Homeschool days 10 and 11

Yesterday was crazy, so I didn’t post. Steven started distance learning and I started working from home after putting on one of my homemade masks and leaving the house for the first time in 2 weeks to take the bus to work and get some on-site training and pick up my computer and take a taxi back home… we were all busy and I was so anxious about going out and setting everything up at home was hectic… But today everything calmed down, and hopefully it will be the start of a new routine.

The buses have been split in two and back boarding for free for weeks, but this time when I went on there were signs saying no more than 15 passengers allowed and stopping people from sitting beside each other… and still someone thought it was ok to stand directly behind me at the door when we were waiting to get off the bus!

Steven’s teachers are providing weekly work for Language Arts, Math, French and Music so far (yesterday it was just the first two, but the others were added this afternoon). Each subject is broken down to do a bit every day, but Steven has decided he wants to stick to the homeschool schedule we had already established. So yesterday he did as much of the assigned language work for the week as he could, and then today he studied the next part of the body (the digestive system on Kids Health) and did the rest of the language work.

Steven’s teachers are using Google Classroom to communicate, and Steven has really been enjoying being able to talk to his school friends again in the chat room there. Their first assignment was to write about what they have been doing since school ended. They were supposed to write a paragraph and maybe add a picture or two, I’m pretty sure Steven wrote a few pages. But he was really excited to tell everyone about our adventures in the last few weeks.

This morning, it was really nice outside, so Steven wanted to do PhysEd outside. He probably also didn’t want to clean up the mess in the living room, but he said it was because of the weather anyways. So found a recording of the beep test. Our yard is nowhere near 20 meters, but he’s younger than the kids that normally do this test, and I didn’t want to make it too hard on him anyways.

I gave him some chalk and told him that if he ran really fast to the other side, he could draw on the fence until the next beep. It ended up being a pretty fun activity for him. There was some laughter anyways, as his drawings were repeatedly interrupted and he tried to rush to the other side in time to continue.

I mostly work in the afternoons, and I’m hoping that will continue to be my schedule so that I can do PhysEd and French with Steven in the mornings and then get him set up with the day’s work before I have to start working myself.

Working from home is eerily quiet. Everyone has been doing a great job keeping quiet while I’m working, but I’m used to being in a call centre surrounded by people. I’ve often complained about the noise, but now I miss it. Especially when there’s time between calls, and I can’t just turn to my neighbour and start a conversation. But I often knit when I’m on the phone, and I realized today that I am no longer limited to small, portable projects at work. I could totally make a sweater or something, because I don’t have to take it with me to and from work and keep it out of my coworkers’ space. I have a whole room! So that’s exciting.

My posts might become less frequent now that I’m working again because that’s taking up 9 hours of my day, but I’m going to keep updating when I can.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

End of week 2 in isolation

I need to go to work tomorrow. That is kind of terrifying. But it’s just one more day. I need to get on the bus, go to work, get my work at home training and take a taxi home with my work at home equipment, hopefully without coming in contact with too many people. And then hopefully we can all be home and safe until this is all over.

But, I saw some statistics on Facebook the other day that showed the effect all of this self-isolating is having on the flu. It’s way down compared to this time last year. The hope is that if this is working on the flu, it’s also working on Covid-19. But it’s too early to tell. The flu has a really short incubation period, so the data comes available quicker.

Today, I finished sewing the masks I was making. I had posted them on facebook and Grandma asked for some, so I just made a whole bunch. I don’t know who will use them now, but maybe they’ll seem less silly later. I had to sew them now because my sewing table needs to be turned into a work from home computer desk. So that’s done. And now I just have to run my new 100 foot ethernet cable through the whole house to our spare room that will be an office for the foreseeable future.

Homemade masks. They don’t have ties because I ran out, but Liam’s sister said she could add some elastic for me before giving them to whoever wants them.

