Monthly roundup

Monthly roundup: March 2020

Ahhhh, the library. Remember that place? Do you remember ANY places? We used to be able to go places, right?

What a weird, weird millennium this month has been. We started out quietly and have ended up with the majority of us isolated in our homes. To be honest, I saw this coming at the beginning of the month and began preparing accordingly, filling in the few gaps that remained in my pantry (with things like another 50lb bag of bread flour, two pounds of yeast, extra soy sauce, a bulk tub of peanut butter, etc. We’re also well-stocked with toilet paper, so there have been no worries there for us). I also managed a trip to the library the day before it closed, so I still have a stack of books to read- not that I’ve been doing a great job of reading. It’s hard to focus, hard to stop hitting refresh on my computer screen, and I’ve heard plenty of other reader friends say the same thing. So if you’re struggling to get through that stack of books, even though you suddenly find yourself with all the time in the world, you’re absolutely not alone.

Let’s start this roundup, shall we?

Books I Read in March 2020

  1. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

2. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

3. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon (both of these books were reviewed here)

4. The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

5. The History of Love by Nicola Krauss

6. Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life by Harold Kushner

7. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

8. Pitching My Tent: On Marriage, Motherhood, Friendship, and Other Leaps of Faith by Anita Diamant

9. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

10. His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler et al (those not linked, with the exception of A Little Princess, are reviewed in this post)

11. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

12. In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream by Eric Dregni

Not a great month for reading, and an even worse month for reviewing, but I’m cutting myself ALL OF THE SLACK. Everyone is worried and anxious and scared at this time, and it’s not easy to focus. It took me an entire week to read His Hideous Heart; during normal times, I would’ve blown through that in two or three days. But it’s okay. I’m doing the best I can right now, and so are you.

Reading Challenge Updates

So, the good thing is that everything I have from the library, which is still like six or seven books, are from my reading challenge lists, so I’m still working on that for the time being. After that, though, these will have to be put on hold until things calm down enough for the libraries to re-open. Totally understandable. Fortunately, I’ve got PLENTY of reading material here at the house, along with access to ebooks through my library (some of which will work for my reading challenges!), so I won’t run out of things to read anytime soon.

Here’s what my reading challenges look like right now:

There’s a second page to this, but there’s been no change, it’s still blank, so I won’t post that. Nor will I post this year’s Modern Mrs. Darcy challenge, as there’s been no change to that.

I think I only read five challenge books this month, but that’s okay. This year is different in a lot of ways, and how I go about and complete these challenges is going to look different too. ALL THE SLACK-CUTTING GOES HERE.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Still at 109 books, so it’s holding steady from last month, which is good! I’m not particularly worried about it creeping up right now, though. If I find things I want to add and it makes me happy to add them, I’M ADDING THEM.

Books I Acquired in March 2020

None for me that I can remember, but we did buy a math workbook and a 300-page workbook of first grade material for my daughter. Does that count? 😀

Bookish Things I Did in March 2020

Before the world shut down, March wasn’t a terrible month. I went to a library program where a woman did a historical reenactment as Miep Gies, the woman who helped hide Anne Frank and her family. A few days later, I went back to the library (where they already had out a vat of hand sanitizer) for a program on the rock band Fleetwood Mac, which was SUPER fun and interesting! Everything after that, unfortunately, was cancelled, including Nicola Yoon’s visit, and my Judaism class’s Shabbat. Super bummer, but understandable.

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to and loving Unorthodox! I’m not having as much time to listen as I did before, though, since everyone is home and I don’t want to blast it in the kitchen as I cook…

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Currently on hold until life goes back to normal.

Real Life Stuff

Phew. What a MONTH. And there will probably be more exactly like this, for a while.

The good parts: My husband’s job is perfectly fine and he’s considered essential (his research involves the mouse colonies at the lab, so he’s partially responsible for keeping the mice, which are the culmination of years of research and a LOT of money, alive), so things are okay for us there. He’s working a slightly reduced schedule and sometimes going in at weird times in the lab’s attempt to reduce the amount of people in the lab at any one time, but financially we have zero worries at this time, which makes us very, very fortunate.

The bummers: my son’s senior year. He’s doing mostly okay with this and is enjoying doing school online, but he’s pretty sad about missing all the senior year choir stuff, and I feel really, really sad about this for him. I’m going to miss all his last performances and all the things he’s worked so hard for, including the springtime a capella group. Odds are there will also be no prom (he’s not bothered by this, but I know a lot of other kids are) and no graduation, either. It’s a sad way to end his compulsory education.

My daughter’s kindergarten experience. She’s really missing her friends, her teacher, and the routine of school. We’re doing a full day of schoolwork most days- I homeschooled my son until he was in fourth grade and still have the vast majority of the books I used with him (I kept them specifically in case there was a time when the schools shut down, and boy are they coming in handy), so she’ll be doing well educationally whenever the schools are able to start back up again. We read the first two Molly books in the American Girl series, which led to a lot of really great conversations about rationing and sacrifice and having to make do with what you have (VERY timely right now!), and it helped my daughter to understand better what’s happening and why the grocery stores have empty shelves, and why we can’t afford to waste anything.

