Pickled Cauliflower

Cauliflower: my favorite veggie

“… but Mary Hodges had seen quite a lot of life in thirty years and had no illusions about what most of the human race had to do in order to make it from one week to the next. Besides, the food was good and you go to meet interesting people.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

You know those jars of pickled veggies that have carrots, peppers, cauliflower, and sometimes beets? I love those jars but I only eat the cauliflower. That seemed a little wasteful, especially since I usually kept the jar with just the other veggies until someone I knew liked them and had to remember to serve it to them. I decided instead to make my own picked cauliflower.

I started with this basic quick pickling recipe from thekitchn and added things I like. The wonderful thing about pickling is that it allows you to preserve a veggie for longer, still maintains the crunch, and it taste delicious. Also, you can pickle pretty much anything. Pickled radishes are also delicious! Although if you do mix them here, you should know everything will become tinted pink.

I have made this with whatever vinegar I have on hand, rice wine, white vinegar, apple cider. They all work and create a slightly different taste overall at the end.

Recipe for 2 pint jars stuffed with cauliflower.

  1. Cut up cauliflower and pack it as tightly as you can into your pint jar. I love using the stalk for this as well and not just the flower parts
  2. Add spices, I like to use 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, or 1 tbsp of fresh grated ginger, 1 tp of black peppercorns, and a few slices of garlic.
  3. Prepare brine by combining: 1 cup of rice wine vinegar, 1 C water, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiled, pour brine over your veggies packed in your pint jars.
  5. Close jar and let cool to room temperature. (Don’t forget to label with a date!)
  6. Store in fridge. Pickles are ready to consume in 24 hours, and can last up to 6 months in the fridge.

What I’ve Been Reading

I have spent the last few weeks reading more, learning more, and figuring out what else I can do. Here are some of the articles I have read that I think you may find interesting.

First, this twitter thread by Michael Harriot talking about #blacklivesmatter with data and directly answering some “counter arguments” to the movement that are meant to derail and gaslight.

Second, why It really is different this time. A compilation of two dozen experts explaining why this movement is growing and how there is optimism, for some, in how things can change.

Third, if you’d rather watch a video, Trevor Noah’s monolog about #blacklivesmatter and the social contract we all have in society is an excellent start.

Understanding Defunding/Abolishing the Police

Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop – this is an excellent article written by a former police officer about how much of his role as a cop does not require a fire arm and in those instances he had the least amount of training to help people.

This twitter thread by Gabrielle Blair (aka Design Mom), is fantastic. It goes through her process of figuring out why we should defund the police and talks about ways in which changes can be made and new community based organizations could be created. I highly recommend the twitter thread because she links to data and articles. She has also put the entire thread on her blog as well as on her instagram page, if you prefer to read that way.

An opinion article looking at how people, specifically white people, now view how the distraction theory of politics works, as well as the notion that police lie, a lot.

Trevor Noah has an excellent video talking to many experts on Defunding the Police movement.

John Oliver also has a segment on Police in his Last Week Tonight show.

What is Privilege?

A post by Lori Lakin Hutcherson explaining white privilege to a white friend. She goes through examples of what types of privilege you may have and how those make it easier for you to move through the world as compared to someone who is Black.

This is a heartbreaking story of Nicole R. Fleetwood on how her son is treated when walking to school. Raising a Black Boy Not to Be Afraid. These types of implicit biases from white people toward Black people cause harm and are fixable.

A story from a white woman who had a large black poodle that was often mistaken for a black man in her car and the encounters she had with police because of this dog.

Amber Ruffin shares a lifetime of traumatic run-ins with police.

Implicit Bias

I was hoping this article on Implicit Bias had clearer takeaways of what does work to change minds. It is, however, important to know what doesn’t work in changing someones mind about their implicit bias. Companies (and people) should be working on coming up with strategies to figure out how best to take into account implicit biases. The example of teachers grading without knowing whose paper it is, and orchestras doing auditions without knowing who is playing are great. In science, I envision double-blind peer reviews and tenure evaluations. All of these things are possible if planned and prepared.

Concrete Steps – What can you do now?

Obviously there are a ton of resources for learning and engaging in being anti-racist. I shared a few in a previous post of people, specifically on Instagram, that I have been following who are educators in this movement.

