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We survived our first day of homeschooling. I posted on Facebook that we didn’t start getting grouchy until 4pm, which I considered an accomplishment. Even just a day into my unexpected teaching career, I have learned a lot.

  • We got a late start so we skipped our morning movement time. This meant that Zeke took many breaks from our morning learning time to jump on the trampoline. The trampoline is little and has gone through periods of collecting dust in our house, but no more! Thanks to my mom for giving us the trampoline a few years ago. It seems essential for homeschooling.
  • I couldn’t access the materials that Zeke’s school provided, so I gave Zeke some assignments from an activity book for second graders that my mom picked up at a garage sale at some point for us. Once again, thanks, Mom! Zeke calculated how much money a girl with a lemonade stand made, made observations about penguins, did some addition and subtraction, and sailed through a logic problem.

    Later tonight I figured out how to download the first grade distance learning packet from Zeke’s school but discovered that most of it is pretty easy (except for the science projects, which I am simply not ambitious enough to undertake) and decided I will just continue with the second grade workbook.
  • The best part of the day was making art. Zeke did some drawing and painting. Zoe made me a bracelet and painted. I made a weird little mixed media box thing. We listened to music. The art making was calming and fun. Maybe we will finally use up the vast stores of art supplies we have on hand.
  • Randy came downstairs from the office to have lunch with us. We all had a healthy, homemade lunch together around 12:30pm. This was strange! But good. Usually when I’m on my own I forget to have lunch until 2 or 3pm, or I get fast food, or go out.
  • In the afternoon, the kids and I each retreated to a different comfy piece of furniture to read our books. Zoe started a Jason Reynolds novel, Zeke read a Geronimo Stilton book, and I continued reading Mercy House.
  • The other highlight of the day was a hike at Potomac Overlook. The kids were reluctant to venture out, but once we got there they were excited to be outside, walk through the woods, and climb back and forth across the stream on various boulders and over fallen trees. We encountered only a handful of people in the park and we said hello from six feet away. When we got home, we scrubbed down and put our clothes in the wash.
  • Even though I’ve been creating and populating this blog about things to do during the quarantine, I hadn’t really figured out how to incorporate the resources into our day. I realized by the end of the day today that I need an actual lesson plan for tomorrow, not just a schedule. So I created one. We’ll see how it goes…

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Between yesterday and today I read a lot of articles about Coronavirus, contagion, social distancing, our health care system, and the horror show in Italy right now. As a result, I decided not to leave the house today. I was supposed to go with the rest of my ministerial search committee to a church that isn’t ours to see one of our ministerial candidates preach, and then go to lunch with the candidate and the committee. Thankfully, one of my brave committee members brought her computer to the service and transmitted it via zoom to those of us who were quarantining. Meanwhile, the rest of my family was in another room watching the virtual service at our church.

Randy and I made pumpkin pancakes, bacon, and eggs for brunch. After we ate, the kids and I went through all of their past, present, and future clothes in their drawers and the closet to cull items they’ve outgrown and switch some seasonal clothes. While I was doing Zoe’s clothes, Zeke read Olga: Out of Control and periodically read funny parts aloud to us. Randy bravely ventured out into the world to pick something up at his office, drop off our glass recycling, and buy some milk. We decided when he was at the store he would handle everything with a towel. When he got home he put everything he was wearing (plus the towel, which he wasn’t wearing) in the washing machine.

By the time I finished with the kids’ clothes, I had developed a raging migraine that also resembled a cluster headache. I would classify this headache as one of the 10 worst I’ve had in my life, which is saying a lot, since I’ve been experiencing clusters and migraines since I was a kid. It was the kind where I was getting chills and sweats and actually thought I was going to die. (Don’t worry, I took my temperature and I don’t have a fever.) Six hours in bed, two icepacks, a rizotriptan and naproxen, and several saltines later, I emerged from our bedroom feeling mostly better. After making myself a fruit smoothie and peanut butter sandwich, I was fine.

I cleaned the kitchen and Zoe and I played Kings in the Corner. Zoe said she wasn’t sure if she was excited about tomorrow’s homeschooling plan or not. I feel the same way. Yesterday we all sat down together and created this great schedule, but I don’t know how long we’ll be able to stick to it until things descend into anarchy.

(Gotta appreciate alliteration and rhyme even in a crisis time)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

We found out yesterday that schools would be closed for the next month. Closures and cancelations are being decided by each school district, venue, organization, and company. I read today that all of France and Italy are closed. Period. Seems like the United States is way behind the curve on this.

Not unlike on September 11, the impending crisis seems incongruous with the weather, which has been sunny and warm.

I feel like we’ve already made mistakes in terms of insufficient social distancing and self quarantine. Zoe’s best friend came over yesterday and today for several hours. It didn’t occur to me or his mom that could be a problem. The prospect of telling my almost 13-year-old n more friends over for a few days (or more) isn’t pleasant. Thank God they all have phones, I am thinking for the first time ever.

I launched a new blog: to build community and provide coping techniques and comic relief during this period. I welcome contributors!

Things I’m thinking about:

  • What I want to learn during this time, and what I can teach the kids
  • What will change in the world after this is all over
  • What I won’t be doing for a while, like free cycling or selling stuff online
  • Silver linings–we’ll be spending less money and using the resources we have on hand.


on a wet playground
I witnessed
the origin of a superhero

Created by a
teacher who was
crouched down in the soggy mulch
next to a sobbing child
who was, until that moment,
just an ordinary girl
with a blond ponytail
and purple glasses

Our would-be hero
wearing rainpants
had just careened down
the frictionless slide
and landed hard
on her bottom

A small crowd
of small children
had begun to gather
when the teacher
swooped in

“You didn’t tell me you were a superhero!”
she said to the girl.
“You didn’t tell me you could fly!”

