7 Quick Takes: Jen Is Not (Really) Cranky Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Owie. I did have to have a tooth extracted last Friday–one of my back molars. I’m on Day 6 since extraction and it’s still achy. I probably have a dry socket, so I’ll have to go soak a black tea bag when I’m done and stuff it back into that spot.

— 2 —

New addiction. There’s a game called Word Collect available on Google Play and it’s pretty addictive. I started playing less than a week ago, and I’m already up to Level 505! I even have a word unscrambler open on my laptop in case I get stuck.

— 3 —

Stormy. We had decent wind and downpours yesterday, which was fun to watch as I was sitting and working at my desk. We are supposed to have a high wind warning tonight, so I’ll probably close the window after my room cools down a bit. There’s weather to the east of us on the Olympic Peninsula and in the San Juan’s, so we might have some decent weather around the time I fall asleep.

— 4 —

Update on the virtual choir piece. We just got the mixed version back, and it turned out incredibly well. It’s not perfect or like it would be in real life, but it’s pretty darn good considering that we’re recording it in 9 different places, one of the people doing so from across the state. It should go over well this weekend when we have the bishop with us for worship. (He will be doing his Episcopal visit on Sunday. There are a few baptisms, two girls being confirmed, the reception of some new members, and the commissioning of a parish health worker for Resurrección. (For those who are new to my blog, my church shares a priest and facilities with a Spanish-speaking mission congregation. We do bilingual worship together on the 5th Sunday of the month, and we have a big to-do together when the bishop comes to hang out.) It’s going to be the first time the Eucharist has been celebrated inside the sanctuary in months and the number of people allowed to attend in person will be severely restricted. I’m trying to sort out how to do certain things for the live stream because we’ll have the virtual choir anthem as well as the Offertory being played on both Zoom and in the sanctuary simultaneously. I need to have a discussion with our video and sound people and perhaps give out passwords and permissions to be allowed to access the church’s Google Drive. It should be… interesting.

— 5 —

Back to work. Classes started this week. I’m kind of a strange tutor because I can really tutor any humanities class, most human services classes, a lot of social science classes, some basic math classes, and (of course) all the accounting/Microsoft classes in my department. This means I’ve been getting texts from my new boss asking if I can tutor certain niche classes like Business Law because I do a lot of tutoring in the business classes. (My answer, by the way, was “no” because it would require purchasing the book and having to do a lot of unpaid learning in my spare time.) Still, it’s nice to be useful in strange ways.

— 6 —

Remote learning update. We’re continuing with Zoom school for Daniel. His paraprofessional has found some YouTube videos that he likes, including one where a Pete the Cat story is being read. His teacher, therapists, and paraprofessional adore him. After watching what they do, I’m standing pretty firm in the belief that they don’t get paid nearly enough for what they do.

— 7 —

Birthday! Kelly, our hostess with the mostest, has a birthday this weekend. Go wish her a happy birthday and read her list of 42 things about her!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Morning Tube Feed Edition

7 Quick Takes

I’ve been really busy this week, so I’m grabbing some time this morning while Daniel has his hour-long tube feed this morning before Zoom school There may or may not be Amazon affiliate links because that’s how I roll.

— 1 —

Remote learning update #1. Let me just say that I wish with every fiber of my being that Daniel could go to school and be in a normal classroom environment because that is where he thrives. I wish that coronavirus wasn’t a death sentence for everyone in this house, and I envy all of you who live in a place where COVID is either not deadly, doesn’t exist, or where you can be willfully in denial of its existence. In-person school is an option for Daniel if we want it due to his special needs, but we’ve had cases of COVID spreading in schools in Washington, so we’re having to keep him quarantined. Kiddo is sensory-seeking at the moment, which means he wants to hit me and will make the effort to reach over and do it while working. (Autism is an [expletive] joy.) He’s also in a fake sneezing/coughing and spitting phase at the moment, so I don’t want to be within 10 feet of him, given that I landed in the hospital with pneumonia and sepsis last year from him fake sneezing on me. (Fake sneezing or coughing releases droplets and causes me to douse myself in Germ-X because my isolation room was pretty sucky.) It was so bad yesterday that his paraprofessional told me to move away out of his reach and just let him do what he needed to do. She blessedly sang silly songs and read a story to him so I could get out of arms reach and try to hold myself together so I wouldn’t cry.

