posts in category boys

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Thoughts this Week

;Whew! I had fun last night. First of all, I totally overindulged in a really tasty cabernet sauvignon (which don't those words just feel amazing on your tongue?), laid in bed and read, and snuggled with Alec, who is just the best thing ever. I understand increasing numbers of people are choosing not to have kids, but as for me and my body, we make little humans. Well, I mean not anymore. I don't want more little humans, but I am glad I have them! There is just something so incredible about getting together with a person and suddenly (9.5-10 nauseating,  exhausting months later) finding a whole new human emerging forth, with its own little looks and hodgepodge of shared physical traits-I love it!

I woke around 4 and played on Facebook-Oh. I just realized I went to bed after midnight. Hmm. I did not get enough sleep! It's going to be a long day, I guess. 

Being super hungry, I decided to go surprise everyone with some McDonald's breakfast. Karl had hinted at St. George's donuts last night, but they don't have a drive-thru and that requires a whole different level of grooming. So I was thinking about some Mickey D's breakfast burritos and then stopped myself. I had a lot of wine last night. A few quick punches into an online calculator and realized what I sort of felt in my cells already-I should not be driving until around 6 a.m. I can be quite cautious, like ISXJ cautious. I briefly think of the  times out drinking with friends and how I was always watching people and purses, wanting everything and everyone to get home intact. This is a pride thing-it embarrasses me. It is embarrassing to be careful and cautious and worried when I want to be carefree, and fun, and original. But that's my broken record.

So last night, riding the happy wave of red, red, wine (a good deal of it is reading--why do people DRINK so much in novels--do real life people drink so much or are the publishers trying to push alcoholism on us as a society--or maybe it is just that drunk and uninhibited characters are more fun and unpredictable for the author to work with), but craving people. I enjoyed hanging out with Alec of course, but when I drink, I generally want people around me laughing and having fun. I rarely meet people I'd consider peers though. Either they are one or two decades younger, or they are overly religious and well-behaved and wouldn't put up with my shocking words. I mean shocking not in a vulgar way--that's boring--but just maybe, overtly honest? It's a problem. 


I am so happy I am reading fiction again. It is just so exciting to get totally wrapped up in other worlds and other people. The main problem is 1) they are fictional and when I want to get totally wrapped up, I want to be there living out the stories, and 2) I like some not always high quality stuff. I struggle with embarrassment over not reading top-notch quality literature and wanting to just have a good time and be happy. I think the key is to adopt a key phrase and when I start to feel like maybe someone is judging me, repeat my phrase and fuggedaboutit! I am tough. I am strong. I can read smutty romance all I want, dang it! 

I cried a bit too much yesterday. It was awkward because I was at work, and by afternoon I was completely drained, eyes dry and tired. Letting loose a while felt really nice. But today I wake up, optimistic and excited. It's Saturday. The house always, always needs cleaned, and Liam needs a haircut desperately. The little boys can get away with longer hair because theirs lays nicely on their head, but Liam's is thick and coarse and sticks out strangely when it is getting longer. Fascinating stuff, right? Can you believe I am not a more popular blogger? Shocking.


I thought I would wake up sad, but I am not. I feel relieved and refreshed. Relaxing completely last night was needed perhaps. I had planned a good gut-wrenching post because readers like that. That gets shared and looked at. That brings out dozens and sometimes triple digit readers. But, I don't feel that now. I am not going to prostitute my feelings unless they are authentic and genuine. 

I am nearing the end of A Court of Frost and Starlight.



This is an affiliate link for Amazon.
 
This main story has been told in the first three books--this is like the Holiday special, as someone in a Facebook fan group stated. I am enjoying it though. Letting my mind be back in Velaris, dreaming of dreamy Rhys, and Cassian, and Azriel. These fictional characters are living the life, man. The next book is supposed to focus on Cassian and Nesta's "relationship," of which there doesn't seem to be much of one yet. Nesta is a hardcare, withdrawn bitch, but I get it. There is a fountain of mushy feelings she is hiding in there. I think her core is rather tender, so she protects it well. And Cassian. He's like the outgoing dumb jock, the ESXP, the cheerful and hot Emmett of the group, for you Twilight fans. Rhysand is the main man, but Azriel-- I want more of him. Strong, shadowed, and quiet. I want to hear his thoughts.  Anyway. Y'all see why I get embarrassed? I am a mess.

