posts tagged with 'work'

Waldorf phone

Are you a crunchy-granola parent disappointed with your child's obsession with technology, because you want them to be building stick forts and playing in the dirt like the books say? Do you wish that phones and tablets had never been invented (except for yours, when you're in the bathroom or really tired because everyone keeps talking to you)? Well I have the answer for you! Introducing: the Waldorf phone!

a wooden phone on the picnic table

wPhone

Lovingly crafted from reclaimed lumber, the Waldorf phone offers a blank canvas for your child to play out all their technology-related imaginative games without compromising your carefully cultivated hippy homeschooling persona. Available today!

I was motivated to make this delightful object last Thursday when Zion and Elijah were playing a game that involved each of them having an old dead phone. I budgeted ten minutes for its creation—that's how long there was until our morning meeting time when I started—and, while it actually took twelve, I think it was still worth it! When Leah saw it on the table a little later she knew right away what it was, based on the model of Waldorf dolls. Natural materials, "intentionally simple in order to allow the child playing with it to develop the imagination and creative play"... it ticks all the boxes. Now I need to make one for myself to try and curb my online checkers addiction...

Elijah watching something on his wooden phone

see how he loves it

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video production is challenging

Leah is on vacation this week for Holy Week. I'm the opposite. For our second pandemic Holy Week (second and last—it had better be last!) our Kids Church team thought we'd tell the story over a series of videos, with one for families to watch each day of the week. Great, right? Only making that many videos is kind of a lot of work! I'm certainly used to video production by now: I record and edit about three video stories every month, plus the occasional extra. But I've never before had such a sustained stretch of production... and we're only halfway through the week! Of course, that necessarily means that I'm more than halfway through the work: all of the videos are now recorded, and only two of them remain to edit. I may survive!

Of course, while I talk about my own suffering it's really the rest of the family who should get most of the credit. We don't have soundproofing here, so I really appreciate their patience as they refrain from their usual yelling or else take the dogs out for a walk to stop them barking on film (can you match the family members to their roles?). Not that any of that helps when the neighbor needs to be running the chainsaw, like he was all Saturday afternoon (in the noble work of clearing away the bittersweet around his yard, so I can't really begrudge him.... but it still stopped my work in its tracks). And then there are all the planes. Did you know we live right by an airport?

If you want to check out any of the fruits of my labor, they're available on Reservoir Church's Youtube page. You might even give them a like!

wave your hands in time

I didn't move as much as I might have liked to today. The boys and I did get to take a walk with my mom, like we do every Tuesday morning, and I had to go out and find the dogs when they found a hole in the fence (not much finding... they came when I called, once I figured out where they were), but other than that I spent the day perched in front of the computer editing videos. This Sunday we're doing a Kids and Youth service at church, and the elementary kids not being willing to appear live on Zoom (nor I to let them) we invited them to submit videos, and I've spent the last week or so working to assemble them into a coherent whole. You haven't lived until you've spent three hours syncing up twelve different performers in preschool and early elementary doing the hand motions to "Peace Like a River"! When we did our star turn at Christmas time the music director included instructions to clap in time before we started the song, which gave him a cue to get all the tracks in line together; we didn't do that for the kids. You might say that their hand motions wouldn't be particularly in sync if we were doing this live, which is true, but I still have to make it look like they're at least all listening to the same music—so their vagueness and distractibility is, in this case, only making my job harder. I know what song is going to be stuck in my head when I finally get to bed this evening!

raising the stakes

When I started gardening I scoffed at the stakes offered for sale at the hardware store. Close to ten dollars for a length of wood? Ridiculous! I just used all kinds of things I scavenged here and there: branches, broken tool handles, marking stakes picked up from parking lots in the spring, old hockey sticks... Then later I came into possession of a bundle of proper garden stakes and I realized that they were actually pretty good. They're cedar, so they last, and they're cut with attention to the grain so they stay straight year after year. I had eight—so I've been using them by choice for all my staking needs. For the tomatoes especially. This spring one of them broke for the first time, from rot, and at the same time garden expansion meant I needed more, so I was forced to consider if I needed to actually buy some for myself.

