Another Escape From This #LifeatHome, Plus Other Updates On Goals for #SchoolatHome And #WriteatHome

Yet another spring day of sunshine, robins, aaaaaaaaaaaand that s’mores cake just sitting in the fridge, callin’ my name…

How are you, Friends? I’m not quite as grumpy as I was last week, but honestly, I’m still feeling pretty downtrodden. The extension doesn’t allow for nonessential travel, and…gosh, can’t time outside’n’elsewhere be considered essential? Please?

I found this shot of Silver Lake, which is near one of Bo’s favorite places.

Escape through photography is one thing–there are plenty of amazing nature photographers out there capturing intimate moments in the wilderness.

Stunning find #1 from Wisconsin photographer E. Ebeling!
Stunning find #2 from Wisconsin photographer E. Ebeling!
Stunning find #3 from Wisconsin photographer E. Ebeling!

Unfortunately, we can’t just take my family on a walk through the park. Parks have playgrounds, and playgrounds are still off-limits. This led to Bo and I brainstorming our day-trip to the graveyards–four, to be exact. We visited the graves of grandparents and parents buried in dilapidated Catholic plots, forgotten farmland sites, suburban stone-less grids, and MANSIONS!

Doesn’t that look like a mansion? It’s got this huge church in it, and castle-like sitting room, and crypts, and statues, and a Hall of Presidents, and I’ll stop rambling so you can just see for yourself in the gallery on their page. The kids actually had quite a bit of fun on this graveyard run, looking for the really old graves, checking out all the unique names in the mausoleums, admiring the veteran statues, and simply loving the warm, windy day.

Brighter days have led to Biff’s pleas being answered at last: I got the bikes down. After a couple of weeks with training wheels, Biff’s soaring off on his two-wheeler…

Bash is so, so close to Biff as far as speed and balance, but once again anxiety has been rearing its ugly head, and Bash panics the moment I let go of him and falls. He’s made his feelings quite clear on the subject.

Bash’s teacher sent a phone book’s pile of worksheets to be completed this month, while Biff’s teacher simply emptied the boy’s desk into a plastic bag aaaand that’s it. So…is Biff done, but not his brother? Oh, Biff’s expected to keep doing stuff online. Soooo is Bash. Then do we both with these worksheets or not?!?!

The school crap’s getting old, people. I’m not going to just throw in the towel like a professor with just one first-grader, but the utter disconnect between expectations from the boys’ teachers is frustrating. I’ve tweaked the school schedule yet again to try and get through as much of their work in the morning as possible, with Bible History, Math, Reading, and Writing as our daily core and then ending on a special, like Science, Geography, Art, or History. I overlap whenever possible–drawing maps, for instance, or building something like people did in the olden days (they want to build a fort like a cathedral now–thanks, Nova!)

But because the boys each have such different things they’re supposed to do for each subject, even these few things take time with the play breaks they need throughout the morning. It’s all I can do to keep up with them while, yes, once again Blondie has to tend to herself. Thankfully, this doesn’t perturb her too much; she chats with her friends online via the school computer while completing assignments. Any connection to friends beats fighting with little brothers any day, yes? I’m also impressed with a theme in her writing over the spring involving these dog/dragon/ghost folk building their own planet for alien tourism.

Now I just need to get her back to her Alley Heroes, am I right? 🙂

Speaking of writing: yes, I’m doing my best. I’ve submitted a short story to my university’s literary journal, and I’m still writing another I hope to share with you. The idea came from a very vile looking park bench and a pair of towns I’ve passed through many times in my life; Ashippun, and Old Ashippun. Two communities, very near one another, and yet they have very different feels about them. The idea of a town starting in one place only to be abandoned for the sake of progress stuck with me, and I hope to put that sense of (dis)place into my WIP, “Hungry Mother.”

“What’s that?”

Nicole carefully places the Bella Café sticker over the tell-tale yellow arches. “My coffee,” she tells the child. “Want some?” Please don’t want some, Christ your teeth look like rocks.

