So I forgot that I am terrible with self-imposed schedules. Homeschool kinda broke down today. On the second day. For better or for worse, after 14 years of working from home, I have fallen into a variety of habits that are not conducive to a structured homeschool day.

Both Zoe and I were up way too late last night–insomnia? Anxiety? Who knows. But as a result we were not up bright and early this morning. Zeke was. And I told him no xbox but he could watch something on PBS Kids. When I finally got my act together I did put Christian’s martial arts exercise video on for Zeke, who also practiced his kick combo a few times.

We didn’t do most of the rest of the lesson plan. Zoe worked on her school work and did a vigorous workout using an online app. Zeke and I did a couple worksheets and watched a video about Fiona the hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo. I folded and put away a lot of laundry. After lunch I got a headache and decided to take a nap. The kids went briefly feral for a while.

Eventually we rallied and went outside to the park to kick the soccer ball around. I was dismayed to see lots of people at the playground and playing basketball, neither of which maintains social distance. At least it was a nice day outside.

Then I made dinner (meatloaf, green beans, couscous, and sourdough bread) while Zeke did math games on the Dreambox app I downloaded at his request. Zoe did some reading and we’re about to play a board game as a family. I realize I was overly ambitious today and need to plan less for tomorrow.

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…

View original post 109 more words

This is the part of my car that is no longer attached.

I still have the driver’s side mirror that came on my Honda Odyssey, but it’s currently sitting on the floor of the back seat. Maybe a little Gorilla Glue will take care of that?

But let me rewind to the earlier excitement in my day.

Zeke stayed home from school today after receiving a diagnosis of flu b yesterday at the doctor’s office, where I took him at 8:30am because he had a high fever and seemed utterly miserable. There are many times when a parent wonders whether to take the kid to the pediatrician or just wait it out, but this was not one of those times. So I drove him to the doctor, dropped him off at home, drove to the pharmacy, discovered the pharmacy doesn’t open until 10am on Sundays, drove home to eat the breakfast sandwich that Randy got for me on his way home earlier in the morning when he realized he had shown up a day early for his volunteer shift at the Arlington Food Assistance Center, and drove back to the pharmacy at 10.

Anyone who is a parent knows that this diagnosis on a Sunday requires immediate canceling and shuffling of plans. Zeke couldn’t go to church. Randy had to cancel his mandolin lesson because I had somewhere else I had to be and we didn’t want to require Zoe to babysit while Zeke was sick. I did some frequent checking in from the place I had to be. I had to find someone to replace me at a job I was scheduled to do and then pay them. And on and boringly but necessarily on. The ripple effect of a child’s fever and the instructions to be at least temporarily quarantined are far-reaching.

I had to take Zeke out, however, to pick up Zoe from school. It was pouring rain and I didn’t want her to have to walk the mile and a half home. Zeke was contentedly reading the latest Dog Man book in the car while we made the quick trip. On the way home, we were turning left from Walter Reed onto 9th Road South. This is a street lined on both sides with garden apartments. The two-way street has service roads on each side, which are also narrow parking lots for residents. As I turned left, another minivan was turning the wrong way down the street and suddenly pulling out toward me. I honked and swerved out of the way, but not wide enough to prevent her from hitting me. Somehow, most of the damage was to her car, although mine was scraped up, nothing was hanging off of it.

Thankfully the kids were ok and I got out of the car to talk with the other driver. She did not speak English. I tried for a while to ask about insurance or the police and she responded but not in any sentences I could quite understand. I had no idea what to do. I gave her my insurance information and my phone number. She gave me nothing. I don’t know why I didn’t ask for her phone number. I guess I wasn’t sure if she could provide it, although she had two phones with her in her hand. I don’t know why she had two phones. One didn’t seem to be working. I knew I should call the police, but I was also worried about my kids sitting there in the car, in the rain and cold, especially with Zeke having the flu. I kept thinking I could get arrested for leaving the scene of an accident but I didn’t know how the police would communicate with the other driver and I just really wanted my kids to be home.