Let’s just say that anyone who tells me how wonderful homeschooling is or attempts to tell me how to “fix” things will be dealt with harshly, especially if it’s coming from a parent who has neurotypical kids. My kid is not like yours, and you have no freaking clue what you are talking about. (Comments about an autism/ MMR vaccine link will get you banned because we believe in actual *SCIENCE* on this blog, and we don’t support idiots like Andrew Wakefield or Bob Sears who falsify results or commit gross malfeasance resulting in their medical licenses being pulled.)

— 2 —

Really? I got a survey from the “Trump Make America Great Campaign” yesterday. (I’d like to extend both of my middle fingers to whoever put me on that mailing list. Most people aren’t heinous enough to put someone’s name and address on a political mailing list like that.)

Fear not, y’all! I filled out the survey and gave him lots of “constructive criticism” and suggestions for improvement before letting him and his campaign know that I was making a nice donation to Joe Biden in their honor. I even decorated the envelope! (I usually just recycle the mailings like this that I get from the Democratic campaigns because I get them in email form as well… which I delete because I write enough letters to my Congresscritters.) I even repurposed Trump’s fundraising letter and the outer envelope as charcoal starter. 😀

Envelope 1

Envelope 2

Moral of the story: don’t send me junk mail on a day that is making me want to take up cobra-kissing.

— 3 —

Virtual choir. Our bishop is making an Episcopal visit to us on September 27th for baptisms, confirmations, and stuff like that. We’re putting together a virtual choir video of the anthem below, and I got my video portion of it done last night… after 20 takes because I’m unnerved about singing acapella by myself and I’m a severe perfectionist.

— 4 —

Mammogram. I hit the big 4-0 in May and I’m on birth control pills to help with my menopause, so I had to get my first mammogram this year. (I was going to go on my birthday, but COVID happened.) I’ve had people tell me how horrifically painful they are, so I was a little nervous before they started. Yeah, it was seriously a 1 or 2 on the 1-10 pain scale. (I realize that everyone has a different body and a different pain threshold.) My chest was a little tender afterward, but it was strong>*NOTHING* compared to the pain of a pelvic exam/pap smear/pelvic ultrasound for me. (Those are easily a 7 out of 10 for me for reasons I’d prefer not to share for me, and I am incredibly thankful to be done with them permanently.)

Y’all, do your preventative screenings, even if it’s painful. I still did my well-woman exam at all the appropriate intervals, even though it was excruciating. It beats having cancer for sure!

— 5 —

Remote learning update #2. The little monster came up to me when his feed was done and said “school”. That’s progress, I guess?

— 6 —

Smoke. We’re getting smoke from all the fires in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not as bad today as it has been, but I’m not allowed to be outside for more than a few minutes without a respirator. I did a porch visit with family members on Saturday, and I won a few days of breathing treatments because I’m special like that. Woo. We’re supposed to get some thunderstorms today, and I’m hoping that the lightning doesn’t spark any fires.

— 7 —

Argh. I’m on the phone with Social Security currently (a necessary evil), and I have a dentist appointment today where they’ll likely be removing a tooth. Gotta love inhaler and ice-chewing damage!

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Late to Post Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Fatigue. My meds have been off this week, so I have been nauseated, having mood swings, and am achey all over. I haven’t had a fibro flare-up like this in a while, so it has been unpleasant to say the least.

— 2 —

Duolingo. I finished the Arabic skill tree on Duolingo a month or so ago, and I have been fighting to keep my streak going as I return to learning Spanish and reviewing French. I might have to start reviewing Arabic to get my language-learning mojo back so that I can really improve my Spanish. I have no idea why Arabic had me so gung-ho and Spanish doesn’t. Maybe it’s because Spanish is for work and not for me?

— 3 —

Zoom school. Circle time from 9:00-9:30 over Zoom is chaotic enough that I’ve had to bring other work to do downstairs with me and just make sure Daniel doesn’t run away from his school Chromebook. Otherwise, the chaos makes me ponder taking up rattlesnake-cuddling as a hobby. It’s also hard because Daniel is already apraxic and speaks super softly because I think he’s kind of shell-shocked at the intensity of circle time and all the kids talking.

— 4 —

What is working. One of the teachers got Daniel a BoomLearning account, and it has been wonderful. We can share screen on Zoom and work with his paraprofessional that way. He seems to like it, especially the math stuff, and I think it will work out really well for him as he doesn’t want to do workbook stuff.