Once I was done that, Steven and I made homemade pizza pockets. We use this recipe for the dough, and then roll it out and use a dumpling mold to make the hot pockets. I forgot how quickly they get eaten! I thought we had made enough to freeze some, but all 3 trays will be gone in the next couple days I’m sure.

Hope everyone had an awesome weekend. This week will be interesting for us. Steven’s teacher is starting to send assignments online, I’m starting to work from home… we’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

Stay safe!
~Lauren

End of Week 1 in Isolation

Honestly, other than the constant feeling of impending doom, isolation isn’t really abnormal for us. It’s been nice to be home, not going to work and spending time with my family, and I don’t really miss going out because we honestly don’t really go out. We have missed dinners with family and our monthly DnD game, and Steven asked today when he would be able to have his cousin over for a playdate, but those are all things we’re working on being able to do while social distancing.

Errands have been a little more complicated, but we’re lucky to have family members (in this case Liam’s awesome sister) to help us out with our weekly grocery trip.

Groceries! Don’t mind the super dirty storm door… that someone apparently drew on…

We normally do a big grocery trip a couple of times a month and I’ll often grab a few other things on my way to/from work. But we’ve been trying to only send someone for groceries once a week and get everything we will need for a week or more. It means fewer points of contact for us, as well as for the people helping us and for the people who still need to work so we can get food.

We’ve got a system for unpacking groceries now too. Basically, Steven keeps his hands clean and runs around opening doors for us and helping remove things from boxes that we’ve opened to avoid contamination… and then we still disinfect everything we can and wash our hands even more than we already were for the first couple days after those groceries come into the house.

Found this after I posted the other memes on Friday and had to share.

I’ve really been trying to focus on the here and now because if I start trying to think even about the next few weeks I kind of drown in the uncertainty. I’ve never dealt well with uncertainty, and there’s a lot of it going around these days. I called my work a few days ago to arrange an unpaid leave of absence since I used up all my vacation days last week and I was planning on staying home for at least another week. It turns out they are working on having people work from home, which I had been told before I left was highly unlikely. So I applied to work from home and am waiting to hear back.

I’m so grateful that I will (hopefully) be able to work from home, but now I’m in this weird limbo that’s giving me some (additional) anxiety. I was expecting to be off for at least 2 weeks, we planned for it financially, and I was honestly looking forward to a second week off. But now I don’t know when I’m going back to work. I don’t know when I’m going to hear back, or how long from then it will take to get set up at home, or when I’ll actually be expected to start again. And, as it often does, it took me most of a day to process those emotions and that anxiety and form it into words, and in that time I was maybe a little grumpy and less fun to be around.

I’m pretty sure my family is used to me having days like that by now, but I always feel bad when it happens. Especially when it’s a day that I’m home. It feels like wasted time, wasted potential. I can’t help thinking of all the things I could have been doing if I hadn’t been in a funk. And it’s not like I didn’t accomplish a lot on Friday, it’s just that I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be, I didn’t connect with the people around me as much as I wanted to.

So I tried to push that out of my mind and enjoy this weekend. Steven and I coloured some pokemon pictures I had printed. He says we should do that more often because “it’s a good bonding activity”… he doesn’t yet understand why I’m laughing at that, but he’s not wrong. I feel like we might be doing more of this in the future.

Steven and I also spent quite a few hours cleaning his room. It’s his Saturday chore, but his room was such a mess that he didn’t know where to start cleaning on his own. Hopefully, now that it’s clean again he’ll be able to maintain it himself for a while.

Steven’s collection of collectables, some of which were lost in the depths of his messy room until today.

Oh, and Steven cooked toad in the hole for brunch today. Actually, yesterday he also helped make the English muffin loaf he wanted to use for eggs today. He’s decided he’s going to cook something every Sunday. I think his plan is to get back to the basics because he’s a little out of practice. We just haven’t had time to cook together as we used to the past year or so, but we will have time for the foreseeable future.

