Homeschool: Week 1

In graduate school at Wichita State University, I taught — all by myself — students from 16 to 60 the most hated subject of all time.

Public speaking.

My Comm 111 university teaching days did not prepare me for homeschooling my speech-delayed toddler.

You know… because he doesn’t speak. At least, not in English.

While I do not have to relearn 8th grade math (what did we even learn in 8th grade?), I do have to teach my son something — anything — during our quarantine together.

Here’s how Week 1 went:

11C374DC-8865-45C9-A074-6302F5BEFB9B

Monday

I bought a boatload of foam puzzle tiles about a year ago to use as a barrier between tiny fingers, knees and toes and our deck… which, if you remember, was a bit of a hot mess.

powerwashing before and after

never used them. I put them in storage, forgot they existed and never. friggin. used them.

Until last Monday.

I pulled those suckers out of storage and wrote the alphabet on them, so the toddler and I had an ABC sidewalk in the living room…

alphabet sidewalk

…for about five minutes of singing that stupid song before…

IMG_4858_1080x1080

…the totally should-have-been-expected destruction.

Guess what his favorite thing to do is?

Destroy.

We also tried to learn the letters in our name, but alas, he wasn’t interested at all.

Our scheduled dance party? Basically just me walking around the house to the music while he ignored me and tried to play with the dog.

Tuesday

My son loves counting. He doesn’t do it in the correct order, but he loves to count — 1, 2, 9, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13! (He always screams 13…, and that’s where he stops. I think I need to blame Sesame Street for that.)

Honestly, for his delays in other areas, he’s doing fine with remembering this sequence of numbers. Unfortunately, it’s incorrect, and he’s not identifying numbers as quantities of things. He doesn’t understand “one more time,” or that he’s 3, or how many crackers he’s allowed to have before dinner.

We tried to work on that on Tuesday.

homeschool speech blubs

I found an app called Speech Blubs, but I’m not yet endorsing it with my #WAHM stamp of approval. While my toddler seems to enjoy it, they double-charged me for a year, and I’m annoyed.

So we’ll see…

The concept of the app is for your child to see and hear other children saying words, making animal noises and counting in order to encourage them to try the same.

After two days of using the app, my son figured out how to skip information and animations meant for learning to get to the game at the end.

Basically, he can’t count in the appropriate order, but he’s discovered how many times he has to skip screens in order to pop balloons.

My son, ladies and gentlemen.

“Jumping” went really well, because he loves jumping, climbing, running and any activity that generally disregards his safety or wellbeing. However, he slept through “puddles” and the rain dried up quickly on our block, so he didn’t get to splash.

(Total shame. It’s super fun and adorable to watch him splash.)

Wednesday

When my son turned 2, I signed up for Kiwi&Co. Crates, which are arts, crafts, educational, pretend play and physical activities delivered monthly.

His first box? Well, he really enjoyed the tissue paper…

img_7648

That last four months or so, I’ve been saving up boxes in preparation for summer when he wouldn’t have speech therapy.

Well, they’ve all be yanked out of storage, too, to provide SOME kind of structure to my attempt to homeschool him.

One box, Color Mixing, had a lot of promise because a) it offered the use of cups filled with water and a stirring stick — and my kid loves a good stirring stick — and b) we could paint!

My son loved the water and the stirring stick, didn’t give a s*** about the colors and refused to help me paint.

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s MY artwork completed while coaxing my toddler to help.

01159F18-C66B-4428-863C-1D49DED3B28A

I’m going to frame it and give it to him as a gift when he’s old enough to understand how annoying he was as a toddler. #notbitter

The third activity in the crate was a color-matching game with cards and felt circles. While he didn’t say a single color by name, he matched them perfectly without any instruction from me. Something’s gotta be clicking, right?

7A7CF1F5-0BBC-49E7-BDF1-2FD5AF21C656

He did say “puh-kin,” which was super adorable, but that’s all I got out of him on Wednesday.

Thursday

Hot failure. A straight up mess of failure.

School activities, outside play and paying any amount of attention to me were thrown out the window and replaced with epic, epic fuss.

You guys just so much fuss omg.

I crashed on the couch at 7:30 p.m., and then I woke up nearly 11 hours later. It wore me out, that fuss. My husband had put the toddler to bed, turned off the TV and left me to sleep.

#WAHMlife for the zzz’s.