— 5 —

Wildfires. The entire freaking West Coast is on fire. Smoke is hitting us in Washington, and I am banned by my family from going outside without a respirator on because of my crappy lungs. Woo. Just in case you’re denying climate change, IT’S WHAT IS CAUSING THESE FIRES TO BE SO BAD.

— 6 —

Election. Is anyone else wishing the election was over? Just me?

— 7 —

What is saving me. I’m re-reading all the Cackleberry Club mysteries by Laura Childs. I guess cozy murder mysteries are my catnip?

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

6 Quick Takes: Figuring Out School Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Argh. My wee bairn has a G-I appointment in Everett tomorrow at 8:30… which means we need to leave by 7:30 because of traffic, and that means that I need to be up at 6:15 to hook my wee bairn up for his morning feed. It’s not like I’m a massive insomniac or anything…

Oh yeah… pray REALLY hard that Daniel keeps his mask on and doesn’t touch every freaking surface before touching his face. *packs a 32 oz. bottle of Germ-X in my purse* (Why yes, I *DO* have some bottles that size. Being an alcohol gel nazi prepared me for this pandemic.)

— 2 —

School take #1. I’ve been having conversations with Daniel’s teachers for next year, and he’ll have Zoom groups a few times a day with other kids. My kid hates Zoom. Woooohoooooo!!!! He will have an hour a day of one-on-one time with one of the paraprofessionals, and she can thankfully break that up into chunks.

— 3 —

School take #2. Kids will only have direct learning on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This means that Wednesday is for indirect learning… and also for me to have as my main workday as I won’t be having to supervise Daniel’s Zoom sessions that day. I’m thankful that I don’t have to set my tutoring schedule for the fall for a few weeks.

— 4 —

School take #3. I picked up Daniel’s Chromebook yesterday. All students are getting one checked out to them for the year as we have no idea how long we’ll be doing remote learning (a.k.a. school at home). For me, this means that I won’t have to have him do school on my laptop. I also just ordered a wireless mouse and headphones off of Amazon for him.

— 5 —

School take #4. Because this is me, I’m flipping out about my kid having a meltdown at having to sit and do stuff on Zoom… forgetting that he’s going to be in a class of kids with autism who also probably don’t want to be on Zoom either, so he won’t be the only kid yelling that he’s “ALL DONE!!!!!!!!!!!”

— 6 —

Update to last week. The CZU Lightning Complex fire is a mile from Upper Campus of my alma mater. My Girl Scout camp and church camp both have fire damage, and part of my Girl Scout camp was used/is being used for staging by CalFire. So far, the redwood trees at Big Basin State Park are OK, but all the infrastructure took damage. (My dad has commented that this means some of the poison oak is hopefully gone.)

Because of the pandemic, the camps didn’t have any kids there, so evacuation needs were minimal. This is, I think, the only good news about this dumpster fire of a year.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Back to School with COVID-19 Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

First thing: COVID-19 is real. It is very much still a pandemic, and it is spiking everywhere including my county where July has been the worst month on record. There are also, apparently, six “types” of COVID, which explains why some people have a milder case than others.

You can deny all of this as much as you want, but doing so involves ignoring science and sticking your head in the sand. You also come off looking like an utter fool.

Neil Degrasse Tyson on science.

— 2 —

Second thing: SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO ARE MAKING CATTY COMMENTS ABOUT TEACHERS BEING LAZY BECAUSE SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY CHOOSING TO START BACK WITH DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FALL!!! None of the teachers I know are happy that it’s what is having to be done, and all of them miss their kids fiercely. These are already people who are being asked to teach a variety of kids while not being given the resources to do it adequately in addition to being asked to act as human shields in the event of a school shooting. None of them are paid nearly enough to also be put at risk of dying a miserable death from a virus we are still figuring out how to control. (The “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means that is is “new” and that we still know too little about it to control it well.)

— 3 —

I have known since around Memorial Day that it was a very slim chance of Daniel returning to in-person education this fall because of my family’s COVID-19 risk factor. My parents are elderly, my mom is being hit with some health challenges at the moment, and both Daniel and I have some pretty scary underlying health issues that put us at severe risk of complications if we were to contract the virus. My parents and I discussed it at length and tried coming up with some contingency plans in the event that Daniel did return to school with other kids, and there was no good solution. I have prepped everything this summer in what I call the “Schroedinger’s cat model” which was that Daniel was either going to be there in person or he was not going to be there in person, but we were going to plan for both eventualities to exist.