If you have young kids, Sesame Street did a Racism Town Hall on CNN. You can watch the entire episode on that link.

Danielle Coke on Instagram @ohhappydani has a wonderful graphic talking about our different spheres of influence and how you can work to be anti-racist.

So, I ask what are you doing to enact change?

What things do you see your workplace doing to help listen to and value other voices?

I’d love more resources, so if you have an awesome article, a person you follow who is putting out great ideas, or anything you think is cool and helping this movement, will you send it our way? Thanks!

Change Requires Action

As a white woman, with white children, my voice is not the one you should be following right now. Instead, I urge you to go listen to Rachel Cargle’s public address on the revolution. You can also follow her on instagram @rachel.cargle. To support Rache’s work and learn more, see her Patreon page and her self-paced online learning collective The Great Unlearn (@thegreatunlearn).

Here are other voices you should also be following:

Leaders who have wonderful diverse book suggestions for kids and adults: @hereweread, @wellreadblackgirl, and @jane_mount compiled a great list of anti-racism books.

Charnaie from @hereweread even has a bookshop store to make it easier for you to find and purchase the books on her list and help make your home library more diverse and inclusive. Or you can add all these books to your library lists and check them out (once libraries open again).

If you’re looking for more resources to learn about racism and teach your children, follow @theconciouskid. They also have a Patreon page if you’d like to support their work.

I just purchased “A Kids Book About Racism” for my kids (you can follow them on instagram at @akidsbookabout).

There are many many other voices you should follow. Everyone I have linked to above has suggestions and lists. Take some time today and add diversify to your feed! You’ll be glad you get to learn from people with different perspectives.

Donate money and vote

Your actions with donations are essential to help these movements grow. I won’t list places here because there are many people sharing great lists of where you can donate money and where to help, pick your favorites! Donate to more than one! Donate what you can! Set up a monthly donation so that you automatically are supporting these organizations.

And more obvious, go out and vote. Make your voice heard. These changes happen at the local level. Your vote matters tremendously.

Support your black friends

If you’d like to talk about all this, I’m all ears, leave a comment, message us on instagram @purpleglassesFLDE, message us on Facebook.

Support your black friends, don’t burden them with your feelings, support them by reading their words and learning from all the resources that already exist. Support them with your actions.

Garden Gnomes and Stuffed Peppers

“Worshipping Nature and eating health food an’ that. So I don’t see why we shouldn’t have one round here. They were floodin’ the country with a Wave of Mindless Evil, it said.”

“What, by worshipin’ Nature and eatin’ health food?” said Wensleydale.

“That’s what is said.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

For about 15 years, I was a semi-vegetarian who occasionally ate hotdogs. As my kids grow up, I can match their developmental milestones to my own experiences with food: one needs molars to chew meat well, curiosity in new foods switches to comfort or suspicion, understanding death and making the connection between that and ones dinner plate.

I don’t like chewy meat. Me at age 7: One forkful after another of pork-chop turns into gum and ends up tucked away in a white paper napkin, secretly deposited in the bathroom trash can. I don’t think my mom ever knew about it until I told her decades later. Both my toddler kiddos did this with carrots. The youngest’s teeth were on the late side and he really struggled with eating. Turns out his favorite foods are crunchy and textured, and he loves meat. You can’t get very far on those with gums. We composted a lot of licked ABC salami. (Non 90s kids, ABC = already been chewed)

Those early years were STRESSFUL. He was 1.5 and nearly exclusively breastfed. The same relaxed attitude I’d taken with his 3 years older brother just didn’t fly.

Before I go on, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the ‘no food is bad’ attitude. Food is food. No judgements, no comments on weight (big or little), no force-feeding. I explain it this way to the kids: food is fuel & our bodies need all kinds of nutrients, together let’s find a way to get the complete set. Some nutrients ‘work better’ with complementary foods. And if you’ve got a body with special needs (diabetes), sometimes it really matters what you eat with what.