It's funny how a book or movie can change little things about the way you live. Rhys and Velaris are always described as smelling of sea salt and citrus...so of course, I traded out my normal wax melts (usually warm, autumny scents) for the closest I could find. I have two mixed together. I like it.  Jasmine is a scent emitted when magic is used, and Taryn just so happened to get me a jasmine scented face oil for my birthday in August. So using that makes me happy. Usually. Sometimes jasmine reminds me of bathroom freshener.  They don't drink coffee in my book. They are tea drinkers. I don't know if the author is British or what, but it is a bit sad. I am trying to live this imaginary life as much as possible and coffee really needs to be a part of that life. 

I am going to read Crescent City next, and then read the Kingdom of Ash series. 

So that's my weekend plan. Finish A Court of  Frost and Starlight this morning and start reading Crescent City.  I have to work with my homebound student tomorrow. I  took on a homebound student because so much of our money tied up in paying off credit cards. THREE MORE YEARS before they are paid off, barring extra payments. It hurts. But it has to hurt, to feel it. The more it hurts now, the longer I will go before using credit again.  But extra income to continue living a pleasant life with trips and cute things is nice. 

Do you have great Saturday plans? I love it when people share back. Makes this big, cold world feel a bit cozier, you know?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Lesson Learned-Thanks Covid!

First of all, after an exhausting day, week, month, I just have to say-Covid 19 has been a real eye-opener. Most of the year, we go to work-I am usually gone before the family is up, because I like to get in and have everything lined out for the day, socialize a bit, and drink all the coffee.  After work I get home around the time my daughter brings my toddler/preschooler back and await the kids arrival from the bus. The big kids play out with the neighbor boys and there is screen time and inside play. I am usually very tired, and lament all the work I have to do, especially if my daughter watches my son (along with hers) at my house, because then I usually have to clean up from the day as well. 
Let's just say, being at home sounds like a dream. 

And it sort of was. Working at home was pretty good for me, because my daughter picked up all three kids for the morning while I did my work and then I picked them up around noon and we relaxed most of the afternoon. The bad part was, we could hardly get the kids to do schoolwork. It was a fight for my daughter and a fight for me on days I let them stay home. You would think even asking them to do 30 minutes of Dreambox (math) and Lexia (reading) was asking them to walk over hot coals for the duration of the time. It was miserable. 

When I got an online summer school job, it was more of the same. When I found out I would have two online jobs, I had to leave them at their sister's longer, but their schoolwork issues remained. They were becoming antintellectual. Working all day at home was MUCH harder than working three morning hours. I still had all the housework. I had all the driving. When I tried letting them stay home all the promises to not interrupt during my class meetings disappeared and suddenly they were bored and attention seeking right as I was trying to explain how to do the four operations on fractions. The worst was during my afternoon class when I was screensharing Tynker with a student and my son climbed on the easel. As I picked him up to get him down, the thin metallic whiteboard side of the easel literally ripped the top layer of skin back on his foot. There were bloodcurdling (sp??) screams and oh blood and grossness. I had to end my meeting (who knows what that poor kid thought) and tend a nasty cut (it's much better, but going to scar). 

On top of all this is lawless kids and way too much screen time. It's been bad. When sweet Gabe loses it, he loses it. Liam is always a challenge and 24/7 Liam would try a saint. Alec can be a messy little terror who delights in smearing peanut butter or toothpaste or even worse things all over everything. It's been hard. I am 46, guys. I am not the sweet patient momma of my twenties. 

