Don’t worry, we’re still kickin’! Kickin’ a bit more than usual, perhaps, after a week of “Classroom in the Cloud,” a very jazzy marketing way of saying “Parents navigate a zillion different sites and logins to do inferior homeschooling of their children.” Sorry, that sounds critical of our schools and teachers, and that’s not what I want. Benji’s teacher is in an impossible position. She has to “teach” almost 30 first graders reading, writing, and math and her only tools are recorded videos, the ability to assign work online, and the ability to “like” or comment on a student’s work.

Impossible.

She’s done a heroic job in this situation, I have to say. She’s recorded videos of very short lessons, posted worksheets, and responded quickly to every single piece of work Benji posts.

But it’s all so labor-intensive. Every lesson, you have tons of logging in, navigating, figuring things out. Speech therapy, music, PE, and library all use different systems from the main teacher. Every one requires some kind of logging or tracking, and it’s not at all something first graders could do by themselves.

Benji’s grandmas split the first three and a half days of the week, but my mom came down with a fever and a cough on Wednesday. I did Thursday morning and Ian’s mom did Thursday afternoon; I got some work done after he left, but not much before. On Friday, Ian and I did one day of “working” from home/”Classroom in the Cloud” — afterward we estimated that we each got about 4 hours of work time in, although it was in such small chunks as to be effectively useless.

Next week — who knows. Our school district is giving up the “Classroom in the Cloud” model, I think because it’s not equitable (I can’t imagine trying to figure everything out if I was less technically literate or, for that matter, English language literate; and, of course, we’re able to be at home to do the homeschooling) and because it’s not sustainable. The teachers can’t keep up with the number of emails, the amount of prep, all the time it takes to go through each kid’s submissions. And, of course, OSPI has closed all schools in Washington State. Now we’ll all be doing the same amount of nothing.

Oh, and all schools remain closed through April 24 at the earliest.

That just looks like an infinitely long time from here. I know we’ll get through it, but… I cannot, at this moment, imagine how Ian and I will do our jobs and deal with Benji all day, every day, for that time. With my mom out with coronavirus-like symptoms (“it’s probably just bronchitis; I’m starting on antibiotics” — I really, really, really hope so. But what’re the odds you develop a fever and a cough and it’s not the very virus that literally everyone’s getting that causes fever and cough?) and my in-laws out of state, it’ll be a long week next week. We’ll just take it a day at a time, and remain thankful for the fact that we usually have much greater support than we do right now.

One good thing about “working” from home and having more time with Benji: We’re cooking together. We’ve made:

  • Apple crisp
  • Banana bread
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Delicious drumsticks (chicken tenders, actually)
  • Elephant ears

Up next: Fudge brownies.

Notice the pattern? The fun thing is that Benji wants to cook through the whole alphabet, and the cookbook we have is geared for kids just his age. Recipes are simple, with clear directions and not an excessively complicated number of steps. I do very little — get out ingredients that are heavy/in breakable containers/up too high; mix when dough gets too tough; do oven work — and leave the rest up to Benji. He reads the recipe, measures and mixes the ingredients, etc. I told him he’ll be quite a catch one day with all these baking and cooking skills, and he just looked at me really confused. “What’s ‘quite a catch’?”

One thing we aren’t catching, I hope, is any viruses.

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I actually just felt like blueberry muffins; this isn’t something Benji helped with. I took some across to our neighbors who are in their 80s. They’re not worried or doing anything differently.

And we’ve played Pandemic a few mornings this week. The first game, we lost because of a major series of outbreaks in Asia. Too soon, Pandemic, too soon.

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Darn you, outbreak in Asia.

Not soon enough, perhaps, is our attempt to block our backyard rabbits from parts of the rain garden. Specifically, the huckleberry bush that’s valiantly striving to survive despite having every little bud and branch ruthlessly nipped off. In my head I now think of them as “those d*nm bunnies,” now they’ve decimated my once-thriving rain garden.

This weekend we put fencing around the part that’s vulnerable, but I’m afraid it may be too little, too late. I want to know why bunnies don’t eat the weeds. We’ve got plenty of those!

Keep out those d*nm bunnies
Keep those darn bunnies out.

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