Ask the readers: What should I do with my kids this summer?

My oldest is 14 and will be a rising junior (there were 2 grade skips).

My youngest is 8/9 (summer birthday) and will be a rising 5th grader.

I’m not sure how wide-spread vaccines will be this summer, but it is very likely that they will not have been vaccinated yet.  That means we’re leery of sending them to in-person or away camps.  Especially since our area has rampant covid-denialism (a recent faculty/staff survey at the UNIVERSITY showed that only 60% are planning to take the vaccine when offered(!)).

In the past, DC1 has gone to a bazillion engineering and coding camps of varying qualities.  DC1 has done sciencey day-camps.  Last summer we had been planning on sending them to less academic camps– DC1 was going to go to magic camp and orchestra camps. DC2 was going to do a lot of camp run by the after school program.  I also looked into sending them together away to a fancy Spanish camp (Concordia), but couldn’t get the dates to work out.  Then the pandemic cancelled all of those.

Our primary need with DC2 (age 8) is that zie have something to keep her busy and out of our hair during the work day.  Virtual school days have been so much better than school holidays.  Ideally we would not be providing the tasks and instructions and feedback and so on.  As far as I can tell, none of the usual camps in our town for middle-schoolers or elementary schoolers are offering virtual options, only in-person.

Our primary need with DC1 (rising junior) is that zie have something that either helps hir with a skill that needs work (Spanish, actual English instead of the crafts and feelings zie gets at school) or a skill zie wants to increase (computer science, magic).  Ideally, zie would also do something that looks good on a college application.

DC1 has taken 2 years of computer science in high school and has learned Java and Python and will have taken one of the AP CS exams.  There are no more computer science classes in high school after this (they had offered a video game design class in conjunction with the arts department, but starting in 2021 it will no longer be offered to people coming in from the computer science track).  There might be computer science courses at my Uni, but I can’t figure out how an at-will high school student can take them during the summer (there are ways during the school year) and zie would probably need to take the intro class (which is not Java or Python at our uni) but I don’t think that is usually offered over the summer.  There’s also a community college, but I don’t know if their summer course offerings would be worthwhile or online.  Also, zie is taking BC Calc next year, so zie can’t just take the next math class in the sequence because the timing doesn’t work out (summer would only let hir take differential calculus, not both semesters), and zie hasn’t had the prereq for Calc 3 or Linear Algebra.

There are a lot of very expensive summer camps at extension programs of fancy universities sending us paraphernalia, and some of those deadlines have passed but some haven’t.  I’m not sure if any of these would be at all worthwhile.  They are certainly expensive!  And DC1 has gone to versions of some of these that our Uni puts on and we haven’t been all that impressed.

Usually I have this all figured out in January, but with not knowing what is going on with Covid, I just didn’t.

So… I have no idea what to do.

What are you guys doing with your kids?  What recommendations do you have?

 

Middle-aged health problems open thread!

About a month ago I promised an open thread for (non-life-threatening) health problems!  Here it is.  Middle-aged folk, gather round and complain and share and provide obnoxious unsolicited suggestions for others!  Tell us about how your friend of a friend had something similar and what they did!  (Note, you do not have to be middle-aged to participate.  This is just something some of us do instead of talking about the weather for small talk once we get to a certain age.)

Here’s mine:

My right FOOT.  OMG.  So, about 3 months ago, I started waking up around 5:38 every morning with the bottom of my right foot itching like crazy.  It wouldn’t stop until I walked around or just got up.  Scratching didn’t help much but squishing it around did.  I tried two different athletes foot cremes but neither did anything.  When I went in for my well-woman visit, my gyn suggested it was a nerve issue and to see a podiatrist, but I don’t want to go in again with the students in town and new covid strains spreading etc.  I thought maybe because I’m walking around barefoot so much on our hard floors since that’s the easiest form of exercise.  Then about a month ago, I decided to try walking with my slippers that have arch support and oh boy that was such a bad idea. It felt like plantar fasciitis again but owie.  Again, only my right foot.  But… the 5:38am itching stopped.  So, there’s something wrong with my right leg and foot.

