Back to real (virtual) life

Christmas holidays are over and we’re all back to work in our virtual real life worlds. Mr. Esther is working online in his study upstairs, Junior had online classes in his attic room until 2 pm and now (between 3 pm and 6 pm) he is at his part time job in a DIY store. He normally works at the cash register there (behind a plastic screen) but due to Corona restrictions, the store is only open for pickups of online orders. So, the last two times he went in to work he had to do other jobs (masked), like cleaning shelves and re-stocking merchandise.

I’ve just finished my first working day (which was OK), here at the dining table, and mini-me has been doing her online classes opposite me as her desk in her bedroom is too narrow to accommodate all the materials she needs. I went up to her room for an online meeting for a bit, but otherwise our working station today is looking like this (mini-me has started studying for exams that will be happening in two weeks).

School from home for the kids will be happening for at least the coming two weeks but as the Covid 19 cases aren’t going down fast enough here, I suspect those measures may be prolonged.

Two weeks of holidays have just flown by. We’re all not quite ready for all this real life, virtual, stuff again and each one if us looks a bit pale and tired today because our bodies are still on holiday clocks instead of work/school clocks. We all really need to make sure we get to bed earlier tonight than we did last night. All four of us are night owls, so wish us luck!

Winding down online school & work for 2020

Since yesterday (Wednesday) schools in The Netherlands are closed again due to stricter Corona restrictions and my kids now solely have online classes. My son already had partial online classes next to his partial in school classes but now all his classes have gone online and he does those up in his room in the attic. My daughter up until Tuesday was at school but all classes have now gone online for her as well. She decided to do her online classes at the dining table opposite me today with beside her our black cat.

It’s lovely but quite distracting too, as the way mini me is reacting to other students in her online breakout room has me cracking up opposite her. Luckily it’s only for today as mini me has no more classes tomorrow. In effect this means her Christmas holiday starts after her last class ends at 2.45 pm. Mr Esther too has his last working day of 2020 today.

Mr Esther jr just came downstairs triumphantly to celebrate his last online class of today (only got a quick shot as he shimmied in our kitchen). He only has tomorrow morning to go before his holiday starts.

For me, it’s quiet at work now, not much left to do, which is why I can make extra time to be distracted and blog today. We have online Christmas drinks this afternoon with our department head (they sent us champagne glasses and snacks and sparkling apple cider in a package). Tomorrow morning, like Mr Esther jr, I will be working online one last time in 2020 and then we’ll all have two weeks off! It’ll be a weird, lockdown Christmas and we’ll be pretty much stuck around the house for most of it, but I’m looking forward to a two week break with no schedules, no online work and no online classes for the kids. The lockdown will still be in effect after the Christmas holidays (till January 19th), but we’ll deal with any distractions that will bring when the time comes.

And a graduation as well…

Not only was it our son’s 19th birthday today…

This evening we also had my daughter’s secondary school graduation ceremony. Socially distanced, so only two people from the same household were allowed to come. That meant sadly that our son couldn’t attend and the grandparents couldn’t either, but at least Mr Esther and I could go.

The director of mini-me’s school section gave a speech, the school principal had taped a video speech and then after that every graduating kid got their own little speech from the class mentor. Our daughter’s speech was about her being very lively with her ADHD and how that didn’t keep her from getting very good grades. Mini-me is going on to higher level secondary education and the teacher commented on how that should be no problem whatsoever for her. She also added that mini-me is easy and fun to talk to.

After all the speeches for each kid, the diplomas were signed and we had to leave again; mini-me was guided onto the red carpet, of course.

We of course had to celebrate such a day, so we went out for dinner afterwards at an Argentinian restaurant my son had picked out for us to eat at. We sat in a nicely secluded, socially-distanced corner and had lovely food.

It was a good end to a festive day.

Close to you & 104 days of summer

So, yesterday I mentioned Choir!Choir!Choir!. Today I saw there is an Australian equivalent called Pub Choir. Due to Corona they have now dubbed themselves Couch Choir and they made this video of 1000 people singing the same song from their homes. A quote: “A few days ago we asked the internet to stop misery scrolling for a moment, and to sing with us! Over 1000 people from 18 countries submitted a video of their performance of “Close To You” (Burt Bacharach) in just TWO DAYS.”

This gives me goosebumps. And what a job to edit it all together into this one video! I’m in awe.

Measures here in The Netherlands have tightened, so even less people out and about and everyone stuck inside like us. My husband works on the couch and for calls goes upstairs to the study…

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… I work mostly at our dinner table as the sun streams in there…

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Mr Esther junior has been enjoying his time off from his internship and with no classes from school yet to fill things up, he is getting some well-deserved rest and sleeps a lot, besides gaming, watching videos and taking a daily long walk.

Mini-Esther was having an exam week this week (last exam week before her finals in May) and went to school yesterday and this morning to sit for those exams under strict regulations of hygiene and keeping a distance. Just after she got home this morning the Ministry of Education announced that the central final exams in May will be cancelled altogether. Grades will now be determined by average exam scores from during the year. Those grades were always going to be 50% of your final exam score, now those grades will be 100% your final score. Schools have till June to organize how they’ll finish the last round of regular exams. For my daughter this means the rest of her exams this week are cancelled, school will determine how to organize the last 4 or 5 exams still due within the next few weeks. Mini-Esther’s grades are very good, she’ll do fine in the last exams still due so, in effect, this means she has already passed her finals! This takes a lot of pressure off for finals and the girl is very happy!

The Phineas and Ferb theme song now springs to mind with soooo many days off now for the kids with nothing to do:
“There’s 104 days of summer vacation | And school comes along just to end it | So the annual problem for our generation | Is finding a good way to spend it”

Phineas and Ferb is one of the very few kids cartoons I have also enjoyed watching with them over the years. Our kids alas won’t have the amount of freedom outdoors those two cartoon characters had – I hope they don’t get too stir-crazy.