So what's my point? 
I don't think I want to homeschool. All the times I thought I wanted to be at home homeschooling. Nope. At least not if I also have to work on top of it. It is too much. I don't want to homeschool unless my days were otherwise free and I have a firm grip on the time usage of electronics in my home. I can't. I just can't.

Now, if my kids were in school and I could just tend the house and just Alec alone. Fine. That's nothing. But this three kids, trying to educate, teach house, work, all of the above is just a whole heck of a lot. 

If we do have to return to online schooling, I want clear attendance hours required by the teachers. Make class meeting mandatory and take attendance. Be the bad guys so we tired mommas don't have to. 

That's all.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A Day in the Life of an Online Summer School Teacher

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash



For the last quarter of the school year and for the month of June, I have been teaching online. I wanted to share a bit of what that looks like on a daily basis.

Rise and Shine!

5:05 a.m. My alarm goes off. I might get up. I might not. If I have K-cups or set up the coffee maker the night before, I am much more likely to get up. Let's assume I do get up.

I typically head downstairs and pour a cup of coffee, black please. Then I take my phone into the library (front "formal" livingroom). Depending on the day, I will either sit on the loveseat to listen to something inspirational on Simple Habit, or sit on the floor and begin stretching. It really depends on how tired I feel.
After listening and meditation/stretching for 10 minutes or so, I might decorate a room on Design Home or check up on Facebook to see if anything exciting happened overnight. 

Sometimes I am feeling the need to reach out to people, which I do by blogging about my feelings. Because what else draws people in like a big emotionally driven post about nothing, right? If I am under a lot of stress, I will pray or write in a private, handwritten prayer journal. It has more of the truth, but it is still censored-I mean, I am going to die someday and someone is going to read it.

If the weather is really nice I might sit out on the back deck and enjoy my second or third cup of coffee. 
Around seven, I put my contact (I only have one left) in, and do my makeup.

Work Begins

 As soon as my makeup is done and my hair is pulled back into a ponytail, I do my short daily video announcements for my students. I make conference meeting times and email those links out to my classes. My public school district uses Canvas and we supplement the learning with great educational games like Prodigy for Math. In addition, we are using Scratch and Tynker for my online coding class. 

Then I start getting the kids up and dressed. 
Usually I eat breakfast, I love a good fried egg, bread, and a cutie in the morning. 

Goodbye Kiddos!

 8:30 my oldest daughter comes and picks up the kids. During the spring, she had been watching them from about 8:00 to 11:30, but since the addition of my second class she is watches them from about 8:30 to 1:50. I hold my one oclock meeting then rush to get them and hurry back for the 2:00 meeting. 

Keep on working

I spend a lot of time going over the lessons the students have completed, calling and emailing parents whose child isn't attending or logging in, and grading lessons. I compile information from Prodigy and determine what my lesson will be like for the day. At 10 a.m. I hold a lesson for students who want extra time with a teacher.  
At 11:00, I have my regular class meeting. Often it is the same kids who showed up at the 10 a.m. meeting. We chat a little, go over the assignments, and everyone gets a chance to share if they want to talk. 

Not sure about the schedule just yet

After this meeting, I had been taking a break to get the kids, however, since my second class was added, I need to be ready for a class meeting at 1:00. So I eat lunch, prepare for the meeting, and then at one open the room. This class was late getting assigned to me and just started two days ago. Attendance is quite low, so I spend a lot of time, messaging and emailing parents to try and get them on board.
We talk about the lessons and I give them a chance to share. After that I close down the meeting room and rush to get my kids. At two I come back to prepare for the afternoon extra help meeting, which hasn't been attended yet. I think I may push that back to 2:30 and take my break from 2:00-2:30 from now on.

Step away from the computer. I repeat...

Around 3 or 4, I step away from the computer. If I don't have a headache, I call it a good day. 
Honestly, I love it. I wish the class meetings were attended more, but I love getting to know the kids and often the parents are there, too, and just the general feeling of pride in being entrusted with youngsters by the community. 

