A bit of sunshine…

The kids had a great first day of hybrid in-person school!! (and so did I!) They were excited to go, and I was really hoping they’d love it. They NEED this so badly. Being in a classroom, away from home without mom, and actually seeing people face to face.

Brian and I were so happy to put the kids on the bus, and I didn’t even know what to do with my time. I had a dentist appointment smack dab in the middle of the day so I couldn’t really get sucked into any projects. So Brian ran out to Dunkin for coffees and breakfast. I enjoyed my latte, then folded some laundry, went to the dentist, and then drank a mimosa while I folded and put away more laundry. Before I knew it, the kids were getting off the bus.

As they ate lunch, I grilled them about how many kids they had in their class, what their names were, how did specials go, did they go outside for snack, etc. I also asked them their best and worst parts of the day. To sum it up, they didn’t really like wearing masks, but loved everything else. Well, three said that. The other two said they didn’t like learning but loved snack (Easton and Brody of course). But overall, they said that it was all worth it and they couldn’t wait to go back tomorrow.

It makes my heart so happy that they got this time in school. I wish it could be every day, or even 4 days a week, but I’ll take it. I’m hoping getting through the first three days of the week will be easier, knowing we get to go to school the next two days, and then it’s the weekend!

Hopefully this kinda boosts them up even a little, and brings up their moods a bit. Things have been so rough with school, that they really need their cups filled again.

After lunch we met up for “recess” at the playground with a bunch of friends, and that is another piece they really need. Free time to just play and be normal kids. Plus, it is nice for the moms to be able to sit and chat!!

Tomorrow Brian and I are going out to breakfast, which I’m looking forward to. It’s nice to get things done around the house while the kids are in school, but grownups need some “me time” too!!



Tomorrow they go back to school in the hybrid model. It’s only 8 hours of in-person instruction, but they so badly need it. My kids are hanging every hope on going to school tomorrow. Virtual is just killing their spirit. Easton hates school. Brody hates school. I’m getting emails from teachers. I’m hearing teachers constantly telling them to pay attention and sit still. I’m hearing teachers warn kids they’ll have to work one-on-one after school if they don’t pay attention during their lesson.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. This isn’t working. Send them back full time. My kids don’t like school. My poor first graders barely know what school is. They had a partial year of half-day kindergarten last year and that’s it. For them to spend a majority of their schooling learning virtually is bullshit. How is this supposed to foster a love for learning? These are such impressionable years for them, where they are supposed to be developing a love for school and for learning. Yet we are just wasting months and months of valuable time, afraid of a virus with over a 99% survival rate.

I want to cry when my kids are upset over school. Deacon is getting lost so easily without in-person instruction. It breaks my heart. I get mad at my kids when they are acting out because they are bored or disinterested, but then I think, well can I really blame them? And I just feel sad for them. My kids are good students. They are well behaved in school. They are good kids. Virtual is just ruining them.

They are spending all these hours on computers, miserable, and doing an hour’s worth of work in a day. This is not a quality education. They are getting completely shortchanged, and I’m worried that without all those positive experiences being in the school building they will always feel disinterested about school and their education.

If we can go to movies, go to the gym, put kids in daycares, and all that other stuff, kids can go to school. It is VITAL. If the governor says schools can open up, they should open up. Plenty of schools around the country are opening up with minimal outbreaks. Parents should have the option to send their kids to school for a normal schedule, assuming the risks of COVID. If you aren’t comfortable with that, by all means keep your kids home. Schools, or even the state, should provide a virtual program independent of classroom teaching. Teachers should not have to teach synchronously. How much more can we pile on our teachers? And how much more can we deprive our children of?

Let’s worry more again about screen time. Let’s worry more again about mental health. Let’s worry more again about education. I have no idea why we put that all on the back burner.

I’m done.

I’m blah today. I’m not feeling well, I’m feeling down and I’m tired. I’m sure it’s partly (or a lot) hormones, but that’s not really important. So when I’m feeling like this, it’s really hard to drag myself out of it. Everything annoys me. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I just want to go to bed.

But Brian had to leave for work, which leaves that out of the question. So I decide it’s an order dinner, put on a movie night. At least that makes it easier. But I’m still grumpy.

Until Brody asks me to play Guess Who? with him. I actually enjoy that game so I said yes because I felt bad saying no when I was just sitting there.

And do you know what happened? We started playing, I started smiling and my mood was lifted. I still feel like crap but at least I’m not in a bad mood and I can enjoy our Taco Bell delivery and whatever movie they decide on.

I have to remember that these guys can lift me up when I need it, and not just drain me. And that I have to let them. I need them just as much as they need me! Probably more.

