Friday, April 24, 2020

COVID-19 and Daily Life

There have definitely been some moments of frustration during stay-at-home orders,
but I really can't complain--our lives have not really been changed all that much.
So what does daily life look like during quarantine around here?

Sam is working from home every day. Occasionally that comes with frustrations, as he is sometimes limited by his laptop and without the computer and office set-up he has at St. Jude, but overall he loves working from home! He is able to lay down while he works, he is seldom interrupted (a big change from work), and he gets to be cheered by hearing the kids say and do funny things throughout the day. He is under pretty intense pressure at the moment due to several projects converging, so maybe working from home has been a blessing.

Talmage, Wesley, and Lincoln have definitely had moments of frustration and sadness as things have been cancelled, but overall they have taken the changes in stride and are positively thriving with creative energy! They constantly have a project going, such as:
-digging a system of canals in the dirt in the backyard with different sections going to different areas each boy designs and then bringing the water table over to pull the drain plug above the main canal and watch the water flow into all the different branches
-creating "stores" where each boy made dozens of creations out of paper, tape, and cardboard and then designed their own currency which they hid around the house for each other to find and then come spend at their stores they had set up in different rooms
-designing dozens of cardboard weapons with different magical abilities and intricate forms
-using pocket knives to cut all the way through (!) planks of wood to attach sticks and paper sails, wrapping things in tape to make their boats water-proof, and then racing them in the bathtub (which was too small, so we'll be heading to a creek to race them soon)
-creating a new style of art in which they swirl markers through a mud puddle and make various designs with the ink as it drains out of the marker
All of those projects, along with many others, have been 100% their idea and their execution. They are reading a lot, biking a lot, playing basketball a lot, and LOVING our homeschool lessons.

Maxwell and Benson have not noticed much of a change. Maxwell has had moments when he has asked about some of the changes and he knows all the answers if you ask him ("We're not going to church because of the c'ronavirus. It came from China."), but I'm not sure how much he actually internalizes. For example, the other day Sam's laptop broke and, after he got a new work computer and got things set up and working at home again, he exclaimed, "Is the c'ronavirus fixed???" Benson struggled for the first week or so that Sam was home because he is a MAJOR Daddy's boy and he was constantly screaming and knocking on the bedroom door, asking for Daddy. Thankfully, he eventually adjusted. Both he and Maxwell are so happy to run around after their big brothers all day long.

I have gotten a bit stir-crazy at times, because most of my favorite activities to do with the boys are outside the house. But I've finally figured out a routine with homeschooling and other activities that I think is working well. I decided to abandon the suggested activities from the school (they weren't working well for our family situation and were all review and totally optional anyway), and instead came up with my own mash-up of various approaches to different subjects. I teach science lessons to all the boys together (we are doing this Marine Biology unit right now) and history lessons to everyone together (I am totally in love with this curriculum I purchased along with the activity book, and I plan to use this regularly through the summers even when school resumes!), and they do their own math (using Common Core workbooks they used at school) and their own assigned reading (which I assign and follow up with a book report). We then do one supplementary activity each day, like music, art, or cooking. 
Maybe the fun will wear off after a while, but so far I have loved teaching them and it has been a great creative outlet! We have made "cave paintings" after learning about the early nomads, we have made an ocean in a jar and a model of the ocean with a tidepool out of dirt and blue water, we have conducted buoyancy experiments with salt and sugar water, we've made an olive oil lamp out of an orange, the boys have read fascinating and challenging books for them, and I have had so much fun coming up with book report ideas for them (like Lincoln making a civil war diorama with dollar store toy soldiers after reading a book about Clara Barton, or Talmage spending an hour of the day blindfolded and with ear plugs in and then writing an essay after reading Helen Keller's autobiography). 
The hardest part of all this has been the constant MESS that results from all that creative energy the boys have. Our backyard is at least 50% dirt (usually horribly sticky clay-like mud) that results in the boys all needing showers after just a few minutes of play! Our house is constantly covered in scraps of paper and cardboard and tape, and their bedroom floor is a sea of Legos almost every day. We work together to clean up a lot throughout the day, but it's a lot for me to handle (and produces a LOT of laundry!). I believe the mess is worth the opportunity for them to create and explore of their own volition, so I am trying to grow in patience with it all.

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