That Family Thing

Dinner for me is around 4. I am counting calories after a big slide over the spring, and usually starving. I generally chomp down some salmon or chicken breast and a bag of cooked broccoli. Yeah. I don't love it, but it does work, if I can avoid snacking.

I try to have dinner for the family ready around five. At this time, the boys are usually playing with neighbors, and Alec is going from my phone to out back, to sneaking out the front and running away if I let myself get preoccupied. 

Of course, I work again


Sometime later in the evening, I check my email and classes for messages and make sure I know how to do the work for the next day.

And I relax

 If my husband is in a good mood I might go out for a short drive to listen to music, center a little, and maybe let myself think about the things I need to think  about. Or I might take a long, hot bath, if I am really feeling extravagant. I climb into bed around nine, or as soon as Alec is in bed. Alec doesn't believe in going to bed when it is light out-and I get it. We are also training him to sleep with his door open now. Usually by 10:30, I have played my last Words with Friends games and I am tired. I will put the phone away, make sure my contact is out, teeth are brushed, face is washed, and small fan is on. Then it's sleepy time!

When do I shower? If my hair is dirty I will shower either in the evening or first thing in the morning. Otherwise I usually take baths. 

I realize there is little husband time in there. It usually depends on if we are into any TV shows. If we have an ongoing show, we spend a lot of time doing that. Right now we don't, so our interests are very different (he likes music and I like quietly reading). We sort of manage the kids and do our own thing. Sometimes, we do sit out on the deck or build a fire in the firepit in the yard, too. 

Obviously, I am doing laundry, handwashing dishes 2 or 3x a day, and spending time with the boys throughout the day, as well. I just don't have a set time for that.

Online Education Learning Opportunities

Personally, I love doing distance education. As a parent, I find it difficult to get my kids to do their own work, so I understand what some parents may face. However, for some of our kids learning online through educational portals and educational games with the support of a teachers is fantastic option. I would have loved the ability to do middle school at home. 

Welp. There you go. I think this may be the most boring thing I have ever written. But now you know!

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Traveling During Covid-19: How We Chose to Safely Roadtrip


My Idea of a Vacation

One of my absolute favorite things to do is to leave this state and go "on vacation." Now my vacations tend to be short and sweet and busy. While lying on a tropical beach with a cool drink in my hand and just napping to the sound of the waves sounds incredible, when I bring three boys with me, that isn't going to happen.
Image may contain: sky, cloud, grass, outdoor and nature

How to Travel with Children

Note: I absolutely recommend inexpensive handheld gaming systems which run on batteries. They aren't fancy pants systems, but if your child isn't too into the world of more sophisticateds systems, they will eat away at some of that boring ride time.
This affiliate link is similar to what my boys get to play with on car trips:


South Dakota or BustImage may contain: 2 people, child, outdoor, nature and closeup

So on a whim, because time was passing quickly and I needed to keep spending to a minimum, one of my daughters and I took my boys up to South Dakota to sightsee. This was THE perfect social distancing vacation. For one thing, there aren't that many people in South Dakota! The only time we ran into crowds was at Mt. Rushmore and even there, everyone clumped in their own little groups.
Driving through the Black Hills and Custer State Park was a pretty solitary adventure, as was the Badlands.

Cleaniness in the time of Covid-19


Although using public restrooms is a necessity when traveling some thorough handwashing and hand-sanitizing had us car ready. Keep a box of disinfectant wipes in the car, and you can wipe down handles, steering wheels, and oft-touched surfaces on a regular basis and keep it safe and as germ-free as possible. Now, I didn't have the wipes and periodically poured hand sanitizer on a napkin and wiped down surfaces. It is also recommended to wipe surfaces in your hotel upon arrival.
I definitely recommended stocking up on spray hand-sanitizer to keep in your car!
This affiliate link will have you stocked for months!



Making Memories


We spent three and a half days in the car. While I wouldn't call having three young boys in the back of a sedan relaxing (or quiet-they fight!), we saw some amazing sights and in the end, that is what we will remember.

