Monday, November 30, 2020

Books I Read (Nov)

 Total Books Read for Nov: 2


The Day the World Came to Town: 
9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland 
By Jim Defede

This is a heart-warming book, 
great for lifting your spirits about humanity. 
It's about the planes stranded in a tiny town on 9/11 
when the US airspace was shut down 
and how all the townspeople rallied to go above and beyond caring for the passengers. 

Again, really heart-warming. 
(Perfect for Election Week stress!)
The only problem is that it's a really dry read 
and didn't hold my attention for more than 30 minutes. 
There are also a lots of different characters 
(some you meet once and some reoccur) 
and I found it near impossible to keep track of them. 



A Very Punchable Face: 
A Memoir
By Colin Jost 

If you watch/enjoy SNL, definitely read this. 
If not, skip it. 

There's a lot of truly hilarious stories 
but I think they are only hilarious 
because I can hear him telling them in his SNL voice. 


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A COVID Conservative Thanksgiving

 "When you are driving on a highway, 
anyone going slower than you is an idiot 
and anyone going faster than you is an idiot.


This applies to many areas of life. 
But I think it fits best with COVID. 

There are "COVID conservative" people, 
who are extra cautious 
and, to many of us, border on neurotic. 

Then there are "COVID progressive" people, 
who are less cautious 
and, to many of us, border on reckless. 

I try my best to not judge people's COVID highway driving. 
Except, of course, for the really reckless, 
like mask-less indoor gatherings 
then I judge judge judge. 


For Thanksgiving, our family switched our COVID driving lane. 

I wrote about our plans a week ago
to get together with my immediate family on Thursday 
and then Adam's immediate family on Friday. 

Some people would say this plan was 
"reckless COVID driving" 
but to us it was :
 "oh it's just our immediate family, so we're good!


Then Carson got a fever
and at the same time, 
people we knew personally started testing positive. 

On a telehealth call with our pediatrician, 
I asked about thanksgiving. 
Her response: 
"Absolutely 100% you should not be 
getting together with ANYONE for Thanksgiving. 
Baby fever OR NOT. 
You should have never had these plans to begin with.

The judgment was literally SEETHING through my screen. 

Sick baby judging our Thanksgiving plans


We canceled all our Thanksgiving plans 
and are now having a quiet 4-day weekend at home, 
just the 5 of us and our last-second 11 lbs turkey. 
I have never cooked a turkey in my life 
and I don't even know how it'll work in my 1966 oven. 
All I care about are the drippings to make gravy; 
if the turkey itself is inedible, I don't really care. 


I think we'll be driving in the COVID conservative lane 
for the rest of November 
and maybe into December. 
I am mentally preparing now for an only-us Christmas. 
I'm of course bummed, 
but I'm trying to focus on the positives, 
like a cozy relaxing holiday, 
with less food prep and more reading time. 


I hope all of you have a good Thanksgiving. 
(Natasha, switch this to holiday planning!) 

If it's a COVID progressive Thanksgiving, 
be safe. 
If it's a COVID conservative Thanksgiving, 
this won't last forever!

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Thanksgiving Preview

 I can't decide if this is more like a survey 
or more like a recap 
but I'm pretending it's a survey 
because I don't care for recaps. 

Let's talk Thanksgiving!

Image from here


1. Favorite Thanksgiving Traditions? 

This is terribly cliché, 
but I love the tradition of getting together with family. 
For the last 7+ years (maybe more but I forget), 
Thanksgiving has been about the same. 

Thanksgiving day is lunch at my parents' house, 
always including my uncle and his husband, 
and then an assortment of other family 
(some years big, some years small). 

Adam's family's Thanksgiving is dinner on Friday.  
It used to be Thursday evening 
but that conflicted with his sister's in-laws.
On one hand, I am a little annoyed 
that it imposes on my Black Friday traditions 
(more on that below) 
but it is super nice to not have two enormous meals in one day. 

Thanksgiving 2019: hugely pregnant


2. Favorite Thanksgiving Dish?  
Will you share the recipe? 

I do not have one favorite, 
I have a plate. 
A very specific plate. 
And it must include very specific elements. 

Turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes 
all piled together in an indistinguishable mush, 
then absolutely drenched in my dad's 
homemade thick, luscious gravy. 

I guess you could say the gravy is my favorite dish 
(I have licked it out of the pan on many occasions) 
but the gravy shines best when accompanied 
by an enormous pile of thanksgiving mush. 


3. Football game?  
Yes/No?  
In person? 
On TV? 

Even though we are a family that loves football, 
we have never turned on the TV at my parent's thanksgiving. 
(Sundays are the sacred football days.)

