Saturday, August 22, 2020

Adventures in distance learning, teleworking, and more

Okay. School started last week so we got in our first full week and a couple extra bonus days. It's different, but it's not nearly as bad as last year. In fact, both Syd and Averson's teachers are doing some really cool, innovative things and both girls seem to be doing well. They're also getting at least some social interactions in class which I think is great. Thankfully my fears were unfounded and both teachers are capping their Zooms to 90 minutes. I stayed home for a few days to get a rhythm established and what I found is that Syd is almost entirely self-sufficient, including independently arranging a daily study session with two friends via Messenger Kids. The little one, on the other hand, takes a bit more energy. She does okay at first, but her attention span is...less than ideal. It's hard for C to wrangle her while simultaneously in his own classes and it's hard for my mom or Eli to wrangle her because she is A LOT. So that one is a work in progress. So far what helps is a glass of ice water and a fidget while she's on Zooms, frequent breaks with classwork, and a lot of double-checking to keep her on task. I ordered her a wobble seat and a trifold to try to help with her Zoom time so we're going to try that next week. My mom suggested letting her do her computer time from a little pop-up tent so we might also try that a couple days a week. It's hard to be little and without a dedicated "classroom" I totally get why she's struggling. But she's not frustrated and she's getting the work done eventually so I think it's more a matter of fine-tuning our approach. I'm still committed to making distance learning our bitch. 
First day of school pictures (2020 style)

Eli's independent study program got overwhelmed with students so he's starting a lot more slowly than the girls. I suspect he's in for a rude awakening when his classes actually start. It's still better than 6 separate Zooms every day though. 

Nothing makes you more cognizant of the clutter in your house than seeing the background of your kid's teleconference. Their accounts don't allow for virtual backgrounds and I'm legit considering buying a backdrop. I've also learned a lot about her classmates. Also also, on the first day one of her classmates put the webcam down his pants to show his underwear and she was SCANDALIZED. 
C worked on campus while I was home. He facetimed me one afternoon to show Averson that he had saved a bird that flew into a window at school. It took a lot of restraint for him not to bring it home and instead to tuck it safely into a bush to recover. 

I took a few days to telework while the kids got started, but also to see what that would look like if I was home more. It looks like this. Perched on a kitchen stool with multiple laptops, ready to kick dogs in or out of the house depending on where they're barking, with the biggest coffee mug that I own. I'm still going to try to stay home at least one day a week but wow, that's a lot of work to simultaneously proctor distance learning and work your own job at the same time. 

In other news: The girls are ALL IN with the baking lately. I love it, but OMG they make a ton of messes and I can literally feel my ass spread by the day. I finally told Syd that she needed to branch out before she gave me diabetes. So tonight we're having fried pickles. SMH. 

Teenagers are weird. He spent HOURS setting up an underwater photo shoot. I still haven't seen the final product but for his sake I hope it was worth it. He went to school to pick up text books the other day and he came home practically manic from seeing other kids. We haven't found any of his friends who have the same level of quarantine as we do so the poor kid has been more isolated than the rest of us and I think he's getting a bit desperate. 

C is replacing our death trap of a deck! It's so pretty and safe now! It's moving a bit more slowly than usual though because just as he got started, we got hit with a heat wave with multiple days of over 110. In case you're not familiar, that's real fucking hot and real, real miserable. Last weekend it was 85 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. 

Traffic heading south on I-80 to escape the wildfires slows to a crawl at Vacaville on Wednesday. The fire jumped the freeway and advanced to Fairfield.
This is a picture from the news of the highway I take to get to work. I am SO grateful that I avoided this. So many of our staff got evacuated or lost their homes. 

AND THEN, California caught fire. On Wednesday we nearly had to evacuate the prison because the fires got so close. I was lucky to leave on time because shortly after, the fire jumped the freeway and shut it down in both directions. I felt safe in the prison (concrete doesn't burn) but I definitely didn't want to be stuck there. The fire has moved away from the prison now, but the air quality is so bad. Like, thank goodness we all have a plethora of masks bad. On Thursday I just wore my regular cloth mask and by the end of the day I had a migraine and went to bed at 7:00, completely exhausted. Friday I wore a surgical mask all day and felt so much better. So now the deck project is stalled since we can't breathe outside. Hopefully the smoke clears out and the fires die down soon. 2020 has been such a clusterfuck that I don't even say "What's next?" anymore. I figure if the sea of blood comes we've got enough floaties. And TikTok cloud bread courtesy of Syd's bakery. 



  1. Glad you are currently safe from fire.

    Make distance learning my bitch is my motto for the rest of the year, so thank you!

  2. I too am so glad you're safe. We start school this week and it's a hybrid method. I'm extremely nervous about it but what can I do?! I'll manage. :)