So I went to the store with my new hungry toddler and purchased all kinds of other foods I didn’t prefer to eat as an adult: versions of everything with a ton more sugar like coffee cake, fruits, Fruit Loops (which is actually less sweet than say Honey Nut Cheerios). He devoured the breads, but still got substantial calories from breastmilk. When he was around age 2.5, my body’d had enough eating 2 of each breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much as the pediatricians office pushed switching him to cows milk for nearly 2 years, I’d felt it was silly. Why switch when my body made milk specifically for him? He was gaining weight and healthy. After they messed some paperwork up as well, we switched to a family practice that matched my practical approach and supported our needs. When he stopped gaining weight around age 3, we added Pediasure. Thank goodness I could find -something- he’d eat.

A friend mentioned Division of Responsibility (see Mealtime Hostage) as his calorie intake crashed. Apparently there are children who will simply NOT eat when hungry. And they’re everywhere, in every country and type of household. My method of weekly food planning was not going to work. With my older son, we’d plod through the week with three meals he liked, and the other meals would be the adults choice. For the 3 year old, I could barely figure out 5 things he’d consistently eat. In switching to DoR, I’d provide buffet meals with one or two items I know my son would devour. New foods could be tried or not, no pressure. New traditions are made, there’s no ‘breakfast only’ foods or dessert after you eat dinner. Sometimes it’s served on the side. (I rarely plan dessert, I just don’t think of it. Ice cream has become breakfast some days, and I’m OK with that.)

There was no overnight change. Getting enough calories is still a struggle for both kids. They’re growing and healthy, but have stretches when they’re so hangry we’re all frustrated. I simply don’t know what their ‘safe’ food has changed to. I’m also into independence, so DoR with it’s method of parents always providing the food & snacks at fixed times, doesn’t always sit well with me. Some days & times the kid’s more hungry, and sometimes I want my 5 year old to know how to make a bowl of cereal on his own. He’s learned a lot in just a couple jam packed years. On cloudy days, he even pours a glass of milk to offer all of us with a side of Vitamin D. Ultimately, my minimal food rules are: (1) don’t hide food (bugs!) cause if it’s in the house, I bought it to eat and it’s OK and (2) if I’m cooking a meal, wait to eat that snack you’ve pulled out with the dinner. Funny thing is, I used to hide food so my brothers and their friends wouldn’t eat it all in one sitting. Slow eater problems.

The eldest is mostly a vegetarian at age 8. It is hard to find food for him on the go. There are no rice and bean burrito fast-food shops in Germany. I remember the same frustrating feeling as a kid on family road trips, squished between my brothers in the back seat, wondering how long I could hold out. That’s the funny thing, being the beanpole, I didn’t eat much at meals, but -needed- those snacks. A lot of foods don’t sit well in my stomach or on my skin, so I probably developed specific aversions early on like my eldest. I’m lucky my mom made me specific veggie pasta meals growing up, and never forced us to eat. Her childhood dinner table was not always peaceful, and she learned a few good lessons from hiding her own food behind the radiator. (Though from what she tells me, chewy, fatty meat was much preferred.)

As for myself, I’m not a huge fan of the environmental costs of meat production, but do on occasion enjoy properly cooked, tender meats. Humans as omnivores and all such stuff. And somewhere in southern France, a broken garden gnome was gifted an extra serving of stuffed peppers that a vegetarian’s traveling companions could not possibly finish before the temporarily indisposed hostess returned and guilted them into eating till they popped.

So, what’s for dinner?

Funny things kids say

May 2020 Edition

Middle Kid Talk

The backstory to this first conversation. My kid, age 5 has been talking a lot about what they want to be when they grow up. The list has gotten a bit unwieldy. For a while, the first line of work they were thinking about was astronaut. That has stayed on the list, but it has been added to.

M (age 5) in the car: “Mom, I decided I also want to be a cowboy when I grow up!”

Me: “Cool. Do you know what cowboys do?”

M: “Yup, ride cows.”

Me: ???? “No, I think they ride horses”

M: “That’s right, cause horse-boy sounds weird.”

Me: …

M: “Although horse-girl sounds fine, so does cowgirl. Cowgirl. Cowgirl? Cowgirl.”

Big Kid Talk

In this same vein, my 8 year old has also been talking about what she wants to be. It started off as a teacher and today she said:

“Remember when I said I wanted to run a school? Maybe I don’t want to do that, maybe I want to tutor instead. That way I could be a tutor and also be a chef!”

