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the privatization of Zacky

One advantage of quarantine life is that Z now has a lot of one-on-one instruction. He has his French tutor, his private Taekwondo class, and his individual violin lesson. Probably the most striking difference is for his violin class; he started in group lessons and a lot of class time was spent tuning each instrument or listening to individual students, or handling disruption, i.e. getting kids to stop waving their bows around. My impression with Z's private violin lessons is that while he took some time for him to get used to his instructor's style (he really liked his first teacher), he bloomed more quickly. Z's previous teacher is offering in-person classes again in January but we are committed to the school year so the timing isn't working out for returning to Miss L. For the French tutoring, we had originally hired C. for conversation practice over the summer, and to complement the occasional Outschool class. Now Z does his French school homework with C. every week. I'm sure Z misses the leisurely soccer discussions they used to have. Taekwondo is a new thing - Z has done karate and judo before but this is the longest he's stuck with a martial art. Sadly lacrosse isn't starting back up in person, and Z will probably ramp up his soccer participation. And yes, he does have a lot of down time!
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I took out some of our Halloween stuff, got quickly overwhelmed, and only put a few things up. We got a couple of small pumpkins to flank the door and Mo and I decorated the door as a monster face as we did last year. Mo and Z carved a large pumpkin so now we have an official Jack O'Lantern. We got tickets to the Halloween event at Annmarie Sculpture Garden which we've never viited before. Most of our favorite activities have been cancelled, including the Halloween train, and Z will be too big next year. :( Not sure yet about trick-or-treating. One of the advantages of living in a complex is that ToT is easy since it's enclosed. I suggested to the activities committee of doing an outdoor costume parade or trunk or treat.
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Thirty days hath September

I am pre-occupied with two topics: (1) how are we going to manage winter, when all the activities that help us get outside and pass the time, like holiday fun, or non-holiday fun like DC Library's Winter Read-In, are probably all going to be cancelled or greatly limited? For sure some events can be adapted, like doing "trunk or treat" for Halloween, but what can replace a photo with Santa? (2) how the heck are we going to cut back on screen time when it's all screens, all the time? What alternatives do we have to screens during long, dark days? We are pretty good at family movie night (Fridays) and family game night (Sundays), but we won't have the usual outlets to get out and have fun. As it is in addition to school work we're reading at least 2-3 books a day. I saw that some of the Smithsonian museums are opening with timed admission but some of the activities we did before, like Open Studio and storytime at the National Portrait Gallery, will probably not resume.
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the last day of summer

So here's the good stuff, given the latest spate of bad news:
* Z's violin teacher's house is near the Capital Candy Jar so after his lesson we stop by for ice cream. The last time I'd forgotten my wallet - thankfully MB was waiting in the car and came in to pay but the gentleman helping us offered to forego payment because we'd been faithful customers
* we had a neighborhood/school friends get-together (masked and if not always socially distanced) for a family that was moving; it was wonderful seeing everyone
* every Friday night the neighborhood families hang out at a nearby park to socialize and run around
* Z is doing well in school so far and his violin teacher and soccer coaches speak very highly of him.
* Online French class wasn't too painful and his online tutor (who has since returned to France as he's a student at Sciences Po) will continue to help with conversation and homework
* Z spends an hour every Sunday in online scripture study with the Primary music teacher, working their way through Book of Mormon Stories for Kids - Volume 1
* I still love my work and my colleagues despite media attention
* MB went to Chicago for work and had deep dish pizza for the first time
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finally fall-ish

Chincoteague/Assateague was nice. It was good to have a change of scenery. Z didn't remember much of his previous visit (when he was 3) and of course now that he's older we were able to do a lot more. Unfortunately beach time was cut short because of rain but otherwise it was fun. The highlight of our trip was seeing a pod of dolphins during a boat tour. The famed ponies were far away though.

School started and the first week went OK. I don't understand why we're on a million different platforms though. There were also a number of technical glitches. The interesting part of the schedule is that Wednesdays are "off" with independent work and a couple of videos with the teachers. So we are at least able to keep up with French, violin, and soccer, and with a play pod twice a week.

