Scutwork Diary, Day 8 (Sick day)

Another sick day. Oh well. Here’s hoping tomorrow is better.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, completed, took 3 days.

Project 2: Annual Castle Ladyhawke Remodel Design, still at day 1 of estimated 2 to complete.

Project 3: Laundry Triage and Scheduling, unknown start and finish.

Scutwork Diary, Day 5 (Sick day)

This is what a sick day looks like. I don’t know which way the wind blows, but I definitely feel too terrible to have gotten much done for the day. The next project will be Laundry Triage and Scheduling. But this is it for today.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, completed, took 3 days.

Project 2: Annual Castle Ladyhawke Remodel Design, still at day 1 of estimated 2 to complete.

Project 3: Laundry Triage and Scheduling, unknown start and finish.

Scutwork Diary, Day 4

Homeschool Consolidation was achieved. It didn’t look like what I was expecting, but then, that is one of the reasons I decided to make this whole diary happen. What I imagined was tidy shelves and all the paperwork neatly placed in clearly categorized stacks, and organized baskets of manipulatives. What I have is shelves that only contain homeschool stuff, not particularly organized, and manipulatives in baskets, but not tidily so. This is fine.

No, really, it’s close enough to serve the purpose I set out to accomplish. Everything homeschool is in one clear location, with plenty of room to hold a year’s worth of accumulated work for all the kids. That was the goal. So the fact that the neatness element wasn’t achieved merely reveals that it was a stretch goal. Those are good to have, but they aren’t essential to completing the core mission. And the deed is done, so that’s great news.

No progress on remodel design, but that’s as I expected, this weekend was pretty taxing along many vectors. I hope we can wrap that one up this week, and I think that will happen. My current concern is figuring out what to tackle next. I think it’s going to be something laundry related. We have too much of essentials like linens and underwear.

Normally I wouldn’t say anything like this so openly, but when you have two or three weeks’ worth per person, laundry gets backed up on more essential items like dresses, shirts, pants and skirts because “we have more towels/underwear/sheets, I guess laundry can wait another day”. So I think I’m going to do Laundry Spring Cleaning, but I’ll make a firm decision tomorrow. There will be many projects whose 2 or 3 or 4 days are done amidst weeks or months of other projects, and that’s also something I expected fairly early on, a mix of rolling projects and projects that were done within a few days of declaring them.

Life during a pandemic is stressful, especially when you’re trying to establish better habits so you are the person you wish to be ten years from now. Children don’t really grasp what’s going on or why food prices have skyrocketed and they really do have to eat what’s in the larder because there aren’t other options right now. It’s also strange how one takes for granted the incidental social aspect of leaving the house every day for an errand or a park trip or a hike or part-time school for the kids. Now that I don’t have to drive, *and am not allowed to*, I am far more aware of the lack of social contact, though it was not depthful most of the time.

Still, progress that is favorable is happening and I have a positive attitude about how this week will go. One of my children has a heretofore unknown but not all that unexpected gift for deriving Latin plurals without any foreknowledge of Latin’s not-exactly-intuitive structure. That’s not necessarily something that would have come up under the normal school schedule because that schedule is slower because it’s focused on early learners, since I have no middle graders. But it’s good to know and helpful in future language planning.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, completed, took 3 days.

Project 2: Annual Castle Ladyhawke Remodel Design, still at day 1 of estimated 2 to complete.

Scutwork Diary, Day 3

Hit a roadblock: a different project. We ended up spending our sitter time working on the remodelling plans for Castle Ladyhawke. Some detours included whether we would really go ahead and buy 200 year old cabinetry or stick with recent, slightly cheaper cabinetry in a similar style. The decision making process is taking a long time because we’re stressed about all the Chinese virus issues and also that this is Mommy and Daddy’s space, so the choices have to be somewhat more aethestically “sharp” since we’ll be dealing with them daily. So we’ll likely wrap up the Homeschool Consolidation project tomorrow and I’ll open up Annual LadyHawke Remodel Project and say that this is the first day of that. Easier than trying to count up the work we did at the start of the year on design and materials.

There is a sense of delicate wonder to be felt when you look at old, beautifully worked furniture that sold for reasonable prices back then and remember that we as humans can do it that other way, that it doesn’t have to be cheap and chintzy or fifty thousand dollars a pop with no inbetween. That said, there is some decent work in furniture here and there, the drive isn’t entirely lost even if specific skills have died out.

It was another pleasant weather day, but it was also a bit on the slacky side, because sitting around picking out furniture and fixtures and paint colors is mentally a workout but not exactly physically vigorous. We almost decided to go with a 300 year old French antique cabinet before realizing it wouldn’t work with the vanity color, so we’re doing something au courant: open shelves. Which is pretty funny given our general aesthetic approach. But open shelving isn’t all that new, it’s merely currently trendy.

T.W.O. introduced the children to the wonders of grilling and they were quite impressed with the different between meat when it’s grilled versus cooked in the oven. We don’t grill as much as we ought to, we’re hoping to do more of that now that all the kids are potty trained and can make their own oatmeal. We also experienced some spiritual conviction, as we finally discovered where our church hymnal can be found online, including full musical accompaniement. It’s convicting because we could have gotten this information at any time before the Chinese coronavirus-19 situation to be in greater harmony with our congregation when we’re too sick to attend. And we just never thought to do it until we had to. Plagues are, as is true with so much unpleasant natural phenomena, an opportunity to remember humility and that we can’t technologize our way past having to experience adversity to overcome. We are humbled, but glad we can always have the hymns now if we can’t physically attend. It is a blessing.