I will remember the fresh pine and the towering rocks along Needles Highway in the Black Forest. Custer National Park was worth the $20 per car entrance fee to see the wildlife and wide open spaces. My boys were SO excited to see buffalo and they chased prairie dogs across a section of the park.
Image may contain: sky, tree, grass, outdoor and nature
The Badlands were simply spectacular. As the quiet warm wind whipped around us, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the early pioneers traveling by ox and wagon across that desolate landscape. What did they think and feel? Were they in awe or overwhelmed? We went to the Badlands on Memorial Day and the $30 fee was waived, I assume due to the holiday. But how amazing! We spent 3 hours in the park driving, hiking a little, climbing some simple hills. It would absolutely have been worth the money.

Image may contain: 1 person, child, tree, outdoor, nature and closeup
One of the scariest parts of the trip was when we were two hours outside of Rapid City on our way there. A huge thunderstorm had been lighting up the sky for awhile and we drove right into. Lights flashed all around us, nickel (and up to quarter) sized hail fell around us, and we slowed down but kept driving. We saw very few people on this stretch of the highway on a Saturday night. Strangely, we didn't hear any thunder. Eventually we got through the storm and arrived late to our hotel in Hill City.
Image may contain: 2 people, mountain, sky, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, including Taryn Hessee, people standing, sky, mountain, cloud, outdoor and nature

Image may contain: 2 people, people sitting, child and outdoor

The worst part of the trip was an encounter with bedbugs at the dive hotel we stayed in a barely there town in Northwest Missouri on our way home. I felt too tired to continue driving so I stopped at questionable Super 8, and unfortunately, after a couple of hours, my daughter awoke me with bites across her face and back. Thankfully, we hadn't brought much inside and just shook out what we wore and hit the road. Everything was quickly washed and dried once we got home a few hours later.

If I had to do it over again, I would add one day of planning in and get a cooler full of fresh foods. Even kids burn out on McDonald's and gas station food after awhile. Also, we learned my 3 year old gets carsick, and Benadryl does appear to help some with that. I would stock up on the medicine before we hit the hills next time.

Self-Quarantine after the Trip


Overall, though I felt it was the refreshment my soul needed before starting the online classes I am teaching this summer. Seeing new places (well, I had been there before, but it had been 15 years), and just breathing in the air of "elsewhere" was soul-lifting. While we are now 9 days of mostly isolation, and I know the boys are dying to play with the neighbors after the next six days, it was well worth it.


Just Do It!

Depending on which area of the country you live, it is likely there is somewhere beautiful within a day's drive from you. If you can swing a short mini-vacay (or even just a day trip), I highly recommended getting out and doing it, especially those of you who are still working from home like me. With a few precautions you can remain safe and still make some memories!

What about you?

Are you planning a trip this summer? How do you plan to keep safe if so, and if not, what are your plans for beating those summer blues? I would love it if you'd drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Tip:

I always pack a jacket or sweater when I travel because you never know what surprises Mother Nature will throw at you. While I wore a hunter green light field jacket, this cute vest would be perfect for chilly mountainside memories in the mid-summer!

This is an affiliate link.





Thursday, April 30, 2020

Reading together, brotherly love


This post contains affiliate links.

It has been an effort to keep my ten-year-old reading during this break from school. He would much rather do a hands-on experiment, watch a YouTube video of someone doing a hands-on experiment, play Minecraft, or just ride his scooter around than sit and read a book. However, as both a teacher and a mother, I know how important it is to continue reading. Not only does reading practice those important skills, it introduces the reader to new vocabulary, and far beyond academics, enlarges the reader's worldview and the whole scope of their life. If you think I am being dramatic. I am. It is! Reading can absolutely change a person and change a life. Think back to those first chapter books which have really stuck with you. If you read and reread enough, those books become a part of who you are. That is why I love sharing books in my classroom, even if I am reading or we are listening to an audiobook. Stories broaden our world. I learned history though teen romance novels and science through adult literature-and learning this way is painless!

