Meditation Monday #60 – Making Choices During COVID-19

Last week we had to decide if we were sending our kids back to school for the first 9 weeks or keeping them home. It was a big decision and took a lot of time to make. I had to reach deep into my heart and separate panic from reason. We discussed it in length, the pros and the cons of both options. Then, we laid out the facts to the boys. They’re 9 and 7 and have a good understanding of what’s going on. We told them their choices were to:

  1. Go back to school for a week and two weeks at home in rotation for 9 weeks
  2. Stay at home for 9 weeks continuing school online

We explained that Option 1 included wearing a mask all day at school, keeping 6 feet apart from teachers and other students, that only one kid could do a “work” at a time (Montessori lingo), washing hands and cleaning items would happen regularly, there would be lots of hand sanitizing, and I wasn’t sure that “Specials” would be happening. They also would not know who would be in their class that day as only 1/3 of the class could be there at a time and we don’t know who was opting into what. Then, they would be home doing online work the other two weeks and then go back to repeat the cycle.

We told them that the pluses to this would be that they could do hands on Montessori works again, they’d get to see their teachers and some of their friends, and they’d get out of the house.

We explained that Option 2 would be like it was in the spring. They would have the same schedule they’d had then, but they’d not go to the school at all. We also explained that with the fully online we could continue to have socially distant play dates at the beach with other families that chose that same option.

This is something we’ve been doing for a few weeks early in the morning before crowds arrive at the beach. We go for 2 hours and let the kids run in and out of the water and we stay a good distance from our friends. I have felt “okay” about doing this because we’re not in anyone else’s house and we’ve all been doing the same amount of social distancing this entire time. We all have the same values and the same fears. We’re all following the guidelines set by our Governor and we’re not being cavalier.

Not surprisingly to me, the boys chose Option 2. My kids miss being in school and they miss their friends and Montessori learning. However, they know the importance of fighting the good fight. They also hate wearing masks and didn’t feel they could do it for 7 hours a day, 5 days in a row. They also liked the idea of consistency. They don’t have to figure out if they’re going to school or staying home. It’s going to be a (now) familiar routine.

We will not home school our kids forever; it’s not what they or we want. I want them to get back to their school, when it’s safer to do so, when the numbers in our state are not climbing. Until then, they’re doing their part to help flatten the curve by staying home.

Now…..I have to figure out what to do about my work as a college lecturer.

How are you feeling about school?

What big decisions are you making during this pandemic?

 

TOLT #85 A Summer of ?

Today was supposed to be my kids’ last day of school. In two hours from now I was supposed to be picking them up and headed to the park for our annual picnic and popsicles end of year celebration. There should be water balloons and bubbles and the chaos of a bunch of kids running wild in an open space. There should be parents standing around trying to manage, talking about summer plans….vacations, camps, etc. There should be kids running up and asking for one more popsicle, searching for more bubbles and water balloons, begging for sleepovers tonight because….there’s no school tomorrow.

Instead my kids are downstairs playing LIFE. They didn’t have any school work this week. My oldest did his bridging ceremony (very unceremoniously) on Monday. And tomorrow morning we go by the school to pick-up what was left behind almost three months ago….while staying in our car and wearing masks.

Summer break feels different.

I have been tentative this whole time about who we were exposed to. My kids have only been in one building other than our home in the last three months….it was to pick out birthday donuts at Wake N Bake and they wore masks and we were the only customers in the shop. We haven’t done a lot with friends. We haven’t been to the beach once in 2020.

Next week we are going to try the beach….early in the morning (7-9am)…..and see how it feels. This summer won’t be as full of play dates as usual. We won’t be at the pool as much, the beach as much, the parks as much. We probably won’t be inviting people over every week for dinner. There won’t be trivia nites and concert nights and ice cream stops as often as possible. We won’t be at the library or the museums. We will be home, for the most part, as we have been for the past three months.

In August we will face the challenge of returning to school….maybe.

I wonder what we will be like then.

What are your plans for the summer?

How have you handled the end of the school year?

