Work From Home Adventures Pt. 3

Here we are in the last week of April and I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite sure how we got here. Oh, I know how I’ve been spending the days: Zoom calls, constant emails, “teaching” third grade, overseeing at home ballet class, cooking so much I feel like I could be the next Rachel Ray, checking temperatures “just in case” and basically trying my best to stay positive, for my students and staff, for my daughter who is handling this like a rockstar, and perhaps most importantly, for myself. I know once I lose the ability to get up each morning and find something new to make me smile, something new to learn how to do, or even some elaborate recipe to prepare, then I will have given up and that would let the sadness that has our country in its grip triumph over me. I’m not about to let that happen.

So, what did I learn this week? Oh, a few things…how to make brownies from scratch, ( not bad), how to make pulled pork in a slow cooker, ( excellent!) how to teach an 8 year old how to read and draw bar graphs for math class, ( challenging) and how to make cave art drawings ( I won’t share a picture!). I also learned a very important lesson- children are so resilient and able to see the fun in situations that drive us as adults out of our minds most of the time. Now, I have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney Plus, Broadway HD, Boomerang…at the touch of my fingertips there are literally thousands of things I can watch to unwind at the end of the day. Yet, in the weeks since March 12, I have watched exactly ONE new show- The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix. ( Perhaps a mistake…I had nightmares for at least 3 nights!). I just can’t relax and unwind enough to really enjoy anything- no new shows have caught my interest and I even get frustrated at my old go-to shows. 

I know, I know, I started to say something about kids…and I brought up all of those channels to help illustrate my point. ( I do have one, I promise!) I got an email from Netflix this week, explaining how to set up a Watch Party. Basically, I pick a movie, send a link to friends and then we all can watch movie together. A little chat bar opens on the side of the movie so we can text back and forth in a big group discussion. Now, I have no interest in doing this- I don’t even like it when people talk during previews at the movies, but Miss Abby was so interested in the idea, I thought I’d let her try it out.

Abby picked The Grinch, had me invite some of her friends, and asked that they wear Christmas clothes and have snacks. I figured the fun of this “watch party” would wear off quickly. After all, they can’t see each other, and they have to type to communicate. Was I ever wrong! What a huge hit this was, not only with Abby but with her friends too. In fact, they begged to do it again the very next day. Now, all of her friends don’t know each other, but that did not stop them from chatting away and discussing, amongst other kid topics, the movie itself. As a Film teacher, I can’t tell you how proud that made me. Kids as young as 7 years old, talking about movies together and just finding yet another unique way to be in each other’s company.

Kids are resilient, and what I’m seeing from these young kids is amazing. It’s fun to go to virtual theater, taking dance classes via Outschool is something to look forward to every day, a remote book discussion club on an American Girl book is actually encouraging Abby to read more, and a Netflix party for 2 hours is a cause for day long excitement among her and her friends. Do they miss each other? Very much, I know. However they are adapting, and most days, adapting much better than I am.

I feel inspired when I see them “interacting”, my daughter and her friends. I feel excited even if just for a few moments at the fact that she can still have fun during all this. Most of all, I feel a sense of pride, as the mother of a strong little girl, one who will not let anything halt her day to day life. She may have to change the way she does things a bit, but she’s still going to play and laugh and hang out with her friends and find ways to cajole me into giving her more snacks ( what’s a movie party without snacks??). In short, she’s still going to be “her”…the girl I have loved for almost 9 years now. Many of you readers also have girls, older than mine, but also just as strong in your homes right now. Look to them daily when all of this seems to be just too much to bear. Look at their faces, as they log into TikTok, as they FaceTime, even as they talk to teachers via Zoom. 

Is this ideal? Not at all. Is this the life we want for our girls? Not by a long shot. But we can and should learn from them, to stay strong, stay smiling and stay positive in the face of this pandemic. We should, as they are, look for the silver linings that are offered to us (not just from Netflix) and to take advantage of them. In short, we should all embrace the “virtual party” until we can celebrate family and friends together in person once again. 

Post Break Thoughts

Easter is over, and today we at Saint Dominic Academy are back at our remote learning platform. We know now that this will continue until May 15th at least, and that the days after that are “uncertain” to say the least. The COVID- 19 virus is life changing for us all, in ways we never could have expected. The struggle to stay motivated, to stay positive and forward thinking, some days I am sure the struggle to just get up and face another day amid this pandemic, takes all of our energy and our goodwill. I’m not above admitting that there are days when being motivated is extremely hard and I have to “fake it till I make it” for the sake of Abigail. I know many of you must be doing the same thing for your children as well.