I Can’t Fix It.

I was gonna switch gears a little tonight and post a family-friendly dinner recipe instead. But that ain’t what you’re getting. I’m sorry, but yes it’s another “virtual learning sucks” post. This time it’s about Easton.

So Easton really surprised me with virtual learning in the spring. He had an amazing teacher, like the best of the best, and he was (mostly) on the ball. He’d remember to get in to his meetings, and he did a great job completing his assignments. This year he’s in third grade and his teacher took a last minute leave of absence, so he has a substitute teacher. Since he did such a good job in the spring, I’ve been giving him a lot of freedom, just checking in on him here and there throughout the day. I’ve caught him going on other websites while he was supposed to be listening, but that was about it. I should mention that Easton has had attentional issues since kindergarten. He just really zones out when he’s not engaged, and can have trouble sitting still. Not anything enough for a diagnosis, but with the right teacher it’s easily managed.

Tonight, I got an email from his teacher saying that he’s opening up a lot of tabs all the time on his browser when he’s supposed to be paying attention, and he’s not handing in assignments. Mom guilt. I should have been keeping a closer watch on him. So I responded and thanked her for being on top of him, and that I’ve been checking in with him but I’ll do better. So Easton and I sat down with his chromebook and went over the assignments that were incomplete. There was a number of math pages and a writing assignment. I can’t even find the writing topic so we started tackling math pages. We got a good chunk of it done before bedtime, but it wasn’t without a lot of tears, complaints, etc. It took a lot of working through to get him to calm down and stop crying and do the math. He was mostly upset that he was missing iPad time to do it, but that’s the breaks kid.

We wrap up and he gets in to bed and the poor kid is just still so upset and my heart is weakening. He starts crying and says, “Mom i just want to go to school. I hate virtual learning. It’s boring and I don’t want to do it. It’s too hard.” UGH. I laid down with him and hugged him and cried with him, telling him, “I know baby. I know it’s hard. I know it’s not fun and I know you want to be back there. You’ll get to go on October 12th.” “But that’s so far away,” he says. “I just wish every day for the day to pass by faster so all the days will go by faster and I’ll get to go to school, but the days are going so slow and it feels like it’ll never get here.” It’s so hard to keep reassuring him. All the kid wants is to GO TO SCHOOL. He’s not crying because he has to do work. He’s crying because he needs to be in a classroom. He needs to be part of his school community again. He needs to see his teachers face to face and give them high fives or hugs. He needs to run around with his classmates and talk about whatever stuff nine year olds talk about.

And I can’t give it to him. I feel just completely powerless and unable to ease my child’s pain. I can only do so much by reminding him of the fun we can have each day, because the one glaring thing he’s missing is such a huge thing, that nothing can replace it for him. My son cried himself to sleep tonight. I feel helpless and hopeless.

My heart hurts. My children are hurting and I can’t fix it for them. And the worse part is, I don’t believe we should even be in this situation to begin with. My kids need to be in school. It’s not just about their education, it’s about their mental health, their growth and development, their maturation. Without school, they are just being deprived of so many opportunities to grow, in so many ways. And I can’t fix that.

Is It October 12th Yet?

Yesterday one of the first grade teachers was absent. Since they don’t schedule substitues, the teacher gave us a list of assignments to complete. There was a few activities for math, a reading and writing activity, word study activity, plus their special and their intervention services. I have to say, it was the best day we’ve had BY FAR. There were smiles, hugs, cuddles, and no whining. No tantrums. No heartbreaking looks from my babies. See, there is one child who is most against virtual learning. Learning in general, but virtual learning is especially tortuous for him. Brody has said all along that he’d rather be homeschooled by me than do virtual learning. Funny, because he gave me the most problems back in the spring. But he was so happy yesterday and finished all his work by 10am, and that was taking our time and taking breaks. He did an amazing job and we all had a great day.

This morning when he woke up, Brody asked me if his teacher was absent again. I told him that she’d be back, so he’d go back to virtual learning. He was so upset and asked if I could just teach him like we did yesterday. Unfortunately, I don’t have the assignments and that’s just not how it works I told him. The school says we have to do it this way. Needless to say, today has been rough. Brody has been pouting, refusing to work, throwing things, turning off his sound, and just generally not listening to his teacher today. I gave him a bit of leeway on his behavior chart (I can post about that later or tomorrow) but I ended up having to move the clothespin to “Make Better Choices” because he just kept carrying on and then started to be disrespectful towards me.

Still, it breaks my heart. I keep telling him, “I know, buddy. I know this is hard but you can do it. I had fun yesterday too, but this is how we are learning today.” And I hate doing that.