 

Race Report – My First Virtual Run

I never did post anything last fall about the 15k that I struggled through and finished. It was uneventful and disappointing in so many ways that I guess it’s why I never posted. Then, I moved straight into training for my half marathon that was going to happen in April…..but Coronavirus happened instead. So, I shifted gears again…..I started training with my 9yo for his 1 mile run for his school. This is the race that I have been on the race committee for for the past 3 years and helped with over all 4 years we’ve been at the school. It too was supposed to be in April…. Continue reading “Race Report – My First Virtual Run”

I love reading Ilana’s book lists. I have found some of my kids’ favorite books from her lists. This one in particular made me think that maybe my kids don’t read enough different authors or types of books. They sometimes have difficulty connecting to stories about kids that are different from them. This is probably a fault of my own doing. I tend to look for books featuring boys (except for our most recent books: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and The Secret Garden). I want to expand our list of titles on our next library trip!

 

The stories on the news right now are horrifying and make racism in this country seem insurmountable. But we must consider that by not acknowledging the existence of racism with our kids, including all the smaller examples that do not make the news, we are contributing to the problem. This week, Harlow and I read…

via Fill Your Kids’ Shelves with Books About Black Experiences — Mommy Shorts

Fave Reads Friday #20 – Fill Your Kids’ Shelves with Books About Black Experiences — Mommy Shorts

TOLT #84 and Throwback Thursday: Headed Toward 40

Six years ago I wrote a post called First Steps in which I was musing about waiting for my baby to start walking and about how hard it was for me to get started back to exercise:

First, I am no longer 23 or 29 or even 32. Last year when I started back running after a cool winter break I was able to just jump right into it and take off with a rather nice 9:30/mile pace. That dropped off as I got pregnant, but I was still happily walking almost 5 miles a day at about 13:30-14:00 mile paces until E got here. Today I ran 1.07 miles at a pace of 10:56/mile. Age has a lot to do with the slowing down. It effects your metabolism as well as your muscle building capacity. Getting old kind of stinks, but I’m not “old” yet, because my kids aren’t old enough to tell me I am. So, for the time being, I will just remember that getting back into shape takes time.

In 3 months and 23 days I will be turning 40. Age has always been a random and not concrete feeling to me. I don’t regularly feel like I am “my age”. However, my oldest (who is 9) has started telling me that I will officially be old this year when I turn 40. I am curious as to how that will feel.

What age did you think was old when you were a kid?

What age do you think is old now?

How as turning 40 for you?

TOLT #82 – A Call to Open

I hope that this post finds you well and safe wherever you are. I have taken a serious backseat in the last couple of months. I didn’t want to write about my coronavirus day to day or my negative opinions on how our country is acting around this international pandemic. I didn’t want to turn my blog political or have it just be a journal of the monotony that is quarantine life.

Instead, I put my head down and focused on the two main objectives I have had these past two months:

  • Finish the semester for my students
  • Keep homeschooling and life at home as normal as possible for my kids

I have not succeeded at the level I had hoped for either, but this week is finals week, so objective one is coming to an end. Other things in my life are coming to an end as well, but I’m not ready to write about that at this moment.

This morning I didn’t have to grade at 6am. I still got up at 6am and did my normal, go to the bathroom, check my phone, head upstairs. I spent a few minutes with my oldest who always wakes up early. I snuggled with my youngest when he found his way upstairs. I didn’t open the computer or respond to emails. We had breakfast and then I did something I haven’t done in FOREVER! I went upstairs and did yoga and meditated.

A few times over this at home period I have done yoga to film videos for my class. At one point I was trying to do some simple poses each day for gut health because my whole body is off at this moment. But, to be honest, I have abandoned a lot of my training. Life has taken many different turns for me and I have sacrificed some of the things that keep me most centered.

Today I chose differently. I did this video from Erin Motz at Bad Yogi:

As I was doing pigeon pose on the right side I noticed something unusual…..I couldn’t lay forward in the pose. I didn’t hurt, but felt trapped when I closed my body forward. It was as if I couldn’t breathe. So, I opened up the body and pushed it toward a backbend….not much of one, but one all the same. As I was doing it I realized that it was helping my heart chakra immensely. I was feeling open and free for the first time in a long time. So, when pigeon came up on the left side, I was surprised that I could do some of the fold, but also how great it felt to backbend and be open for a few breaths there. I usually ONLY love to fold forward in pigeon.