What made it harder this past week for me personally was the loss of a friend to COVID-19. I realized truly that wakes and funerals are for us, the living to come to terms with loss and to say a final farewell to a beloved family member or friend. Absent that opportunity, all we are left with is our hurting hearts, our memories, and the words we would have shared with others at that event- words that seem to choke me when I think them, as if they are lodged in my throat. Me, many of you, people across the globe are experiencing this awful sensation- the inability to truly mourn the loss of a life as well as the ability, if not to formally in front of a gathering eulogize that person, than to at least share some memories of the dearly departed in a gathering of those who loved him or her.

Everyone deserves those words, those exchanged memories, those fond glimpses into the life of one we loved. Every single life lost to this awful virus deserves an eulogy that the world should hear and yet, the eulogies play only in our heads…unwritten and unheard. My friend, a friend of my family since I was a tiny child, deserved one. And today, I hope you can bear with me for a few minutes as I just briefly capture her essence in words as best I can, and try to say goodbye.

She was a hummingbird, less than five feet and endlessly fluttering…shiny bobbed hair swinging, dangling earrings swaying, hands waving as her lilting voice went a mile a minute. From subject to subject she flitted, much like a bird going from flower to flower…a swirl of neutral linens topped with jewel toned scarves that flowed and heavy eclectic jewelry that gleamed as she sparkled with life and energy. Barely able to stay in her seat, she bounced joyfully through every event I shared with her, and her voice, as sweet as music, was peppered with “lovey” and “sweetie” and “baby” and each of those words came out as warm as a hug and as comforting as a warm cup of tea. She was beautiful, this friend who filled the lives of my parents, my brothers, and I for over forty years. She was our breath of fresh air, our whirling dervish and had we known she would whirl out of our lives so soon, our hearts may have been more heavy than they are now. Her spirit will live on, in the colors of jewels, in the blue of the sky, in the tinted glow of the sunset…and she will always be missed and loved. 

Thank you, readers, for indulging me in that tribute…to my friend and in some ways, to all who have lost a voice in their lives, a voice we each hoped we’d hear one more time. The mourning process has changed drastically right now, but we must all still remember to mourn, in our own ways and to pay tribute to those who loved us well and whose life was taken away from us long before we were ready to say goodbye.

I will keep you all in prayer- this week and in the coming weeks. May you find solace in your memories, the strength to continue moving forward amid this life shaking pandemic and the hope that God gifts us all to see the brighter days ahead. 

Holy Week Prayer Service

As we entered into Holy Week yesterday, with Palm Sunday masses on our televisions instead of in churches, many of us may feel as if Easter and the joy it brings will not fully touch our lives this year. Amidst all this fear and sadness and frustration- we must remember all that Jesus suffered during this week. Betrayal from a close friend, denied by another close friend, teasing and mocking, beatings and whippings, the passion of his death on Good Friday and the despair his mother and friends felt when His life was over. We think all too often these days of our own sadness and suffering, however we know deep in our hearts that nothing we face can ever be as hard as the fate Jesus knowingly faced and carried out, in order to save us all. 

Normally, the school would gather together this week and pray before recessing for Easter break. We’d plan a mass of celebration for the week we returned from break. Although we cannot gather together physically, the students, faculty and staff will gather together to pray this Wednesday, April 8th from 11 to 11:30am. Each member of the school community will have a copy of the prayer service, and our remote classes will cease for 1/2 hour, so that we can all pray together. Additionally, the prayer service, led by four senior young ladies, and their mothers, who are all SDA alumnae, will be posted on our social media via a You Tube link. While the school prays together, they will use this link to see the prayer service led by thier SDA sisters, past and current. 

Today, I invite each of you to mark the day and time on your calender, look for the link Wednesday am on our social media and join the young women of Saint Dominic Academy and their teachers as we pray together during Holy Week. I call to mind today what I was taught during my elementary years at Our Lady of Mercy. CHURCH is not a building, but a community coming together. So please, come together with us, pray with our school community, and together we can look toward brighter days ahead, gifted with God’s love.(Prayer service is below!)

Prayer Service Program