“Can I go with you to the grocery store? I have a list.”
“Uhhh, okay,” I responded from the shower. “What did you need to buy?” I asked.
“Lemons, sugar, a pitcher, cups, and straws. PLEASE Mom! Please! I have always wanted to do this. It’s summer….”
She’d been asking to do a lemonade stand for quite a while. Like 5 years awhile. Maybe longer. I’ve put her off for various reasons. She was too young (read: I’d have to do all the work), we were busy or had other plans that weekend, whatever. The timing just never seemed right.
Me, thinking, “Well, I don’t see why not. We aren’t camping this weekend and there isn’t much going on. I think we can make that work.”
(Insert squeals of delight and frantic planning mode turned way up).
After getting items from her list, and 10 lemons (surely that should be plenty) we set up shop in the front yard, complete with canopy and “decor lemons” and her eye-catching poster:
She could barely sit still. Her excitement was met with a very supportive military community. Lots of friends and neighbors came by to grab a glass of Lil’ Miss’ yummy recipe. Great teachable moments sprinkled throughout the afternoon and evening, including the difference between sales and profit, costs of doing business, supplies, and record keeping. Live, hands on examples that will likely stick with her longer than just talking about abstract concepts.
Running out of lemons, I zipped to the store to grab 10 more! She went through pitcher after pitcher! (And multiple batches of simple syrup.) She decided to set up for Saturday as well. Lucky for her, Dad did a bit of shopping!
“Thank you thank you thank you! This is amazing!” she hollered, dancing around the kitchen. “We are going to have lemonade for dayyyyyys!” Turning serious for a moment, she said, “Seriously though, Mom, I want you to know I am super grateful. This is going to be sooooo FUN!”
I stopped in my tracks. “Who is this kid?” I thought. I remember playing and eating candy at 10 years old, not being grateful! Ha!
Saturday morning, she walked out saying she had “THE PERFECT SHIRT”! I turned around to see her in what is actually the perfect shirt for a lemonade stand.
She sold lemonade all day Saturday and went through 52 lemons! 🤯 We have a pitcher leftover, but we aren’t mad about that! It’s quite tasty. My kitchen looks like a yellow bomb went off, but it smells delightfully fresh! Luckily the mosquitoes that are notoriously awful in our area weren’t too bad. To be sure, Eric sprayed the front yard with yard spray hours before her set up to allow for enough time for it to dry. We battled wasps and hornets (not to mention fears) and ended up moving her stand to the other side of the driveway to get away from what we think may be a nest in a tree.
Surviving the insects, we talked about all kinds of things, idle moments that generated top of mind musings as well as deeper conversations. The lemonade stand served as a vehicle to just be together with minimal distractions. There was a time when I never would have had the energy, or honestly the desire, to do anything like this. While I was drinking this would have been a no-go. I am so thankful for these reminders of my why. I love being present with them just to chat – about the mundane, what they are thinking about, their thoughts about different situations – all of it.
Who knew a little lemonade stand could be more than just some tasty beverages?!
Quarantining, pandemics, civil unrest, politics, hurricanes and typhoons, 2020 you’re not playing. Like many people, current events and a near-constant onslaught of horrifying information coming at us over this year has left me antsy.
We covered an overview of American History this year in homeschool. We discussed not only what was in the text book, but what was left out. Conclusions were drawn about how our past informs our future. I want to raise people who dig for information from multiple sources, and do not just take the first thing served to them as truth: to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers. As we went through the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement, we looked at the photos of angry mobs of white people screaming at kids who were attending newly-integrated schools. We looked up online information about Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr., watched movies about Ruby Bridges and her family, we read other books. As we researched beyond the text and had very frank discussions, I wondered where my place would be. In Glennon Doyle’s latest book, Untamed, she discusses a very similar conversation:
We looked at pictures of civil rights marches, and we talked about why people march. ‘Someone once said that marching is praying with your feet,’ I told them. Amma pointed to a white woman holding a sign, marching in a sea of black and brown people. Her eyes popped and she said, ‘Mama, Look! Would we have been marching with them? Like her?’ I fixed my mouth to say, ‘Of course. Of course we would have, baby.’ But before I could say it, Tish said, ‘No, Amma. We wouldn’t have been marching with them back then. I mean, we’re not marching now.’