The girl tucks a few greasy strands of hair behind her ear, revealing the rest of her lopsided face. No doctor could save that face. “Nah. I’m waiting for the water.” She points to the old water pump in the middle of the park.

Nicole looks past the water pump. Beyond the road and wall of arborvitaes is a trailer park full of people, poor and desperate people praying for easy answers. And Nicole’s bag is just full of easy answers, priced to catch and never release. All it takes is one yes, and that yes is due any minute.

“Don’t you have water at home?” Nicole can’t imagine allowing her own daughter to play in this rundown park, let alone drink water from some forsaken pump. Carl and his skank Sandra probably would. I bet they don’t even follow my rules for brushing her hair.

The child plucks a centipede off Nicole’s bench. With all the bird-crap and graffiti littering the park’s picnic shelter, Nicole had been forced to pick a bench out among the tired, mushroom-eaten pines, and even this bench has quite a few cuts and words scrawled on it. “It’s not the same,” the child says, watching the bug travel from one muddy hand to another.

Nicole brings her Serenity Cloth to her face as though to dab a drop of coffee, but really she just needs to breathe the lavender oil and think, Christ kid stop touching that thing and take a bath. Where is your mother? “Would anyone across the street be able to help?” Not that there’s much to look at across any street in Old Sanctuary. Crawling vines of small red flowers cover almost every building surrounding the central park—post office, gas station, all of it. Only the trailer park sign looks new:

THERE’S NEW LIFE AT OLD SANCTUARY ESTATES! JOIN US TODAY!

New life. What a joke.

Two people stand by the sign in casual conversation: an old man as grimy as the child, and a woman around Nicole’s age…clean, that’s all Nicole knows without seeing the woman’s face. The dress looks like some over-bleached 90s relic cut and sewn for a slightly better fit. A woman like that’ll value her dollars, will try to take care of things herself, won’t bother with big names telling her what to do, like stores or doctors. Perfect.

The child releases the centipede on the bench. It crawls over the words MY PRETTY GIRL IN RED AND CURLS and stops next to Nicole’s left thigh.

Nicole sweeps herself up, dress spinning as she grabs her ___ bag and laughs nervously. “Well you have fun with…” she almost points to the centipede, then spots CURLS. “Say, maybe your momma can put your hair in curls today. Won’t that be pretty?”

The child shakes her head. “It’s talking about you.” The child hobbles over to the broken swings and flops forward to lay her stomach on the seat, her legs and arms dangling like a spider from a thread.

Hopefully I can keep this piece under 1.5K so it fits more easily with magazine submission guidelines. In the meantime, I’ve pulled Middler’s Pride off of Channillo and hope to revamp it for an ebook later this year…or 2021. I should probably be realistic with my timeline here, as I, too, am going to be in school.

Yup.

I’m going back to school.

In order to make myself look more awesome for a full-time gig, I’m going back for another Masters degree, this time in instructional design. It’s an accelerated track, which means I’ll be in the crunch for eighteen months or thereabouts. I’m praying this won’t hinder my ability to blog too much, buuuuuuut I better be realistic with myself here.

Still. This academic journey doesn’t start until June, so we have some time to edit a novel. Write a story. Email a friend. Discover new music. Hug a child. Trade fart jokes. Wash a chalk-covered stuffie. Steal Easter candy. Read a book. Drink coffee. Savor tea.

Take one day at a time, and pray for things to change for the better.

~STAY TUNED!~

It’s high time I share something from something I’ve read, wouldn’t you say? ‘Tis the month of Wyrd and Wonder, after all!

Or perhaps we shall return to that Star Wars swamp. We’ll see what the kids allow me to do. x

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

45 thoughts on “Another Escape From This #LifeatHome, Plus Other Updates On Goals for #SchoolatHome And #WriteatHome

  1. Graveyards are such a place of dreams and can be full of adventure as well. I remember Dad setting new off around the graveyard at Whitby Abbey looking for Dracula’s grave – rumoured to be there. I think that was such a great idea from the both of you. I so like the idea of the Masters. Mine proved to be such fun and really helped my confidence. Just got to make sure you manage your time so you it does not consume too much of your time. To fully enjoy it you the degree to fit round your life, not the other way. Sorry starting to sound like Yoda.
    That’s some mighty fine storytelling. You are so good at this.