My back. UGH. YOU PICKED A FINE TIME TO LEAVE ME, LUCILLE. My back has been utter rubbish the past two weeks. I’ve iced, I’ve heated, I’ve stretched, and still I can’t move without at least wincing and sometimes moaning in pain. It’s come down to me messaging my doctor, and I’m now on a course of prednisone to try to get the swelling down in order to decrease my pain and give me a little better range of motion. Being stuck at home isn’t all that bad for me, but being in that kind of pain was a major downer. Fortunately, the prednisone is making a serious dent, for which I am ridiculously grateful.

My days look like this: wake up, drink coffee, brush teeth and switch from my nighttime sweatpants to my fancy daytime sweatpants, school the girl, lunch, school the girl, walk, clean the kitchen, cook dinner, eat dinner, shower, read, bed. Lather, rinse, repeat (and I’m not complaining; I’m guessing that a lot of your days look similar). I have to say I do envy parents of older kids, those parents who are able to kick back a little and throw whatever you want on TV and not have to worry it’s inappropriate for younger eyes, or who can work on other projects without having to be on Child Destruction Watch or Question Answering Duty every other second. (I seriously, SERIOUSLY feel for the parents who are attempting the impossible in simultaneously homeschooling/supervising schoolwork, working from home, and supervising smaller children. You guys have all my sympathies!) Basically, we’re all struggling in different ways here!

Two things that have been giving me a lot of enjoyment throughout this ordeal:

  1. The Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam. We’ve been keeping an eye on this girl since the second week of March. She’s beautiful. Her three eggs probably won’t start hatching until the end of the first week of April, possibly the second, but it’s fun checking in on her and seeing what she’s up to. We’ve caught her with a dead mouse, a squirrel leg, and an earthworm, and sometimes she sharpens her beak on the righthand side of the owl box. Hearing her hoot at other owls in the distance is also pretty wild.

2. The Cornell Lab FeederWatch Cam. These guys, and the waterfowl in the background, can get LOUD. This feeder is often really busy and it’s lovely to watch all the birds- and the stupid squirrels, who constantly try to jump on the platform and often miss, resulting in a huge cartoon-like crashing sound- come and go, and how they interact with each other. It does start to stress me out when the feeder gets low, though!

3. Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari. We’re a few behind, but the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens are putting on a ‘home safari’ for the kids stuck at home every day, featuring an appearance by one (or more) of their animals and an educational talk given by the animal’s keepers and handlers. My daughter and I are really enjoying these and look forward to the new ones.

4. Geography Now. Paul Barbato, aka Barby, runs a web series featuring every country (I’m not sure what letter he’s up to now; my daughter and I just finished with the E’s, as we’ve been at this series for a while). Each 10-15 minute video features a fast-paced explanation of a country’s history, demographics, culture, physical geography, and more. Younger kids will need the video paused often so that certain things can be explained to them, but older kids should get most of what he’s saying. We’re using this as part of our schoolwork in conjunction with The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Roz Hopkins, which I picked up years ago from a yard sale in hopes of teaching my daughter a little more about the world. The book is colorful and awesome, and we’re learning a lot about all the various different countries. Between the book, googling more of the stuff we find in the book (pictures of landmarks and geographical features, languages, music, etc), and viewing an episode of Geography Now, this takes up a good half hour for us every day, and it’s FUN!

My Introduction to Judaism class is still meeting online. While it’s not the same, it’s still a major uplift for me to learn and connect with my classmates. The synagogue is offering a lot of online meetings as well, and my daughter and I were able to connect for a preschool storytime the other morning, which was really nice for both of us.

So that’s about it! The calendar for April is wide open, with the exception of my daughter’s birthday at the end of the month. She already understands that there will be no party with family and friends, but that once this is done, we’ll both have a party and we’ll do something awesome together as a family to celebrate. It’s yet another bummer in a whole lot of bummers, but I’m glad she’s so accepting and understanding about this. If this had happened even last year, I don’t think she would have been mature enough to get it, so I’m deeply grateful for the growth she’s experienced this year.

Friends, you’re all in my thoughts and in my heart at this difficult time. Reach out- to me, to your friends, to your family, to each other, to members of your community. Being quarantined and isolated doesn’t have to mean being alone. We’re all in this together; we’re each one of us responsible for keeping each other healthy. Staying home and staying apart is difficult, but it’s necessary, and the sooner we all get indoors and stay there, the sooner this will all be over. But we can still meet up in chat rooms, on Zoom and Facetime and all the other awesome virtual places that make this time a little more bearable. Stay away from each other physically, but connect in other ways. This is a group effort here and we’ll get through it by working as a team. ❤ Please let me know in the comments how you’re doing.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay at home, and stay connected, friends. I wish you a safe, healthy, peaceful April.