I also had a lot of sitting problems– a blocked gland (hot baths worked) and hemorrhoids and … a pimple (!) on my gluteal area.  For those I bought a purple pillow.  Which kept slipping off the aeron chair until DH found his velcro strap stash and now I have it velcroed in.  It helps somewhat, but I should probably be using the standing desk except, my right foot, you know?

So… mostly the foot thing.  I hate it because it’s so hard to exercise when you’re afraid of hurting your foot!  I dream about swimming sometime but the pool isn’t even open even if I weren’t worried about the trump supporting covid deniers in the neighborhood.

Share your health problems!

Ask the readers: What edition of the complete works of Shakespeare should I get?

Dear Grumpy Nation:

DC1 hasn’t been getting enough Shakespeare.  I would like to ameliorate that.  I, myself, had a lovely hardback version of the complete works of Shakespeare that was beautifully annotated so that I could easily figure out what was going on while still seeing the natural beauty of the words themselves.  I would read it on days I was home sick from school and had nothing else to do (also how I read Ivanhoe and several other classics my mother placed strategically in the small bookcase next to my bed).  Sadly, all I remember about it is that it had a navy blue hard cover– it appears to have disappeared from my parents’ house in the 20 years I have been away from it.

I have gone to Amazon to seek a new anthology and I am overwhelmed by the options.  I do not want a kindle version– I want something nicely edited and easy to read the annotations/explanations along-side the original words.  Hardback would be nice, but that’s not a deal-breaker.

There are so many choices and so many different price points I don’t even know where to start.  I’m willing to pay for the $75 Norton edition if it is, indeed, the best for our purposes.  But if the $30 Oxford Works is better, by all means I’ll go with that!

I know we have experts on this topic in our readership, so help a lay-person out!  What would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!

Ask the readers: The Christmas lottery has already been breached

Dearest readers,

Long term readers may remember how SIL, upon being diagnosed with twins (children #3 and #4) this summer, suggested that instead of everybody giving gifts to everybody as that is DH’s family’s love language, that instead we draw names from a bag and only give to the person whose name we had drawn.

It is not yet Thanksgiving and we have all four of us already received Christmas gifts from MIL.  (Also from SIL, but only for DC2, whose name she drew.  The kids’ gifts are sitting in boxes in my closet waiting for after Thanksgiving to be put in gift bags.  Except Children of Virtue and Vengeance because DC1 has it on hold from the library and there’s a long line after hir so…)  I *think* it’s less money than she usually spends (~$30/person instead of $80-$100+… not that I keep track), but also… it’s not yet Thanksgiving.  We often think she’s done with holiday purchases and end up being wrong.  This may just be the “off our wishlists” portion.  Or it may be all.  (Except DC1 will probably get something for hir birthday.)

DH also just bought a (bread baking) book for his brother’s wife but was like, this is not a Christmas gift, do not retaliate (brother was all, no worries, this is not a big deal, but I’m sure his wife is happy to have expectations made explicit), and also wants to buy his brother a cheap video game that they can play together with the other relative they’re friends with.

And should we renew the Braille subscription for DH’s brother’s blind daughter?

Should we also ignore the name drawing thing and send gifts back to MIL and FIL?  Just have the kids send (homemade crafty) gifts to MIL?  Send something smaller than usual? Stick rigidly to the name drawing thing?  Not worry about it because the in-laws have savings and nice pensions and I still make a lot of money so whatever we do is fine?

What would you do?  Any stories of what happens when these kinds of rules break down?

Ask the readers: What should we do for our 20th wedding anniversary mid-June?

So… DH took John Green’s advice and started planning 20 months ahead for our 20th wedding anniversary, only to have Covid come and destroy our plans to go to Portland (with MIL taking care of the children).

Now we’re at home.

What should we do?

I suggested leaving the kids at home and just like driving to a corn field to make out, but it turns out we don’t live in the Midwest anymore and it’s hot and we’re no longer teenagers.  (Disclaimer:  We did not have children when we were teenagers, though we did have siblings.)

There’s not really any beautiful nature to drive to within a 3 hour radius.  We haven’t been ordering take-out mainly because none of the places we would want to order take out from are open for business.  *crying*

I’m feeling a bit more bummed than I ought.  We usually just do a fun or fancy meal out for our anniversary, though some years we have had adventures.  We’d been planning something special which we never do and now we can’t.  And we can’t just go to the city to eat something fun or order something fancy in our town like we would do most years.  I am at a total loss.

