School Is Closed

It still hasn’t totally sunk in that we aren’t going back to school this year. I won’t finish the year with my students and my colleagues. My son won’t being going back to school and continuing his UIL Theater competitions. My daughter is just home from college indefinitely. I know that eventually life has to get back to some level of normal, but what will that be?

I am not sure how I feel about Gov. Abbott’s decision to let retail businesses open with curbside pickup options. It seems like that is just putting more individuals at risk during a time when those types of businesses aren’t really essential. I know our economy is struggling but I also know that opening things back up too soon could be detrimental to everyone. We have been lucky so far in Texas in that our case numbers have been lower than other places, but that doesn’t change the contagion of the virus or the fact that more people being out means more risk to everyone.

My family is trying to stay safe so we have been really careful about not getting out unless we need something. It is so difficult though because being at home all the time is hard. I am starting to feel like my life has no purpose.

I completed my master’s and my Dual Credit Certification program through online classes but this is my first experience with them as a teacher. Although I wouldn’t exactly say this is a true online class. We are forced to all give the exact same assignments every week and we are only allowed to review material already covered. I feel bad that my students are missing out on so much learning. Next year will have its own set of challenges trying to get students back into the routine of school.  We will also have so many gaps to fill in order to get our students where they need to be. I am supposed to be teaching Dual Credit next year which will be even more of a challenge now with students missing out on the last few weeks of English 2. Our students struggle enough in Dual Credit as it is but now we will have even more challenges. There is so much unknown about the future.

My Recent Trip to Costco

We used to go to Costco about twice a month to help feed my family. I have a teenage son that eats snacks all the time and can still eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We started buying all his snacks and lots of frequently used products there to save money when my boyfriend moved in a year ago.

This morning we took a trio to Costco because we thankfully go paid today, we’re both educators, and we are out of everything. It was interesting to see all the changes the store has made in light of the virus. Normally you can enter the store and walk wherever you want to start your shopping but now because of the restrictions in the check out lines the root area of the store is sectioned off so that you have to start down one aisle.  Most of the things we were looking for were easily found but seeing people walking through the store in masks and gloves is so surreal. I still can’t get used to this new normal. I hate that every time I leave the house now I feel this dread and additional stress until I’m safely back to my cocoon at home.

I don’t mind cooking every night because we did that most of the time anyway to save money. What is most bothersome is the fact that we can’t just get out freely anymore. I miss being able to wander through Target just to get out. I am doing all my shopping for my kids’ birthdays online this year which is not my usual way of doing things. I am lucky I can still shop at all because I know that many are really struggling to make ends meet but I miss the freedom that we used to have. We quickly shopped this morning so we could get back home.

I came home graded online assignments and then began contacting parents of my slacking students. I feel guilty every time I have to get in touch with parents because I know that many of them have more important things to worry about other than their kids doing work. I know as an educator I have to contact them but it is hard not to feel like a burden. I am lucky that I haven’t really had to bug my own kids about school work. My son has been surprisingly on top of it and my college age daughter is used to scheduling her time for school so I usually don’t even ask. I am super thankful that my son’s teachers aren’t having to reach out to me for lack of work. At least his district has decided how they are handling the grading for the rest of the year which means now my son has a focus. I will be glad when my district decides what they are going to do about grades.

 

The New Normal

I used to get up at 6am everyday and get ready for work. I would arrive around 7am and prepare for my day of teaching my students English and World Geography. I would leave work around 4pm and then get home and relax. I would have dinner with my live-in boyfriend and my son. We would each participate in our nightly routines of homework and video games, with the occasional TV thrown in. My boyfriend and I watched Maverick’s Games and occasional enjoyed a weekend to ourselves when my son visited his father on his scheduled weekends. My daughter was living with my mom and attending her first year of college. We all had things that were important to us and we were all busy at least some of the time.

Now our partially empty nest has become full again.  My daughter is back home and my son has visited his dad since spring break was over. We celebrated my son’s 17th birthday with takeout and only the four of us. It was the first time my ex-husband hasn’t seen his son on his birthday. I get up at 8 or 8:30 now depending on my work schedule which now consists of hangouts meetings and grading my students work in Google Classroom. The only time we leave the house is to walk the dogs or go to the grocery store. My car has literally been in our garage since the week after spring break. It is strange because I spend my time playing games, listening to audiobooks, and reading physical books but I never really feel fulfilled. I am restless and bored. I miss the routine and chaos that the classroom brings. I miss the crazy antics of some of my students. Our administration wants us to start thinking about next year which seems so strange because technically this year isn’t really over. We aren’t giving our students real grades right now, but we have to constantly contact parents of students not completing lessons. The decisions are set to be made this week regarding how we are grading our students and when/if we are going back to school this year. I worry everyday that the Engineering Camp my son was accepted in for the summer will be canceled. I am thankful that my son is only a junior because I would hate for him to have to finish his senior year this way. I worry because he will have to take all his AP tests this year from home. He has been so successful the last couple of years with this AP test and I just hope that the format change won’t impact his performance. He was supposed to take the SAT this month at school. Now I am not sure he’s even going to take it. He needs to start applying for college as soon as the applications open so I don’t really want to worry about having to schedule it once the world goes back to normal. I think my biggest issue is the isolation I feel. My boyfriend is wonderful but the being home doesn’t bother him the way it does me. Normally I am fine spending time at home but now that I am being told I can’t go out I feel like I’m in a cage. I know that this will all be over eventually but I wish it was over now. At least we have had some great family game nights over the last few weeks and I am thankful that we all get along well. The one thing we haven’t had in our house is arguing and fighting even between my children. We have all been peaceful even if we are tired of being at home. Technology has made it possible for my children to keep up with their friends with video chats and extended phone calls while they play online games through Steam. I am lucky in so many ways because I am getting paid and still able to do my job. It is just hard to be content at home all the time!!