Our district is moving to hybrid on October 12th, which can’t come soon enough. Seeing my kids over the moon happy at their sports practices, interacting in person with their teammates, is all the proof I need that they need to be around their friends. They need to be in class, and I really hope, though I’m not terribly optimistic, that we will get to full-time in school this school year. Anything less is just not enough. And if that’s the case, I am seriously considering pulling them and teaching them on my own until we do get back full time. Trying to give it a chance, but bottom line is this is too much screen time and it just plain isn’t working.

It’s a Good Thing

I wanted to share a neat thing I found that really helps us stay organized for virtual learning. With five children all home, space is at a premium. And with each kid needing a pile of stuff including workbooks, journals, pencils, dry erase materials, etc. there’s a lot of STUFF. So I went on Amazon and searched up “homework caddy” but really wasn’t finding anything that would hold the workbooks well. On the internet, I zeroed in on a picture of a caddy that seemed perfect, and it turned out it was! I ordered these caddies from http://www.discountschoolsupply.com and I was so excited when I opened the boxes. They are made of heavy duty plastic that even withstood being knocked off the table.

Each kid has their own, and it has a handle so they can move it to whichever work table they were going to be at that day. The taller compartment holds their workbooks, journals, papers and their white boards. They can also hang their headphones over the side. On the other side are 3 smaller compartments that hold their dry erasers and markers, pencils and erasers, file cards and blue light glasses. I just taped the notecard with their name on it and it’s perfect!! The only complaint is that it’s heavy for them, but really it just moves to a table and stays there for the duration of the school day, so that’s not a big deal. Now, their stuff stays in one spot, and is not getting all mixed up together all over the table.

My nerdy self really goes crazy over sweet organization, and I was over the moon happy after I had set these up. Made my day!

Side tip: I bought each kid their own color pencils, and they use them for school only. You have no idea how fast they lose pencils around here, and this way, there is no fighting over pencils!!

I also shut the door to the school room after the school day and they are not allowed back in. It’s amazing how fast they can trash a place! This way the room is all set for the next morning. We’re lucky to have this space!

Feel free to comment and share anything that’s made your life easier during virtual learning!

Little Things

So I’m not a morning person. Never have been. Ask my mom. And these days of Covid and virtual learning, it’s even harder to get out of bed, and you can forget bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

This morning, though, Brian was already out of the house so I was flying solo, trying to have my smoothie and scroll through my phone in peace before “school” started. But Brody said the dreaded words. “Mom, will you play a game with me?” I racked my brain for a good reason not to, but I had nothing. So he ran off and came back with Trouble, and we played with Deacon.

It seemed to take FOREVER. I don’t mind the game, but inevitably someone gets upset they are losing, someone tries to cheat, someone skips someone’s turn…makes for a less enjoyable game. But we finished, and we cleaned it up.

I went in to the kitchen to make coffee, because…coffee. Deacon came in, hugged me, and said, “mom, you’re the best mom ever because you played a game with us.” And just walked away, not seeing the tears in his mom’s eyes. It’s the little things, isn’t it? They matter so much.

I’m trying to keep this in mind. I’m having a hard time with virtual learning, but so are my kids. Finding these little moments and focusing on the happiness they bring is so important! It doesn’t take much to make someone smile, and we all need to remember that, especially when things are tough.

Expectations vs. Reality of Virtual Learning

So this virtual schooling has surprised me.  In the spring, and in summer (yes, I made my kids do summer school!) there was more independent work.  Teachers posted video lessons, and then there were assignments to complete.  I was guiding my kids through their list of tasks each day.  They had projects, worksheets I printed to complete, practice using apps and websites, youtube videos, online stories, indendent reading.  And when the kids had trouble paying attention to a 15-20 minute video lesson, I taught them myself.  The kids didn’t want to learn from me though, and some days were downright ugly.  I knew it wasn’t working, but everyone was just suddenly thrust into it with no preparation.  The circumstances sucked, and I hate to say it, but the outcome sucked too.

Now, they are on Google Meets for almost the entire time.  8:30am until 1pm.  There are some breaks built in, thank goodness, but otherwise the kids are expected to sit at a desk or table in front of their Chromebook.  They listen to their teacher present for most of that time, and they also have one or two specials each day.  We have gone to the polar opposite of spring virtual learning it feels like.  After spring, many parents were asking for more live instruction.  Now, we have ALL live instruction.  It’s too much.  There’s no balance.  There’s definitely pieces missing.  It’s not what I was expecting.

