Weekend Reads #104

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weekend reads by wardrobe oxygen

We always knew we would send our child to public schools. By chance (or us buying a “starter home” in 2000 that we still live in and adore) we moved back to the same county where my husband and I attended public school.  We had mixed public school experiences, mine more positive than my husband's, but we both agree that going to them in our county, befriending kids of all economic levels, races, cultures, and religions was the best education we could have ever received. We wanted the same for our daughter.

Our local elementary school is stellar, the high school consistently rated one of the best in the country, but the middle school was another matter. There were regular stories about fights, lack of teacher support and security, and we saw the transformation of some of the sweet kids in our community after attending for three years. When our child was little, we seriously considered homeschooling her for the middle school years. We began researching RVs and homeschooling, thinking we could roadschool, seeing the country while also learning important school subjects. She'd come back for high school and heck, what an essay topic for college applications! But as she got older and we got to know the person she was, we realized it wouldn't be fair. Middle school is a time to develop social skills, make friendships, get crushes and small heartbreaks, and learn important life skills that happen in a group setting away from Mom and Dad.  We were happy to see over the years that the middle school's reputation improved; getting to know the type of student she was we became comfortable with her attending it.

And now my 5th grader is missing the end of her last year in elementary school, and rumors are that she will be attending the beginning of middle school via Google Classroom from her bedroom desk. I started researching homeschooling programs just so we have options, especially since right now I don't think we're providing her the best education.  I know, I need to give us parents and the kids some grace and I am, but also we don't know when this will end. Right now, she and I together write down a daily schedule of tasks. The assigned school work, time on the piano and ukelele, time to read, time to exercise, time to connect with family via FaceTime, and plenty of time to play video games and connect with friends through various video chat tools. All things we likely would have been doing in an RV, though the idea of cross-country travel right now is terrible.

I have no concluding paragraph to tie this thought into a pretty bow.  It's just weird how life turns out and how we adapt to new situations, minor and major. 

How to Help

In my #GivingTuesdayNow post this week, reader Melissa shared in the comments what organizations she donated to for the event and one was Healthcare for the Homeless.  She shared about HCH, “I used to work for the state health department and saw them from a few perspectives. I am consistently impressed with their thoughtfulness and quality. In addition — and critical to us — is that HCH pays ALL their employees a living wage or better. From the front desk on up, everyone makes enough to rent housing based on AMI.”  To be honest, as a resident of Maryland for most of my life, I never before heard of Healthcare for the Homeless, an organization based in Baltimore, Maryland.

Each year in Maryland, over 50,000 people experience homelessness. More than ten times that amount of Marylanders are poor. 38% of poor people in Maryland work full- or part-time.  More than 50% of poor Marylanders live in “deep poverty,” meaning their incomes are below 50% of the federal poverty level. People typically experience homelessness because they can’t afford housing—which is often perpetuated by things like poor health. The connection between poverty, housing and health is close and direct.  That is where Healthcare for the Homeless comes in.  HCH provides comprehensive health care services and supportive services to people experiencing homelessness.  During 111,177 clinic visits in 2016, HCH helped 10,000 children and adults move toward better health and stability. And HCH is continuing to support the homeless population of Maryland through COVID-19; here you can read how they are doing this in as safe a manner as possible.  To achieve this, HCH needs donations; while I made a donation this week it is a drop in the bucket of what is needed especially during this pandemic.  Click here to learn more about Healthcare for the Homeless, and thank you Melissa for bringing this important organization to my attention.

Weekend Reads

A reader sent me this website, Did They Help, which tracks businesses and how they have handled the coronavirus.  While the site doesn't have every brand in the United States, it is constantly updating with new companies and how they reacted to the pandemic.

What will post-lockdown fashion look like? (Vogue Business)

Why is it, that in the midst of a pandemic all I can think about is the way my body looks? (Sh*t You Should Care About)

I heard from some of you that it's hard to find masks that fit a fuller face.  Kiyonna just came out with 100% cotton three-layer face masks in size M/L that are reversible and come in a variety of colors and prints.  As an FYI, these masks and the brand are made in Orange County, California and Kiyonna is also making masks for their local homeless community.

