Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Parents Have Become Project Managers in the Time of COVID-19

Parents of younger children, I'm about to tell you why you're feeling so tired and overwhelmed right now... even if your student is only doing whatever it is the school has assigned... even if your school has been amazing about setting up a distance learning system. It is because you are now a project manager in addition to whatever else it is you have to do each day. Let's look at what project managers do:

- Help define project scope, goals, and deliverables
- Activity and resource planning
- Create schedules and project timelines
- Organize and motivate the project team
- Oversee time management
- Manage expectations
- Direct and support the team
- Ensure customer (teacher) satisfaction
- Analyze and managing project feasibility
- Monitor progress
- Track and review deliverables
- Implement and manage change when necessary

This is no small feat when you have multiple teachers with all kinds of different expectations for students who have never had to self-manage their education before. Maybe you have multiple children in different grades, too. At the same time, you're probably also doing household IT because there's SeeSaw and Pagelet and Google Classroom and Google Meet and Zoom and ST Math and Happy Numbers and choice boards and on and on.

Maybe you're doing all this while sharing a device with your kids and you're waking up at 4 a.m. to work... and then working until midnight because they're using your laptop for multiple Zoom meetings and Scholastic Reads assignments. Maybe your kids are sharing one device and it's up to you to figure out how they can both keep up with the growing number of assignments.

Maybe you're doing this while also struggling with depression or chronic pain or a disability that makes juggling all of it a thousand times more challenging. Maybe you're not working and so you have time, but what you don't have is the mental energy to stay on top of multiple learning platforms and a multitude of assignments because you're focused on surviving.

Maybe it all felt doable until the district decided it was going to seriously start tracking student progress - and not just academics, but also the arts and gym and somehow they've started assigning "Fun!", too. There are people who claim this isn't a burden on parents because teachers are doing all of the heavy lifting by creating all of these assignments. But project management is a job, too - one that many of us are doing on top of the jobs we are lucky to still have.

So if you're exhausted, if you feel like you can't do this for one more day, if you want to quit and run away, I get it. I see you doing your best, and I know you're going to get through it. So will I, but it's fine to acknowledge that, no, this is not as easy as sitting kids down in front of a computer.

Monday, January 28, 2019

My Iron Throne Cosplay

Holy January! It's hard to believe that the annual Hawthorne Masquerade Ball hosted by Creative Collective has once again come and gone.

Last year, I crafted a dress made out of playing cards for the masquerade ball - which was a big hit and won the costume contest.

This year's theme? Was Game of Thrones - Winds of Winter, and I'm sorry to say that the mister and I have not kept up with the show. We were both kind of scratching our heads re: what to wear.

All I knew is that I really wanted to wear something no one else would be wearing. So no Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen (there were tons), no Sansa or Cersei (again, very popular), etc. That left weirwoods (hmmm), the three eyed raven...

Then I had an idea. What if I could cosplay the iron throne?


And that's how I ended up with boxes and boxes of plastic swords.

I'd like to say I got to work right away, since I had the idea for my iron throne cosplay months before the masquerade ball. Unfortunately, life intervened and I only got started on my iron throne costume a couple of weeks before the big day.

That meant that I never had the time to put together the iron throne costume I was envisioning - a back piece and a skirt train - and had to go with just the back piece.

I started with a piece of stiff cardboard. I cut slits for the silk scarf that would be the straps before I started gluing the nicest swords with Gorilla Glue hot glue (the best kind of hot glue) together. Then I glued various other types and sizes of swords to the cardboard. Next I put the glued together nice swords on. With every step, I was terrified that the glue wouldn't hold since this would be on my back for five hours and bumped by other folks now and then throughout the night.

It held without me needing the mister to make repairs!

All in all, I'd say my iron throne costume turned out pretty well. It wasn't that heavy and with some padding, it didn't tear up my shoulders that much.

Hot iron throne on iron throne action
 Here's how my iron throne cosplay looked from the back:

Doorways were only slightly problematic. As for dancing on the dance floor? That didn't work out so well. We found other spots to dance in, though. And after a while I got used to moving through the crowd without stabbing everyone to my left and to my right.

As for the mister, he broke his right hand a few weeks before the masquerade ball and so we painted his cast gold and turned him into Jamie Lannister. I think we made a great pair, and we had an amazing time. I can't wait until they announce next year's theme. Maybe in 2020 I'll actually have enough time to make something really amazing.

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