Later in my practice, as we were doing seated forward fold, Erin said something profound to me. She said to focus today on the feeling of the pose and not necessarily on how it looks. Right now I am in the process of making my life feel good; no matter how that’s going to look to the rest of the world…..

Namaste

TOLT #80 – Starting Anew

I couldn’t be more excited to announce that Amanda at Running With Spoons magically appeared back in the blogosphere about 10 days ago! I am hoping that means that she will bring back her Think Out Loud Thursday groups because I truly enjoyed reading everyone’s posts and the community that it brought. TOLT groups was her last post before disappearing….so in honor of her return and the start of a new semester, here’s my random thoughts of late:

  1. This is a photo I snapped myself to show my husband what I was looking like.

    I tried branching out recently. I went to a girls’ nite in party a couple of weeks ago that was make-over themed. I am not the type of person who usually spends a lot of effort on my looks. I don’t do make-up much any more, don’t style my hair, don’t really go outside of the box for my clothes. So, a make-over party is not up my alley, but I’m also open to new things and meeting new people. This party was hosted by The Busy Budgeter  who was also my make-over artist for the evening. I tried new food, new drinks, a face mask, had my make-up done, and took pics with a fancy halo light. You can see those photos on her website as well as many tips for a great girls’ nite in!

  2. The semester is off to a great start! This semester I am teaching solely at one place and it has helped in so many ways. While I am now teaching 4 days/week, being on campus so often helps me to be more in touch with the campus community and leads me to the rec center more. Today I taught 2 classes, biked, and swam. The semester has also presented me with a new vision of success that I hope to achieve. Here’s the visual I made for my class as an example to show just three of the many areas I plan to work on this semester to keep the ball rolling!
  3. I’ve got new GEAR! Unfortunately Agnes has seen better days. She has started to shred and so I’m replacing her with two new bras that I got off of Amazon Prime Wardrobe. They’re Champion brand, which is a brand I used to wear a million years ago when I was still in college, but thought I would give them a go again. They’re certainly more cost effective than the Under Armour bras I’ve been buying the last few years. The Under Armour ones have been amazing to me, except something has started to go awry with the front zip closure. One time I was teaching yoga and the bra unzipped itself and I had to figure out how to redo it while still having 20 students doing sun salutations. And most recently I was running on the track and had it unzip when I took a deep breath. The new bras are back closure, so hoping that that helps. They’re also very adjustable and are supposed to be able to cross in the back. However, I find it hard enough to do back hook sports bras that I’m not sure I want to mess with a criss-cross at this time.
  4. My oldest is turning 9!
    We look a little different now, but the love is the same!

    Yep, I’m that mom who cannot believe she’s been a mom for 9 years now. I still remember a lot of what it was like to push that child out of my body, discussions we had when I was trying to get him to tell me if he was a he or a she in the womb, and the moment I found out I was pregnant. I remember the sweet noises he used to make when he was little and what it felt like to hold his little hand. I love going back to seeing the videos I’ve made of him over the years to watch his personality develop. I don’t write a whole lot (anymore) about my kids on the blog, but Happy Birthday Tank Monkey! Mama loves you!

  5. And finally, because all I have energy for today is 5, I need your advice. I need to come up with some music for my classes this semester and I need to find a new streaming service. I was seriously still using cds until recently! I used to have a subscription to Yes Go! music when I worked for NETA, but that was only a one year deal and at the time I wasn’t financially able to maintain a subscription based service. And before you go throwing ideas out…..I don’t have an iPhone or Apple Music. Ideally I’d love something I can pull up on the computers at work instead of using my phone so that it doesn’t die or get interrupted every time I get a notification. So, thoughts are welcomed!

What’s on your mind today?