Labor Day weekend itself was pretty mellow. We went apple picking which is one of those activities that foreigners I'm sure find strange - why are you paying for the opportunity to do farm work?

Work has been intense as always. I am thinking of changing my schedule a bit to accommodate Z's schedule and to be honest for my own sanity.
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one drawer at a time

Last year (?) when I was furloughed it's true that we didn't have my salary but I had a lot of time and I was so productive. Now that we are full-time WFH all the gains I've made have completely dissipated. I look around our home and think of all the things I need to do or fix, but I just don't have the mental/physical motivation. "It’s okay not to be productive during a pandemic," says the Washington Post. Well, OK. I have taken just to cleaning out one drawer a day. It's manageable and concrete and I can do it any time. And still satisfying. I have an empty drawer! (Originally packed with Z's pull-ups which he doesn't wear anymore so I guess that's kind of cheating.) I have a drawer that's just my label maker and laminating machine and related supplies. Those are the only small victories I can handle right now.

We have an annual "last days of freedom before school starts" beach trip. This year we are going to Chincoteague for the weekend. We visited over Memorial Day weekend when Z was three which he doesn't remember at all so it will be like going for the first time (again).
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At least when it rains there's some relief from the heat and humidity. But today is the second day that I haven't gone for my daily walk. I guess I could try to do yoga or another online workout. Z's soccer camp was cancelled so we are all at home today.

On Sunday we went on a series of outings that reminded me of our pre-pandemic life. First, we had free, timed admission to the gardens at Tudor House. While we had visited for kids' activities, most recently to build a gingerbread house in December, this was the first time exploring the grounds. Then we headed to Virginia - we had some time before our play in the creek playdate so we visited Potomac Overlook Park for the first time. Our creek playdate was rained out and we were the only family so the staff person brought out a corn snake to say hello.
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summer doldrums

Is it though? Our world is so much more constrained now. We ventured out to see the sunflower fields and it felt like traveling overseas.

We are now on day 134 of whatever this is. I really dread the prospect of this coming school year. Either option - hybrid in-person and distance, or 100% distance - sucks. We had a hard enough time this spring, and now kids will actually be graded on their work instead of pass/fail. We had a scaled-back "quarantine camp" for the summer as well but that's dissipated. The only commitments we were able to stick to have those that involved other people - Z's French tutor Charles (who has returned to France and says he can continue but we haven't figured that out yet) and his violin teacher.

It's too hot and humid and my knee hurts.
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summer is half way over but does that really mean anything these days?

The mayor was supposed to announce the plan for the school year today but she instead she announced that the decision will be delayed until the end of the month. The neighboring school districts have announced their plans so I'm sure we'll have something similar. To be honest all the options suck.

We have lucked out with Z's socially distanced, outside, masked, no-contact half-day sports camps. He has already done baseball and tennis, and next week is parkour, then back to tennis. For August he is signed up for DC's summer camp, and then skating camp (more roller- than ice- at this point). It benefits all of us - he gets exercise and social interaction, we get un-interrupted work time. He is still taking violin lessons (outside and social distanced on the teacher's porch) and French tutoring (via Google hangouts). His French tutor, a nice young man who is a student at Science Po (the French equivalent of my fancy grad school) and will probably return to France for the new school year. He reviews a text from Z's French textbook with Z and then they just talk soccer. We also try to do one module of online math a day and we're still working on the Book of Mormon. But we are all just tired.
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2020 is halfway over...I don't even want to think about what the rest of the year will bring, especially with upcoming elections.

The holiday weekend was mellow except for the incessant noise. MoBob and Z went to see the fireworks. I stayed home, as always. I watched Hamilton, in two parts, during the morning hours when I am least likely to be disturbed. I enjoyed it especially King George, and wished Ben Franklin was included as additional comic relief. (He was mentioned in one song.) I know there's a lot of discussion about the politics of the musical but JFC let me mindlessly like something for once without thinking of the deeper implications. Z liked baseball camp, and he was surprised at my (admittedly rusty) athletic ability when we went out with some neighbors on Sunday morning for some drills. Baseball and swimming are the only sports that I know more than MB. OK, maybe tennis and fencing too.