Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Post That Sh*t

I stood talking with a group of women who I hadn't seen in months, back in my pre-Covid life. A few spoke about how they've been keeping their families busy. We garned ideas from each other, gave the low down on a few must-do's in our area, and went about our way. It wasn't until later, as I uploaded pictures from our day, that I realized I had seen none of their adventures posted on social media. I didn't need to ask why because I already knew the answer. I've heard it from many before:

online shaming

Online shaming is a real thing. It's pointing out imperfections, cruelly telling a person they're doing something wrong. It was bad before, but since we've hit Covid times, it's gotten that much worse. People have an opinion about everything. 

Friends have admitted to not posting pictures on Facebook for fear of the backlash they may receive from simply going about life. I recall, early on in Covid, I posted about running errands with my husband. I posted how I left my house after being home for a full 10 days. Someone quickly commented "be sure to not take the kids because they shouldn't be near others." Nowhere in my post did I say we were loading our kids up in the minivan and hitting the town, nor that they were coming with us. I responded nicely with a, "no, they're at home. It's just an adults day." It made me think: why should I have to put down exactly what was happening? Why is it anyone else's concern? I could have totally put what we actually did that day and gloated about what a good human I am (we ran errands for family in the high risk category that can't go to the store themselves, for friends who were in quarantine, picking up a prescription for someone who wasn't able to do it themselves...it was my day of good deeds, but I also don't need to tell social media about every decent thing I do in life).

I didn't let that one comment dictate what I do and what I don't post. I naturally don't give a shit what people think about me, I do what I want, when my kids tell me I can (not a huge exaggeration honestly). However, I know others who have responded differently to the critism of others these days. They've stopped posting on social media, only highlighting big life events: birthdays, home purchases and moves, new lives. They skip the rest for fear of someone NOT agreeing with their life choices, critizing the things they do. I feel a twinge of boiling anger, but I quickly stop myself because although I wish online shaming would stop, I wish people would stop and think before posting "helpful" advice or comments, I realize it's not going to change. Unless we do away with social media, the shaming of all things won't stop. People feel too comfortable hidden and protected behind their devices.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for not letting the shamers get to me. Yet, as I was going through pictures to post for the weekend, I found myself unconsciously making sure I chose photos with us wearing masks or writing a quick blurb about how we were social distancing. As someone who rarely let's things get to me, I guess I DO want people know I'm not an asshole and think about others who are more vulnerable than myself right now. I do want to paint a picture of what is actually happening behind those photos.

What I want to happen is for people to post their shit. I want to see what friends, acquaintances, family, anyone else I know or don't personally know, are doing. I'd love to get a look into people's lives. I'm a person who grows in many ways when I see how others are living their lives. My own ideas grow, my opinions are formed or changed, I can decide to try something new when I see someone else give it a try, I learn. Yes, I DO get all of that from social media and beyond. I use social media to my advantage in that way. There's always going to be someone who doesn't agree with how you live your life. There's always going to be someone who feels the need to shame or comment unnecessarily. Speaking for those of us who have our opinions, but won't let those opinions stop you from having yours, post your shit. Please. Because I know I'm not the only person who went to a pumpkin patch this year or who has taken a road trip or is figuring out life in this new world.

To all of the shamers who can't seem to see beyond what's in front of them: knock it off and stop ruining things for the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Homeschool Week 1

The first week of homeschool ended in our first field trip! Dog and all.

Wherever the guidebook that teaches me how to homeschool AND run a daycare simultaneously, please show it to me. I'm kidding (kinda). In all honesty, the first week of homeschooling, while chaotic, went as smoothly as I could hope for. It's A LOT of change for not only my kids homeschooling, but daycare as well. I know it will take a while to find our footing. I did manage to incorporate some of what my kids were learning into daycare as well. I"ve found that's a huge advantage in having the multiple age groups: the littles want to learn and do what the bigs are doing, but the bigs run the show and learn through doing and teaching/helping the littles. I quite certain it's A LOT different than what a typical school year looks like, but more than anything, it will be memorable. I have no doubt that everyone will learn a thing or two, or three, in the next few weeks and months.

I kept the first week simple so we could ease into things.

A look at what our daily schedule is like. I've found all of the kids to be much more energetic in the mornings, which makes it an ideal time for hands on learning. I try to make science and social studies at interactive as I possibly can. Science I'll try to keep them learning similar things throughout the year, so we can do experiments, have our very own science fair, enjoy our microscope and telescope, and learn all the things (ideally).