At Adam's parents' house, the football game is usually on 
but as a background noise, 
rather like a Thanksgiving soundtrack. 


4. Talking Turkey - white meat or dark meat? 

Dark meat fresh, 
white meat leftover. 
Dark meat tastes funny when reheated; 
I can't explain why but it does. 

Also, I generally only eat turkey when in the mush plate mentioned above. 
I'm not big on meat, 
so turkey by itself holds little appeal. 


5. Do you call it stuffing or dressing

Stuffing.
 
And I have a controversial take. 
I have tried many people's stuffings; 
my mother-in-law makes a stuffing 
that people rave about all year long. 
And it's very good!  No denying that!
But my favorite stuffing of all time?
 
Stouffer's boxed stuffing. 


6. Tell us 3 things you are thankful for in this crazy COVID Thanksgiving

1. Health. 
So freakin' cliché, I know. 
I'm thankful that my immediate family is healthy 
and that both our parents remain healthy, 
both from COVID itself 
but also as a general health. 
Our four parents all regularly exercise, 
eat very healthy diets, 
and take care of themselves. 
No one is overweight
 or suffering heart problems 
or any other major health issues. 
No one has any ailments that make them more susceptible to COVID complications.

2. The nature opportunities in our area. 
Fall and spring are my favorite times to be outside 
and this fall we have been gifted with beautiful weather 
and gorgeous colorful trees. 
Despite it being a major metropolis, 
the Philadelphia area is just bursting with nature trails, 
and I love that we still have so many places to explore. 

3. Extra gravy. 
We won't have my uncle and his husband this year 
(COVID travel restrictions) 
and my sister may not make it down from NY, 
but the less people means more leftovers of my dad's gravy, 
and I'll take that that silver lining.  

Thanksgiving 2017


7. Pumpkin Pie? Apple pie? Pecan pie?

I do not like pumpkin pie. 
I do enjoy a good apple pie and pecan pie, 
and I lovveeee this pecan chocolate pie


8. If you celebrate Christmas, 
do you put up your tree before or after Thanksgiving? 

The Christmas tree goes up on Black Friday. 
That is my Black Friday tradition and I'm very strict about it. 
Other than a brief hour or two on the computer in the morning, 
I spend the entire day making my house look like 
Christmas (and a little Hanukkah) vomited all over it. 
Example here


9. Back Friday shopper, yes or no? 

Yes, but only online. 
 I use the barrage of sales to spend less money on gifts
I have a spreadsheet gift list that I prepare every year 
(yes, a spreadsheet, I LOVE SPREADSHEETS) 
and when Black Friday arrives, 
I go through my spreadsheet checking every gift against the website sales. 
If something is on sale, I snatch it up. 
Otherwise, I wait until Cyber Monday. 
And if it's still not on sale for Cyber Monday, 
I buy it full price a few days later. 


10. Do you sit at the table for Thanksgiving dinner or dine more casually?

Both of our families have always sat at a table. 
I never in my life have had a casual dining experience 
and I am sort of repulsed by the idea? 



Thursday, November 12, 2020

Hybrid School

 We are in our 4th week of hybrid! 
I thought hybrid would be a shitshow but, once again, 
the fabulous teachers have shown they can handle anything
I should never have doubted them. 


How It Works

Students in hybrid are 2 days in-person, 3 days virtual. 
Parents pick their days, 
so some students attend in-person on Mon/Wed 
and others attend Tues/Thurs. 
Everyone is virtual on Friday. 

The all-virtual option remains available too 
and many kids are signed up for that as well. 

Whether hybrid or virtual, school is synchronous 4.5 days a week. 
Meaning, the teacher in the classroom 
is teaching the in-person kids 
as well as the virtual kids via smartboard interaction
(both hybrid-virtual and all-virtual). 

In person, everyone wears masks all the time 
(including outdoor recess) 
unless eating lunch, 
where they are spaced out 6 feet across the cafeteria. 


Things I Didn't Expect

1) Classrooms are really uneven in their ratio of hybrid to virtual. 

Example: 

Mrs H's classroom has 11 students in-person MW, 
9 students in-person T/Th 
and only 1 student all-virtual. 

Mrs M's classroom has 2 students in-person MW, 
6 students in-person T/Th, 
and then 12 students all-virtual. 

Aaron's class has 5 students in-person MW (Aaron included), 
 5 students in-person T/Th, 
and 11 students all-virtual. 


2) The kids have to bring EVERYTHING back and forth to in-person. 
Every book, every pencil, 
every laptop and charger cord. 
WHEW. 

To accommodate, Aaron travels with both a rolling backpack 
and his usual school backpack. 
He's going to have Popeye arms at the end of the year. 