This kid also managed to convince us to get her three new books if she’d learn to ride her bike. It took one afternoon. Phew!

Toddler Talk

My youngest, age 2, has a bit of a speech delay as compared to her older siblings. Her pronunciation is sometimes difficult to understand, and also, adorable.

Blanket = blaaaankit

She also says “I say NO!” if you ask her to do something she doesn’t want to do, like lie down in her bed at bedtime. She’ll repeat ad nauseam while you try to keep a straight face and not laugh.

And if you laugh when she doesn’t want you to, she says “Mama, NO funny!”

If you call her, she’ll respond: “What?” (in her cute toddler voice)


I missed posting these but have kept a running list of mispronunciations that I’m kind of sad are now pronounced correctly.

When my son was still 4, we visited a friend in Washington DC. For some reason, whenever he talked about the trip for over a year he pronounced it “Washington-ton DC”

Halloween was “Howelleen”

On Columbus Day, we had a big talk about how Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean, but he wasn’t a very nice guy. We took out all the books from the library. This is how my son pronounced his name: “Misterpher Columbus.”

And my favorite, one of the things we’ve been doing on our walks is racing. M has just recently started saying this phrase correctly: “On your marCH, get set, go!”

Being Home

The view from our house in Denver – April 2018 snow showers.

Anathema hadn’t really made herself at home in the cottage. Most of her implements were piled up on the table. It looked interesting. It looked, in fact, as though a voodoo priest had just had the run of a scientific equipment store.

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
When everything is closed, you make your own water fun in the driveway.

What does home mean to you?

Is it the place you live? Your favorite restaurant, coffee shop, the school your kids attend? Is it the people you live with or those in your neighborhood? A favorite barrista or teacher or neighbor? Is it the actual structure of your living space? The four walls? The space you call your own where you put all your things? Or is the things you bring? Plants, pictures, your favorite books? The actual family members that live with you?

For me, it is a combination. I love my collection of cookbooks, my knitting supplies, my kitchen tools, and my bag/tote/box collection. These are the things I wouldn’t be able to feel like I was home and I probably would just start accumulating them again, even at my husband’s dismay. My people matter, husband, three kids, they make my house feel like home even when sometimes I’d like to just sit in silence. The rest of it, has not seemed to matter that much. Home to me is where I can relax and just be. A place where I can do my own projects, where I can set aside time to work, and where I have a comfy place to sleep.

I was so grateful that my mom got to spend a lot of time here with us durign quarantine. She spent 45 days with us until she could get a flight home. I can’t speak for her, but for me, she became part of the houshold and the home very quickly. I know my kids felt the same way. For a few mornings after she had left, our 2-year-old would wake up and ask for her, and go to the room she had been staying in looking for her. It was heartbreaking but also lovely to know that for them, home is where their people are. My mom joked she was part of the furniture of the home, a stable adult that was part of the house. It was absolutely wonderful. I can’t wait till we can travel again to have more visits.

Toddler looking up at a plane that might have my mom leaving. “Grandma, airplane!”
From her perspective, all planes from this point forward have my mom going home.

There is of course another aspect of being home. Where the community or city is what you call home. There are places where I have felt more at home than others. Where people were nicer and more welcoming of newcomers. People in New York and Denver were wonderful. They are used to people moving often and good at including someone new into playdates and dinners. Slowly those communitites felt like home. Other places are more set in their groups and not used to newcomers. Going to school or work helps tremendously when moving. You are automatically included in a group and by default have things to attend. This last move has been the hardest because I work remotely, from home, and it has not been easy to find a group of people. Of course, this has been exacerbated by having to stay home the last few months.

This type of community home is one that I have learned to be ok with growing more slowly and living without for a while. I make sure my kids have friends and playdates, and then worry less about building my community. I also make an effort to keep in touch with my friends that are spread across the globe. We FaceTime, chat on the phone, email, message on Instagram (shameless plug: @purpleglassesFLDE). How do you keep in touch with a community you call home? How have you kept in touch while being stuck at home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what home means to you!

Quarantine Thoughts

“See?” said Crowley. “It’s just like I’ve always said. They’re cunning buggers, humans. You can’t trust them an inch.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
My lab bench from when I was in graduate school.

