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.

How Not to Be an Obnoxious Twit About Homeschooling

We got word today that schools in Washington will remain closed for the rest of the year. Kids who need it will still get food (which is good because we have a lot of kids of migrant workers here), and instruction will be taking place online. Schools are checking out Chromebooks for their students to use, and teachers have had to figure out how to put the rest of their curriculum for the year online.

This is what you homeschooling parents can do that will be incredibly helpful for people like me:

KEEP YOUR MOUTHS TIGHTLY SHUT ABOUT HOW MUCH YOU *LOVE* HOMESCHOOLING YOUR KIDS UNLESS WE ASK FOR YOUR OPINION OR YOUR HELP.

Seriously, if we wanted to homeschool our kids, WE WOULD ALREADY BE DOING IT.

Our kids’ teachers are better resources than you because they actually *KNOW* our kids, know their learning styles, know their deficient areas, and (in Daniel’s case) have special degrees and certifications in working with kids like ours. ALL OF THEM are being extra brilliant and supporting parents like me in ways that we need that you are not qualified (nor wanted) to do. Failing that, I have other friends who have done an amazing job homeschooling their own kids that I will ask for help if I need it.

Talking about how wonderful homeschooling is to parents like me who are in their own personal version of hell will get you verbally ripped apart. I have an autistic kid who would go to his brick-and-mortar school seven days a week if he could–I’m having to try and work with him in a context that is utterly wrong to him. It is hell on earth, and you aren’t helping me. In fact, you are making me want to kill you.

Many of us are also balancing our own outside-the-home jobs over conference calls at the moment, and having to teach our children is ONE MORE THING on top of a workload that does not lend itself well to being done from home. Some of us, like me, also find leaving our physical houses to work to be something mentally healthy, and hearing about how wonderful it is to work from home will make us stabby.

By all means, please continue to blog about what you are doing with your kids. Just please knock it off with the posts about how parents in my situation will come to love homeschooling and “this is how you can keep doing it!”

Got it?

Gratitude in the Midst of COVID-19 (II)

I didn’t post anything yesterday because I was dead exhausted. I slept a chunk of today as well. I’m trying to be gentle to my body, so I took my last chance to take naps for a while.

Here are some more things for which I am thankful.

  • For the opportunity to be part of live streaming worship for my congregation on Sunday. Yes, we were sideways for part of it and upside down for others, but we still got it together!
  • For Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (and Royal Wedding homilist!), who is posting a meditation every Monday on his official Facebook page while we are in the midst of COVID-19. The first one is here.
  • For my black beastling who snuggled and napped with me today. Mama loves you, baby.
  • That, in the midst of restaurants and bars being closed for everything except take-out or delivery, I can still mobile-order my latté from $tarbux every morning before 9:30 and have it brought to my car.
  • For getting to start physical therapy tomorrow so that we can get me walking normally again.
  • That Daniel got one more day of school today before he is off for six or more weeks. He is going to miss his teachers, aides, and specialists and they will miss him. (They love their kids like their own.)
  • For Pure Leaf Raspberry Tea fresh out of the freezer. (I like drinks chilled, and this chills it relatively quickly.
  • For YouTube and the amazing things one can find on it.
  • For discovering that I can set an image as a virtual background on Zoom. I have a meeting inside the Great Hall of Hogwarts tomorrow!

COVID-19, You Suck

I had just sat down at Daniel’s IEP meeting when Governor Inslee announced that all K-12 schools in Washington would be closing for the next six or more weeks, effective March 17th. The teachers and specialists present were feeling sick over it because they love their kids something fierce. They’re feeling sick over it because parents like me are being put in really difficult positions where our jobs could be on the line because being stay-at-home parents and homeschooling our kids is not a luxury we have. (I’m a single mom. I *HAVE* to work. I’m waiting to find out if I can work with students remotely until Daniel can go back to school.) They’re feeling sick over it because they know the kids are going to have a hell of a time dealing with school, the one place some of them feel joy, is being taken away from them.

