Work From Home Adventures Pt. 2

Here I am, another Friday afternoon and its the end of our second full week of remote learning. Our second full week of me teaching 3rd grade (I’m getting better at the math!!), of no dancing school, no playground, no play dates with friends, no date nights, no mom hangouts…I know the list is endless and each of you could add to it. It’s been so hard, and in spite of the warm sunshine today, I have a feeling it will just get harder before it starts to get easier.

Each of us must be missing so very much the things we used to take for granted. I miss the hour of downtime with my friends while our daughters went to dance class on Wednesday nights. Just that one hour a week where we could talk without cutting up chicken tenders, or monitoring how many toys were pulled out of a closet now seems to have been an hour of pure bliss. I miss going to a restaurant and having someone there do the cooking and the cleaning. I miss looking at a wine list and picking a new and interesting wine to pair with dinner; even though prior to this, I almost always ordered the same type of meal and same glass of wine when I went out to dinner. I miss the ability to go to the store: T J Maxx to browse around, Costco for bulk supplies, Michael’s for seasonal decorations, and I even miss hearing Abby beg and beg for a toy every single time we walked into any of those stores. All things I took for granted before; I miss now.

And then there’s those intangible things as well. I have not gone this long without hugging my mother or my father in my entire life. It’s making my heart literally hurt. I can’t go put flowers on my grandfather’s grave. I can’t go to church and exchange a smile and a sign of peace with total strangers. I can’t buy Abby an ice cream cone from an ice cream truck and then scold her when it drips on the floor. It seems, right now, all of our lives are just too full of “ We Can’t” situations and although each of us is trying so hard to stay strong and positive, it can truly be a struggle.

I am writing this not to whine and to bring people further down, but just to give you some examples so that my upcoming statement sounds “impressive.” Until yesterday, March 29, at 4:15pm, I had not cried about all of these “I Can’t” issues. I’ve worked hard to get up, be positive, teach Abigail, and try to help her and in so doing, help myself, adjust to this new normal until it goes away. I’ve smiled, I’ve sung songs, I’ve learned new dances via the Apple TV, I’ve played Barbie and with our new Star Wars DROID, and together she and I have used up an entire box of Crayolas. I’ve been a “strict” 3rd grade teacher and made her complete each and every task each day- even when she’s tired and losing interest. I’ve held my own classes at SDA to that same standard as well. All this, I’ve done and each of you have lists like this as well. The one thing I had not done was cry. What was the point? Yes, I’m sad, yes I’m frustrated, yes I miss my friends and family so much it hurts, but what good comes of crying over it?

My readers know that Abigail has been doing Theater since she was five years old. She does SDA theater and has been very active in a Theater Group in Bayonne. Earlier in the week, parents got email from that theater teacher, saying there would be “Virtual” Theater Group on Thursday afternoon. Now, after a day of virtual learning with Mom and being made to eat her vegtables and clean her room, and so on, I was not sure how Abby would feel about having to go to this remote activity. But, I told her I wanted her to go and that it was important, I thought, to try and continue the activity she loves so much, even if it was in a new way. I logged her in on the IPAD, downloaded the script on my phone and prepared to clean my floors while she went to Theater.

Then, I heard voices, the voices of kids as small as six and as old as thirteen, singing together in this Zoom meeting. And the tears just spilled down my cheeks and I cried and cried. I’m crying now as I write this. It was the most beautiful moment of this whole mess thus far. These kids coming together, because they WANTED to, and trying to learn something new and keep up their routine of performing, even with all this chaos in the world around them. I cannot fully express in words how beautiful it was, and how it gave me so much hope that I didn’t even know I needed.

The show WILL go on…for all of us. This show we call life WILL go on…of that I have no doubt. We’ll emerge from this changed in ways that we may never be able to fully articulate and more appreciative of things we took for granted before. In the meantime, the amazing director of Abby’s Theater Group and those little voices have given me the hope I need to continue on in these scary days. They reminded me that no matter what “show” we each participate in: work, sports, dance, school…THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

Work From Home Adventures Pt. 1

I wondered all week, was there even a reason to write this blog? In the grand scheme of things right now, who is going to be looking to me for any words of insight, wisdom or even just matter of fact information? All week I had a debate with myself in my head and here it is Friday at 3:00pm and I’m sitting down to type. Why? Because, for the past week all of us have had to adjust to the “new normal” and if we are going to go to school remotely, have meetings remotely, and even see our loved ones remotely via social media apps, then there’s no reason for me to not continue to do what I have done since I became Head of School, and reach out remotely on a weekly basis to share some thoughts.

