :) Everyone brought their own chairs and food, we hung out and chatted, being careful to maintain safe distances, and then we had a live performance! One neighbor is a jazz singer and another is a composer/musician, so they put on a show.  I think they have been Zoom practicing together. :)  Our preschool neighbor provided the entertainment by dancing around the whole time.  It was a lovely evening!

Eve brought the cat outside, on an yarn leash. The cat was not amused.

Neighbors putting on a jazz show. They said they were doing a driveway rehearsal. :)

Neighbors

More neighbors

On an unrelated note, the pine tree in our yard is bursting with baby pine cones!  They are adorable. :)

Look at them all! :)

With “portrait mode” anyone with a cellphone can be a professional photographer!

 

Birthday Girl!

Hey, we had a birthday around here.  Someone turned 13!!  Craziness!  Everyone kept asking “what are you going to do to celebrate?” but with social isolation and COVID-19 in the air, what could we do?!  We took a hike last weekend and celebrated the big day with birthday presents and waffles and “home school.”  She seemed to enjoy it though!

We started the morning as we usually do on birthdays.  A pile of presents on the table!

My baby girl is 13!!

Happy Birthday!

Eve opened presents and drank seltzer from her new favorite mug!

Maybe it’s time to cut back on the morning seltzer! :)

We all watched the present opening.

Eve had a very specific gift list, so she got very specific items.  She was happy. :)

Her favorite saying. Looks like she needs a nap already!

Talk bubbles need to be in the right place!

Lots of presents and cards kept her busy for awhile.

We had to take a short break so I could make waffles and she could do her Advisory Check-in for school.  But soon enough we were back to presents!

This present from Joyce was like a party in a box!

A fun, messy party in a box!

Cash and waffles! What more can a girl want on her birthday?! :)

The rest of the day was spent “at school,” in other words, sitting at the table in front of our computers.  It was a rainy day, so we did dog walks, but nothing else too exciting.  We are still working on the home/school balance now that they are one and the same.

Around dinner time we had a family “gathering” for cake and singing.

Oh yea, cake!

Quarantines = Video chat birthday parties. It’s a weird world we’re living in, but I’m glad the tech is there to support it!  I wish we were all together in person, but at least we got to see faces and hear voices.  <3

Eve ran away when everyone started singing. Remember when she used to LOVE the attention? Well, not so much any more.

Fortunately she came back for the cake. :)

We measured her on the wall at bedtime. She’s exactly the same height Lex was on his 14th birthday, which is actually a slow down in her growth spurt. We had fun looking at all the heights over the years. Then off to bed!

We now have two teenagers in the house. Yay and boo. She is an amazing girl, full of confidence and silliness and creativity.  I look forward to seeing the person she is becoming, but I also miss the smiley, bald little girl she used to be.  Fortunately she’s still smiley at home and still loves to snuggle!

Home Learning – Day 2

Hello all, we are on day two of home learning.  Day one passed in a flash.  All the teachers and all the kids and all the parents trying to connect to all the things… kept all of me busy for a very long time! But we got through it, most people got up and running, and most people were happy. I left mid-day for a brief walk in the sunshine, which was great and helped me clear up a support issue that had me stumped. Nothing like a change of scenery to clear your mind! The email influx continued today. Lots of parents, some more patient than others. Some shared their frustrations with the situation. We all concurred and reminded each other to go slow, and take a breath, and we can get through this together.

My kids are enjoying home learning, though it has resulted in a lot more screen time for all of us. Something I don’t love, but they don’t seem to mind. :) Yesterday brought frustration from one and tears from the other, but we got through it, sorted things out, solved the problems, and got through our day.

Once the tech support need lightens I’m going to have to focus on our own schedule at home. If this goes from two weeks to many more, I need to develop a routine that doesn’t involve us on the computers non-stop. Today I was thinking a 4pm family game time would be lovely. Of course today at 4pm I was still working. :/ Then I had to remind myself the same thing I’ve been reminding everyone else. Go slow. Take a breath. We can’t do it all immediately.  We’ll get through this.

The best part of my day, was when I took 10 minutes to check in on my Library lessons.  I found over a dozen kids had left comments about how much they really liked the book I had read (recorded myself reading) and shared with them. They told me about parts of the book they liked, and that it was good I was still reading to them. One kid, completely unprompted by me, recorded herself reading The Book With No Pictures and shared it with me. She said she was reading it for her cousin and thought I would want to see it too.  She giggles the whole way through the book. It was fantastic and I literally LOLed many times! In the middle of tech support hell I hadn’t realized how much I missed the kids.  It was nice to reconnect with some of them, even just virtually.

Here was Eve’s Day 2 Advisory session:

Dog on head? Check! Cat on lap? Check! Full of giggles? OF COURSE!