I honestly feel myself like everything that brings me joy is being systematically taken away. My church is functionally shut down for the next two weeks at least. (I’ll be there Sunday only because I’m part of the effort to live stream worship, but there are only going to be 5 of us present and we’re basically going to record stuff and then vacate the premises.) Daniel’s teacher, aides, and specialists are part of my support network with him, and now I’m losing them for six weeks. My degree program, which transitioned into a job for me, was 75% of what got me through my divorce, and now I’m uncertain about how much of a job I’m going to have come April 5th.

I’m honestly pretty angry with the world right now, and it seems like Satan is rubbing salt in my wounds by throwing tone-deaf remarks from homeschooling parents in my path about how interesting it is that everyone is going to be homeschooling now, how we’ll never stop once we start, how we withdraw our kids from their public schools, and/or how we give notice that we’re going to homeschool them. They all seem to be from the people who are the absolute last people I would seek out for advice on the subject, especially because they managed to raise some screwed-up, sociopathic, and/or barely literate kids. All the people I would seek out for advice have been classy enough to trust that I’ll seek them out if/when I need their help. (I have a large number of behaviorists and special education teachers in my friend group.)

Comments are disabled on this post because this is me venting my spleen and none of this is up for discussion.

7 Quick Takes: Long Time, No Write Edition

7 Quick Takes

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Just a head’s up that there may/may not be Amazon affiliate links in this post because I am an Amazon affiliate.

Good news regarding the kid. We saw Daniel’s actual G-I specialist instead of just her PA this week for the first time in 18 months, and she was giddy to see him with actual weight on him. Kiddo was 59.96 lbs at weigh-in (we’re going to say 60 lbs because 0.04 lbs is basically the difference of a cup of milk), and he is now 4’7.5″ tall. I’m 5’1″, so kiddo needs to knock it off with getting taller!

— 2 —

Cleanse this weekend. His G-I specialist did feel a bowel blockage, so we “get” to do a cleanse this weekend in the form of senna and lots of Miralax dissolved into apple juice. I’m giddy… NOT.

— 3 —

A song I have had in my head lately. I’m working on my church’s Lenten devotional book and the name is “Agape”, so the following has been stuck in my head.

— 4 —

Update on the perimenopausal dysphoria. I saw my doctor about it a little over 2 weeks ago, and she put me (the girl who can’t get pregnant except involving an angel and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit along with miraculously regrowing three organs) on birth control because she had never had a patient go into menopause this early and the thing she’d give me for the dysphoria is already a medication I take. It seems to be helping… when I’m not hitting grief wells inside of me because of my writing subjects for the Lenten devotional book and my students aren’t triggering PTSD-related panic attacks. (Yeah, that day was a freaking joy. My therapist had never seen me cry before my appointment that next day.)

— 5 —

Slacker mom Valentines. Are your kids in school for the first time and having to do Valentines for their class? Here’s the slacker mom way: address labels + a template from Avery.Com + appropriate fruit snacks = Valentines for everyone in 10-15 minutes. You’re welcome.

Slacker mom Valentines

— 6 —

Early morning panther selfies. Now that I’m usually up early and praying, I tend to acquire a needy panther who thinks it should be a “stay home and snuggle your panther” day. (He got one today because my morning student canceled.) This leads to some interesting selfies where my eyes aren’t fully open yet.

Early morning panther selfies.

— 7 —

Gifts from my grandfather. My grandpa sends me rainbows from heaven when I really need to know everything will be OK. This week has been no exception.

Rainbows from my grandpa.

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

7 Quick Takes: OMG I’m Hosting!!!!!!! Edition

7 Quick Takes

Our intrepid hostess Kelly of This Ain’t The Lyceum has her hands a bit full, so she asked if I could host this week. My response: SURE!

So, who exactly am I? Well…

— 1 —

I’m a blogger. This July will mark 20 years of blogging. All but maybe 2-3 months of archives are here if you ever get bored one night and want to read them. Warning: I get a little verbose on occasion.