The girl stopped sobbing
and looked questioningly at her teacher

“You must be a superhero because
you flew right off that slide!”

The girl considered this.

“My bottom hurts,” she said.

“Sometimes that happens
when superheroes fly,”
her teacher acknowledged.

“Next time you are going to fly
down the slide,
tell me

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I feel like it’s too much to ask
to do all the right things
like floss and wear sunscreen and recycle
and pay bills on time
and not eat too many croissants
and not drive when you could walk
and show up on time

The long list of requirements
weighs on me
like the 10 commandments etched in stone
times 1,000 and strapped
onto my back
as if I am Moses’ sherpa

Yes, I know
I could put down
the freaking tablets
and give my aching shoulders
a rest
but I also know there would be
because that’s how it works

Not to mention the rules
that aren’t even covered
in the 1,000 commandments
like don’t show up to a party empty-handed
and always send a card
and put something in the plate when it’s passed to you

Then there are the Big Rules
(not necessarily covered in the…

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How you organize your life
is up to you

Your choices may bewilder me
but that’s on me

I may not understand what you smoke or why

how you learned to shoot

where you put your trust

who you worship

everything you are willing to sacrifice

But you offered me orange juice
and crackers

You made me laugh

You did not give up
(on me)

You never
turned me away

You may question my trips
through the drive-thru

My vague idea of bedtime

Nearly everything I allow my kids to do
and where I draw the line

You may think my priorities are sadly misguided

and that it’s embarrassing
that my heart so often shows up
on my sleeve

You may judge me by my
worst day, my stupidest

Fair enough

I confess I don’t have a clue
what motivates you
why you don’t care
as much as…

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When we arrived
after an eight-hour drive
he ran in circles around the car
and the yard
eager to move his body

Inside he found some toys
in the back room
with his six-year-old sixth sense
and set up games for himself to play

He paged through a craft book
sticking post-it notes to 
every activity he wanted to try

He admired the sewing machine and 
said he wanted to learn to sew
“that’s a useful talent,” he said.

He helped set up a TV and 
its accessories and discussed
power tools with my cousin

Way past usual bedtime
he said he needed something else to eat
so I led him to the pantry
“they have a pantry?” he asked in awe
I pointed out crackers and fruit cups and applesauce
He backed into the pantry and closed the door

A few minutes later he emerged
after my cousin opened the door for him
He had been stuck
but evidently not alarmed
and emerged with a box of Reduced Fat Wheat Thins
which he brought into our bedroom
He ate crackers while reading to me the
nutrition facts and marketing ploys on the box
I tried to explain “less is more.”

Then we read an Elephant and Piggie book
I was Elephant
He was Piggie
We snuggled
and fell asleep

by Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
October 2019

  1. Why are people so mean to other people?
  2. Why does our bathroom smell like pee no matter how much I clean it?
  3. Why do I always smell things no one else seems to smell?
  4. How do they make the crosswords get increasingly difficult each day of the week?
  5. What would motivate my kids to learn to ride the bikes that have been sitting in our hallway all summer long and have seen exactly one sidewalk since June?
  6. Why do I have random dark spots and little growths and things on my skin? Should I have them removed? What are the philosophical and physiological ramifications of elective procedures on your face? (OK that’s three questions wrapped up in one)
  7. How can people ardently disagree but still both be right?
  8. Are there any countries or cultures that are not racist?
  9. Why does my six-year-old ask so many questions that I can’t answer and should I try harder to answer them?
  10. Are repentance and forgiveness truly possible in our culture or have we reached this point where we are not allowed to make mistakes? Or are there some kinds of mistakes that are forgivable and others that are not?
  11. Why do I always assume people will judge me? Are people actually judging me?
  12. Do I expect too much from my children? Or not enough?
  13. Why doesn’t everyone care about being a good person?
  14. How is it possible that we can understand things about a person by looking into their eyes? What are we actually seeing?
  15. Why don’t we eat a wider variety of vegetables?
  16. Why do prices at gas stations vary so widely depending on the geography of the gas station when it’s the same gas?
  17. What is it about a good movie trailer that gives me goosebumps?
  18. Why do humans drink other animals’ milk that is intended for the animals’ offspring? (I love milk, but still I find this bizarre)
  19. Why is it so hard for us to do things we know are good for us and avoid things we know are bad for us?
  20. Who decided that men should be hairy and women should not?

Do you have answers? Or your own questions? I’d love to hear them.


One night I let a man in the house
where I was living with a dozen
other students because he said he was a friend
of someone’s and I didn’t know any differently

Then he stole the TV

Twenty-five years later
I still tend to believe everyone is
telling the truth
about who they are

even though I should know better
by now

And when I find out what’s real
I wonder who I am
and why I never learn
because I know I would
open the door again today
and let anyone
take what they wanted

~Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso
July 2019

View original post


No room left in my brain for
completing a task
even a simple one like
editing an article
or making a salad
or sorting out an insurance claim
(ok that’s never simple)

All my constructive, purposeful thoughts
are crowded out, shoved to the side
or hiding under benches
as the what ifs and the worst case scenarios
jockey for position
shouting above the already deafening decibel level

The what ifs and worst cases are bullies
of the worst kind because they are subtle
not resorting to physical violence, but mostly
trafficking in intimidation
knowing the good thoughts will slink away in fear
with a sour taste in their mouths
because of too many hours and days deprived
of fresh air and healthy food
all that’s left to do is sleep
when they aren’t allowed to exercise or
even move about freely

Meanwhile, the what ifs and worst cases gain strength

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