Fave Reads Friday #16 – Summer Reading in Full Swing

Today is the first day of the Summer Reading Program at our local library. They’re doing a big kickoff party tomorrow that we’re going to, but today is the “OFFICIAL” start date. My kids got out of school last week though, so we’ve already been reading. They’re working on the Mensa for Kids’ Excellence in Reading List for K-3rd grade as it encompasses their current reading levels and ages. I’m working my way through the list of books I’ve “saved for later” at the library.

So far I’ve finished three books since I finished teaching for the semester…..

Continue reading “Fave Reads Friday #16 – Summer Reading in Full Swing”

Fave Reads Friday #10.2 – Meritocracy and other Made Up Words

Have you ever heard that word Meritocracy? Did you know that it’s not a real word? More of the many bits of information that I learned while reading The Big Test by Nicholas Lemann.

The word meritocracy was created by Michael Young in his 1958 work titled The Rise of Meritocracy. His work was meant as a satirical piece to pick apart  a system in which children, from a young age, are chosen for their role in society (think something like Giver or Divergent) and that a chosen few are meant to rule based on MERIT; which in this case is determined by intelligence. The word meritocracy is a combination of two unrelated root words, merit a Latin word and cracy (kratos) a Greek word. It is roughly translated to mean that through your worth your are given power.

The idea behind a meritocratic society is that through standardized testing we could best choose who would be successful at what skill and then guide our citizens toward that lot in life so as to be the most productive society in existence. This is what Lemann writes about in The Big Test. However, the main idea gets twisted over time and the use of these standardize tests also gets twisted.

Think about this……when I was in Kindergarten I was given an IQ test which pushed me into the talented and gifted program at my elementary school. The reliability and validity of such tests are often highly debated, but essentially I was chosen. I was bored in traditional school, but never really taught that being able to learn quickly and test well is not the same thing as having true merit. I was involved in talented and gifted programs through 8th grade, breezing through on good test scores. Upon reaching high school I was put on the advanced track for science, math, and language arts. I attempted the advanced track for social science (history) and language, but ended up dropping out of each. When I was in 7th grade I began taking the SAT and ACT exams as part of a program that offered summer camps to students identified as talented and gifted. I scored so well that I went to a camp and studied exercise physiology and biomechanics one summer and genetics in the summer between 8th and 9th grades.

My high school emphasized involvement and I was on sports teams, involved in debate, the lit mag, the yearbook, cultural awareness groups, volunteering at my elementary school and church, and holding part time jobs. I did all that I could on a limited budget and without true guidance as to what any of it meant.

Upon graduating high school, with alright grades and high test scores, I received zero scholarship offers and, because my family was not well off, I attended a state school and proceeded to do fair. I didn’t know how to study and lacked the discipline to perform homework to the fullest. Why? Because I’d always tested well which had been enough to get by in all schooling up until college. I spent time testing out this and that and avoided things that were too challenging or required too much work on my part as far as classes went. I was going to be a lifeguard instructor at one point, but decided that I didn’t have the time. I had a million part time jobs and didn’t stick with any of them very long. I got married and moved around.

In the last couple of years of my undergraduate programs I started to perform better in school and finished with a fairly decent GPA. I eventually became certified as a Personal Trainer and, after moving around a bit more, decided to take a stab at graduate school. (Mostly because a graduate degree “guaranteed” a better job) I studied for about a week and took the GRE; doing well enough to get into graduate school. This attempt at school was much of the same as college…..fair. But, fair is not good enough for graduate school.

I left graduate school for awhile at the end of my marriage and then attempted an MBA. I didn’t want to have to take the GMAT, so I dropped that as well. I eventually ended up at another graduate school where I flourished academically and where my interest in a lot of different things started to grow. I have always though of my journey to where I am today as more linear than it was. I had always considered myself a good student. But, after reading Lemann’s book and considering the true meritocracy I started to really question my own journey.

Last week Evangeline commented about about the idea of two different students applying to college:

This is fascinating. After taking the SAT and a few state mandated standardized tests, the whole system has piqued my interest. The idea of a number playing such a significant role in my future seems a little scary. I know colleges say they look at applicants holistically, but in real life, if person A has a perfect SAT score and person B has an average score, we know who’s getting accepted. I’ll definitely be adding this to my reading list. Thanks for sharing!