Driver’s Test

My eighteen year-old daughter is supposed to move out in less than two weeks but she still doesn’t have a driver’s license. This wouldn’t be an issue if she was going to be living on campus but she is supposed to live with my mom and commute to school every day. We have been working on driving for several months but with our trip to Florida my daughter hadn’t driven in two weeks. We practiced a ton yesterday for her test this afternoon. The major issue is that she didn’t learn how to parallel park until yesterday. We got to the test today and she had to parallel park the first part of the test. Needless to say she screwed it up somehow and she failed her test. In fact the officer didn’t even let her continue the test. My daughter has no idea what she did wrong. I know from all her practice that her technique had been really good so I’m honestly not sure what happened. When we got home we got online to find out when we could register her for another test. The next available date is August 15th which is only a few days before she is supposed to start school and after she moves. The DPS near our house has an earlier date than any where else so we went ahead and took the appointment for now but I have no idea how we are going to get her there. Unfortunately for me that is also the first day of school. We made the appointment for the late afternoon but I still have no idea how we are going to make it happen. My stomach was in knots today by the time she took the test so who knows how I feel when she takes it again. I just really hope we can find a way to get her to her test on the 15th. My stress is at level 50 right now because I am so worried how we are going to get her to school and get her test done. I am also not looking forward to more parallel parking practice. I at least figured out today that the DPS has set poles next to it so maybe we can go and practice some time after hours or on the weekends.

Universal Florida Day 2

So Thursday we used our second pass for Universal. We woke up and it was raining unfortunately which is a common occurrence this time of year in Florida but instead of light rain for a few minutes we had it most of the day. We decided to start the day at Universal Studios since we had spent the majority of the previous day at Islands of Adventure. Ws started the day in Daigon Alley because we wanted to ride the Gringott’s Bank ride and it fills up rather quickly.

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The above picture is of Kreacher. If you knock on the doors below he will eventually look out the window. It’s actually pretty cool to watch the crowds just waiting  in anticipation for his appearance. After that we headed to the other part of the park so we could go through the Simpson’s section. We walked all through the Simpson’s area and we even had a giant apple fritter as a snack. The stores and attractions were really cool and we took some really silly pictures.

We even took our picture in front of a replica of the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

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We even rode a ride that was fashioned after ET.

As the day progressed we started wandering through all these really cool side stores and I was so surprised to find a cool life-size statue of Harley Quinn so of course I had to have my picture made with her.

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I absolutely love Harley Quinn so I was super happy. It was quite the coincidence that I also happen to be wearing one of my Harley Quinn t-shirts.

Then we rode this really cool ride that was Jimmy Fallon’s race through New York. The ride was mostly 3D and kind of odd but it was also really cool.

After Jimmy Fallon we got on the Hogwarts Express so that we could go to Hogsmead and have lunch in the Three Broom Sticks.

Then it was about break time so we rode The Mummy’s Revenge which is a really cool ride and then we went to hangout in an Irish Pub called Finnigan’s. We ended up chilling there for a couple of hours and then eating dinner there too. My boyfriend’s brother decided to come out again so he met us and had dinner with is at Finnigan’s.

After dinner we didn’t take any pictures but we did ride three rides starting with the Simpson’s, then Men In Black and finally we finished the day the way we started riding Gringott’s again.

Universal Florida Day 1

So the last few days have been insane because it has been non-stop amusement parks. Monday morning we drove to Orlando from Sarasota for the last leg of our vacation and the last family introduction of the trip. Orlando is the home of my boyfriend’s brother. Tuesday morning we got up and headed to Islands of Adventure at Universal. We got a park hopper pass and we ended up spending part of the day at Universal Studios.

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We started our day by riding the Hulk which is an insane roller coaster. We had some previous warning about the speed and structure of the ride but it was awesome. Next we wandered through many cool gift shops and then we headed towards the other side of the park. We of course headed to Hogsmead me because we both enjoy Harry Potter. Hogsmead was insanely crowded but we enjoyed the ambience of the setup.

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The crowds were a bit much for us so we wandered back around towards the front of the park and spent an hour or so chilling in a bar with some decent Sangria. After a nice rest we headed to the Universal side of the park so we could visit Daigon Alley. Before you actually reach Daigon Alley you are in a section of the park that looks like London. As we walking around we came across the Knight Bus from Harry Potter. I got to talk to the bus driver and the shrunken head.

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We arrived in the late afternoon so the sky was beautiful over the buildings.

The stores inside Daigon Alley were so cool. They had robes for all the houses as well as interactive wands that would enable you to do magic in the park. We had a lot of fun just wandering around looking at everything. That evening my boyfriend’s brother joined us and we had dinner in The Leaky Cauldron. It was interesting because of course the food was more British inspired but it was really good. This was also our first encounter with Butterbeer. I have to say it is really sweet but we opted for the carbonated from rather than the frozen option. We honestly didn’t ride as many rides on Tuesday but it was still a very cool day. The lines were so long earlier in the day that we walked to the other park rather than riding the Hogwarts Express. So tonight we rode the Hogwarts Express back to the other park.

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We finished off the day watching an amazing light show on the side of Hogwarts Castle back in Hogsmead.