pandemic diaries: week 22

We passed the 5 month mark on Thursday this week. 5 months since the last day the kids attended school in person (March 13th). Nearly 5 months since California issued a shelter-in-place order. And yet my brain is still processing this pandemic in weeks, so here goes: week 22. First, a quick report on distance learning. 

Not your typical first day of school picture.

Ugh, where to begin? The 2nd grader had a late, but pretty well fleshed out plan sent around to families by the end of the weekend. She meets with her teacher and full class via Zoom twice a day, once for morning meeting, and later in the day for a read-aloud. In between she does (most) of the 2nd grade curriculum included in the district's "strong start" plan. And it's been fine. I especially like the family reading included every day. We like her teacher, who's new to the school, but seems to be handling distance learning pretty well so far.

As for the 7th grader, while we were treated to a meet & greet with the 7th grade teaching team last Friday, which was great, he only met with his advisory teacher once each day this week. All week. The district and union finally came to an agreement around live instructional minutes for middle and high school in particular, so word on the street is he'll have his first mini-mester schedule tomorrow. The optional Jazz Lab and/or Jazz Ensemble, which is by audition, start up this week as well. Last year was rough for all of us, but band has probably been my favorite thing about his middle school, so I, for one, am excited he has that to look forward to each week beginning this week (even though he won't have actual band class until the next mini-mester).

Lunch al fresco, together - definitely a perk of our situation.

As a family unit, we're managing OK. We started going on a short morning walk between 8:30-9 (ish) and that has been working really well. We just do one lap around the neighborhood school, but it gets us all dressed and ready for the day, with a short blast of fresh air and exercise before we deal with anything else. 

As seen on one of our afternoon walks.

I'm also getting the kids out for an hour or so before they're allowed free/screen time each afternoon, which continues to be the time when I get most of my focused work done. Virtual gymnastics and karate continue twice a week, and we bookend our days with another short neighborhood walk after dinner. We watch a show together (still making our way through the many seasons of The Wonder Years - speaking of which, did you catch this news?) on Friday nights and do family movie night every Saturday night. Weekends are still a little too full with all the things I used to do solo during the week, given my part-time/flexible work schedule, things like grocery shopping, errands, and cleaning the house. I love that we clean the house together (chores!), but I wish we could squeeze more of those things in during the week so we could have a more relaxing weekend. Pandemic goals!

In the meantime, we did manage a pretty sweet outing yesterday, to pick strawberries at Blue House Farm in Pescadero (510 Families providing yet another hot tip). Given the heat wave we're currently experiencing in Northern California, including the freaky, mostly dry lightning event last night into this morning, we were competing with lots of folks making their escape to the beach. But the long drive there was worth it and the drive home was relatively short. Strawberry pie, which I managed to tweak to make fully vegan, is currently chilling in the fridge, but you'll have to follow me on Instagram to see a pic of the pie later tonight.

In random, listed-in-no-particular-order other news, this is a great article about what seems to me to be an overdue reckoning, of sorts, within the food/foodie/culinary industry with respect to its continued use of animal products, under the guise of "real" and/or "whole" foods. In full disclosure, I'd still describe our eating habits as mostly vegan, because we are still eating (pasture raised) eggs, occasionally fish, and some cheese, but even more sparingly. That said, I've had many, many days since late May where my diet was 100% vegan. We eat no butter, drink no cow's milk, and consume significantly less cheese than before. We've definitely made significant progress toward this somewhat gradual transition. But considering I wasn't even sure I could swing vegetarianism, and this "mostly vegan" week was a temporary boost for my diet and weight loss, which had plateaued in the first couple of months of the pandemic, I'd say we're doing pretty well.

This article about how the last remaining Blockbuster is offering up the entire store for rent for three nights to three different renters via Airbnb made me wistful for my short time living in Bend in 1996-97 and our near-annual trips there since, and sad we won't make it there this summer. Here's a picture we took of the last Blockbuster store when we visited last summer.

I've started reading The Secret Garden to Daphne before we watch the most recent film adaptation (I'm also frugal and refuse to pay $20 to "rent" a movie...at least, I try to hold off as long as possible). I loved the book as a child, but there have been entire passages I've had to skip over. I assume (hope) this has been corrected in the film version?

If you're looking for something funny to read about or in advance of a vasectomy, Rob Delaney has got you covered. I personally don't understand why any couple would consider any other form of "permanent" birth control, but that's between you and your partner, I guess.

I did some extra design work a few months ago, outside of my regular day job, and finally got paid for it. Naturally, I spent a fair chunk of it on a new cat tree for my two cats. In considering all the options, and seriously contemplating this idea for our existing tree, I wondered, publicly, why scratching posts aren't upholstered like the couch or sofa all my cats ever have always preferred to scratch. Naturally, that led to pondering the history of this building in Oakland, which I learned was indeed an upholstery business - Most's Upholstery - from 1949 until at least 1969. Read more about the Oakland Mosts here.

I want a studio this size with bulletin boards like this all the way around.

We wrapped up Fargo this week (ready for season 4 in a few weeks!) so we gave in and finally purchased the final season of The Good Place. We held out for a long time, but as Austin Kleon writes here, I consider this purchase a little present we gave ourselves. After many nights staying up a little too late watching a high-anxiety show like Fargo, I needed something a little lighter and, most importantly, shorter. This work from home/distance learning juggling act is so incredibly physically exhausting, I need all the sleep I can get.

Finally, have you ordered your Ruth Asawa stamps yet? It's truly the patriotic thing to do. Sigh.

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