— 4 —

The local school district is offering some in-person options for kids who need it for reasons, but it will be remote learning for almost everybody this fall. What will that look like for Daniel? Hard to say. I will be contacting his new teacher either tomorrow or next week to see if we can have an IEP meeting via Zoom to talk about this. In fact, I predict a lot of IEP Zoom meetings will be happening in the district over this next month as teachers try to figure out how to adapt each student’s IEP goals to the remote education model.

— 5 —

The college where I work just had an all-college meeting today, and I was invited to attend as a staff member. The gist of it is that almost everything will be online for the third quarter in a row. There will probably be some students wetting their pants because they skipped Spring Quarter in hopes that the world would be normal by fall.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha… NO.

— 6 —

What does this mean for me? Well, I’ll have to explain to one of my students who is Internet-phobic that they will not see my beautiful face in person for the foreseeable future… and they will not be happy. (If I’m lucky, they won’t drunk-dial me again for reassurance, and I won’t have to have my kinda-sorta new boss put the fear of Jesus in them. Not that this happened during Spring Break…) My current boss will possibly have more one-on-one hours to give me than I can legally accept, and I might get lent out to the entire campus again or (God willing) embedded with my favorite instructor to teach people how to love Accounting.

— 7 —

The only thing I can predict about this fall is that things will probably stay unpredictable. Woo.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: No Politics Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

4th of July. It was a quiet 4th of July here in terms of family activity. My dad grilled hotdogs, and I got to see quite a few fireworks shows from my bedroom window… because various people on my cross-street and some of the other cul-de-sacs spent HUNDREDS of dollars on fireworks which they set off for probably 3 straight hours from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Our poor cats were curled up in my mom’s closet because it sounded like we were being shelled. (My town does allow fireworks between certain hours on the 4th of July, but a lot of other towns don’t.)

— 2 —

Back to Work. Summer Quarter started this week, and I’m getting to tutor for the first time ever during the summer because everything is online. I’ve met with all of my students at least once now, and the first-week stuff that always comes up is getting ironed out.

For those who are wondering, we aren’t going to know if we’ll be back on-campus for Fall Quarter until August. I’d prefer to stay online because the COVID risk is still high here, and my family is still locked down really tightly, so I wouldn’t be able to work on campus. I also know that our college president is risk-averse, so I can’t see him putting the student body in danger.

— 3 —

What leadership looks like. We have a new superintendent here in town and this was what his second day on the job looked like.

I think he’ll be great for the district if taking food, school work, and masks to migrant students is what he does on the second day he is in charge.

— 4 —

Bujo Instagram account. I have a new Instagram account for my bullet journal (bujo). I haven’t done a huge amount with it yet, but will try putting my spreads up before I fill them out. (I can’t show the filled-out ones because a few of them have student names in them, and I’m trying to keep everything FERPA-compliant.)

— 5 —

John Rutter. If you know the music of John Rutter (English choral composer) at all, you’ll appreciate this parody of his work called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rutter” by Pitchcraft. The best part: THEY’RE SINGING IT TO JOHN RUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!! (He loves it.)

— 6 —

/glares at Minion. I just went to go grab a couple of cartons of formula to feed the kid and prep tomorrow’s morning feed because doing it in the morning when I’m tired makes me want to cry. I get in the guest room (where we keep all the fun stuff) and notice a couple of cartons that had been on top of the boxes were on the floor. I picked them up and found them to be empty… WITH FANG MARKS IN THEM. My cat child had bitten them and they had leaked on the carpet.

I was not happy. Meanwhile, Mr. Black Paws is sprawled on the guest bed letting me know that he is magnificent and soft and cute. I told him that he is none of those things and is instead a VERY BAD CAT. (He is not sorry.)

— 7 —

Recommendation. If you are a bullet journal junkie, go check out Planning with Kay. She is delightful, features her house panther in her YouTube videos, and the community during her livestreams is amazing.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Making the Best of a Hard Situation Edition

7 Quick Takes

Word in Washington is that our stay-at-home order is being extended, and we will find out how much longer tomorrow. (It was supposed to end on May 4th, but we’re not nearly ready to reopen the state according to Governor Inslee and the doctors, scientists, and public health people he is trusting to advise him.) It’s not great, but this was about saving lives, not my own personal happiness and convenience.