Or maybe it was later in the Day 1 session?  I can’t keep track. It’s all blending together in my head! Today the governor issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which I guess is a nicer, Vermonty-er way to say shelter-in-place or lock-down. I’m not sure how that’s going to affect my daily life, since we’ve essentially be home since last Wednesday.

Ok, it’s 8pm and this post is pretty rambly. I’m going to (attempt to) step away from the computer for awhile. It snowed a bunch last night. It was cold and wet today. I hope the warm sunshine comes back soon.  G’night all. <3

PS. If you want more (and better) things to read, check out this blog started by my friend and author Andi Diehn.  She is a great writer and her daily posts have been a highlight in my days this past week.  Mere Countrywoman

The world has gone crazy! (Coronavirus takes over)

Wow! What a whirlwind week it has been!  Exactly one week ago we were in school, wondering what the status of school in Vermont would be for the foreseeable future. Other schools in other states had started closing down due to the rapid spread of the Cornonavirus (aka COVID-19).  Because of my role, the principal had asked me a few days earlier to look into a few tech-related questions associated with closing school and transitioning to elearning. Friday afternoon he was pulled into a meeting at the Superintendents office and the Governor of VT was scheduled to speak in the evening.  We were all (mentally) prepared to be shut down.  But nope, Governor Scott said that schools will remain open. By Saturday schools within an hour from us had started closing and by Sunday the state of NH closed down their schools. Governor Scott made an announcement Sunday evening saying that schools in Vermont would also be closing and had to be closed by Wednesday, and that parents could optionally keep their kids home all week. There was a lot of confusion about the whole thing and we all waited anxiously for word on Sunday night about what the plan for Monday would be. It felt like a surreal snow day situation. Late Sunday night we got word that school would be open for students on Monday and Tuesday, then support staff would stay through Thursday and teachers would stay through Friday. We went in Monday to about half the student population, and by Monday night we were all feeling the rush. Our Wednesday staff meeting got canceled, the professional development I was supposed to do all morning on Wednesday got moved up to Tuesday with the boss finding coverage wherever he could for me and the other teachers. I had sub coverage on Monday and Tuesday while I rushed around, getting things setup, getting accounts made and Chromebooks organized and staff supported. It was wild. Kids had cracked and bleeding hands from washing so often. The run on Purell and toilet paper was a constant source of amazement and conversation. On Tuesday we had about 25% of the student body and staff was told we would have Wednesday to finish prepping, but that’s it. By 5pm Tuesday, when many of us were still there, prepping and handing out Chromebooks, we got a message from the Superintendent that staff should stay home Wednesday, but admin would be there for the whole duration. As of Thursday, admin were told to stay home full time too. It was crazy! Like every minute things were changing and even sometimes when it wasn’t officially changed, we all had the feeling that it would be changing and were acting accordingly. It was nuts.

Now we are all home. The time is sort of a blur. The kids are in “vacation” mode and I’m in email hell. Flipping a whole district from school-based to “home learning” is a big undertaking, and to do it in three days is insane! The internet is exploding with companies offering free services for closed schools, free books, free video chat, free apps, free this free that.  All that’s great, but trying to keep track of any of it is insane. I’m now supporting 300+ people remotely, learning how to use new products on the fly so I can support teachers who are asking how to use them, trying to prep library lessons, and (kinda) keeping track of my own kids. Trying to stay on top of emails. It’s nuts.  All the gyms have closed and some have switched to Livestreaming workouts. Karate has closed, but is now doing workouts in a Zoom session (like a virtual conference where everyone is wearing a gi and armed with bos and sais). Even drum lessons will be done remotely starting Monday. That should be interesting.

Also, my kids are supposed to be elearning too! Lots of emails from their schools and their teachers. “Home Learning” doesn’t officially start until Monday, a fact which both kids remind me of, frequently. Next week will bring more emails as parents and students try logging in and using all the new tools for the first time. I’m hoping by the end of next week things will settle down. My boss was nice enough to lower his library expectations (though I have not) so I can focus on the tech.

Hopefully by next week we’ll have settled in to this new normal. We are currently closed until April 6th, but the general consensus is that we’ll be closed (much) longer than that. The unknown makes everything even harder to plan for. What a weird and surreal experience.

On a lighter note, I’m so thankful that I work with kind and flexible coworkers, that the technology exists to make this type of transition happen, and that my own family is healthy and well and not worried for our own health or financial stability. I’m thankful that the weather is warming and the days are getting longer. Can you imagine if this had happened in January?! At least now we can get outside, take the dog for a walk (the hilariously naked dog), and breath in the sunshine and fresh air.

Hang in there world, friends, and family. We’ll all get through this and I’ll see you on the other side. <3

And now, your moment of zen…

Huxley joins Eve for her morning Advisory meeting.