i think the spanish language has it right on the notion of punctuation. to say right up front, this is a question, helps the reader understand how to read what’s coming. sometimes you get to the end of a sentence and realize you’ve read it all wrong. it wasn’t a statement. it was a question. in fact, the upside down and backward question mark is even cooler because it says: this a question to me whether or not this is even a question.

and now you know how i feel about what to call “school” this year. ¿school? what exactly do you mean by this word “school”? because school means one thing. and what’s happening right now is like nineteen other things, yet none of them, all at once. 

welcome to pandemic parenting 2020. it’s the new hip dystopian reality that makes you drink more and wonder why you can’t drink more. 

lemme ‘splain.

samson’s school is beginning online classes—for everyone. cool. 

samson on day one of 5th grade

for the next few weeks all the kids will meet virtually at 9am four days a week and see their fellow travelers on the education train. so far so good. community. continuity. 

because it’s a montessori school, they have three grades in their upper elementary class: 4th, 5th, and 6th. samson is in 5th grade so he’ll meet with his fellow grade 5ers every day as well, but at a different time each day. the times are staggered to be fair to all the grades. okay, makes sense. it’s a little disjointed, but we can deal with that. again, so far, okay. 

one day a week is “home school day.” this is the day the teachers have school meetings, deal with administrative stuff, catch up with students who need extra attention, what have you. friday used to be home school day, but they’re changing it this semester to wednesday. why? okay, i’m glad you asked. now stay with me. 

they’re changing the home school day to wednesday because, beginning september 28, they’re planning—and i do mean “planning”—on going to the hybrid model. ¿hybrid? yes. in this model there will be two “cohorts.” i don’t like that word either. it is neither a co, nor a hort, but that’s another rant entirely. back to cohorts. two of them. beginning on the 28th. 

the plan is that the first cohort will be half the class coming in on mondays and tuesdays to the classroom, spaced at a safe distance from each other and the teachers. on wednesday somebody will clean the heck out of the classroom (disinfect, etc.). and finally on thursdays and fridays the second cohort will go in to the classroom. 

did you follow all that?

and now you’re asking yourself: but what about samson? what’s he going to do? is he in a cohort? what the heck? also, what do the monday/tuesday cohorts do on the other two days? same question for thursday/friday peeps. 

i’m glad you’re paying attention because yes, there is still another group of children unaccounted for: the stay-at-homers. that subgroup of children whose parents are extra cautious—for reasons all their own, which we won’t get into for other and sundry reasons—and so will not be sending their children to commingle with cohorts or any other sort of horts.

and the stay-at-homers don’t have just ONE option. nay nay. they have TWO. 

  1. door number one for children whose lives remain solely ONLINE is to be virtually on their own. no more meetings with other children. community, gone. the parents would be their sole teachers, although they will be allowed to check in with their primary teacher once a week so the teacher can check on their progress. if later everything goes back to the way it was (everyone in the classroom), or the school ends up doing EVERYTHING online for EVERYONE, the students will retain their teacher and all will be well. 

  2. door number two for stay-at-homers provides students with much more support and assistance from a dedicated teacher, but it will NOT be their original teacher, because that original teacher will be teaching those two cohorts mentioned above. it may, or may not, provide some virtual community with other students. if later everything goes back to the way it was (everyone in the classroom), or the school ends up doing EVERYTHING online for EVERYONE, these students will NOT retain their original teacher. they are SOL (stuck outta luck).

is that confusing enough for you? 

we haven’t even gotten to the curriculum yet. or the fact that if the covid19 cases in the county rise to a certain threshold, they might not be doing this hybrid/cohort plan anyway and EVERYONE will be online, in which case all that work to arrange people and schedules and multiple curricula will have been for naught. goose egg. the big fat bupkis. but i’m sure the teachers will have enjoyed the exercise. (that was sarcasm, surely.) (shirley says, yes, it was.)

let me be clear about this: i think our teachers are fabulous. i think they’re way overworked and under compensated. i blame teachers zero. i feel for them and their families. they’re struggling under nearly impossible conditions. the fact that they’re continually reassessing and re-designing curricula is crazy. and i know that this is just one example of the issues that surround the world at large.  

we are lucky. we are able to home school our child. we have an option. (we chose home school option door #1.) 

we have internet connection and a computer for him to use. we have at least one stay-at-home parent to be here for his home school needs. we may not be very good at it, but we’re here—and we CAN be here. but good golly miss molly, those who can’t... are pluck outta luck.

the permutations of struggles with schooling are overwhelmingly complex. but no issue seems simpler to me than the question of whether to stay alive—or risk the opposite. but, how you do that, or try to do that, remains a question only you can answer.

and so, i say to you—or rather i pregunta you: ¿school?

my little home schooler… on a good day


wending our way back to the future

we left off in july with our last entry. we had just passed through a jumble of soft-focus montage, blessedly without the usual upbeat, generic techno music accompanying it. you’re welcome.

before i go on, i need to point out something if it’s not already obvious: because of my chronic illness, i am in that high-risk group of humans who are incredibly vulnerable to covid19. my immune system would get a one-star review on yelp:

★☆☆☆☆ “doesn’t work to save its life.”
★☆☆☆☆ “you call that an immune system? i’ve seen zombies with more immunity.”
☆☆☆☆☆ “ads promised 24/7 customer service. i’m getting 11/4 at best. and good luck getting someone on the phone. i get better service from my cable company.”

you get the idea.