Meanwhile, a gentleman with a mustache pulled up on the service road on one side and asked if we were ok. I explained the situation and he got out of the car and said, “I know a little bit about these things.” Not sure what things he meant, but ok. He looked at my car and looked at her car. He asked me, “what do you want to do? Your car seems ok.” I told him I just wanted to go home, but I wasn’t sure what to do because I couldn’t get any information from the other driver. He went up to her and said, rather close to her face, “She’s going to forgive you! This is why America is a great place! This is clearly your fault but she’s not going to call the police.”

This patriotic bystander seemed like he might have been an immigrant as well. He spoke English with a slight accent. The other driver did not really respond. I have no idea if she understood him or not.

I was, understandably, flustered by the whole thing. So I left, without getting any information from the other driver, or the witness, or the other car. I did not remember to do any of those things that you’re supposed to do.

So we went home and Zeke and Zoe and I played a board game and Zeke and I watched a movie and I folded laundry. I had left my phone upstairs and missed two calls from “unknown number” and two accompanying voicemails from a man saying he was calling this number because “a lady named Betsy hit his car and needed to repair it” or something to that effect. He did not leave his name or number, but a phone number that I later realized belonged to MY insurance company, that I had given the driver (presumably his wife?).

Then I remembered to call my insurance company. I felt ridiculous not having all the information I was supposed to have, but the guy on the phone was super nice about it. I’m guessing things like this happen more often than I realize.

After Randy got home I had to pick up Zoe from martial arts. It occurred to me that I might be able to find the car that had hit me if it was parked close to where the woman was inexplicably pulling out the wrong way. So in the dark and in the rain I had Zoe jump out of the car to take a picture of the license plate of the offending van.

Then I took Zoe to Giant because she needed yellow and blue sprinkles for a cupcake competition she’s doing at school in one of her classes. Giant has many things but yellow and blue sprinkles are not among them. We decided to head to Michael’s to check out its extensive inventory of dessert decorating accessories. I began backing out of my parking space in the garage at Giant when a massive cement pillar interfered with my exit by knocking the driver’s side mirror clean off of my car. I picked it up and put it in the back seat.

When we got to Michael’s and got out of the car, Zoe asked if she could give me a hug.

While Zoe located blue and yellow sprinkles and decided to make candy letters to spell out her school’s motto, I went to the bathroom, where I discovered I was getting my period (sorry for TMI but it’s germane to the rest of the story, I promise).

We checked out and I remembered to use some of the coupons that Michael’s sends me rather aggressively, and saved $5 on Zoe’s $15 worth of baking supplies, thinking that savings would come in handy when I had to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get my mirror reattached to my car.

Back in the car I texted Randy that I had a) knocked the mirror off the van b) gotten my period in the store c) received a $5 discount. Randy replied that that was a weird reason for a discount, which made me laugh and laugh and laugh. And I showed Zoe and she laughed with me.

Oh, and did I mention that my mom is having heart surgery tomorrow?


In 2020 I want to figure out how to

  1. Use my Instant Pot that everyone swears will change my life but I’ve thus far been scared to operate
  2. Not take it personally when my kids are in terrible moods
  3. Cultivate a daily meditation practice
  4. Read tarot
  5. Handle it when people serving our family in stores or restaurants refer to my daughter as “he” because she has short hair
  6. Make any money from my crazy art
  7. Get rid of a TON of the stuff in my house
  8. Get my children to ride their bicycles
  9. Eat out less while magically discovering what foods everyone in my family will eat without me having to cook everything
  10. Say no


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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For the past several years, each day of November I have posted on Facebook about what I am thankful for. Or, I have posted every few days a few things I am thankful for. I find it challenging to stick to doing any given task every single day beyond the basics required for hygiene and decent parenting, even if it is a task I want to do and set out for myself.