COVID Positives

The school district has had a handful of positive tests. 
Each school building in our district has had 
at least 1 student and 1 teacher. 
(7 buildings total: 5 elementary, 1 middle, 1 HS)

When anyone tests positive, 
the in-person classmates and teacher 
are all quarantined at home for 14 days 
(still teaching/learning, just all virtual). 

COVID tests can have a false negative 
(especially in the first few days), 
so it's advised to quarantine for 14 days 
even with a negative test. 
Sounds like overkill, I know,
but if that's what it takes to keep the kids in school, 
I'm all for it. 
(Easy to say when we aren't the ones quarantining!)

GOOD NEWS: the school safety protocols are working. 
While people are testing positive (as was inevitable), 
the transmission is all outside of school. 
For example, several students got it from their dance studio. 
There has been zero classroom transmission in school. 
No positive student or teacher has passed COVID to any in their class. 


How's It Going

Surprisingly well. 

Aaron really likes the variety of in-person and at-home. 
He loves seeing friends at school 
but also loves being home without a mask all day. 

I enjoy it, too. 
I get a break from Aaron 
but I still get to listen in on his life at school on the days he's home. 


Our Weekly Schedule

Mondays & Wednesdays

Aaron is away at school 9am-3pm. 
Oliver is away at school 9am-12:30pm. 

During Carson's morning nap (usually 9:30-11) 
I try to accomplish at least *one* house project. 
Doesn't have to be a big one, 
but just something to give me a sense of accomplishment. 

Tuesday

We are all home. 
I spend Carson's morning nap hanging with Oliver. 
We play games and read books together. 

Thursday

My dad comes over. 
Usually he takes Oliver out on some sort of outdoor adventure. 
Sometimes he'll stay home with Aaron 
and I'll take Oliver to the zoo. 



Friday

Aaron is home and synchronous for the morning only. 
Oliver is away at school until 12:30. 
I like having Aaron's classmate Elizabeth (fake name) 
over at our house on Fridays. 
They can have school together in the morning 
then play all afternoon. 

***

I expect we'll continue like this for the rest of the school year 
and I'm quite ok with that. 
Now, I wouldn't want this for Oliver in kindergarten next fall, 
but we have a backup plan in the works for that. 

Monday, November 9, 2020

Whew

 Election week was the most stressful week of 2020. 

And since 2020 included both me birthing a baby 
and a global pandemic shutting life down, 
that's really saying something. 


If you know me even a little tiny bit, 
you know that I hate all things Trump. 
I can't stand him as a person, 
I can't stand his policies, 
and I can't stand his far-right base. 

Pennsylvania being the swing state that it is, 
means we have been absolutely inundated with campaign ads. 
For months, we've received 4-5 pieces of campaign mail a day 
and seen 2-3 ads for every 5-minute football commercial break. 

On Tuesday, we tried to keep busy 
Adam took off work for the day to vote in person 
(he waited in line 2 hours; normal wait time is 20 minutes) 
and then went golfing. 
I took the kids + a friend hiking. 


In the evening, we put the kids to bed, 
got raging drunk (including shots), 
and sat glued to the TV until we fell asleep. 

Wednesday though Saturday, 
Adam and I existed in a state of complete and total anxiety, 
vacillating between panic and hope. 
I couldn't read anyone's blog posts, 
much less a single book. 
I couldn't focus on any task long enough to complete it. 

You know how I hate TV?  
One day I sat on the floor 
(with Carson crawling all around me) 
for 6 HOURS watching vote counts. 

I stress ate E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. 
Halloween freezer stash? Demolished! 

The only reason I gained 3 lbs instead of 10 lbs 
was because I was running my stress out with my two friends. 
(Thank goodness for running buddies.)

On Thursday, in a random moment of surprise, 
I told the kids: "If Georgia turns blue, we'll get cupcakes." 
And wouldn't you know, Friday morning, 
both Georgia and Pennsylvania turned blue.  


On Saturday, when it was all over, 
I cried. 

The relief washed over me like an avalanche. 
I was overcome with the emotion of it all. 
I've waited 4 years for this to be done. 

4 years ago I wrote my worst fears over the Trump presidency. 

Two were never close to being realized 
(Trump dropped much of his anti-Muslim rhetoric 
and there was no nuclear fallout), 
we have hovered on the brink of one of them 
(police brutality state at the height of the protests
and one of them was worse than I could have expected 
(ripping children from their Latinx parents' arms). 


No, I'm not a big supporter of Biden either. 
I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primaries and 
probably lean more Bernie Sanders.  
Biden is fine
And right now I'll take fine. 
There's still a lot of harm that can be done 
(side eye, the Supreme Court) 
and there's a lot of work that needs to be done. 
But, for the briefest of brief moments, I can breathe.