I have been thinking a lot about each of our roles in this pandemic. Many of us are home, working from home, or worrying about not being able to work. Some businesses were able to pivot gracefully and efficiently, still able to cater to their clients and provide excellent service. My gym has been amazing setting up virtual classes on zoom. I used to only workout twice a week, but have been able to do the workout every day. One positive of a pandemic is the growth of my biceps. They are running a free 21 trial class, in case you also want to grow your biceps from your house anywhere in the US. (This is not sponsored and I’d love to see your sweaty face on zoom at 11:30am ET).

But what about other businesses? Many have faltered and may not come back. This worries me in terms of the skyrocketing unemployment. I think about what I can do to help. I love how The Conscious Kid is running a rent relief fund, no questions asked. Is that something we could do in the long term with this blog? Could we provide support to those who are doing great work through Patreon? Would we be able to fund 1, 2, 10 artists, activists, and wonderful people?

And then, I get angry because I think about those profiting directly off this crisis. With the ability to be super connected, and with so many at home on their computers, and increased social media consuption, it has become easy to disseminate large amounts of dissinformation. Fake information that is meant to cause confusion and distrust of science. (As an aside, this is a great explainer on how the scientific process works — you should check it out if you’re unsure how we figure things out about the world from data we collect.)

What we share online matters, even in whatever small bubble you live in.

Carolina, PurpleGlasses.com

What we share online matters, even in whatever small bubble you live in. I say this while thinking about the two recent conspiracy theory videos that surfaced. I will not link to them because I don’t want to increase any of their traffic (even with only a couple people reading this). But also, because their content has been debunked by many, many, many, many, many, scientists (this list of references is below with descriptions). I was surprised and dissapointed with how many people in my small network shared this. Especially the ones who insisted we should “have an open mind” while watching. #facepalm. To be clear, an open mind is useful when looking at facts and data, but a conspiracy video that only has misinformation is not a time to have an open mind, it is a time to report it as false news and close that window.

We are not only responsible for what we consume online, but what we share as well. It is easy to fall into believing some of these theories. But they all stem from the same vein: by decreasing our trust of data and scientists analyzing this data, which they use to learn and come up with valuable discoveries, we are ultimately losing this information and what is has brought to society. An obvious example is how the anti-vaccine movement has led to oubreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Please #vaccinateyourkids and #factsnofear.

Also, the more we are distrustful of actual scientists, the more likely it is that conspiracy theorists can profit off your distrust. They don’t even need that many people to buy what they are selling, but they do need many people to share. To continue the anti-vaccine example above, they need many people to choose not to vaccinate, or share about not vaccinating. A small subset of those people will look for “alternative” medicines and give money to this movement. This is what fuels such movements and makes it so harmful. People who really need treaments that are shown to work are refusing them. Over time, this community distrust engenders more distrust and increases the base of people buying the “alternatives”.

Please think twice before sharing something on your platform that seems outlandish and conspiracy like. It only helps to strengthen the dislike of real facts and weakens society as a whole. Without science we would be very much lost.

Resources with FACTS about COVID and Science:

Sawbones: COVID Lies, Darned Lies and Statistics – a great podcast by Dr. Sydnee and Justin with great fact checking and good info about COVID. It has a transcript attached for those who want to skim the article.

Vice article – if you want some background on the person who created the viral video that has been removed, this is a great article.

Facebook post by Dr. Kat Montgomery, a pathologist with a masters in epidemiology debunking step by step the many claims the video made. It includes references for every fact check and lots of good information.

Pseudoscience and COVID-19 — we’ve had enough already – not specific about the viral videos, but a great overview about why its so important for us to help not spread conspiracy theories and false claims.

COVID Explained – a website created by Dr. Emily Oster (author of Cribsheet and Expecting Better) and Galit Alter. This is a great resource to answer any questions you have about COVID. They use the current data available to answer these questions.

How the Scientific Process works – by Dr. Katie Everson – this is a great explainer of how the scientific process works. Also, it’s all drawn out beautifully.

Are you a recipe follower or dissenter?

Set up to cook a new recipe.

“Anyway, your aunt could be a witch,” said Pepper. “In secret. She could be your aunt all day and go witching at night.”