— 2 —

I am the mama of a special kiddo. My son is Daniel and he has a genetic abnormality called 22q duplication (in addition to others) that manifests in autism, ADHD, developmental delays, mild/moderate hearing loss, and a few other things.

I am also the servant of a magnificent panther named Minion.

— 3 —

I am a $tarbux junkie. My local $tarbux baristas know me so well that they start making my drink when I walk in the door if I haven’t mobile-ordered it already and me changing my milk preference is causing a great deal of shock. (They’ve re-made it a few times with apologies and expressed shock that it was supposed to be the way it was mobile-ordered.)

— 4 —

I am a tutor. I currently tutor all the Accounting and OBT classes at Skagit Valley College. I joke that my job is to teach people how not to crash their Microsoft applications and how to love Accounting. (I was sitting next to my priest at coffee hour one time when I said that, and he made the Sign of the Cross on me before saying, “bless you, child.”)

— 5 —

I am a proud Episcopalian. I sing in my church‘s choir, serve as a lector, help with the Facebook and web presences, serve on the Finance Committee, and edit the Advent and Lenten devotional books.

— 6 —

I am a 49’ers fan. I root for the SeaChickens when they aren’t playing the Niners, but I am OVERJOYED that they shredded the Packers and are headed to the Super Bowl.

— 7 —

I am a Giants fan. I gleefully root against the LA Dodgers Losers whenever possible.

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7 Quick Takes: I Love the Pacific Northwest Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Bucolic joy. On Sunday morning, it was raining but the sun came out around noon. I was on my way to Trader Joe’s in Bellingham and was driving down the hill on Broad Street to get to I-5 North when I saw the most stunning sight. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and I was high up enough to see a stretch of the Skagit River with the sunlight shimmering on the water. It filled me with awe and joy to see it. I love the Pacific Northwest.

— 2 —

First snow. We got our first snow of the year here in Mount Vernon last night and this morning. 95% of it is melted off now (just before noon), but it looked like a giant hand had sifted powdered sugar on everything this summer. It was also nice and wet snow, which was great as it made it SOOOOOO much easier to clean off my car this morning.

— 3 —

Joy from today. In the interest of keeping my intention on making time for prayer daily (other than saying grace), I’ve made sure that I have various things at my fingertips like the prayerbook from the nice folks at Sacred Space, the Trisagion, and the podcasts from the Pray As You Go folks, so that has been helpful. Today’s Pray As You Go meditation was on Luke 5:12-16, which I know better in the Gospel of Mark. It’s the story where a leper tells Jesus that he can heal the leper if he chooses, and Jesus says “I choose to.” It is one of my favorites because Jesus looks on the leper with compassion when he tells the leper that he chooses to heal him. The reflection was interesting as it was talking about whether or not we choose to let Jesus in to heal us and what we ask to be healed.

— 4 —

The Iran situation. I go to church with a couple who taught English in Iran prior to the 1979 Revolution, so the news lately has been distressing me. I’ve seen the country through their eyes, and what I’m seeing is that we just assassinated a general in another country’s military. That is a war crime. I’m angrily stunned at what has taken place.

— 5 —

The cast of MASH on this situation. This describes my feelings well.

The best explanation of my take on the impending hostilities.

— 6 —

Daniel. We’ve had a couple good days with Daniel that are like what we had prior to the beginning of 2018 when his behavior started declining, he gradually stopped eating, and we think the bowel blockage was continuing. It’s always nice to get a brief glimpse of gaining back lost ground.

— 7 —

Our anthem for Sunday. We sing this during Epiphany every year at my church and I thought I would share. The words are from a hymn sung during Lauds at the feast of the Transfiguration, and the translation is:

O Light born of Light,
Jesus, redeemer of the world,
with loving-kindness deign to receive
suppliant praise and prayer.

Thou who once deigned to be clothed in flesh
for the sake of the lost,
grant us to be members
of thy blessed body. (Source)

The recording of the hymn is here.

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