Friday

Both my husband and I worked from home on Friday, so the toddler was pretty jazzed about life with the adults “playing” on their computers and their phones. So, again, we accomplished zero homeschooling.

Ah, well.

We’ve been without public school since March 12, social-distancing since March 18 and at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 30, we’ll be under a statewide stay-at-home order.

My toddler is NOT going back to school this semester (and potentially the foreseeable future).

Here’s to Homeschool: Week 2. Pray for me.

A937BA4A-5E9E-48FB-8716-9A19F3660E47

(Uh, yeah, I always have a workout scheduled… and have not done one yet!)

An Indefinite Amount of Time

Last Tuesday, my office sent us home with our computers, laptops, supplies and anything else we might need to work from home — which is what we’re doing.

For an indefinite amount of time.

On Friday night, I finally set up my home office, pulling my desk out of storage. I had been meaning to do that anyway.

DC81B79C-C11B-4028-873D-4578A2794829

I also ventured to grocery stores Friday night, spending three hours hunting for eggs, milk and produce. Luckily, I had found six rolls of toilet paper behind a bag full of bags in my upstairs bathroom cupboard.

I felt like the richest woman on earth.

Mostly because it meant I didn’t have to go out again on Saturday.

Friday night at my neighborhood Dillon’s looked a lot like Sunday afternoon the week before…

IMG_4789
No bread on Friday. Thankfully, I still had half a loaf with a “Best By” date less than a week prior.
IMG_4791
Few soap options. I bought three, one for each bathroom and an extra to take with me. Excessive use of public soap has officially caused my eczema to flare and my knuckles to crack and bleed. The itching means I also bought an super-sized bottle of eczema cream.
IMG_4792
No paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins were sold out. To the world, please don’t flush products other than toilet paper. (Women already understand this.) The last thing we need is a clogged water system during this quarantine.
IMG_4790
The worst? No diapers (or wipes!). I found a pack of 18 in my son’s size on Sunday, and then again on Friday. One pack each day. Soon, we’re going to be potty enforcing, instead of potty training. Luckily, I’ve had people reach out to help me.

On Saturday, my husband and I cleaned the ever-loving s*** out of our house. We used the last of our Lysol wipes to scrub appliances, countertops and sinks. We dug deep into the kitchen sink with baking soda and cream of tarter. We swept, Swiffered and mopped the bathrooms and kitchen. We dusted, Windexed and vacuumed the house top-to-bottom.

I sprayed disinfectant purchased during my husband’s latest cold (more than a month ago) on every cabinet pull, door knob, light switch and surface my son might decide to press his face on.

So all the surfaces.

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 8.58.59 PM
Ignore the grammar errors. I was near an anxiety attack. A well deserved one, I might add. And autocorrect is a nightmare.

On Sunday, I outlined my week of billable work hours and homeschool for my son.

11C374DC-8865-45C9-A074-6302F5BEFB9B
My agenda book has never included “School Activities” and “Outside Play.”

With the school district closed for the rest of the semester and my household #socialdistancing (and now under a shelter-at-home order), my 3-year-old no longer has access to the education, social/speech therapy and daily work he needs to improve on his cognitive and speech delays.

Now, that therapy falls on me.

Why me? Why not my husband, too?

Let me be clear: We are not a gender-“normal” household. We share the load across the board. We take care of bills, housework, paperwork, pets and the toddler equally and equitably.

But, right now, he’s taking care of even more because he works at a major hospital in our community. He has staff on the front lines of fighting coronavirus, flattening the curve and supporting the hospital.

All while they’re all trying to take care of themselves and their families.

So, that’s why me.

However, he still has to make dinner some nights because I’m generally a terrible cook (unless he wants frozen “chicken chunks” and oven-roasted corn on the cob for the indefinite amount of time I’m home).

6D0B7AE5-7731-49E5-914A-D1DB60BE37E9
Honestly, even with no butter, the corn was pretty legit.

In return, I’ll do the laundry and try to potty-train the toddler.

No promises on that second one, though.

Homeschool — and the attempt to teach my son how to string English words (instead of “his language” words) into a sentence — are my new normal for a while. I don’t know when he’ll be able to go back to daycare or school where he can learn from professionals.

Remember, this is indefinite.

What hasn’t been suspended for an indefinite amount of time is my job.

Because I still have a job.

A flexible, gives-a-s***-about-me job that understands and makes accommodations for my new normal.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones.

