Wednesday, September 2, 2020

August Favorites: Public School, Poor Coping Techniques, and a Pandemic Playlist

Ugh, you guys. I was so naive. I legitimately thought that public high school, even pandemic-themed virtual public high school, meant that my homeschooling workload would be cut in half. I figured I'd help Syd with her homework, maybe sneak in some fun activities to supplement her learning, maybe focus on my OTHER high-speed learner while Syd contentedly worked away on her own high school stuff, maybe just get caught up on all the arts and crafts activities that we've been longing to do in our non-school hours. Finish our paint-by-numbers. Buy some resin supplies.

What virtual public high school ACTUALLY consists of is me homeschooling some other teacher's lesson plans every day, all day, with no prep time. Trying to interpret some video lesson to figure out what the teacher wants my kid to learn from it, then trying to teach it to my kid some other way so she actually will learn it. Still being the bad guy, since all the instruction is still coming from me. Getting just as frustrated as she is with weird and wonky technology and online stuff that doesn't work right. I swear to the heavens that she has submitted that very first Upload a Photo assignment to her algebra teacher 40 times, and the algebra teacher still can't open it and so still won't award her the points. All her other teachers can see her photo uploads!!! WhAt ThE hELL!?!?!?!? Also, her French teacher kept assigning the kids readings in their French textbook, and Syd kept doing them, but bombed the first quiz, and it turned out that Syd randomly has a different French textbook (????) that's just randomly also in the online portal where she accesses her online biology textbook, but that's not the French textbook that the French teacher wanted them to use--it was some other textbook, in some other online portal, but we didn't notice because, you know, THERE IS A FRENCH TEXTBOOK RIGHT FREAKING THERE.

Want to guess how many times Matt has caught me sitting on the kitchen floor in the middle of the day, crying while rage-eating macaroni and cheese straight from the pot?

More than once, you guys. More. Than. Once.

Anyway, that's why I read so many books in August. It's because after I finish the daily hell of mentoring Syd's virtual public schoolwork, all I want to do with the rest of my life is 1) watch my month of Disney+ that I got for my birthday (I have seen Hamilton as many times as there are days), or 2) read quietly while listening to Spotify. Preferably no other humans exist in the dimensions in which I do these activities. If they do exist, they ideally should also be very, very quiet. If they wanted, they could hand me the pot of macaroni and cheese when I spontaneously start crying.

Okay, *sometimes* I will do the New York Times crossword. But I still don't want to talk.

My obsession with series books continued through August. It turns out that most of what I read is part of a series!

After reading this series with me, Syd described John Lewis as a BAMF:

She is not wrong. Telling her immediately afterwards that John Lewis had died the month before was pretty crappy, and I wish now that I hadn't done it.

I did just pick up Book 3 from the library, though! Perhaps that will give a chance for the hero worship to eclipse the sadness...

Here's one of Syd's heroes that she handed over to ME, and she didn't tell me any sad things about him to ruin my experience:

I also just picked up The Last Olympian from the library! Syd tells me that after I read that, I can start the Heroes of Olympus. I think the Trials of Apollo comes after that?

Will is in charge of all of our library Lumberjanes requests, or at least I think she is--I just magically find the newest Lumberjanes graphic novel on our library shelves every now and then and happily read it! Here's the one that I read in August:
And I think the newer ones are already in our holds queue!

My obligatory Aubrey/Maturin read was my favorite one yet:

You know how I feel about those two! There's a scene here in which both Aubrey and Maturin are afraid that Maturin is going to die during their imminent adventure. Aubrey is trying to toast Maturin, starts to tell him how much he loves him, gets choked up, and then accidentally drops his cup, it shatters, and he FREAKS OUT because apparently sailors are superstitious as hell. I LOVED IT.

And don't even rag on me about spoilers, you guys--this book is something like 40 years old!

My favorite non-fiction book of August also turned out to be part of a series, although I didn't know it at the time:

I checked it out from the library because I'm into rockets, but the book is so well-written, and has just as much to say about dying small towns and family members who don't love you as much as you wish they would and busting through your academics because it's about all you've got as it does about rockets.

Also, Will and I made something called rocket candy together when she was deep into her pyromaniac stage. Turns out that phrase was coined by this guy, who invented it as a teenager! We're very lucky that he lived through that experiment...

Here are the whopping three books that I read in August that it turns out are NOT part of a series:

I particularly wish that El Deafo had a sequel, though!

Will, fortunately, has had a very smooth transition into August. Her days continue to look much like this--

--and even better, and knock on wood(!), we've possibly found a venue to host her PSAT AND her AP exam (it's an hour and a half away, but whatever--I'm thrilled!), and so far her very first real-live college class seems to be challenging and engaging and fun for her.

Will is a beast at getting her schoolwork done and happy as a clam afterwards, burying herself in fantasy novel after fantasy novel. Here are her favorites from August:

You'll see, of course, a goodly amount of Tamora Pierce--of course! And apparently she's also on yet another Wings of Fire read-through...

Here's what else she read in August!

That reads like a life well-lived, doesn't it?

Another pandemic fun fact: along with my resting heart rate, my insomnia has been ratcheting up like you would not believe. I've had some level of insomnia since I had the kids, but now I do shit like waking up at 4:00 am on a SATURDAY and wandering, zombie-like, around the house, until by the time someone else finally wakes up at a reasonable hour, I'm presenting them with a spotless, dirty-dish free kitchen in which there are freshly-baked blueberry muffins and a breakfast casserole I'm just taking out of the oven, and I cannot tell them my name or what year it is.

I've become, then, a connoisseur of those ten-hour ambient noise YouTube videos. Some of them sound cool but are too gimmicky--a pirate ship during a storm would NEVER have zero people hollering on it!--but others are pretty awesome. I like to turn those fireplace videos up until it sounds like there's a forest burning down, and this is my favorite rain video:

That, plus my weighted blanket and a sleep mask, generally gets me to sleep... until 4:00 am, at least! After 4:00 am, I'm just gonna go vacuum the kitchen and bake muffins.

I am in a podcast drought! Much of it has to do with the fact that I don't feel like thinking during my free time right now (not when there are books and Disney+ for zoning out in!), but now that 1) my birthday Disney+ subscription ends tomorrow and 2) I have my sewing machine back and it works great--YAY!!!--so I can start sewing again, I'd love some more good podcast recommendations. In the meantime, I'm going to share with you what I'm mostly listening to while I read:

It's my dorky, dorky, nerdy, dorky personal playlist of my own personal favorite songs. Feel free to skim through it and judge me for my choices. It's even got my name on it, so you can come stalk me, I guess. I mean, I'm pretty boring--as you can tell from my Spotify favorites!--but if you want to quietly watch me quietly reading while listening to indie folk/Broadway show tunes/vintage country gospel, feel free.

Also... send me your best podcast recommendations!

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