4 thoughts on “Monthly roundup: March 2020

  1. I’m glad you and yours are doing well. And can I say that I’m not at all surprised you saw this coming and made sure you were ready?? You seem to have plenty of apocalypse survival skills 🙂 I stocked up on pantry staples when this first started and I already had a lot of toilet paper (I always do since I grab a pack every time I go to Costco, whether we’re out or not), so we’re fine in that regard as well. My husband and oldest son are still working, so no financial worries here either. My husband and I have commented several times that we’re glad this didn’t happen 10 years ago when our kids were a lot younger. That would have been super tough! Ours are going stir crazy, yes, but they’re also old enough to entertain themselves. They’ve loaded up several times and gone on drives or gone hiking together, just to get out of the house. I’ve taken a long, leisurely nap every afternoon of this quarantine. It’s nice not having to worry (too much) about what my kids are getting up to!

    My daughter is a senior as well, but she’s actually been pretty blasé about her senior year ending early. She’s like, “People are dying all over the world. I’m missing Prom. I’ll survive.” She was planning to speak at graduation, though, so that’s a bit of a bummer. Oh well.

    Hang in there! Stay safe and healthy!

    Susan
    http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had suspected you would be doing okay as well and I’m glad to hear that that’s true! I’m SO jealous of your naps- I’m at least able to sleep later in the morning, although I don’t know that 7 am is considered sleeping in to most people, haha! But I was up every morning at 5:30 before, so this is nice. My smart watch has me meeting my sleep goals pretty consistently, so there’s that.

      I’ve heard of some school districts tentatively planning some sort of graduation-like thing for the kids who can make it around the end of July, so maybe that would be a thing? I’m not hugely married to the idea of ceremonies like that being necessary, but at this point, even I have to admit it’d be kind of nice. I don’t know if we’ll be there yet in July though; who knows when this will all be over. That’s kind of the hardest part of this- all the uncertainty, no control, and nothing to look forward to when the calendar has been wiped clean.

      Stay safe and healthy! It’s hard to believe that this is our life now, but here we are, and all we can do is make the best of it!

      Like

  2. I would like to have seen the Miep Gies reenactment put on by the library. I bet that was something. It’s such a strange time . . . I have had a rough time of it emotionally, although I think I have been feeling a bit better these last couple days in terms of keeping my anxiety in check. Just so many changes all at once, you know? Fear of the virus, the economy, suddenly juggling homeschooling and working full-time, the hurry up and wait at work as they figured out what do—policy is changing day by day–just all the uncertainty.

    I feel so bad for your son and other seniors who are in the same predicament. I am glad at least he is enjoying his online classes. It sounds like despite the social isolation, your daughter is doing well. I am glad you are able to be there for her, academically and otherwise.

    I am glad you are feeling some relief for your back! I pulled a neck muscle that was really bothering me and every time it starts to feel better, I do something to wrench it again. I need to just baby it for awhile, and not try to “test” it as soon as I think it’s better.

    We are very lucky in that my husband is able to work from home right now. I am working half the week at home and half in the office. It’s been difficult though education wise for my daughter. Both of us working full-time. We don’t have the time to devote to her–and that brings out my mama guilt. I made the mistake of mentioning this to my mom, and she was ready to drive 400 miles to be with us to help–I had to reassure her it would be okay, and as much as I would love to have her here, it’s probably better and safer if she remain at home right now. The school is finally setting up something for the kids, which I am grateful for. I do worry if she will have any live meetings at times we can’t get away from work for. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. We’ll make it work somehow. We are so much better off than so many right now.

    Of your March reads, I have read The Sun Is Also a Star, which I loved, and The Lost Girls of Paris. I enjoy historical fiction quite a bit and liked it, but I didn’t love it. It was a poor reading month for me as well. I hope April will be better reading wise, but not so far. There’s still hope for it though!

    I hope you have a good week and month of April. Stay safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, homeschooling AND working full time, you have all my sympathies! That’s stretching people in utterly impossible ways. I hope your daughter’s school is filling in at least some of the gaps with online learning. As much as I didn’t want to be homeschooling again, I realize that I’m very, very fortunate to be able to have the time to do it with no other worries other than getting dinner on the table and keeping the house in a state that doesn’t trigger bouts of insanity.

      I hope your neck is on the mend! My back is *mostly* back to what’s normal for me- I’m never without pain, but that’s normal, and I can do most of the things I need to now.

      As this has gone on, my anxiety, or at least my sense of upheaval, has lessened, and I hope that’s true for you as well. It’s definitely been too many changes at once and too many demands made on all of us. We’re incredibly fortunate here, but it’s still a LOT. I don’t feel too stir-crazy, and my daughter and I have managed to work out a pretty good schedule in terms of schoolwork, so that’s helped, as has the ability to get outside and work in the yard a bit. I don’t know when all of this will be over, but it’s going to feel strange to just be able to get up and go somewhere…

      I hope your April is going well for you and your family. Stay safe and healthy. ❤

      Like

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