    Going on then tell me a good fart joke then…
    Look after yourself and keep breathing xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • They really can! I love how unique the markers can be, and the kids like seeing who can find the oldest/newest markers. I’m hoping the Masters program will work out since I’m just doing one class at a time, but it’ll be yet another crazy adjustment to the daily schedule, that’s for sure. 🙂

      Gah, I don’t know any good fart jokes right now, but Bash’s bunny has been farting on everyone’s head today to help launch him into space. Does that count? LOL

      You take care too, Friend. We’ve got to get through this together!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Worry not re sprogs and home schooling, Ms Lee. You know what you’re doing, you have the skills and within perhaps just one mere hour, in the company of the whole collective of sprogs each day you’ll have taught them more than all schooling with 400…I jest…kids per class. And were that not the case, would, in the long term matter? I suggest, not at all. The cleverest academic I ever knew had never been to school. Whatever, you’re doing a fine job, simply tell yourself that fact. As the Metallica song goes, ‘Nothing Else Matters’. As an aside, the work of E. Ebeling is sublime. Best wishes, The Old Fool

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t she a wonder? And I could give you and your family a big hug if I could, Master Steeden. They’re very much learning on their own with me as Captain Nudger keeping them on track. Your friendship and encouragement are a blessing, Sir. We just have to survive one another until aaaaaall this blows over.

      Like

  3. I love the story! And the situation regarding Biff and Bash – go with your gut. You are the one who is currently in charge of their learning and the gap in what their teachers expect would be fine if they were in separate classrooms, but they’re not. They are sharing a table and hyper-aware of what each other are doing… Which is the reply you give if you are challenged on it, though I’m guessing you won’t be. Bless Blondie for getting on with her work and communicating with her peers!

    And congratulations for taking the plunge and going back to do the Masters! Best of luck with all that you have to do in the meantime!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! It’s going to be insane here this summer, but I know it’ll be worth it in the long run, and Bo’s supporting me all the way. As for the boys, I’m going to keep trying and doing my best…assuming Bash’s ghost doesn’t avenge itself even though today Bash rode his two-wheeler without trainers! Such a big grin today. Now we need to work with Blondie… 🙂

      I’m glad you dig the story! I’m really hoping this one works out…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah… so glad the little chap managed to ride his bike, too:)). And yes… you definitely need a clone or two! All the very best of luck for the summer – Bo sounds a real keeper, it’s always great to have someone who is in your corner and wants what is best for you…
        And I hope the story works out – they are somewhat feral critters, short stories… Have a habit of escaping control and galloping off in the wrong direction! At least mine do, from time to time…

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know, right? I’m in a brief break between terms, so I’m hoping to polish this short story up before 80 students come pounding into my virtual classroom. And on another PS–Bash has found his way on the bike, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Gah, I already said that about Bash, sorry! Yesterday he managed to get himself started without any help, so that was exciting. 🙂 Of course, now the fun is trying to keep the boys in sight while they zip up and down the street while Blondie struggles with her balance…

        Like

      • Oh that’s marvellous news about Bash riding his bike. I’m guessing sibling rivalry takes on a keener edge when it’s twins. Himself is one of twins, too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, Himself knows well, then! 🙂 Yes, it certainly cut Bash, but it’s such a relief to see them both now zipping along pretty well. Now it’s Blondie who is not at all accustomed to be the one left behind…