A fascinating piece from the voice of a food delivery person in DC during the pandemic. (The Atlantic)

A tough piece to read after hearing the news of sustainable clothing brand Elizabeth Suzann, and also a piece causing controversy in the plus-size community for the tone of some parts and the choices of who to interview.  However, I still think it's an important discussion: can sustainable fashion and inclusive sizing coexist? (Bazaar)

I saw these shoes and they immediately reminded me of a pair I owned before I had a baby and my feet grew half a size.  They were that statement shoe that went with everything, from a coral-colored linen sundress to a black cocktail dress, to a pair of denim trousers and a blouse.  Same color, same flower detail.  I'm tempted to get them! 

Local yokels, if you're looking to get your farmers market fix without leaving your home, No 1 Sons, known in the area for their amazing pickled veggies, has partnered with local farms to offer drop-offs of produce, mushrooms, flowers, apples, herb and tomato plants, eggs, flour and yeast, bread, and much more! We ordered a delivery for last Saturday and were amazed with the items we got, the freshness, size, and how easy the no-contact delivery was! Click here to learn more.

If you peruse Instagram or TikTok, and honestly even Twitter, there's a good chance you've seen Tabitha Brown making some of the most delightful vegan dishes with her delightful “mom” voice and personality.  She won me over, and I love her, even more, reading about how she came to this point in her life. (Huffington Post)

Is time flying by oddly quickly during COVID-19? Here’s why you may feel that way. (LA Times)

Four fashion critics and stakeholders outline their take on COVID-19, and how we arrive at a truly sustainable future in fashion. (Everpress)

Did your CSA or local farm delivery send you a bunch of some vegetable you don't think you can consume before it goes bad?  Why not pickle it? Here are instructions on how to quickly and easily pickle most any veggie. (Feasting at Home)

Many of us are spending this time at home organizing, cleaning out, and thereby finding plenty to donate.  Before you bag up that stack of old t-shirts and toddler toys I encourage you to read this piece about how thrift stores are handling the coronavirus. (Bloomberg)

Warning: this piece may cause you to shed some tears.  The relationship between a mother and daughter, affected by a virus, in this case, polio. I'd love to write more but I don't want to spoil it for you. (The Washington Post)


Okay so I started Buy Yourself The F*cking Lilies and I stopped it about a third of the way through.  The author, Tara Schuster, Vice President of Talent and Development at Comedy Central is funny, honest, and forthright about rituals she employed to get herself together and makes it very doable and relatable.  But it wasn't relatable to me and I felt that she was writing for a much younger audience.  Who knows, I may return to it, but at the point I got to, I had to let it go.  Let me know if you've read it, especially if you feel differently than me.  Is it worth it to continue?

So I began reading Sigh, Gone, a book I picked up after catching an interview with the author on NPR.  This is the memoir of Phuc Tran who immigrated with his family to Pennsylvania after the fall of Saigon.  Growing up not terribly far away in suburban Maryland and just a few years younger, I “get” that world he was thrown into.  I'm only on Chapter 2 so I can't really rate this book but so far but it's an enjoyable distraction from the news without being complete fluff. 

I finished the second season of Atypical on Netflix.  I could not STAND Jennifer Jason Leigh but that may have been purposeful, as her character is better explained as the series continues.  Despite her, I loved the rest of the cast, I loved how they handled situations, and the season finale was so beautifully done.  They say the third season will come out next year but I am not expecting much from any show's schedule with what we are all dealing with.  

This week, our kid picked Song of the Sea, an animated movie available on Netflix.  It is based upon Irish myth but in modern times (the brother has a Walkman and red and blue 3D movie glasses so it's not 2020 but it's enough for modern kids to relate).  It's a gorgeous hand-drawn film and kept all three of us captivated until the very end.  It's by the same director of The Secret of Kells, but I found this one less intense/frightening for children and I appreciated that no character was portrayed as evil (granny was acting out of love, dad was doing his best, even Macha wasn't seen as the “bad guy”).  After we had a great discussion about Irish myths and researching selkies and the interest in the myths continued into the next day.  If you're looking for a movie that can also inspire future reading, research, and even art projects this is a good choice! 