Maybe I will one day. But for now I've found another solution, one that I can't believe I never used before. See, I have some power tools, and also lots of old lumber, and it takes maybe 45 seconds to turn six feet of old pressure-treated decking into two or three top-quality professional-looking stakes. A run through the circular saw to strip a one-by-one length, then zip zip on the miter saw at a 45° angle for a little point. I made some yesterday to stake up the corn which, unexpectedly, mostly blew down in a violent thunderstorm the other night. Not all the stalks broke. I don't know how long my new homemade stakes will last, but they look pretty nice now and even if they do fail to go the distance I've got plenty of wood to make some new ones next season!

holy week

I had kind of a tough Holy Week. On Palm Sunday we had somebody "Zoom Bomb" our church service—a ridiculous name for the kind of dumb prank that's unfortunately entirely commonplace on the internet. But lots of people on Zoom now aren't used to the internet, so they reacted very strongly to the intrusion. Besides making everybody on the church staff do more work as we struggled to plan a safer service for Easter, it also prompted lots more people to question whether they, or anyone, should be using Zoom at all. That question is very troubling to me for lots of reasons, the most salient being that I need to keep using Zoom myself, and I need other people to use it too, or else I might go crazy. So that made for a stressful week. Then on Saturday morning one of our chickens got taken by a fox or a coyote or something... we didn't see, but we noticed her missing a little later and we noticed lots of feathers all over the yard. I'm not always hit super hard when one of the hens dies, but this one was tough. I was feeling pretty sad to begin with, which obviously played a part. And then too in this pandemic time we were glad to always have plenty of eggs, including lots to give away to friends and neighbors; being down one hen won't cut the output too much, but with things as they are I still wish we had nine hens laying instead of eight.

Then despite all that, Easter was lovely. Maybe I'll write about that tomorrow.

I made some things

When we started social distancing I felt like I had all the time in the world. Just think of everything I was going to get done around the house and in the garden! But actually it turns out that I still have to do my job, and help lead our homeschool group, and keep in touch with my friends... and all those things are more complicated now. Since I care about them, though, I'm hanging in there and trying to make them work by making more work for myself. Like in my job as a Kids Church pastor. How do I pastor kids when I can't see them? I started out by just putting my weekly stories online, which added maybe three minutes of work to what I was already doing anyway. Then when I got a little experience on Zoom I realized I could do Zoom meetings on Sunday mornings; the first of those was this past Sunday. That took some prep. But I was also thinking about the kids who couldn't do videoconferencing... how could I make the story engaging to them? So I made a video version. And since there's no way I can get through a six minute story without a mistake or an interruption I had to do multiple takes, and edit them together. It took about five hours overall. Take a look and tell me if you think it was worth it!

At the same time, I mentioned to the homeschool group that I was thinking of doing something around poetry with the boys for April (which is National Poetry Month, of course!). I may have used the word "curriculum" and offered to share it with them. When there was some interest I actually had to come up with something concrete for them to look at! Here that is. I have three daily activities done so far... the other 19 will come pretty easily, right?

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found poetry at the office

I work at a church, and when I'm there I make my lunch in the Ministry Center kitchen. Since lots of people share the space, there are labels everywhere to show where you can find plates and bowls, serving utensils, pitchers (and so you can put them away). There are also more pointed notes. Every time I use the sink I'm newly delighted to read the three line poem printed beside it in all-caps label font, each line on its own little sticker:

Do not leave dishes in the dish drainer

Dry them

And put them away

It has a certain William Carlos Williams feel, don't you think? My favorite thing is that (as indicated by contextual clues) each line was added separately, later than the line above it. It's not the most frustratedly direct of the signs in that kitchen, but it's certainly the most delightful!

(Naturally, there are always dishes in the dish drainer. But never mine!)

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potluck competition

We had a church retreat this past weekend—well, some people in the church had a retreat. I took care of the elementary kids, which is to say two of my own three children plus about 25 more. Of course, I had lots of help and it was lots of fun, but it was also pretty tiring. On our way home we stopped at my parents' house for dinner with them and my brother. We got home around 8:15. Less than twelve hours later I had to leave to set up for my the regular Sunday kids program, with the added effort of unloading and putting away all the materials I brought out for the kids to use at the hotel. So you can see why I was struggling to find something appropriate to prepare for the potluck lunch I was invited to.