“Not my aunt,” said Wensleydale darkly.

“An’ recipes,” said Brian. “New uses for leftover toad.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The first time I make anything, I always follow the recipe.

Before you start sending me messages, of course there are exceptions to this! I will substitute ingredients I know I dislike, such as celery or raisins, for broccoli and chocolate chips. And I will adapt a baking recipe by substituting for whole wheat flour or adding extra cinnamon or other spices. Things I know have worked elsewhere.

I’m a scientific tinkerer. I treat my kitchen like a big laboratory and run experiments when I bake something new.

For this reason, I love using recipes from chef’s and cooks that have tested it out. They have tried it in different kitchens, with different ovens. They have substituted different flour brands, and have even noticed the different saltiness of Morton’s and Diamond Crystal salt. If you’re curious, Morton’s is twice as salty, so you would use half as much in recipes if you’ve switched salt. I learned this from watching Bon Appétit’s youtube channel. If you haven’t watched their shows, I highly recommend it!

I spent over 10 years working in a lab studying bacteria, designing experiments to ask very specific questions of how a very specific part of the cellular machinery works. The main difference there and in my kitchen is that I never got to eat my experiments and the results were presented in data instead of delicious goods. The other major difference is smell. While bread making can sometimes remind me of the yeasty lab smell, overall, the lab never smelled like baking cinnamon or chocolate chip cookies. And of course, there is much less PPE required in the kitchen, even if it can be just as dangerous.

Carolina in 2015 working in the lab after having come back from maternity leave with my second kid.

These last few weeks with a lot of time at home, I have thought about all the scientists who are unable to continue to run their experiments. I wonder if they are itching to tinker in the kitchen as well.

Who do you meet at the bar?

Raise your hand if you’ve sent a handwritten letter in the last 3 months? We’ve managed a handful of postcards that may or may not reach our family in Brazil, the US and Denmark. The eldest kiddo enjoyed sketching on them, while the kindergartener still refuses to write his name because it doesn’t look perfect. To dial down the pressure, I never scold when he engages in marker body art. He’ll get there.

So that’s the kids. What about the adults? Pathetically, no handwriting has been post mailed. I’ve comfortably settled in online, with a mix of social media platforms, group chats, video conferencing & emailing. Why I chose my time off with the kids to erase 7,000 unread emails dating back to 2008? I don’t know. I am cringe-worthily sorry I didn’t reply to some others. There’s no good excuse. One email account stopped forwarding completely, oops! Now, my email icon looks naked without the quadruple red digit above it.

Facebook: my virtual bar.

Instagram: my cozy living room: family, close friends, the odd friend who’s not on Facebook, and a sprinkling of pretty/diverse popular culture & art

Twitter: if I want to get yelled at in my front yard by drive-by passengers.

YouTube: if I were driving around in the Google street-view car.

LinkedIn: if I want to walk around my university campus naked, perpetually in a dream where I forgot to take a language class and won’t be allowed to graduate, but no one else knows as they’re in their own dressing rooms.

TickTock: now I’m trapped in my grandmothers body and only know how to use a rotary phone.

Now that I’ve set the tone of these virtual spaces, who do I invite in? We meet so many folks for so many reasons. Ultimately, I set the bar for Facebook at the literal bar. Would I go out for dinner and drinks, enjoy catching up once a year, chatting about random shit with the occasional debate thrown in? Technically, there are many work colleagues I’d include in this group, but I often err on the side of work/home separation.

order in my digital life

I’m a bit leery of writing this out; it is harsh ranking acquaintances in a public way, though I’m curious how others manage the doors of their virtual lives. Some online discussions are comfortable with subsets of friends and exhausting minefields with others. Only once did I part ways (in blunt terms, unfriend) because it was too exhausting to see something and -not- say something. That’s a whole separate post: what to do when faced with crazy talk /conspiracy / fact-deserts? I think I’ve been lucky that the group is small-high school sized (550), blatant misogyny, hate speech & racism is (mostly) missing, and I can scroll past the most mismatched topics without feeling too guilty. I can still be myself.