– Glennon Doyle, Untamed
When we raise humans, their perspective can punch you in the gut like no other. No filters, they cut right to the point. Conversations like these have left me asking, “What should I be doing?” as a human, AND as a human who has other humans watching her. We continue to read, we continue to make calls to elected and appointed leaders. We have marched, safely and social distanced. We learn. We discuss. We keep learning. We have hard conversations. We listen.
A house can only be disinfected so many times. We have projected and started a planter garden. I’ve played amateur photographer, looking for beautiful. Bikes have been ridden. Dogs have been walked. The minions are learning how to cook, we are hitting the beach, and following the rules of quarantine, wearing masks at the grocery and staying home except for essentials.
I began painting rocks to leave around our neighborhood for kids to find when out on family walks. Not knowing there was a whole bunch of groups online that paint rocks and leave them for others to find and have for years – I found inspiration and glimmers of hope and kindness in these random acts of art. It was fun to leave them early and find out that someone had posted online in our neighborhood page a picture of a smiling child holding a rock Hannah and I had created. I could be creative and spread a little joy. It’s a difficult time in so many ways, but it was something I could do, even if it only made a difference for one person, for one moment.
I took home ec in middle school. My mom knew how to sew and I distinctly remember a My Little Pony kids’ sewing machine on which I made simple Cabbage Patch doll clothes. I made a mask for Eric and I based on the CDC recommended pattern. It was hard and I was more than a little rusty. The first mask I made not only took me 4 hours, but managed to break a needle. It was a circus.
Fast forward some 3 months later, and I’ve found other patterns and ideas. I have a friend in the midwest who is a radiologist working with COVID patients and makes masks for those around her. I was inspired watching her sell them online, not for profit, just to cover the cost of materials and to help her community.
I purchased a Black Lives Matter mask in preparation for a march, the kids loved it and each wanted one so we ordered a couple more. The design and fabric was so soft and seemed easy enough to replicate. Later I would take Hannah for a haircut in which she was wearing her BLM mask. Her hairstylist smiled broadly, “I made that mask! What’s your name?” She remembered it from the orders. We laughed and she asked me about the mask I was wearing (that I had made). I have a feeling we would have hugged had it not been during the middle of a pandemic. You never know how you affect others. The ripples matter.
Insecure, I didn’t think my masks would be good enough to sell, so I offered them for friends and family. As I made more, my confidence grew. My parents and hubby became mask models as I attempted new styles and different elastics.
Posting them in our little community page to start, I was surprised how people seemed to like them, and even ordered more as asked what other fabrics I had on hand. People have donated fabric for more masks. Then a good friend purchased some and posted about them to her circle. 4 more orders came in. Neighbors asked for more. Family and friends in Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Idaho, California, and Oregon ordered. I was and am humbled, and wondered why it was hitting my heart so hard.
I think in many ways 2020 and the events of this year have been like a bandaid being ripped off wounds old and new. It’s uncovering what has been bubbling up underneath but only now, as our collective constant busy-ness has ground to a halt, is it clear. Our family calls it the Coronoa-coaster of emotions. Some days are super excited and productive, others we are sloths with zero motivation and feel depressed about the state of the world, and every shade in between.
The pictures started rolling in when my people received and were wearing their masks. I hate that we need the masks in the first place. I wish this was not our current situation. My heart breaks for those who are hurting and have lost their livelihoods as they knew them. Education will not be the same, and while in the long run, that may be a good thing, the transition will no doubt be rough.
Yet…I feel connected to my people when I see them wearing something I created for them. Walking through the commissary and spotting one of my masks on a friend’s face is heartwarming. It’s a hug that I cannot give or receive right now and My soul desperately needs those hugs.
Coming across this during a mindless perusal of social media, my niece (aka Hangin’ By A Thread) posted this from a book she is reading that sums it all up quite nicely:
I will keep making masks (At least until I get through this fabric, lol.) as long as people need them. I will continue to paint and hide rocks. I may even start another hobby, who knows?! It’s something – anything – to be useful, and contribute in some small way to helping us all get through this. Together. As Glennon Doyle often writes: “We can do hard things.”
