I Know Cabin Fever

How long until we were buried up to our necks in My Little Ponies and pieces of discarded popcorn and semi-functional markers without lids? Not long, I assert, not long at all.

Our family just finished a six-ish day weekend. D2’s school was closed on Thursday and Friday for teacher development, then regular weekend’s “stay-at-home” days, then President’s Day holiday, then snow day. And this morning was a school delayed start. So you’d think I would have had plenty of time to write a blog post during all of those crazy days, right? You’re right. But I didn’t. Here’s why:

1. I pretty much cleaned the whole time. When there is a snow day, I have a tradition of deep cleaning (tradition=two, or maybe three, times before this). Something about being trapped in my small home surrounded by piles of things makes me want to get rid of it all. This weekend I tackled my bedroom closet. And it is so much neater and I got rid of lots of things I don’t need anymore. The untrained observer might wonder how seven pairs of sneakers survived the purge, but that observer should stop being so judge-y and admire my t-shirts progress and the several pairs of donate-able heels I identified. (I find heels so much easier to give away than sneakers, don’t you? I like to imagine they are going to someone who would actually wear them–love them even. I think there are people who love heels, right? Win for me, win for the new owner, win for the shoes, who can finally feel good about themselves. Masochists.)

2. I pretty much cleaned THE WHOLE TIME. When I wasn’t deep cleaning, I was straightening. We have been working hard as a family to keep our house neater. I have found the best way to accomplish this goal is to minimize the time we spend at home. But this long, snowy weekend was all of us–and sometimes neighbors–always at home. So I had to put my best self toward the effort. I alternated between feeling:

a. Like Mr. Incredible (not the husband nickname, but the Pixar super hero):

b. and, A morbid curiosity about what would happen if I stopped straightening all together: How long until we were buried up to our necks in My Little Ponies and pieces of discarded popcorn and semi-functional markers without lids? Not long, I assert, not long at all.

3. MI hogged the good computer. It *is* his computer, admittedly, but I started using it too a while ago and now find that I can’t possibly work on a computer with only one monitor. Writing a blog is an evil genius job, and I don’t feel like an evil genius unless there are two screens. He was using the two-screen computer all weekend. “Taxes and summer camp registration and critical file backup,” he claimed. But I know he was just staying in the room farthest from the toy and art disaster areas, blocking out the “Frozen” soundtrack repeat loop, and hoping against all hope that small children feed themselves over the weekend. Well played, MI, well played.

4. D2 is 3 years old. In my anecdotal field study, based on a very small sample, this is the age at which children go completely crazy. (How did terrible two’s get the bad rap? Two is adorable. Three, dear readers: fear three.) She was so cute, playing around all weekend. Until something UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE happened. Like the clip-clop pony princess could not fight gravity and go up the ramp of its own accord. Or when she tried to color over glitter glue with markers, the markers got glitter glue on them. Or hand washing went awry and a drop of water landed on her dress, requiring an entire outfit change. Crusts on bread. Snow on shoes. Sauce on pizza. Syrup on fork. Milk instead of … not milk. Yesterday’s dress still in the laundry. The list of awful things that happened this weekend was long, and we all paid the emotional price.

So now, on a youwouldthink busier day in which I was back to work and had an appointment and am leaving soon for yoga I sat down to write. Because I have energy, and perspective, and no time yet to make popcorn. Booyah cabin fever, take that.

The Modernization of School Projects

Last week I attended Ella’s school’s “Art Showcase” to learn about how the teachers incorporate arts and technology into the standard curriculum. Ella loves school, brings home cool art, and seems to be learning a lot, so I was prepared to be generally impressed. Any organization that wants to provide the paint and glitter and do all of the clean up has my complete blessing. After all, at home we mostly just color computer-printed pictures of the Disney Princess Palace Pet “Blondie” over and over, so we probably need artistic backup.

D2's growing collection of Palace Pet print-outs.
D2’s growing collection of Palace Pet print-outs.

The showcase was also going to be a good chance for me to learn more about architecture class, one of her “specials.” I have heretofore been skeptical about architecture class because I figured it:

  1. Was in reality a class to appease the increasing number of helicopter parents trying to prep children too early and too aggressively for college, a northern-Virginia trend I fight hard to beat down.
  2. Would actually teach her about architecture and she would love it and then I’d have multiple people in the family who want to ‘appreciate and explore’ architecture. MI doesn’t need a partner in that crime.

After just one fourth-grade demo, though, I was completely on board. It was amazing to watch 8 year-old kids making scale models of Fort James on design software to complement a social studies project. I felt proud–if obsolete–to be raising, driving, and providing snacks to such geniuses. I now look forward to the future house Ella will design for me on her island.

Then I went to the demo of technology in storytelling–in Ella’s class!  She was so excited and reminded me beforehand to “remember my smartphone!” (I figured she wanted to star in lots of pictures and I was ready to snap away. Nope.) The demo included a project by each kindergartener where they had used a computer drawing program to illustrate the story of the Three Little Pigs. The children each recorded themselves narrating the story and then they pulled everything together into a video. I needed my smartphone to scan the QR code to pull up her specific project. After I hunted around the Google Play store for a QR reader ap, which I had not used before, I was ready to watch:

So, wow, right? I shared the link with my family (saving well over two dollars in postage, since you used to have to mail such things) and then had a few good laughs with my brother and sister about how we used to make dioramas in shoe boxes and I once won a state-wide prize for building a model that used parts from a toilet.

This is kindergarten education now, huh? Well, I am not backing away, afraid. (Why would you even think that?) The art showcase was school’s shot across the bow. And I will prepare. I am downloading apps. I am going to start reading all the fliers that come home (sorry, dear teachers, that we missed the one about recommended costumes for today’s 100th day of school festivities. Just saw that. . . Don’t worry, I recycled it.) And I am thinking of enrolling myself in the new STEM preschool that just opened in my neighborhood so that I can keep up.


 Time to step up art with Mom:

The time we took a piece of yellow paper and. . . painted it blue.
A tribute to the time we took a piece of yellow paper and… painted it blue.