Steven cooking toad in the hole, with homemade english muffin loaf.

Hope you had a great weekend and are staying safe!
~Lauren

Homeschool day 5 and Covid Craziness

Covid-19 related news got a little weird today. Weird like “wtf?”, not like funny weird. Canada made it illegal not to isolate if you’re coming home from outside the country. It’s about time, really. I don’t know how people didn’t understand that isolating meant not going to get groceries before going home. But the weird part is people faking covid-19. I’ve seen an article about someone giving a fake doctors note saying they had covid-19 in order to get away with staying home from their job at McDonalds, forcing all the people who worked with them to isolate and the business to close and deep clean everything. I saw another article about a “prank” in which someone went into a grocery store and coughed and spit all over everything and loudly claimed they had covid-19, causing that business to close for cleaning and discard tens of thousands of dollars worth of product. If I remember correctly, that person got charged. But seriously… what is wrong with people?

Meanwhile, Trump is saying everything will be back to normal in the U.S. by Easter. That’s like 2 weeks away. And last I checked, they had the most covid-19 cases of anywhere in the world. If they keep putting the economy ahead of the people, there will be no economy because there will be no people. Oh, and they’re trying to put more troops on the border… like any Canadian wants to sneak into the States right now…

I do love all the memes, though…

Anyways… homeschooling… we made Fridays pretty laid back on purpose. We did our daily yoga and French and then had a discussion for Health about what might motivate someone to work out, or what might make them not want to work out. In preparation for this, I googled some stuff and jotted down like 5 things I wanted to make sure to mention. But mostly we put some ideas out there and let Steven carry most of the discussion. This might not work with some kids, but once you get Steven talking it’s hard to get him to stop!

Then we started our Art project, which is building the bird for the bird project we started in Language Arts on Monday.

We started with Crayola Model Magic (thank you, Staples, for offering free shipping during this time), using some copper wire for support. I had never used it before. It’s weirdly foamy and squishy, kind of like kinetic sand, and you can store it in an airtight container to keep playing with it, but it supposedly dries hard in 3 days. I’m interested to see how easy it is to paint and to glue things to.

Then Steven spent the rest of the day working on his Dungeons and Dragons campaign and finishing the writing part of the bird assignment. That reminds me, I should add “make a DnD character” to my weekend to do list, since we’re playing Monday! Steven’s one-shots are always fun.

Have a great weekend, and stay safe!
~Lauren

Making the decision to Self-isolate and to Homeschool

I don’t know if anyone is going to read this. It might just be a journal and reference for me, and that’s ok. But if you are here, thanks for reading! Say hi, share information, ask questions! I’m just figuring this out too, but we can figure it out together.

Our little family, day 1 of self-imposed isolation, March 22, 2020.

We decided to start homeschooling on our first day of self-isolation. Isolation was something we had discussed repeatedly but were on the fence about for a while.

Our son Steven had been off school since March 14 because of March Break. And this had been extended, but they hadn’t yet announced that they wouldn’t be going back to school at all. My husband Liam would be a high-risk case if he got Covid-19. He has an artificial heart valve, which causes him to be on blood thinners, which cause him to have high blood pressure, and he also has had a stroke and already has lung damage. So we had already been glued to the TV and Google every day, watching this thing progress. I was glad that Steven and Liam were home, but I was still going to work, relying on the bus to get there, and people just were not social distancing, which made me increasingly worried about possibly bringing Covid-19 home to them. But until recently there were no local cases, so we thought it was relatively safe.