At the end of the day though, these people are my restaurant mates. I can come to the table with my small, introverted effort and don’t have to put on a facade. I still enjoy their company. And on some quirky days, it might go something like this:

“The table in front of the two of them was covered with bottles.

“The point is,” said Crowley, “The point is. The point is.” He tried to focus on Aziraphale.

“The point is,” he said, and tried to think of a point.

“The point I’m trying to make,” he said, brightening, “is the dolphins. That’s my point.”

“Kind of fish,” said Aziraphale.

“Nononono,” said Crowley, shaking a finger. “’S mammal. Your actual mammal. Difference is—” Crowley waded through the swamp of his mind and tried to remember the difference…”

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Virtual Home-School

S reading in our yard. Another activity she loves to do.
Image by @purpleglassesFLDE

“Funny, reely,” he said. “You spend your whole life goin’ to school and learnin’ stuff, and they never tell you about stuff like the Bermuda Triangle and UFOs and all these Old Masters running around the inside of the Earth. Why do we have to learn boring stuff when there’s all this brilliant stuff we could be learnin’, that’s what I want to know.”

There was a chorus of agreement.

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Despite the anxiety that this uncertainty in the world brings, at home, things have been somewhat calm. It helps that while my husband is still working, they are only doing cases that are essential (he’s a surgeon), so he actually comes home at a resonable time. I am also fortunate enough that my mom got stuck here. She came for the week of spring break, and stayed once her flight got cancelled. So we’re home, but we have an extra adult too.

My oldest (age 8, 3rd grade) has been doing school-from-home for 6 weeks now. The school has been great at sending work assignments. They have everyone set up on microsoft teams and I really only need to help on Mondays when we print out the schedule of to-dos. Printers really help for this! At least for my kid, being able to check things off a list that she’s completed, feels very satisfying. The teachers aren’t doing any virtual class, but they do post youtube videos for their morning meetings and the music teacher posts some great classes. There was one about sound waves which had a really fun app to play with! All three kids enjoyed that class.

Other than school work, I’ve been very flexible with screen time. Whereas we usually only allowed screens on weekends, I now allow screens all day. A few days ago and we watched some of the random youtube vidoes she has been watching. Videos of kids playing with lego sets, or of kids going to fun playgrounds. It feels like how I like watching someone else renovate their house, or find a house to purchase.

Since she needs little to no help on her online assignemnts, to keep her engaged I have added some extra virtual lessons. Once a week, she does a math class with Revolution Math*. We actually started last year, in second grade, and have kept going this year. It is an online math class with a teacher and a maximum of 4 students. They use zoom and have a story that they follow and do math to solve problems. The kids take turns reading different characters in the story and the welcome box has facemasks for each of the 4 characters they can use. It has been a really fun way to increase confidence in math and it is extra practice for learning concepts. She also earns gems in the class which she can use for prizes. So far, she’s chosen a box of origami paper, a tiny unicorn, a friendship bracelet kit, and a fidget spinner. I think she’s saving up for the fitness tracker next.

*Because of everyone being home, they gave those of us using Revolution Math a code to share. So, if you’d like to try it for your kid, grades 2-5, use the code CARGAB2020 at checkout to get a one month trial of 4 classes for $1. We will get a small comission, and are trying to choose a cause to send that money.

Twice a week, a good friend, teacher, and previous babysitter from Pittsburgh does a virtual class with S. On their first get together they talked about what they were going to work on. They decided on a Book Club. So far, they’ve written a 9-chapter novel, read a book together and now are working on other things. This friend is an amazing educator and wonderful person. It has been a great break for S from school work to learn things she chooses. It is also so nice to reconnect with a friend.

I also had S come up with a few goals for all this time at home. It is probably time we upadate those, since she won’t be going back till August (hopefully school’s will be open again in Florida in August!). One goal was learning how to type. Typing Club has been fun and entertaining. She was very consistent using it the first few weeks and now has tapered off. We’ll see if it will be interesting again over the summer.

The other major item we were trying is learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels. This is the first place we have lived where we have enough space, and I have enough time, to actually work on this. So far it has been frustrating for all of us. Anyone have good tips for teaching a child to balance? For the other two I have gotten a balance bike and hope they will learn on their own #delagatingforthewin.

I would love to hear what your kids are enjoying in this crazy time!