Watching this beautiful movie reminded us all of another movie we positively adore and have watched often – The Little Prince.  Many have read the book at some point in their life, but the 2015 film, which is available on Netflix, is phenomenal.  It's beautiful, it's heartfelt, it's so well done and expands on the little book on many of our shelves. This is not just a kid's movie, adults will also enjoy it (and how can you resist a movie with the voice of Jeff Bridges as one of the main characters? Also voicing characters are James Franco, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, and Paul Giamatti. 

For Your Entertainment

One of the best things about this pandemic is the creativity that has blossomed.  I like Glass Animals and was excited to see their latest music video, especially since it was released just this month.  I started watching and could tell it was filmed at home, but there were some aspects I didn't know how they were done.  Well I just needed to stick around and watch the rest of the video.  Very cool, very creative, and a very dreamy song. The credits at the end made me chuckle.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I myself was home schooled from 1st grade until the middle of 7th grade (yes, my parents introduced me to “real” school in the middle of a school year). It sounds like you’re already doing a lot of what we did, with the scheduale, etc. I have fond memories of our home schooling experience and I’m always talking to co-workers and friends what it is really like. I’ve found that there is a stigma attached to those who home school, but in a lot of situations, its a great set up.

  2. I too am sad and pissed that my middle schooler had to abruptly end his 8th grade year this way. No soccer season as a ‘ senior ’ , no closure, and yes the possibility of this not ending before fall. It’s hard on all kids but I think hardest perhaps on those in transition years. One comforting friend said to me this is just a blip in their lives though.
    And Toni, thank you for your comment and calm perspective

  3. Thank you very much for voicing your decision to have your daughter in public school. It is super important to keep public schools racially integrated.

  4. Love didtheyhelp and have been using it the past six weeks to decide where to put my dollars when shopping big box stores. Who would have thought that Walmart could not be the worst retailer ever!?!

    1. Right? I don’t plan on becoming a member of the Walmart fan club any time soon but it’s very interesting to see how they versus Amazon have handled things during the pandemic!

  5. I love the Netflix Little Prince. It feels so tangible, like you could reach out and pet the fox or brush your fingers on the stars. Last year we were at Powell’s books in Portland (recommend a visit if you get to Portland along with so many things there) and I treated myself to a pop-up version of the Little Prince.

  6. I started reading the “Lilies” book & ended up skimming after the first few chapters. It’s well written, entertaining & has some good observations, it’s just for a younger crowd, I think. It’s weird being at the stage of life where something “hip” isn’t where I am but that’s how it is.

    You can tell she’s done the hard work internally & that’s refreshing.

  7. Thank you for the Kyonna mask recommendation. I just bought one for my husband, as he has a fuller face, and I liked that they have 2 different sizes. Also like the choice of over the head and over the ear.

  8. I’ve been thinking of fashion after quarantine. The article you posted went in another direction from my thoughts, which were – admittedly – not very deep. When we can begin to have more normal interactions and spend a greater part of the day outside our homes, I am expecting people to be excited to have a reason to focus on their appearance. I think the recent trend toward athleisure and lounge wear will turn to a more put-together, formal look for a lot of folks. Hair and makeup will probably follow suit. It will be fun to see if I’m right.

    1. I was thinking about your comment this weekend, Joy and it made me think about this a lot. I can see more of a generational divide when it comes to fashion post-pandemic. I see younger generations continuing with athleisure and loungewear, getting more creative with prints and colors and details but staying loose and comfortable. This trend had started pre-pandemic, just look at young celebs like Billie Eilish, my daughter and her friends may wear a cropped sweatshirt but they pair with baggy pants and often choose clothing that hides their figure and has an athletic spin. However, I see older generations seeing joy in the art of getting dressed and having a reason to. I know I am gravitating towards colors and interesting silhouettes, fabulous prints and accessories to make even everyday moments feel like an occasion. That being said, I am looking for ways to continue a simple hair routine and am being more creative with makeup, trying colored eyeliner or a bit of sparkle on the temples with a more natural face.