Sometimes, in the thick of things, we can forget how lucky we are.

I know I have.

Since Tuesday, March 17 — without a lucky St. Patrick’s Day celebration — I have been reminded over and over how lucky I am through the actions and words of people who care about me. The people I work for and with every day.

I know not everyone is going to be as lucky as I am during and after this pandemic.

Coronavirus is reshaping households and families worldwide. For an indefinite amount of time. Remind yourself, if you’re one of the lucky ones, that you are in fact lucky.

Stay home because you can.

Buy less because you can.

Donate more because you can.

Remember, not everyone can.

We’re all in this together.

2020 Resolution Breakdown: Take Some F Word Time

Take Some F Word Time is my second 2020 New Year’s Resolution.

Because I want to take back my house and Get an F Word Hobby, I want to add to the quality (and quantity) of time I spend with my husband and son.

How?

Step 1: Make breakfast. 

Right now, my picky eater enjoys two things for breakfast: yogur’ and ‘nacks — and honestly he’s so picky that I don’t fight him about the maybe 10 things he’ll eat.

I just feed him those things.

Well, no more! Improving the cycle means dragging my sleepy butt out of bed earlier and making breakfast.

Some days that might mean eggs, sausage and toast. Other days that might mean toaster waffles and yogur’.

I mean, no one’s perfect, but definitely no more ‘nacks.

Henry-August 2019_17 copy
Eat the eggs.

Step 2: Focus on family.

I’m a working mom, and my husband is a working dad.

Our son spends more than a third of his day with other people. Absolutely amazing people — but they’re not his parents.

When we all get home from work and school, we’re exhausted. Especially the toddler who’s been behaving all day.

At the end of the day, we’re not focusing on family — we’re sprinting toward bedtime.

Again, I say no more! Improving the cycle means bringing quality (and quantity) to our limited time.

That means…

  • Dragging a chair into the kitchen, so our son can help us cook dinner.
  • Eating together as a family — as often as possible — unless the toddler already ate because he’s not about to wait for food he doesn’t want to eat anyway.
  • Playing, instead of relaxing after a long day — but that doesn’t have to be every day. Some days, momma needs to recline (and snuggle a toddler).
  • Taking walks after dinner when the days get longer and warmer, which can be every day for all I care. Walking FTW. Plus, we love watching our son explore.
Henry-August 2019_8 copy
He’s already so good at helping me make coffee.
Henry-August 2019_5
Just FYI. He has his own chair.

We’re going to ease into it. One weeknight. Two. Maybe three? While I want to give our son more time, I also know that we need time to ourselves to recharge.

Introverts, yo.

Step 3: Do Fun Family S***

We’re about to renew some local memberships to our favorite places, including Botanica Wichita and the Sedgwick County Zoo.

Henry-April2019_8
The playground garden at Botanica had so many things to climb over and under.
IMG_3085 copy
He didn’t listen to us about this mean blue pigeon in the Jungle.

Our super active toddler loves climbing, exploring, jumping and running. Botanica and the zoo offer endless opportunities, but there’s even more in Wichita that he hasn’t experienced or explored yet.

  • A library filled to the brim with books made for rough toddler hands.
  • Baby goats at Elderslie Farms.
  • Cowtown actors reenacting gunfights and slinging sarsaparillas at the saloon.
  • Dozens of playgrounds with slides, swings and sand pits to dig in.
  • Farmer’s Markets full of food I want him to pick out for himself.
  • Gyms made especially for super active toddlers complete with ball pits, foam blocks and toddler-only trampolines.
  • Movie nights made for kids, so there’s no fear of screaming ruining anyone’s good time. (We’re in this Pixar nonsense together, moms.)
  • New exhibits at Exploration Place.
  • Riverfest!!!
  • Splash pads to beat the summer heat.

We also received a 2020 Bucket List from Ria Farmer, Realtor.

Not all are toddler friendly options — he can’t set a monster toddler foot in the Frank Lloyd Wright Allen House.

But I could see us breakfasting with ice cream at Little Lion, getting outside at the Great Plains Nature Center and taking ourselves out to the ballgame at Wichita’s new baseball stadium.

595A2D12-B05C-4D2F-AEB3-FC4EA3441040
Mom and dad will be spending an afternoon at Johnson’s Garden Center at the greatest beer festival in Wichita: the Iron ChildHead Competition.

So.

Many.

Fun.

Things!