What has this “new normal” looked like for all of you? I can only imagine, but I can share what it’s been like for me and how quickly my child has adjusted in the past seven days. Her new “teacher” is Miss Mommy and she understands that sometimes the teacher needs an extra few minutes to “review” the math lesson before it is taught to the student. She understands what a virtual tour of a museum is, she understands how to submit work online via a laptop and email and she even knows how to log onto her school website and see what tasks she has for the day. All things my 8 year old did not know how to do a week ago. She’s having “library” each day with a book selected by yours truly and music class this week involves learning the score to “Wicked.”. Even with all this change in routine, she is restricted to one hour on her tablet daily for fun on the internet. 

This week, I’ve seen Barbies having a pool party, Fisher Price toys stowed away long ago come back out for a full afternoon of Disney themed fun, and American Girls go camping under a bed. I’ve seen snowmen built out of Play- Dough and countless pictures colored in intricate detail. I’ve played Clue and Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit and Mad About Movies. I’ve taught a different “princess” each day- no uniforms means costume time at “school” and it’s been fun to teach Princess Leia, Princess Belle, and Princess Mulan so far. ( We had a visit from Hermoinie one day- Harry Potter styles and she rocked green on Saint Patrick’s Day of course!) I’ve seen hard work from an 8 year old- 4 plus hours daily on all her subjects.

What I haven’t seen perhaps is what surprises me more than all that I have seen this week. I have not seen whining about the work. I have not seen foot stomping, door slamming, or frustration at the fact that her new teacher is not always as quick to understand some of the lessons and the requirements of the 3rd grade classroom. I have not seen arguments about bedtime or refusal to brush teeth or a desire to sleep until 10am. She’s adjusted- quicker than I have as an adult and she seems to know that this is the way it will be, until it isn’t anymore. Complaining will do no good. Crying will do no good. We have to try our best to adjust to the new normal until we can go back to our old ways of life.

It’s been a hard week, of this there is no doubt. And we have harder weeks ahead, you and I- as parents, as employers and employees and as the home school “principals” of our daughters’ educations. We have opportunities as well- to draw closer to our loved ones, to really see what our children are learning each and every day, and through that process, learn some new things ourselves. I’ve learned in just 7 days, to be more patient, to be more creative, and to set up a daily routine that makes my daughter feel secure in this new, scary world we are inhabiting right now. I’m sure you have all learned that as well…and I’m interested…

What has your first week been like? Email me: sdegnan@stdominicacad.com and share your wisdom, your insights, and your experiences. This blog will benefit from shared stories right now and I’d love to have your voices heard when I sit down to write next week.

Be well, be safe, be healthy. And try, every single day, to BE HAPPY. Hug your children, kiss your spouse, and just thank God for the days together. You are all in my prayers. 

Blog Post #169

This week, I’m taking a short break from blogging.

I am in the “most magical place on earth!”

Our Disney Youth In Education series students are here!

Our Dance Team is competing in Nationals here!

Our Seniors are on their senior trip here!

And I  had the chance to join them. 

Warm Wishes from Walt Disney World!

Sincerely,

Sarah Degnan

Head of School 

Lenten Reflections…

This past Wednesday, we began our Lenten Season. For us Catholics, it is the start of forty days of repentance, where we dedicate ourselves to prayer and reflection. This observance’s purpose is to work to prepare our hearts and souls for the celebration of Easter. Here at Saint Dominic Academy, we feel it is essential that we dedicate a daily portion of this 40 day period to self examination, contemplation and reflection on God’s grace and His infinite mercy. Our religion classes will reflect on the Passion of Jesus and within their times of self reflection, will strive to make a closer connection to God. 

It is fitting that the majority of our Lenten season this year will be during the month of March. The month of March truly reflects the changes that should take place within our hearts during the Lenten season; for as we reflect on God’s grace, our spirits should become less cold, less burdened, less weighted down and begin to fill with light, joy and hope as Easter draws closer. As our hearts undergo this transformation, so too do we see our environment change, the light grows softer, the breezes grow warmer, and suddenly on an April day, we see the winter world transformed…into the beauty that is spring. 

I encourage you to allow for periods of self reflection during this Lenten season. Open your heart to God, and with this openness, witness firsthand the change in your soul- it will lighten and grow brighter as the season turns from winter to spring. Prepare your heart to shed its winter weight this Lenten season and be open and ready to accept the miracle of Easter that God will send to us all on a beautiful April Sunday.