suffice it to say my skypeeps take extra caution living with me, for which i am eternally grateful. and because of that, and without a shred of conceit, i can proclaim with confidence that we have become experts at being IN. shut in. home lurkers. space squatters. sadly, of our very own space… not the “no one can hear you scream” in space. but i digress. we’re good at being here. although it’s not by choice, it is, as i have heard somewhere of late, what it is.

the movie the quiet place came quickly to mind when the covid19 horror hit us. a world terrorized by creatures who can only hear you. but boy howdy can they hear. people relegated to learning sign language and walking barefoot so they could move as quietly as possible. learning to cook without noise, children not allowed to laugh. ‘cause if that monster heard you, he and his posse would be there in a jiffy to eat you. all of you. and your little dog, too. a crazy, mixed-up dystopia.

our world now: not so very different. this disease can’t hear you, but it can cling to you and crawl up your shirt and get on your face and you’ll breathe it in and you won’t even know it. until it’s too late. somehow the invisibleness of this monstrosity is what makes it scarier. you can’t fight a thing you can’t see. and avoiding it is imperative.

so, we became INners. shut-inners. and we got good at it. all bragging aside: we totally nailed it.


all that IN-ing. so much IN-ing. well, you know, everyone gets tired of too much of anything.

so, it was with great joy—and trepidation—that a sprinkling of luck conspired to bring some newfound VARIETY to our lives…
  • the first thing was that friends who live not so far from us have a tennis court they weren’t using and offered it to us. we, coincidentally, have three people who really like to play tennis. well, that was lucky!
  • the second was that a classmate and good buddy of samson’s has a swimming pool. his family is about as careful as we are with the quarantine protocol. ergo, socially distanced swimming playdates! (with one kid on each side of the pool, don’t worry!)
  • third, that same classmate also plays tennis, as does his dad. we were able to invite them to tennis—one of the few socially accepted, socially distanced sports.

here are some visual examples of our lovely luck…

<click on photos/videos to enlarge>
  • tennis anyone?

  • 90 degree days were made for this


an OUT-ing we will go
one other outstanding event took place this summer: the boys embarked upon a camping trip. it was so good for everyone (especially the 10-year-old) to get away from the usual IN-ing of our lives.

four days, three nights, two tents, and only one trip to the car mechanic on the way found them in cuyamaca state park near a swimming hole and waterfall. they hiked and swam and cooked out and explored—generally trying to stay cool in the ninety-degree weather. they returned home tired, dirty, and happy. mission accomplished.





where's beth?
one of the suggestions i received after my last blog posting was that i should include more photographs of myself. my first reaction was: what? why would anyone want to see more photos of me?

my second reaction was to think that, although i hadn’t included many photos of myself, it was only because of the subject matter. (i don’t play pickleball, it wasn't MY birthday, i’m not a cute 10-year-old.)

then, even more excuses fumbled their way around my cortex as to why there weren’t more pix of me up there, including but not limited to the notion that since i take most of the photos, how can i be in them? but, well… i will admit that i don’t go out of my way to include myself in as many photos as i could… for a reason. and i bet you can guess why.

recently i read about a woman who said that she’s become more depressed at having to see herself every day in zoom calls for work. the notion that a lot of us don’t spend much time in front of mirrors, or taking selfies, is real. but when we are suddenly face-to-face with our aged image—the image of someone no longer dressing for the day and instead “letting oneself go”… well, it affects us psychologically. especially with the relentless barrage of young, beautiful faces ubiquitously strewn about.

i have the same insecurities. i could demur and say that it’s mostly from what the chronic illness and medication have done to me, but honestly, i am still possessed of some vanity. sue me.

like most of us, i keep a mental photograph in my head of what i think i still look like. and when that doesn’t match up with my morning appointment in front of the aptly named vanity mirror (or video call)… well, i struggle. not a lot. it’s not THAT bad. but the true anxiety manifests itself more fully when confronting a concrete representation signed, sealed, and delivered for posterity in a photograph.

in the last few months, i finally lost the remaining prednisone weight but still managed, amazingly enough, to gain those portentous pandemic pounds much prophesied in the press. these are real things that medication and age have done to me, but no matter what, this is my body and i need to love it first. acceptance is crucial. to teach my son self-acceptance, i must cast the first stone. er… no, wait, i think that’s the wrong metaphor. well, anyway… i am finding my peace with it a little more each day, and it does help TREMENDOUSLY that my partner is someone who sees this:

when the current version is probably more like this:

i did marry someone with partial face blindness (yes, that’s a real thing), and i think that was excellent planning ahead on my part.

i am wending my way—ever so slowly—back to acceptance of the future me. i let my son take more photos of me, and i will post more, too. i promise.

in honor of that promise… i present the following…

one blissful day very recently in skypalace, when my sublimely supportive spouse brought me my morning tea in bed, he also brought one other thing. you see, the night before i had found ALL the words in the previous day’s spelling bee and reached the coveted “queen bee” status. as a sweet surprise, he brought a crown for me to wear to breakfast that morning. ta-da!

it's good to be queen (bee) for a day

game page updates
if you have a moment, we invite you to peruse the many updates to our game page. DaYummyBurger, being the best of us at expressing himself visually, created the remaining three skypeeps avatars. plus, we’ve added the first drafts of our strengths, weaknesses, and abilities/superpowers. additionally, DaYummyBurger has written up a strategy for swarming in one of his favorite video games. check it out!

on the horizon
look for these entries in the coming days (in no particular order):
  • when the ants go marching in
  • ¿school?
  • games people play

thanks for stopping by.

stay safe out there, peoples!

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