I will give you some (ok just one) positives though because I really feel like a Debby Downer lately.  So for me, I am able to get more done around the house.  Whereas before, I was actively engaged in moving my children from activity to activity throughout the school morning, now they are pretty independent at navigating themselves between their classes and taking their breaktimes.  Which has left me more time to be able to fold laundry and (gasp) actually put it away, to vacuum (ok start the iRobot) and mop the kitchen floor and also just walk around with my coffee mug and supervise.

I’ve been moved to a more managerial position, which is kinda nice.  However – and here’s where I get negative again – with elementary-aged children, being a manager involves encouraging them to keep going when they are just DONE being on the computer, giving them hugs when they feel too sad to continue, making them go back to their computer when they just walk off because their brains hurt, and smiling back at them when they look at me with sad puppy dog faces.

Each of my tasks breaks my heart a little bit more.  I feel like I have to work overtime after school is over to build them back up again.  To take away their sadness and depression, and replace it with smiles and happiness.

And then the next morning comes, and poor little Deacon asks, “We have to do those meetings again?”  “Yes, honey, that’s school now.” And then I die a little inside when his face crumbles and his eyes fill with tears.

Reflections on the first day of virtual learning

My heart is breaking. I’m watching my kids, each on their own chromebooks with their headphones on, completely miserable in front of a screen. I want to cry for them. I’m trying to be positive and set the tone for them, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to put a smile on my face. This is the first day of school, and there’s little excitement. There’s no “I can’t wait to see my teacher!” “I can’t wait to make new friends!”

You can just tell from these faces. There are two out of five smiling. And these two are my generally happy, look on the bright side kids. But even now, not quite one hour into the day, I’m hearing sighs from that classroom as they shift positions.

This is just sucking the life out of them, like it’s doing for me. School should be exciting and engaging. My kids should complain about getting up and ready for school, but then be so happy to get on the bus, and go see their teachers and their friends. They should be having snack and lunch with their friends, and running around on the playground at recess. They should be actually moving for gym class. They should be painting in art class. They should be playing instruments in music class. They should actually be using pencils and paper for f%$@’s sake. This is hard to watch.


The teachers really are trying. I feel bad for them.  This is Brody’s self portrait he shared with his class today.  That’s him holding his Chromebook with a big frowny face.  He said he feels sad.  Easton told his teacher he feels mad and sad.  I overheard another student saying they were bored.  It really is just so disheartening as a parent to hear these answers, as it must be for teachers too.

All I can say is that I hope this gets better.  And I hope we do go back to hybrid October 12th.  Also not ideal, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Sorry I meant to post this last night, but I was busy downing glasses of wine.

On the eve of the new school year…

I have so many thoughts going through my head.  And very few of them don’t involve curse words.  I’m not happy that we are starting (and most likely continuing) the school year virtually.  I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the students, even given the COVID-19 climate that we are living in.  But I don’t want to dwell on my anger, disappointment and despair, and the disservice done to children who want to be in school.

Right now I’m trying to focus on preparing.  Physically and mentally.  Which is difficult, considering what little we have to work with.  The kids are good to go with their text books, new pencils and erasers.  They have their chromebooks and headphones.  I have yet to properly organize them, hesitating to purchase any organizers until I see how this is gonna go.  I have a schedule for one of my children, which is great, though it does increase my fear of them staring at a screen for 4 1/2 hours a day.  I did purchase blue light glasses for each kid, but who knows if they work, and how much the kids will actually want to wear them.  For you people out there like me, you want to know what this is going to look like.  You want to have your color-coded schedule typed out and posted, looking ever so pretty and organized, and you want that schedule to be set in stone.  You want to be able to know what your week will look like.  You want to attempt to memorize who will be in which class at what time, even though you will probably fail at that with 5 children.  You want to be able to figure out when YOUR time will fit into this schedule.  When you will be able to get in your Beachbody workout, or {dare I be so greedy} a run or walk with a friend.  Because you’ll need that.  You’ll need to walk off your frustrations and vent them to your friend.  You’ll need to bounce ideas off eachother and brainstorm better ways to make this work.

But I don’t have that at this point.  I don’t know what in the hell these days are going to look like.  I hope that after the first day of school, I’ll have all of that information, but who knows.  I hope we’ll figure out a good routine for after 1pm, when school officially ends.  Lunch first, of course, and then maybe some social time.  Maybe some video game or tv show time and then meeting up with friends.  Because they desperately need that time with friends.

Obviously, I’m all over the place and my head is spinning with overwhelm at what this will all look like and how this all will go.  I feel like we’re about to step off a cliff.  But here’s hoping…(raising my glass of wine because there’s gonna be A LOT of that in the coming months!)