Which of these two students has merit? Who should we give the power to? How would you decide?

These are all questions that have been going through my head regarding myself, my children, and the world around us since reading Lemann’s book. How should we decide who goes to college? What is college for? Who should be running our country? What is merit?

Lemann ends his book with many of the same questions and I’m not sure I have the answers. All I know is that being selected at age 5 or 6 did nothing to make me the type of societal member that was going to contribute highly to significant causes….life has done more of that to me than anything…..yoga has done even more. Being identified as having the ability to learn and learn quickly didn’t help me to be successful because there was no guidance in the process. I wrote this post two and a half years ago about education:

TOLT: Book Reviews and The Great Education Debate

in which I talk about a book by Amanda Ripley and the future education of my own children. My children are now starting school (both of them) and we’re not in a traditional school. There is testing to help the teachers understand how the students are progressing, but the schools they go to also focus on grace and courtesy and a universal understanding of respect for yourself, your community, and your environment. These are the types of merits I think we should be basing our decisions on:

  • How kind are you?
  • How much have you done for the good of others?
  • Are you a litter bug?
  • Can you think bigger than yourself?

Maybe if we considered some of these questions before voting our government would look different at all levels. Maybe if we considered some of these questions for ourselves our lives and communities would look different…..

What is meritorious to you?

TOLT #66 – 1 Week Until Preschool!

Today is Thursday and I’m not having to get up and go to work for the first time in many weeks. But it also means that it’s the last Thursday, for awhile at least, that I could have slept in…..because next week my baby starts preschool! And, in the words of Peg Plus Cat, I AM TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!

Thank you, in advance, to Amanda for a place to vent my worries.

THINGS I AM WORRIED ABOUT WITH PRESCHOOL 1 WEEK AWAY

  1. The Goodbye – When my first son went to school two years ago, he walked right in and I had to call him back to say good-bye to the little guy and me. This time around it will be the big one and I dropping off the little one on the first day. I’m not quite sure how this will go. Part of me wants him to be hesitant and still need me. Part of me wants him to be brave like his brother and waltz right in like he knows the place.
  2. What to do with Kid #1 – So, on the first day of preschool my oldest son will still be 12 days away from starting school for the year. So, it’s kind of new territory for us. There was just the two of us before the little guy came along, but since then I can’t think of another time in which it’s been just the two of us (unless you count volunteering at his school). So, what will we do with our time together? I HAVE NO CLUE! We have had lots of little moments together, but never 3 whole hours of us time in the last 4 years. I’m thinking I might take him to show him my new work as it’s right across the street. We might go out to breakfast. We might just go crazy….who knows?!
  3. More Friends – Okay, so this really shouldn’t be a worry, but I’ve already found that this summer was harder than any other before to make sure we had at least one play date with each of our friends. Why? Because now we have the friends we made prior to school, the friends from preschool that we’ve held on to, and now kindergarten friends. That doesn’t even account for the friends we’re about to make this year for both kids! I already know one of the families in the preschool class and we like them and have mutual friends, but there’s a reason we throw a large party a few times a year….we don’t have enough time for all of the friends!
  4. No Nanny – Yep, she left us and graduated and moved home and got married and is a grown-up with a full-time job now. The last two years have been a breeze because of our nanny and I can tell you it was the best experience we’ve ever had in childcare. So great, in fact, that I can’t seem to find anyone who lives up to her! And now we’re going to try and do it all on our own without her or anyone else. Already I’m dreading it. What will happen when one of the kids gets sick? Who will be there to help out in emergencies? What about when I need someone to set out something to defrost during the day? Who will eat all of the leftovers?! Really, our nanny was like a part of our family and we miss her dearly!
  5. The End – There will be no more kids at home after this. Granted preschool is only 2 half days per week, but this is the end of being a full-time stay at home mom. I have worked most of the time that I have been home with my kids, but I no longer have kids that are home full-time after next Thursday. It went too fast…..