A friend recommended renting a movie, but I don’t even know what’s out there.  Also I only like uplifting happy movies that don’t have TSTL characters… and I have a hard time with movies that are longer than 90 minutes (though I did recently rewatch most of Howl’s Moving Castle with the kids, which is 2 hours).

Do you have any suggestions?  What would you do for an important anniversary or birthday or other celebration?

Are you tired of quarantine posts?

For a long time, anything that wasn’t a pandemic post seemed bizarre and out-of-touch (I still feel that way about Club Thrifty’s sponsored travel “Is this travel pass right for you” posts… one has to wonder.)

Recently I ran out of things to say what with finals and everything else and so a week of posts written before the pandemic finally got to run.

It seemed ok.  Except Friday.  (Almost) Nobody wanted to talk about art on Friday.

I’m still reading lots of pandemic posts.  I’m still interested in how other people are handling everything.  Though like OMDG, there’s a set of these that I’m just not interested in.

What about you?  Has what you read (blogs, news articles, twitter, etc.) changed over this time period?  What kind of current events information do you find yourself drawn to?  

What have you been doing for fun?

This weekend I’m still having to work because I’m still about two weeks behind on a ton of deadlines.  But if we weren’t quarantined I’d have wanted to DO something, like go to the city or I dunno.  Something to break things up.  Weekends aren’t weekends when every day is like the one before.  The past few weeks I’ve been too busy with getting everything changed over to online on top of all my service obligations to feel like I was missing anything but it’s been a long time and I see a future with these weekends that aren’t really weekends in front of me.

I’ve been reading novels (mostly rereading Jayne Ann Krentz… comfort stuff) and eating very well (DH is stress-baking).  I’ve also been getting a little thrill from any online shopping that needs doing– I have a better understanding of why my grandma was on every mail order subscription service known to daytime television commercials.   Problem is, after I’ve taken care of our food needs by ordering groceries, and bought some fun stuff from places like nuts.com or coffee for DH from southernseason.com and random things for other people (birthday presents and care packages)… there’s not really much else I want right now.  What’s the point in buying clothes when I only wear pajamas and will likely be a completely different size at the end of this?  (I also told DH to buy some hot sauce from heatonist.)

I can’t really go for walks in the neighborhood because with everyone home and everyone going on walks, it’s been impossible to do a 6 foot distance AND also people TALK to me even when I’m just trying to get the mail.  Apparently I’m not starved for conversation yet (turns out a day of zoom meetings leaves me just as drained as a day of in person meetings!).  I could go to a much richer neighborhood where there’s more space and fewer people but I’m afraid of getting shot for not belonging (unlikely since I’m a middle-aged white female, but what if I cough?).  We’re also under a city-wide emergencies only rule and the uni sent an email saying that police were stopping people in cars (I wonder how social distancing works there…) and asking for proof that the person is essential personnel or going to get food or take-out.  I can probably avoid that again by being a middle-aged female with a nice but not luxury car, but still… and I can’t really take the family either.  I dunno.

DH is getting more socializing than usual.  People from his former lives scattered across the country have been remembering that he does a lot of gaming so they’ve been contacting him for online table-top games and video games.  So that’s pretty cool.  He’s also used to working from home, though the children interrupt both of us.  I’ve had a few texts from people checking in, but not really long conversations from people I don’t normally keep in contact with, probably because most people from my past are also dealing with online classes and children.  I know folks who regularly do things like book clubs are doing them virtually instead of in person, which is cool.  (I don’t want to do a bookclub, but I think it’s awesome that people who enjoy it are able to keep it up.)

So other than reading books and watching youtube videos, which I always do anyway, even on weeknights… I’m out of ideas for things to look forward to.  How have you been handling the need for fun or breaking up the routine?

What have you been doing to break up the days?  What do your weekends look like?  What have your quarantine buddies been doing?

 

What are your current favorite blogs?

What do you love?

You can see our blogroll over at the side, but it hides some of our favs as we tend to mostly link to places with good blogrolls (with a few exceptions).