Everywhere we look we see signs of the virus, steps to prevent the spread and the inescapable ads and emails of every single company telling us ‘we are all in this together’. People wearing masks when out getting groceries. The lack of the need of gasoline for a car that spends days in the driveway. The stay at home orders have been for us inconvenient, but hardly a hardship. My heart breaks for the many that this is not the case.
While being at home, we’ve made crafts, continued our homeschooling curriculum and have gotten outside in some incredible Pacific Northwest weather days. As an introvert, I’m good most days. When chatting with my people, we all seem to have a wide range of emotions on any given day. Life is continuing on, but we are modifying. Some are no big deal, and then other days we are sloths trying to crawl through the hours that feel eternal. Time warps in quarantine. Some days are good, others feel yucky and every shade in between. In short, it’s been weird.
After 9 weeks of being at home, with the exception of the grocery store, I had a dentist appointment today. It felt odd knowing I actually had something scheduled on the calendar. What do I even wear? Should I leave early? (New dentist, unsure of exact location – duh. Google.) All the weird anxious thoughts I usually have at the dentist, plus mush for brains due to lack of normal socialization.
I carefully selected a shirt to go with a pair of capris. I picked out sandals. Every time I’m in the dentist’s chair looking at my feet I wish I’d put in some effort into making my feet look presentable. Or at the very least worn closed toed shoes. Not that the dentist cares, but in my head the dentist totally appraises each patient’s feet. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, I am aware that in reality they likely don’t give a rip. Yes, I have imagined the dentists and hygienists laughing at patients feet after a long day. You don’t think these bizarre thoughts and imagine crazy conversations? Hmmm, perhaps just me then.
With all of that rolling around my head, I shaved my legs. I clipped, filed and painted my toenails. I moisturized my legs and elbows.
For. the. dentist. I dressed up for the dentist. Okay, that’s a lot, even for me.
After sitting in the waiting room for a few moments, I was escorted back to my extra-sanitized chair. ‘Please do NOT act like a weirdo who hasn’t spoken to adults in real life in 9 weeks!’ I instructed myself. ‘Don’t be awkward!’
Fidgety and hoping I would be comfortable with the new dentist, I settled in and chatted with the hygienist who seemed quiet, reserved and…well, that is all I could tell from the eyes up. Having curly hair herself, we discussed the thing that all curlies discuss – products. It made us both relax. ‘I can do this, I am doing this,’ I cheered myself on silently. ‘You are human-ing!’
By the end of the cleaning and consult on work to be completed, the hygienist and I were agreeing that life felt hard and disjointed. The dentist told us of his started home improvement projects, and that since he was back to the office he’d now have to manage his time better than before to get everything finished. They hygienist laughed, admitting her pants were now tight after living in sweats for a month.
We’re all just out of whack. To varying degrees no doubt, but out of sorts nonetheless. It’s all just….odd. In the meantime, I have painted toes, shaved and moisturized legs, and of course, clean teeth to go with my quarantine brain.
I read on a blog somewhere that February is the month that all homeschoolers want to throw in the towel. I get that big time. I still love it, speaking globally, but man the day to day is rough lately.
My students are trying to get over a cold, the news is spouting fear about Coronavirus, and crazy shoppers are lined up around the commissary to stock up on Lysol, toilet paper and antibacterial soap in the event we should have a quarantine. Not quite sure why people aren’t washing their hands like they should already be washing their hands, but well, I digress. One guy even had 5 gallons of Clorox in his cart for good measure. (Insert face-palm emoji here.)
Cut to March 19, 2020
Wow. Now they are only letting 50 people in the store at one time, and they are rationing essentials to prevent ongoing hoarding. The virus is still spreading. We’ve been told to shelter in place, stay home and late night television hosts have all done vids from their couches.
My kids are homeschooled so not much has changed for us, except our extra curricular activities. We’ve done a bit more reading and a bit more hanging out in the yard with the dogs. Thankfully, the weather has been chilly, but sunny. In the PNW, we take the sun whenever it decides to show!