In recent weeks (maybe months?) I have found myself more anxious and stressed than usual (which is saying a lot). I have struggled to focus my attention on anything for more than a few minutes at a time. I am getting plenty of sleep. I am walking a lot. But my brain is just on overdrive all the time. It feels chaotic in my head.

I am contemplating the causes of this (not that hard to figure out, really) and working on solutions (harder). One thing I know I need to do is express gratitude. I am absolving myself from any requirements of eloquence or grace or even complete sentences. I just want to put some things out into the universe.

I am thankful that

  1. Zeke has finally made two friends in his first grade class and I’ve finally managed to contact one of the moms and have actually arranged a playdate for next weekend. I am both relieved and excited.
  2. My sister has been coaching me in how to say no. You might think this would be simple for me, but you would be wrong. I am rehearsing these lines in my head and planning to use them soon. In fact, earlier today I offered to do something for a group I am in and then I thought about my lines and I rescinded my offer! It felt good.
  3. Several people I care about are dealing with life-threatening illnesses or taking care of loved ones with life-threatening illnesses right now. This is not what I am thankful for. What I am thankful for is that these people all have access to excellent medical care, and more importantly that they are surrounded by family and friends who are providing unwavering love and support. AND that some of these people are willing and able to share what they’re going through online so that the wider community of people who care about them can know what’s going on and offer continuous love and comfort and encouragement. It’s so unnecessary to suffer alone.
  4. Tonight I watched Zoe help Zeke with some martial arts techniques with confidence and patience I have never before witnessed in that situation. It would seem that becoming a black belt and taking a recently added leadership class at EvolveAll have really made a positive difference. She was kind and enthusiastic in instructing him and he was receptive to her teaching and demonstrated immediate improvement. I was proud of both of them.

    (I was going to try to write 30 thankful things here because there are 30 days in November but as the words seem to be just spilling out of me I’ll go for 10 tonight and do the other 20 later).
  5. I have a new client that I am so thrilled to be working for and whose work is making an enormous impact on our country with the potential to seriously change things for the better in the next year. This client completely fell into my lap unexpectedly and I am thankful for the referral from someone I worked with years ago and for the new relationship.
  6. My husband is keeping up with the impeachment hearings so he can explain everything to me. He is more attuned and seemingly better able to understand political news and analysis than I am and he loves to discuss it and doesn’t mind answering my questions. And I am thankful that (hopefully) some people are finally going to be called to account for their unethical behavior. There’s so much more they should be called to account for, but I guess we have to start somewhere.
  7. There are so many extraordinary books in the world and I get to read some of them. I have read (or listened to) some absolutely stunning books in recent months, including The Dutch House; Olive, Again; The Miseducation of Cameron Post; Normal People; Every Note Played; The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl; Children of Blood and Bone; Unsheltered; Sing, Unburied, Sing; Evvie Drake Starts Over; Starworld; Little Fires Everywhere; How Not to Die Alone; City of Girls; and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. This is not an exhaustive list. But a good one.
  8. We have a washing machine and dryer and a dishwasher in our house. These are the kind of conveniences we often take for granted, but they are actually huge. We do so much laundry in our house. I am so grateful that I don’t have to take it all to a laundromat. We have nice clothes. We have warm clothes. We have plenty of choices of what to wear every day. We can be as clean and as cute as we want to be.
  9. I have choices. I am so fortunate to have plenty of options in my life. At times it may seem like too many, but what a luxury to have too many choices. What to eat, where to go, what kind of work to do, who to spend time with, how to raise our kids, what kind of vacation to take, what camp to send our kids to, how to entertain ourselves. We have immense amounts of freedom and privilege in how we conduct our lives.
  10. I play soccer with a phenomenal group of women. I love my team and I love playing with them on Monday nights and I am pretty happy with the fact that I have become a better player over the past eight seasons. And we have new jerseys for the spring season! Stay tuned for pictures come April.

    It’s time to put Zeke to bed. I am thankful that he still loves to read and snuggle with me.

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