I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being home with my crankypants child for six weeks while trying to work… and it has worked out. Here are some things I’ve learned.

— 1 —

I’ve learned that teachers deserve to be paid two to three times what they earn. I mean, I had mad respect for Daniel’s teachers before as well as my teacher friends who are severely underpaid. Then, I watched the reaction of teachers in the room at Daniel’s IEP meeting when the announcement came down that schools were closed for six weeks. I then watched Daniel’s teacher work her tail off to find class management software to fit each one of her kids when it was announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. When my kiddo had a problem dealing with learning over Zoom (because autism = routines and places MUST remain constant), his teacher just hung out and played tablet games with him until he was used to it. She puts together a YouTube video for her kiddos to watch on school mornings so they can do calendar time and News 2 You together. I’ve seen teachers at other schools post “We Miss You” signs in the windows for kids to see when they come to pick up food for the day or go for walks, and the bilingual immersion program teachers got together to make a massive collage of them spelling out a message of love to their students in English and Spanish. Others have masked up and gone to visit students in their homes to troubleshoot laptop issues.

I am definitely making a contribution to his current teacher’s classroom next year, even though Daniel will be at a different school. She loves her kids like her own, and I’ve seen others in the district here who are the same way.

— 2 —

I’ve learned how to find the last commercially-available cleaning wipes. Granted, I did see the writing on the wall and grab a good supply from Amazon before everything disappeared from grocery stores, but I’ve also managed to find them on big box store websites as recently as LAST WEEK. (I swear… I got the last canisters available for shipment from Target before even their generic ones started being routed only to hospitals.) It has become a game for me.

— 3 —

I’ve learned how to facilitate worship on Facebook Live and Zoom. Since it will likely be a while before my church is back worshipping together and my governor isn’t exempting churches from the stay-at-home order, it’s good that I can at least use my gifts and talents to serve my congregation. We’ve gotten better at getting everything together with a few hiccups here and there (because keeping people muted appropriately can be like herding cats at times), but we’re making it work.

A benefit of having worship online is that we are making it accessible for shut-ins. Even when we can all come back to worshipping in person, we at least have a way to also put it online that we didn’t have before. I have some amazing people working with me on this, and I definitely know this will be a good thing for me as I have been that shut-in person several times in the past.

— 4 —

I’ve learned ways to get my needs met. Want food from your favorite local restaurant? Look online to see if they are registered with a delivery service. (We have a really good local one called Munchie Dude.) Need a cloth mask? Put out a Facebook message letting people know your need and maybe someone you know is making them for income or will make one for free. (I just went to Etsy so that my church ladies could focus on making them for nursing home. When I found out about a parishioner selling them, I put out the word that she makes them.) Have a Starbucks addiction? See if there’s a local drive-thru one. (Yes, I have an addiction. Shut up!)

— 5 —

I’ve learned how to survive being stuck around people. My parents and I are all introverts, but my dad and I like to leave the house on occasion. Because we’re all high-risk, trips are limited to grocery shopping (once a week per person), Starbucks (an essential service-shut up!), medical needs (a.k.a. physical therapy when Zoom doesn’t cut it and the possible emergency dental one for me tomorrow), and stuff that can’t be ordered online. We generally just head to our rooms when we start getting peopled out (which works unless Daniel is feeling needy), and both Mom and Dad go for walks or work in the yard. (I’m sadly allergic to “outside” at the moment. Allergies during a pandemic suck.)

— 6 —

We’ve started eating as a family again. During olden times (a.k.a. before the pandemic), we ate together only on special occasions because we all have our own schedules and needs. These days, Mom or Dad make a “company” dish and we’ll have dinner at the table. I still eat different food from them frequently even though Lent is over and I can eat meat again (part of my diet is for health reasons), but I’ll bring whatever I’m eating to the table and we’ll still eat as a family. Daniel is even coming downstairs to be near us on occasion.

— 7 —

I’ve learned that I can do anything for six weeks. Life will not be “normal” again ever because we are in a new place due to coronavirus, but we’ll all (as in, all of humanity) adjust to a new “normal”. Yes, it’s going to be inconvenient for the people who benefitted from the less good parts of the old “normal”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We have an opportunity to create a better situation, and I’m all in.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.