Part of me feels that we can do this. We can come together for the greater good. As a society, we’ve been called to be our better selves in the past and risen to the challenges we faced. The more cynical side sees this and wonders what is wrong with people:
As a friend of mine put it, these were probably Tide pod eaters at one point.
Outside of spring break Florida (aka: the real world) it’s as though downplaying the seriousness of this virus is an attempt to mask fear. “Eh, it’s just the flu.” Or “It’s fine. When the weather warms up it will blow over.” Saying things like this help ease the fear of an uncertain/unknown.
For us, we are washing hands diligently, following recommendations to only go out for essential items like food and sheltering in place. I try not to be fearful. I can’t have the news on nonstop. I took a luxurious shower. The kids rode bikes and played together (without fighting! WIN!)
Virus aside, I feel like quarantined peeps set themselves up to start feeling like this sooner rather than later:
I don’t know what’s going to happen. Hopefully we are doing enough to flatten the curve so our healthcare systems do not get overloaded. It is scary to think about worse case scenarios, such as those being faced in Italy.
For now, we hunker down. We do what we can, where we can for those that are immune compromised. We wash our hands. We pray. We prepare meals, do some lessons with the kids, and play with the dogs. And then we wash our hands.
Just a few short weeks and the world is slowly coming to a halt. It is serious and we must all do our part for the greater good. I love this post at Reluctant Xtian and what he recommends about thinking of others and not just ourselves.
While I agree and will implement those suggestions, I’m also looking forward to the break. The break from the “have to’s”. Deep spring cleaning, long dog walks, and tackling the ever growing pile of must read books on my nightstand are calling me.
Less running around, less hurrying, and less expectations. More boardgames, more snuggles, more breathing and more savoring of the time with my crazies.
We will continue on with our homeschool curriculum. Books will be read. We will have lots of breaks to sit in the backyard and play fetch and feel the grass under our bare feet. Sweet daughter has been mowing lawns and poop scooping for neighbors. Cookies will be baked, hands will be washed, popcorn popped, movies watched and new recipes tried.
As an introvert, I relish this time. No, I’m not glad we have a rampant virus. Businesses large and small will be affected. People are sick and dying. It’s. awful.
Since we are quarantined, schools cancelled for the time being, and precautions are being taken – I won’t be sad for the gifts that this process is giving us.
The gift of time.
The gift of family.
The gift of remembering our neighbors and our own humanity.
The gift of knowing that we are in this together, and that we can do hard things.
Post-PCS move, all the boxes are unpacked. The paper (oh so much paper) has been meticulously straightened and folded and packed into one giant box by my equally meticulous husband. (I’m more of a shove it in a box and pack it down type, but whatever.) We have offered it all to others in the neighborhood who are getting ready for their next move.
This is my favorite space. The just after we are settled and unpacked space. Where everything has a place, things no longer needed have been donated, and it’s another 2.5 years before we have to even think about moving again. We have all the hooks in the hallway, shoe racks placed, kids’ rooms decorated and it feels like home.
I sip my steaming hot freshly poured hot cup of coffee and gaze contentedly out the windows that offer a peekaboo view of the San Juan islands and the Puget Sound. It’s still foggy, gray and rainy as the Pacific Northwest usually is in February. My dad asked me recently, “I thought you hated the rain?” Honestly, I thought I did, too.
I am in such a different space than I was the last time we lived here. The kids no longer require my assistance in such things as getting dressed. They are far more independent. We are not in the midst of deployments. We live in a relatively quiet military town – a far cry from the busy-ness (and sunshine) of Southern California. I try to cherish each phase as we move through them, but I’m completely immersing myself in this one. My not-so-tiny-anymore humans are hilarious people and I find myself marveling at their quick wits and quirky senses of humor. Savoring their curiosity and cultivating their love of learning is a calling I never envisioned. I never thought in a million years life would take the turns it has. If you would have told me I would be a vegetarian, homeschooling, 3-dog lover, nature-craving, letting-my-hair-go-grey-naturally, insatiable consumer of books, teetotaler I would have laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of that image.