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hang in there, Jean! It’s impressive how you manage to juggle all those responsibilities – hopefully the homeschooling will end soon and some semblance of normality will return!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, graveyards are a great idea, Jean! I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t take my daily walk with the pooch. Nature is so rejuvenating even when I’ve had a for crap day.
    On the flip side of your homeschooling routine, this may be the first mother’s day when my kids are not all going to be home. They’ve all been isolating, but are worried about bringing something into the house when they’re father’s immunocompromised. We already missed Easter. Just the thought of not being able to see them for another holiday gets me all choked up. I miss my kids so terribly. So while you’re looking for ten minutes of peace, I’m looking for ten minutes of connection. I hope we all get through this. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES, I love love LOVE nature walks! But going for a walk has been tough when the kids just want to be on their bikes. Biff’s so speedy now he should be in a race, lol xxxx

      Oh, Pam, all the hugs to you. Is there no way distancing and PPE could help allow for at least a meeting out in the yard? I’ve already seen a number of Wisconsin folks do group cookouts. I’m just trying to think of a way to see them, even if you can’t hug them. xxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was all for that but the girls are in a hotspot in Philadelphia and even though they are not social distancing they are terrified of bringing something home to their father. It’s a tough call. ☹️🤪😢

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh…Well, I certainly can’t blame them. I just wish they could come so you could throw confetti on each other or something. TShirt gun?Nerf battle?

        But I know the bummer part of it. Blondie’s birthday is coming up, and the extension means no gatherings of friends or family, not even Grandma. She turns 10 and is so, so bummed. I was hoping the drive-in theater an hour away would open and we could at least surprise her with the Scooby Doo movie she was super psyched to see, but they’re not showing it this summer, darnit. 😦 Tough calls all around, to be sure. xxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s hardest on the kids for sure. My son graduates 🎓 from college – the ceremony was supposed to be on the 10th, but there will be no fanfare and no family and friends party 🎉 and the saddest part is, when he was young we wondered if he would even go to college. We’re so proud of him that I want to tell the world 🌎 but the world is in isolation.😥We’ll probably do a party when this is all over. Hopefully, that will be enough.
        Can you get a Zoom party together for Blondie and friends and do an activity or play a game? I know, more work for you, but it certainly will be memorable.❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s definitely worth a thought! And I think having a party when you can is the perfect idea–he’s certainly earned it, and it’ll give you a chance to shout from the rooftops about him! A celebration postponed is still a celebration, after all. xxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Graveyards are fascinating, and hey, with everyone 6 feet under, there’s no social distancing problems….
    A SECOND Masters? Wow miss Jean, I take my hat off to you- or maybe I just need to start calling you master! 🙂
    I love the story start- creepyliscious, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, Yeah, Bo said the same thing when we went, and he joked about putting a face mask on his folks’ headstone, buuuut he didn’t. Probably for the best. 🙂
      I guess time teaching just isn’t enough for employers these days. I know someone who has two Masters thinking of a THIRD. Yowza, right? But it looks good on the ol’ CV…
      Anyhoo, hugs to you and your fam, and I’m prayin’ I can get this short story done in the next few days. Stay tuned! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Another masters? You don’t believe in taking things easy, do you, Jean?
    I love the idea of a trip to visit the graveyards. What a lot of informal learning you’re managing to fit in to that schedule.
    Good luck with everything, especially to Bash. One of these days he’s just going to get on that bike and it will all feel natural – I bet there’ll be no stopping him then.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Nope, not at all. I suppose I grew up with that sort of perspective, so it’d feel weird if I wasn’t committed to a gazillion different things. 🙂 I’m all for informal learning instead of the kids just stuck in front of screens watching yet another video, or worse, trying to be in a zoom meeting with their teacher while other kids babble into the mic while she reads THE HUNGRY CATERPILLAR of all things. These kids aren’t 4!! What Bash’s teacher was thinking, I have NO idea…
      Oh, Bash is *this* close to racing Biff. Biff lives for his bike time now, and was so pleased to hear that there are bike races and teams (well, there were. Hopefully those are allowed back).

      Stay well! xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds gloriously chaotic – apart from The Hungry Caterpillar ?! My mind is boggling, and I know it’s considered wonderful, but I was so glad when my each of my nieces and nephews out-grew it.

        Liked by 1 person

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