On March 19th, I was on the bus on my way to work after having just heard about the first Covid-19 related death in Ontario, which happened to also be in the city we live in, and the mounting numbers of cases. My brain is very good at imagining just how bad everything could get, and sitting on the bus trying to avoid touching anyone or anything I had nothing to do but think. Think about all the people who probably touched all the surfaces around me, about all the people I had talked to at work – both coworkers and customers – who were not taking this seriously and therefore endangering my family, about just how bad it could get if my husband got it… I got off the bus a stop early and walked the rest of the way to work. I had caused myself to have the biggest panic attack I’d had in a while. I was shaking, I felt like I was going to cry, my chest was heavy (which is a great thought to have when you’re freaking out about Covid-19). I avoided eye contact and stopped at every hand sanitizer station as I navigated my way around the call centre I work at. Open the door, hand sanitizer, open the next door, hand sanitizer, find the path with the least people to get to the lunchroom, hand sanitizer, put stuff in my locker, hand sanitizer, leave the lunchroom, hand sanitizer…

I finally got to my desk. I grabbed a bunch of disinfectant wipes and wiped everything down, even though I knew no one else had been sitting there – we had switched to assigned seating because of the virus. I did breathing exercises as I scrolled through my e-mail and read the day’s updates. I took my first call a couple of minutes early, as soon as I felt I could talk without crying, knowing that focusing on someone else’s problems would help.

In between calls and on my breaks, I started writing an e-mail to my manager explaining my family’s situation and how I didn’t believe it was safe for me to work anymore. I put my vacation days towards a week off and hoped we’d get enough from taxes to cover another week or two.

But eventually, I will have to go back. Which scares me. But with all non-essentials being closed now, hopefully, there will be fewer people on the bus. And hopefully, everyone who can work from home at the call centre will be working from home by then, and those that are left at work will be more conscious about distancing. Hopefully.

Anyways. We finally decided to self-isolate. I figured it out with work. We went to H&R block and got our tax return on March 21st, went to the bank for laundry money, picked up our prescriptions and then went home to instacart (that’s a referral link if you want it 😉 ) our groceries in. Then we unpacked everything, disinfected what we could, washed our hands so many times they hurt and tried to relax, but I think we had already gotten our anxiety up for the day.

The next day, we finally relaxed somewhat. We had a lazy morning, hung out together, watched a movie. But at some point, we started talking about school. Were the schools going to open again? Would it be safe to go back if they did? We decided that either way, he would not go back… but then what? Should he finish the year at home? What would homeschooling look like to us? Where would we start?

I had found a link to a list of Ontario Curriculum Checklists for grades 1-8 a few days earlier. Someone had shared it on Facebook, and I shared it as well, thinking it might help me or someone else in the future, but not really knowing what we were doing yet at the time. I printed off the 5th-grade list, and we all sat down and went over it, item by item. We asked Steven if they had covered each thing in school, and if he said “yes” we asked him a few questions to make sure he actually had the knowledge. Then we discussed how we would fit schooling into the day. Steven immediately said he wanted a schedule, similar to school. So that was settled pretty quickly. But we needed to figure out what that schedule looked like. We decided PhysEd and French should be practised every day, which left 6 other subjects to be covered. We put the bigger subjects Monday to Thursday and then decided we could do both Health and Art on Fridays, and possibly have time left for Steven to finish anything else he hadn’t finished earlier in the week.

The homeschool schedule we came up with. Seems to be working so far.

Honestly, we’re only a few days in, but having a schedule has helped in so many ways. It keeps our school work on track, but it also has prevented the usual arguments that arise daily from repeatedly asking Steven to do his chores. He looks at the schedule in the morning, he knows what he needs to do, and after dinner when one of us thinks to ask if he did his chores the answer is “yes… oh” as he gets up because he did his chores but still needs to wash his dinner dishes.

Then Liam and I discussed how we were going to split the workload. There were obvious topics that we each excelled at, and we each already had ideas of how to go about certain things on the curriculum. We’re not strictly splitting the classes, we’ll trade-off for some parts of each subject. When I go back to work, if I’m still on the same schedule I have been on, this schedule will still likely work. On days that I teach, I’ll be able to set up a project in the morning and plan for him to work on it solo in the afternoon with Liam there to help if needed.

Stay safe out there!
~Lauren