Missing are: Agaishanlife, bitchesgetriches, dameeleanorhull, ipickuppennies, naturalscientist, retireby40, shepicksuppennies, stackingpennies , xykademiqz.com… hey!  plantingourpennies just updated for the first time in a while… I’m sure we’re forgetting some!  (And do we just like blogs with pennies in the name?)

Many of our old favorites have just stopped blogging– they are missed!

I’m sad to say we cut an academic blog when it because abundantly obvious the blogger was a TERF (in fact, prior to her faux-feminist spewing I did not realize such a mind-boggling thing existed, though #2 knew).  I lost my last homeschooling mom blog when there were a series of things in a row showing that she doesn’t think about how actions can affect people who aren’t in her specific hetero-CIS-white demographic (if it had been just one thing I’d probably still be reading… but I can’t in good conscious continue… plus she periodically spreads harmful messages about how you should be jealous of “successful” (craftier/better homemaker/etc.) women but you shouldn’t actually be jealous because instead of being perfect, they’re all messed up in ways they’re not showing you, which is both a way the patriarchy pulls women down and neither true nor helpful… also not everybody’s idea of success).  I’m now scratching that I dunno… simplicity? itch listening to Young House Love Has a Podcast in the car.

What do you still read?  Do you have anything new we should check out?

How does GPA work in your local high school?

So today I discovered that if DC1 gets a 90% in a non-honors class (like JV orchestra), that is a 3.0.  Not a 4.0.  Not a 3.5.  A 3.0.  DC1’s 99% in orchestra this semester is a 3.9.  A 90% in an honors or AP class is a 4.0.

When I grew up, any kind of A was a 4.0 if there weren’t + or -.  If there were + and – then an A+ and A were both 4.0 but an A- was like 3.67 and a B+ 3.33 or something.  That’s the same way it still works in most colleges I’m acquainted with.

So at DC1’s high school, a kid can get straight As and have a 3.0.

That seems so weird to me.

Are all high schools doing it this way, or is DC1’s different?  And will everything have to be recalculated when applying for colleges?

Ask the readers: How can a student remember to turn in hir completed homework?

We’ve tried a bunch of things so far, even talking to one of the teachers, but DC1 cannot always remember to turn in hir homework.  Homework has different deadlines for different classes– math, for example, unlike previous math classes, only wants one big homework packet on the day of the exam.  English has daily bellwork that is only due on Fridays.  Biology is due randomly.  And so on.

DC1 is oblivious to the teacher reminding in class and to other kids putting homework in homework baskets. Things came to a head last week when we got an auto-notification that DC1 had gotten zeroes on three (completed) assignments (two major, one minor) on the same day.  Zie had just not turned them in.  Of course, one of these classes was English, and for the same not turning bellwork in on Friday as has happened before that we literally discussed with hir about this exact assignment this past week.  The other two classes are ones where zie does not have a whole lot of wiggle room, including a math packet on exam day.  This is the second time DC1 has failed to turn in a completed math packet on exam day.  None of these teachers accept late work.

Keeping an assignment notebook hasn’t worked.  Punching holes into papers and putting them in a 3 ring binder hasn’t worked.  Having a folder for random papers hasn’t worked.  For a while there I was going through papers with DC1 every night but got sick of it, and DH said he’d take over and he did for a few days but then he stopped.

The current thing we’re trying is to take a page from DC2’s elementary school.  I have repurposed one of DC2’s old homework folders.  DC1 is going to cross out hir younger sibling’s name and put HOMEWORK FOLDER on it in sharpie.  And it is only going to have homework that is due in it.  And then maybe if it still has stuff in it at the end of the day, zie can run and try to turn it in before getting on the bus?  Of course, this still requires going through those damn papers every night and making sure they get filed instead of just stuffing them in hir backpack in a crumpled mess.  I suspect any system would work if zie would just go through things without a parent assisting.

One of my friends complains that her kid doesn’t do the homework, or forgets about it and does it at the last minute.  But her kid turns things in!  And a 70 or 80% is better than a 0%!  Our kid remembers assignments, does the homework, and then just… never turns them in.  It has been happening all year, and we’re at a complete loss.

Any suggestions?