Our first unit in music is Instruments From Around the World. I put together this lesson plan myself. Twice a week we learn about a new instrument, what it's used for, where it came from, etc. This week's was the Tibetan singing bowl (not actually from Tibet, fyi) and the Chilean Rainstick. We also listened to top song right now in Chile one day during snack. The minis were thrilled to hear Spanish words they recognized from their Spanish class!
Naturally, we did yoga right after learning about the singing bowl. We finished our morning course work early, so we moved gym up to late morning. While all of the kids have more energy in the mornings, I try to put the fine art and gym classes at the end of the day.

We received all of our textbooks we'll need for this quarter. I'll be incorporating a few different curriculums into homeschooling, as that's what works best for us. If I'm taking the year to homeschool my children, there's things I want to take the time to teach them that they won't learn in a textbook. Since I've been given the gift of time, I'm using it the best I can, for all of us!

I giggled a lot whenever they had something to complete because they had to decide which school room they wanted to work in. They moved all around and tried out all of the spots!

Reading their journals is still one of my favorite things! This was from the kids who insisted he call me Mrs. Sheaffer all day or he would get confused if he had to call me mom.

We've done these experiments so many time, but it's a good one to do. This time it was fun because the kids did the entire thing by themselves, including looking up why the whole milk and dish soap experiment works.

Poor Zeus had a ROUGH couple of days getting used to the kid's attention not being on him. He found a dead fly on the floor and pawed at it for a good 20 minutes, trying to get it to play with him. Eventually he just ate it.

Above: More hands on learning: in science, the oldest learned about erosion and deposition (as a segue into this week's science topics: rocks, minerals, and sediments) so we made dirt mountains and created wind (blowing) and rain (water from a slow flow watering can). This easily showed how our mountains broke down over a few minutes. It also created a lot of easy conversation, as the three minis realized where we've seen evidence of erosion on hikes and traveling. I saw the light bulb go off in their heads. Even though all three have learned about erosion at some point at school, to be able to apply it to real life is what I like to see.
Below: Math for the younger two included measuring. I had them do it with measuring cups and water, so they could see. They instantly got the lesson and were able to do the math worksheet. Visuals and actually doing the activity/lesson they're learning about helps kids (especially grade school children) understand new concepts and ideas much more quickly.

I started the oldest on The Diary of a Young Girl. We're still learning mom's expectations because I'm quite certain he wouldn't write "I would have lost my balls if I were her." Good grief. That being said, we were able to talk about the book and he had a good understanding of what Anne and her family went through thanks to our own quarantine. He has a whole new way of looking at the book and appreciating it, than what I ever could at his age.

Art class last week was making tie blankets. I bought the girls tie blanket kits and the boys chose their own fabric (because they thought the boys fabric was "too little kid like"). The kids did amazing at these blankets and loved coming up with their patterns.

Cooking has become an important part of our homeschooling. At least one meal a day is made by a mini. On this day it was Fruit Loop pancakes.

Typical homeschool scene: kids working and reading, dog asleep at their feet, ready at a moment's notice for them to play again.

With dad's help they used the microscope to examine soil samples taken from around our neighborhood. They had to compare each sample and write their findings.

Finished tie blankets. I had the boys do all of their own measuring, cutting, and tying. They did great and their blankets turned out perfectly!

Back when I thought we'd be doing virtual school through the district, I decided to take Friday's in September off in case we needed a catch up day. When we decided to switch to homeschool, I decided to keep my Friday's off and I'm so glad I did! Not only did we spend this Friday on our first homeschool field trip (to Living History Farms), but they also got school work done when we got home so we wouldn't have an insane four days of learning Labor Day week.
Living History Farms was wonderful! Plenty of room for social distancing, masks are required inside buildings and when you're not able to social distance (we wound up wearing our mask most of the time), dogs are allowed at any time, and the minis got so many one on one demonstrations from their workers in the shops and on the farms. We've been to LHF plenty of times before, but this was honestly the most educational and personal visit we've ever had! They have some of our favorite fall events coming up, so be sure to check them out if you're in the area!

Zeus and I did a lot of waiting for the minis while they were inside the shops learning. They got a lesson on how the printing press worked back in the day, how to make perfume at the drug store, did a little shopping in the General Store, saw how a birthday party was thrown in 1900's at the Flynn Mansion, and smelled wonderful baking smells at the town farm. Then, we hopped on the tractor for a ride to the farms.

The kids got to help start a fire at the 1700 Ioway Indian farm.