Off my soapbox now. I want my boys to understand and share my love of reading. I also want them to have a shared experience beyond who can ride their scooter the fastest down the road. So I have made a deal. Some might call it a bribe, but I prefer to consider it a business deal. My older son is reading this famous book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone aloud to my seven-year-old, and I am providing incentive to do so.

Now, you might be a little shocked over the incentive, but hear me out. First, my 10-year-old doesn't like Harry Potter. Magic isn't real and he lives very much in the world of real, or at least theoretical. However, we are a Harry Potter family, and I strongly desire to get his Ravenclaw butt hooked. My seven-year-old likes Harry Potter, but could use more opportunities to practice sitting quietly and listening. Also, I remember listening to my brother read books such as The Hobbit and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe aloud to me. I could see those gigantic spiders swooping in ready to gobble up the Bilbo and his friends. I could feel the respect and awe reserved for Gandalf. I, too wanted to step through the doors of the wardrobe into a magical world where adventures awaited. I want my sons to share that experience of wading through imaginary lands on an adventure together.

We have purchased the Illustrated edition, because it is so beautiful. I just love the pictures and I believe they will draw in the young listener. There is enough text, however, they will still have to rely upon their own imaginations to help create this world in the clouds.

It's risky-pushing someone to do something which I would like to come from the heart. If things work out perfectly, then they will enjoy it so much, they will ask for the second book, and continue on an amazing childhood adventure together. If it doesn't, then my son still won't want to read for fun, and the bonding I hope happens will form somewhere else. At that point, I will continue to read aloud to them in the evenings, but it is proving difficult to always fit the time into our evening routines since the three-year-old is staying up later.  They will have to bond over BeyBlade competitions and Minecraft discussions. I am excited to see how it turns out!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Silent Saturday








Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Handling it, but not as well as I could

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
It has been about a month since our Disney trip was cancelled/postponed and stores began slowly closing. A month of uncertainty, a little fear, a lot of anxiety, and the ever-encroaching boredom gnawing at my brain.

The thing is, I love to work. As much lip service as  I pay to being home, I like to be actively doing something with my head, working on something, finishing something, creating something. And here I am feeling like this big "SUCK" has latched onto my brain, and is sucking out the light and blowing in the darkness. The idea of not going back to work until August is really hard to hold on to.

Just lots of disappointment all around. And it's not just me, I know. The fact that everyone else is feeling the stress brings a feeling of solidarity. The extreme sleepiness bothers me, but I apparently this is a much larger stress to our mind than we might realize.

So what to do?
Well, I am still working on the 50-walk challenge. It's a little hard to get motivated when day after day is dreary and chill, but once I head out the door and walk, I never regret it. I am well on track with that goal.

I am slowly working on a much needed cupboard and cabinet cleanout. The struggle with that sort of cleaning is there is always a crazy mess right in the middle. But I am getting there. I want to paint, but I am embarrassed about getting paint. I feel like someone is going to stop, point me out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, and scream, "NOT AN ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" But my keeping myself emotionally healthy and busy is essential, too. So maybe I will grab a daughter for moral support and head up and get paint. Are they still mixing paint? I guess I could call.

If I, as an ultra-introvert, am suffering, how are the extraverts handling this? How many people are REALLY following the guidelines and how many are pretending, too, but breaking little rules here and there? I am curious.

Anyway, goals are important, so I plan to get from 10 books read on my reading challenge to 15 books by the end of April. I plan to paint my three-year- old's room. I plan to organize all the kitchen cupboards. I do have some paperwork for work which will take up a chunk of time. Maybe I will just go through it r e a l l y  s l o w l y to stretch out the time it takes. If I am working a lot, I will appreciate the downtime more.

The jury is out on gardening. If I don't have summer school, I will have enough time to do a great vegetable garden, but I am sort of sick of the mess. I am leaning towards just throwing out grass seed and having a green lawn.

Eventually, I will pretty these thoughts up, put a lovely filter over them, adjust the lens, and make them into something else. But for a little while longer, I am just going to feel the reality.


We've got this, right?
Jillian




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