  9. Always happy to see Weekend Reads!! I’ll chime in on the school issue too. I’m a School Psychology Specialist in a large urban school district. I believe in traditional public schools with all of my heart & soul. What’s happening now in all of our schools, because of the pandemic, is something no school district was prepared for. Yet good teachers have done what they always do—they started monitoring & adjusting. They do this in the classroom on a daily basis. Doing it virtually is more difficult, obviously. And, many schools had short term plans to deal with virtual learning for smaller scale issues, such as inclement weather. To do this for a full quarter (or more) of school is completely new (& I know y’all know this).

    So many areas in the US do not have adequate WiFi/internet (& to me & many others in education, we believe that internet services are a huge equity issue that must be addressed & improved for ALL), so it’s extremely difficult to educate in the usual ways. And many of our students are also struggling with not having a device to use or having to share devices with others in the home. Then there are the issues of poverty, abuse, etc. that impact this virtual learning as well. All this to say—teachers had to change their instruction delivery methods quickly. Teachers & administrators will learn from these past 8+ weeks and will likely find ways to improve this, if it continues to be needed. We all want our students back in the actual buildings though!

    I do hope this pandemic makes people realize how valuable teachers are & makes people realize that teachers are professionals who should guide what happens with education. We don’t need millionaires & billionaires who’ve never taught a day in their lives telling us what educational policies should look like. Trust your educators!

    As a parent, I do understand the questions & concerns we all have right now. My own child will be moving to high school & I’m still sad about the way his middle school time ended. It’s hard to imagine his high school starting virtually & I hope it won’t have to. I hope & wish for the best for all of kids.

    1. Bravo! Well said, Lee! I’m a recently retired public school SLP. My heart aches for students, parents, and all school staff. Because I worked with students individually and in small groups, I was able to observe them closely and build a uniquely intimate relationship with them. Children disclosed information to me because it was a private setting and I often saw them for multiple school years for services. I was often the first to know when there was a home crisis such as illness or unemployment. Sadly, I observed bruises and had to report physical abuse on multiple occasions. Students confided to me about bullying. Our children need to resume school on campus as soon as it is safe to do so!

      1. Exactly, so many kids need that person to person interaction for focus, for support, and for a caring adult to notice what is going on beyond the grades. Thank you for all you did as an SLP.

    2. Yes to all of this, thank you Lee! My mom was a teacher, my grandfather a teacher and then school administrator, and his father a college professor. Karl’s parents were also teachers and his grandfather a professor. I have the utmost respect for the profession and I am so impressed by how teachers and administrators are striving to pivot and support students at this time. We live in a county that has a large percentage of low income and poor students and the county has worked hard to acquire Chromebooks for them, offer hotspots, and free wifi in school parking lots along with now offering free dinners as well as breakfast and lunch for kids and their families. Too many people in top positions not thinking of the broad range of lifestyles and needs of public school students, it’s horrifying how easily they dismiss them.

  10. Those beautiful pink shoes remind me how much I miss great shoes. I gave up my heels 8 years ago and I still miss them. During my closet clean out I finally gave up a pair of sandals that quite literally went around the world with me (they were so gross). Why can’t someone make flats that look like that.

    Yes, maybe get those shoes.

  11. We are at a weird time with schooling. I feel our highschool has done good but it needs to be better.

    I’m going to move into the middle school realm. We live in a top district but had the middle school full of stories of fights, drugs, and other stuff. The years my now sophomore was there I kept tabs on everything. He never mentioned the above problems and thrived. Was he the most popular nope but he made solid friends. I think this all boils down to how involved a parent is with their child. That is attending any meetings that are pertinent and checking in with teachers if needed. Hang in there I have a feeling she will thrive. If not, you will do what is best.

  12. It is a strange time for education. I think most kids will survive it. Three of my grandchildren were homeschooled – mostly unschooled – and they are doing as well as the others. Don’t try too hard to make it look like the before times, is my advice. We are all under stress, and we might do better being flexible. That’s from me, eighty years old, playing in my yard and wondering if I’m grounded for the rest of my life.

  13. I’m not going to talk you out of those shoes. They go with your pink pantsuit, your orange pantsuit, your floral jumpsuit, did you keep your white pantsuit, your lady tux. And I’m sure a bunch more.

    The only question is, you have your new gold shoes that also go with all of those that you’ve worn a lot, including a long day at Cabi. Would the cute pink shoes be as comfortable?

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