And the loss of so much temporal treasure reminds sharply that our true treasure must be in Heaven. We continue to pray for the physical and economic traumas so many are suffering and continue to hope in Christ through this pandemic.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, still at 2 days of estimated 3 complete.

Project 2: Annual Castle Ladyhawke Remodel Design, day 1 of estimated 2 to complete.

Scutwork Diary, Day 2

Progress was mixed on clearing out the clutter so we could round up all the homeschool stuff. But we have help on the weekends, and the Chinese virus isn’t getting in the way of that. We will thus be able to do more work for day 3 and still finish up Homeschool Consolidation on time. There is something to be said for maintaining social connections with rural folks, something good.

In any case, it’s been really challenging to sit down and be methodical about decluttering and general tidying. You think it’s just a matter of bulling through throwing a lot of stuff out, or just making yourself sit there for hours asking the question “Where is the home for this?” for ten, twenty, a hundred items. But it’s not. It’s really about whole-life thinking and accepting how you really “do” life before you throw out this or that.

My kids can cook very well, but they are atrocious at cleanup, and like the excellent nine year old cook in L.M. Montgomery’s Story Girl duology, my own kids will be extravagant with eggs and butter beyond what an adult would prefer them to if left to full autonomous process. I don’t have to do a lot of supervising as a result, but I do have to make a lot more rules and restrictions around the cooking process than I previously thought were necessary. And it’s hard, it’s like writing software. So.many.instructions.that.have.to.be.very.precise.and.specific.

But in a way it will be practice for my return to coding and programming. For reasons beyond the scope of this entry anyhow it’s become obvious I have to get back into that realm. Interestingly, and I have some anecdotal evidence in this direction, higher maths have proved to unlock bits of comprehension that used to be confusing. Many women seem to do better going from math to coding, rather than just trying to tinker their way through as noncollege male programmers do. It’s an interesting possibility, if it’s broadly applicable. Perhaps I’ll code a tool that can clarify those matters one of these days.

As is perhaps expected, I thought this entry would take quite a different form. I forgot to put gas in the car before running an errand, and then had a fiasco trying to get gas at a branded station that wouldn’t recognize my brand key fob, so I had to get gas closer to home on fumes. I listened to an 80s playlist the whole time. The kids are very 80s tolerant, which remains very amusing, but also challenging, as you learn the hard way how many times you have to slam that skip button when some song lyrics start up for 80s songs that were blasting from radios in your youth and you had no idea that the singer was talking about *this* or *that*.

We finally got a Census form with the online code. But I’m going to wait for the paper form and fill it out in colorful pen ink.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, 2 days of estimated 3 complete.

Scutwork Diary, Day 1

This is a diary about boring scutwork. Why boring scutwork? Because the main obstacle to an ordered life in my specific and personal case is social. I can do boring scutwork, but being too ashamed to say that it has to be done has meant that as soon as there’s a crisis or emergency or just a sick day, work and life pile up like crazy. This is because those are the times that the boring scutwork’s boringness rushes to the fore and it gets put aside. Then a lot of interlinking pieces of daily life start coming undone and we end up in survival mode as a household for weeks or months. And then it’s another action plan or buying a piece of organizing furniture and the cycle repeats, but with incrementally more disarray as the kids get bigger and, well, messier if unchecked. All because I don’t talk about it except to my husband. Until now.

I’ve decided to diarize my journey from scutwork to gruntwork, and ideally beyond that. But first I want to succeed at the initial scheme and it is possible to overshoot by yapping about plans that are years away. In the short term, though, that hasn’t been the reason there’s piles of unfiled papers, stacks of books with annotations and notes and endless waves of unsorted kid schoolwork lying around along with unfolded laundry and dish towels in the strangest places. All that stuff has happened because not talking about the daily niggling details except with my husband has meant that I feel like all the scutwork is pointless since nobody knows it’s happening except the two people doing it. So I’m going to open this process to the world.

It’s pretty simple, I will write 500-1000 words 6 days a week about what scutwork I plan to do or have already done. The scutwork itself will be broken down into 2-3 day projects and goal-assessed every 13 weeks or 90 days, whichever is needed to round out a quarter. The initial scutwork project is Homeschool Consolidation. I have two bookshelves I was using to collect all the books I planned to read and discuss before this summer, along with some old children’s books I wanted the kids to read. They did read a fair amount of them, but the location of the bookshelves was not optimal for treating them as bookshelves and instead they’ve collected clutter and only had about half books in them anyway.

So the goal is to clear the books out and just use them as a homeschool shelving and storage system. Currently schoolwork is scattered across the house and the upshot is that it can be hard to find books or papers or manipulatives during school days. Consolidating everything in one place even though it’s not the place I wanted and which I just fought using because “bookshelves are ONLY FOR BOOKS NOTHING ELSE” will allow for the possibility of shaving time off teaching by not having to scramble for missing elements.

This is going to be a three day project. For the first day, T.W.O. and I removed some clutter and put most of the books in the library. We made enough progress that we will aim to finish removing clutter and the rest of the books tomorrow. Then after that we’ll put all the homeschool stuff on those two bookshelves. It’s boring scutwork, but once it’s done, quality of life will improve.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, 1 day of estimated 3 complete.