I didn't really think about it until yesterday morning, and then for a while I was about ready to just give up and go in there pleading exhaustion and overwhelmedness. But then all the other people who were going had been at the retreat too, and also I'm actually pretty competitive when it comes to food prep, so bringing nothing felt pretty bad. Then in the shower I had a brainstorm: I was going to have over an hour between the end of Kids Church and the lunch. If I mixed up some cookie dough at home, I could bring it in and stick it in the fridge at church—then I'd be able to wow people with fresh-baked cookies coming out of the oven just in time for dessert. Who would be able to top that?!

As it happened, people appreciated the warm cookies a great deal. But they were just one small part of a wonderful lunch that included salad fresh from someone's garden and rice and beans with peach salsa made from someone else's home-grown peaches—all served on a beautifully set table with name cards and wildflowers and artistically-strewn stones and peach pits (it looked cool, really!). So I couldn't stand out. Never mind, I'm happy just to have done my part!

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hard labor

We celebrated Labor Day today by doing some work. School starts here in Bedford tomorrow, and even though that doesn't have to mean anything for us I figure we can kick off our not-school year at the same time. The main reason for that is, with the other kids around all the time over the summer the boys and I don't get any time to do projects together; now that I don't have any competition I want to make the most of my time with them. So today we cleaned up the room that we variously call the playroom or the school room, depending on mood and time of day. It was hard work. Our boys have a life that includes many comforts and even luxuries, but one thing they're missing in our smallish house is a place to store their own stuff. Lots of it ends up on their desks, to the point that none of them—nor me either!—would have been able to find room for even a single piece of paper, should we have wanted to do some work. But not any more! Now all four desk spaces are a clean sweep from end to end. Plus the shelves are organized too!

In the afternoon I went into work to put together the classroom spaces for my Kids Church program. We met over the summer and everything was beautiful, but while we had a couple weeks off the floor and the rugs got cleaned, so everything was entirely disarranged. Before I had a chance to put it right the charter school we share our space with started up for the year, so I wasn't able to get into the classrooms during the week. So I had to labor on Labor Day. Three hours of work brought all kinds of improvement; it's still not totally ready to go, but it's a lot closer! And the boys were with Grandma and Grandpa all afternoon while Leah and I worked, so that was kind of like a holiday anyhow... especially since they also fed us dinner!

I don't know if we'll make it to the bus stop tomorrow morning, but I certainly feel ready for the new school year in all the ways it touches my family. Happy Labor Day!

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holy week, unholy work

Today was Maundy Thursday, which means we're into the meat of Holy Week now—the part where the days have names (though I heard the term "Spy Wednesday" for the first time yesterday, so that's a thing too). Leah and I aren't entering into the contemplative heart of the season, because we're being totally destroyed by stress.

Leah's stress has nothing to do with the liturgical calendar; she's just absorbed in a couple big projects at work, in preparation for a conference next week. It means ten-hour days, and lots of brain-space taken up by work thoughts 24 hours a day (at least she works on writing about the Bible... that's kind of holy, right?).

In my case, it totally makes sense that I'm busy this season. That's what happens when you work for a church—even a non-liturgical church like ours. Well, I say "non-liturgical"; but now we've got a couple of Episcopalians in charge of the families program—me being one of them of course—so Good Friday and even Maundy Thursday events are happening annually. Today was my job. We had a little over 40 people for a pot-luck with communion and foot-washing, so I think it was a success... but for one thing: very few adults were willing to be part of the foot washing! Leah says it's because they saw it as a kids' event. Maybe. I think they need to pay more attention to John's gospel. Oh well, there were plenty of kids who knew what to do.

kids at church washing an adult's feet

the best part of Holy Week not counting Easter

Now that that's over with, my stress levels will drop by at least 50%. For Easter proper, my only role is making sure everyone has enough food and seeing that the trash is taken out. True, calling donut shops to try and order 15 dozen for Sunday morning is a terrifying experience, but at least it doesn't last long (for the record: so far, no luck). I can't promise that I'll be ready to have a transcendent spiritual experience come Sunday, but I think at least I won't have a nervous breakdown before then. Then Monday is Patriots Day. Tuesday? Tuesday I'll finally relax.

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