But here I am in the midst of the unexpectedness of it all and I am loving every dang bit of it. Okay, maybe that’s the coffee talking because let’s face it, not every day is bliss. A week ago I dragged the minions to a hike at one of my favorite trails by the water and they complained THE ENTIRE TIME. “It’s tooooo coooooollllldddddd….” (complete with whining voice) and “Are we done with this yet? I’m bored,” they complained long and loudly. Granted I was a smidge unprepared. We should have dressed a little more warmly, and maybe ventured out during a little later (and warmer) part of the day. Between my pushing of mandatory-family-fun and their reluctance and complaining it was a shit-show less than stellar outing.
Contrasted with this week’s adventure, it was night and day. We played giant chess in the sprinkles that wouldn’t quite become rain. I found joy in the usual spots. The kids drank from a camping spout.
Interspersed with the unexpected-joy-nugget types of family fun, I have no doubts they will be sprinkled with “less than stellar outings” from time to time. But that’s the point isn’t it, to expect the unexpected?
trying new things
consuming viewpoint-altering books
the beauty of rain
raising kind (most of the time) and compassionate humans
My son was picked on by one kid last year. Repeatedly. It never got physical, but it was a daily torment. People with Aspergers or HFA can come across to us neurotypicals as abrasive, headstrong, disruptive, etc. That never excuses name calling, being picked on or having teachers turn a blind eye. My son was singled out many times by the school’s PE coach, who seemingly enjoyed power struggles with a 10 year old, and failed to read and implement his 504 plan until a month before school was out for the summer. (I had submitted all documentation at the beginning of the school year when we registered.) His new class has 37 students. There is no way that even if every student had no extra needs that 1 teacher could, or should, have that many students in his or her charge. They might as well be in a college lecture hall.
My daughter complained of stomachaches multiple times a week last year. There was some social drama – what we deem “normal” and marvel at how young it seems to start. It got bad enough last year, we sought counseling. There’s popularity, boys and multiplication tables, but there are also teachers who are tired. Teachers who perhaps would be better suited for other vocations. My daughter overheard her teacher swear in frustration. She shared with me that she would get a lump in her throat when called on in class because if she gets the answer wrong, the teacher will humiliate her in front of her peers. A student should be allowed to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. She cried every week not wanting to go to school. This from a girl who has loved school up until this year.
When cleaning out the daily lunch boxes, I asked the kids, “Why didn’t you eat your lunch today?” I was often met with the same response – no time. They cut down the lunch to 20 minutes. Line up, sit down, be quiet, stop talking, sit still. Get up. Line up. Walk to class. My mom made the comment that it’s like they just want a class of robots. It sure feels that way.
There are benefits to public schooling, when it is done right. I also get that as a parent, my involvement is key to a school’s success. That said, I fear that schools that get it are few and far between. We were fortunate to have been a part of such a school in Texas, but not all the schools even in that district were so fortunate. I didn’t necessarily love all aspects or subjects in school, but overall, I liked it. (Okay, I loved school supplies. And the smell of books. And paper. And the crisp way a freshly sharpened pencil writes.) When I overheard my kids state they hated school, my heart broke. I asked them if they were at their old school, would they still hate it? It was an attempt to see if the work itself was challenging or if it was the social/teacher/atmosphere they were dealing with that caused such a visceral reaction. It was definitely the latter. It was as if their love of actual learning was being eroded away.
Homeschooling was something that we agreed was never off the table. It’s been something we’ve been open to, if needed. My sister has homeschooled my nieces off and on through their school years. They have been involved in all kinds of extra curricular activities and are well-rounded, social, and bright, critical thinkers – and isn’t that what we want? A population that thinks critically? Adults who can function, are polite, and well-educated? There is a clear difference between schooling and learning.
We’ve decided to homeschool our children this year. We have a curriculum that is well-laid out and meets all state requirements. It will allow for working ahead on subjects in which they excel, as well as the time and flexibility for areas in need of work. The idea of going completely against the grain feels scary – but in a really exciting way.
Kids learn more from our actions than what we say. I hope they will learn through this process not only the things required from an academic perspective, but also how to do what’s right for them. I pray they have the guts to go against what everyone else does, or what they think they “should” do when needed. I hope to instill in them that different isn’t wrong – just different – and different can be wonderfully freeing.