In 2020, we’re taking the F word time to do them.

The Schedule

I wake up every morning and begin The Schedule.

Depending on the day of the week — and the night before — The Schedule begins at 6:30 a.m. or 7:21 a.m.

I have to be at work at 8:30 a.m., so let’s look at what we shove into the first hour and a half to 29 minutes of our days.

The Schedule

6:30 a.m.: Get Shae Ready

  • Alarm blares “Silk,” which is a gentle and inaccurate reference to the car horn screaming me awake, at 6:30 a.m.
  • “Wake up.”
  • Snooze alarm.
  • Alarm blares again 7 minutes and 59 seconds later. (Why can’t I set my own snooze on an iPhone?!)
  • Wake up, and actually get out of bed.
  • Obtain coffee. It’s dark outside, and humans should be awake, and coffee is life force in liquid form, and I need it.
  • The coffee is not fresh.
  • Drink it anyway.
  • Speed through a shower… or ignore the shower and hope #shorthairdontcare can be made presentable for work.
  • Get ready for work. This takes seven minutes with or without a shower.

7 a.m.: Get the Toddler Ready

  • Now “ready” for my day, simultaneously do the dishes, pick up the house and repack the toddler’s daycare bag because he definitely unpacked it the night before. Yay. He’s good at zippers.
  • Later than 7 a.m.? Ignore all chores and hope there are spare diapers and a change of clothes in the daycare bag.
  • Prepare the toddler’s breakfast, which is nearly always yogur’ and a ‘nack (a granola bar). Otherwise, he’s not gonna eat breakfast.
  • Wake the toddler — who would rather sleep longer thank you very much. I feel your pain, kiddo. Get TF out of bed.
  • Toddler attempts to drag me into the crib. He’s very strong.
  • Finally coax the toddler out of bed and onto his diaper changing station.
  • Argue with him about changing his diaper. He wants to keep it, of course. (I don’t understand this. Someone explain it to me.)
  • Argue with him about taking off his PJs. He wants to keep them, of course. (Again, please explain.)
  • Finally coax the toddler into a clean diaper, out of his jams and into daytime clothes.
  • Feed the toddler his yogur’ and ‘nack. He still doesn’t eat it.
  • While the toddler is NOT eating, make my own breakfast and prep a lunch for work because, no, I did not do it the night before.
  • Where are the toddler’s shoes? Where are his shoes always? Why aren’t they in the shoe tote? Why aren’t they ever in the shoe tote?
  • Find the toddler’s shoes in a pile of his toys — and then shove them onto his argumentative little baby feet.
  • He’s dressed. He’s “fed.” He’s got a jacket, hat and mittens. He’s wearing shoes. Hallelujah.

8 a.m.: Leave the House (we’re going to be late!)

  • Pack ALL THE THINGS.
  • Attach ALL THE THINGS and an uncooperative child to my body, so we can leave the house.
  • Leave the house.
  • The toddler has other ideas about leaving the house. Other ideas like finding a special invisible nonexistent toy. Fuss about it. Settle for a puppy. Demand to be carried. Cling to mom while she tries to open doors, close doors and lock doors.
  • Finally coax the toddler out of the house and to the car.
  • Argue with the toddler about which door he gets to open on the car.
  • Argue with the toddler about getting in the car.
  • Argue with the toddler about sitting in his carseat.
  • Argue with the toddler about buckling his carseat.
  • Promise the toddler — my first-born — to a random deity if he will just SIT IN THE CARSEAT.
  • Finally get the toddler in the carseat. No deity shows up to get him. (Rude.)
  • Did I lock the door?
  • Go back to the house to make sure I locked the door. It is. It always is.
  • Almost drive away with my now very cold coffee on the roof of the car.
  • Save the coffee.
  • Drive to daycare while pumping up my toddler about going to daycare — and being awake.
  • Arrive at daycare.
  • Navigate pedestrians.
  • Park and get out of the car and carseat.
  • The toddler celebrates like I’ve locked him in for longer than 8-10 minutes.
  • Navigate drivers.
  • The toddler helps me open the doors, which means punching the code in wrong at least twice.
  • Say “hello” to everyone we see, including the fishes in the fish tank by banging on it. Sorry, fishes.
  • Drop off the toddler at his classroom.
  • Be immediately ignored by the toddler once he sees all his little friends at daycare. He’s so excited to be awake now — and I haven’t finished my coffee. Bye, dude.
  • Got to work — I just made it.