We had to leave the 1800's farm pretty quickly because Zeus didn't like the oxen that were tied to a tree. I've never heard my dog deep bark, but that's exactly what he did with the oxen, as well as put himself between the kids and the oxen.

We got to help move the hay at the 1900's farm. 

The newest exhibit is the Sukup Safe T Home. It shows kids (any visitor really) how these are used in different parts of the world. In Iowa they're used as grain bins, but in other parts of the world they're used as shelter, clinics, orphanges, and even schools. I think I enjoyed this exhibit more than the minis!

The pup was exhausted after the farms, so we had to come home. It worked out well because we were home in time for a late lunch and an afternoon of a few school projects before we began our long weekend!

Sunday, September 6, 2020

One Room Renovation In One Week

I wish I had set up a camera to capture all of the work done last week on the new basement school room. All of the other learning areas didn't require as much work as the basement. At one point in time, our basement was finished (by previous owners), but it definitely needs some love and renovation. Our ultimate vision for our basement was a bedroom in one quarter of the basement and a den/big kid hang out area in the other. We decided to finish the bedroom room for now (although, even that isn't all of the way complete).

The first order of business was ripping out the old A-frame. This sunk the basement ceiling a good 4-5 inches shorter than it actually is. We left the ceiling open for now, in case more electrical work needs done on other parts of the basement. Which brings me to the next phase, electrical. Matt (I can write we all I want, but everyone should know by now that I would have no idea what to do) rewired the basement, put in new lights and outlets, and got half of the basement ready for our overall vision project (no date on when we'll do that, just a someday thing).

After that, things changed drastically. We were going to put down area rugs, so that we could finish the floor at a later date, however, we decided to finish the floor, clean it, put carpet tiles down, and clean and paint the walls (the walls are still cinderblock). Our initial thought was to rip out the cabinets and shelves because, long term, we don't want them. But as we got ready to tear them down, I decided I wanted to keep them to use as storage for homeschool supplies. The cabinets and shelves are in decent condition (not the best, but also not falling apart) and hold A LOT of material that would otherwise be taking up space elsewhere.

I had "help" painting the cabinet doors and drawers. We painted them on a humid, 100 degree day. Needless to say, they were sticky and took a long while to dry. But we do what we can in this Iowa weather! For those wondering, the dog still has paint on parts of him from all of the "help" he contributed.

Thankfully we used a primer and paint combo, so it only took a few coats of paint. We got a gallon of paint from the Re-Store, as well as the carpet squares and a few other odds and ends. It's our first stop in any home renovation we do.

Let's be honest: kids are messy. I have no idea how much use this room will see this school year, so we didn't want to glue the carpet squares down to the floor and create more work for ourselves later on (especially if we have to replace this carpet when we make the room in the a bedroom). The carpet tape has worked wonderfully! If a kid destroys one square of carpet, it will be easy to pull up and replace it with a new square (we bought extra just for this reason). When the world returns to "normal" and we decide we want to do something different with the flooring, it will be easy to take out.

The carpet took 2 days to put in, as we had to scrub the floor, wait for it to dry, put it in, make sure each square was stuck down completely, run out of squares and go back to the store to get another box, finish the last part, then decide to do a bit more that we hadn't planned on. Once the carpet was fully installed, that's when things got fun. We built new furniture, moved other furniture from other parts of the house (the hair pin desk was in the boy's room), and set the room up.

The basement wasn't the only rooms to get a makeover. Zeus moved into the boy's room, the area rugs that were meant for the basement went into the mini's bedrooms, we moved furniture around in bedrooms, deep cleaned, and got the living room ready, as that's where our next project will be. We'll be installing a new built-in shelves/TV stand again one wall in the living room...and by we, that's Matt. I just do the designing and hold veto power.

Even though it was a busy week getting the room ready and getting ready for homeschooling, we also had some fun moments:

We were so busy with the projects, the kids pretty much lived on take out and Uncrustables. Zeus was thrilled to discover Puppacinos on one of our many morning trips to Starbucks.

Zeus sat at the top of the stairs all week wondering what was going on in the basement.

Hardwork deserves a reward. We tried Monarca on evening and the paletas were phenomenal!! Highly recommend!

Matt and I were working in the basement and came up to check on the minis because it was quiet. Too quiet. We found them peering over the dumpster, talking about turning the dumpster into a swimming pool. They were disappointed that didn't happen.

We found some gems while deep cleaning the bedrooms...like this poster. I didn't ask questions.