Repeat every weekday that ends in Y, and there you have it: The Schedule.

Toddlers really make mornings a chore. Are teenage boys any better? I’m terrified.

2020 F Words: New Year’s Resolutions

Our 2019 resolutions were categorized by F words: finances, fitness, food and… f(h)ouse.

Obviously, F words couldn’t cover the complete list. I haven’t read the dictionary. I’m not searching for a synonym for “house” that begins with an F. Psh.

In 2020, though, every resolution will contain an F word.

The best F word.

Get an F Word Hobby

Prior to parenting, I had hobbies. Creative, fulfilling hobbies. Cooking, decorating, drawing, salvaging, writing, yoga.

Hell, I even read books that didn’t rhyme.

After my son was born, I abandoned all of my hobbies. Cooking became a chore. All the art, breakable decor and photos came down. I packed away my charcoal, paints and pencils. I was proscribed from yoga entirely by my physical therapist — still the case to this day.

And the house transformed into my son’s play space. An extra-safe, dull, totally decoration-free arena where he could crawl, explore and scatter toys.

Well, I’m taking it back.

My art, decor and photos are going back up. I’m unpacking my pencils. I’m pulling my desk out of storage.

His toys are going in his room. (Wish me luck.)

And I’m getting an F word hobby in 2020.

Take Some F Word Time

Am I taking from my son by making our house less his space? Yes, but I’m planning to give him something in return.

Time.

Our day-to-day schedule is wake, work/school, eat and sleep. We shove all of our family time together in the two and half hours between getting home from work and toddler bedtime.

It’s the smallest window of our day, and it isn’t always pretty.

In 2020, we’re making that window bigger and giving him more quality in our F word time.

How?

First, I’m going to make work-life balance a priority in 2020.

Because I abandoned all of my hobbies after I became a mother, I turned to the activity I was best at for creative fulfillment.

Work.

I love my work, but I spend too much time outside of it focusing on it. So, to Take Some F Word Time, I’m changing my focus. (Hence why my first resolution is to Get an F Word Hobby.)

See, I’m trying.

IMG_3106
Si’ dow’, he says. Cheee, he says. He says cute s***.

Second, we’re going to do more as a family in 2020. Activities that benefit us all by getting me walking (for my pain) and tiring out the toddler (for our sanity).

  • Exploring at Botanica Gardens or the Sedgwick County Zoo
  • Going to the farmer’s market
  • Playing at one of the parks we love on the weekends
  • Taking walks after dinner
  • Visiting grandparents and great-grandparents on the weekends

Even before we had a child, my husband and I loved these activities — and the tiny toddler terror loves them now.

I get my house back. He gets to jump in puddles. Win-win.

Remodel the F Word House

In 2019, we turned the lights back on. In 2020, we’re putting lipstick on our pig, er, house — countertops, flooring, paint. You name it. I’m changing it.

Not only does the house need some TLC, it will also be my part of my F Word Hobby.

PaintingShae
I’M SO TIRED OF LION’S MANE BEIGE OMG.

I love a fresh coat of paint as well as the tedious focused work of stripping layers of it off something that used to be beautiful.

Plus, remodeling the house will absolutely be part of my “might lose weight” resolution. Because omg it’s exhausting, and I’m already sore.

All of my “active minutes” during Thanksgiving break were me painting the dining room while the toddler napped or slept. 

Our goal is to do as much as we can DIY, but we might have to call in the professionals to rip out the carpet, pad and staples tarnishing the PERFECTLY GOOD hardwood floors under them.

What were the 50’s(?) thinking, for F word sake. (Seriously, this wood is OLD, and the carpet pad under the “new” carpet doesn’t look super new…)

Take Care of My F Word Self

I faced a host of health hullabaloo in 2019: eczema, GAD, hair loss, hormonal imbalance, PMDD, thyroid cysts and, as always, chronic back pain.

My body is a mess, but most of its problems stem from poor serotonin receptors. (Turns out, it was “all in my head,” or wherever serotonin is made. Also too lazy to look up science.)

Thankfully, I took time in 2019 to find a diagnosis, get treatment and pull myself back out of the hole postpartum left me in. I’m going into 2020 armed with a will to fight and a priority to Take Care of My F Word Self.

Including all our favorite F words, of course… finances, fitness and food.

Happy New Year, y’all.

IMG_3637.JPG