Friday, July 31, 2020

A Strange Year for Kindergarten

Image by Thanks for your Like from Pixabay
My five-year-old daughter is ready to start kindergarten, a milestone that I have looked forward to for a while. No more bills for preschool! No more making lunches everyday! No more separate schedules for my daughter and my seven-year-old son!

Then came the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. Now I'm worried public school will never look the same again.

Last year, I daydreamed about dropping both kids off at the same elementary school in the 2020-2021 school year. This year, I'm still waiting to hear back from our school district on whether the start of school will be in-person classes or virtual learning.

Last year, I worried whether sending my daughter to preschool three days a week would prepare her for kindergarten five days a week. This year, I'm worried about sending her to any school for five days a week.

Some parents are choosing to delay kindergarten by a year in the hopes that everything gets back to normal next year. But if preschool is canceled, parents are still on the hook for monthly tuition, a fact which I only discovered in April 2020.

I also don't know if next year will be any better. I'm optimistic that we will discover a cure for COVID-19 at some point, but I don't know if it will arrive in time for the 2021-2022 school year.

My children have a few weeks before school starts. At this point, I'm trying to prepare for any scenario.

What have you decided to do for your children's upcoming school year? Share your responses in the comments below.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Vacation in the Time of Pandemic

A view of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colo.
The coronavirus pandemic upended plans for elementary school, summer camp and karate lessons in our household. We decided to take a break and go the the mountains for three nights to preserve some sort of summer for our children. After all, living in Denver without being able to go to the mountains in like living in Kansas City -- without the good barbecue.

However, vacationing in the time of a pandemic brings its own challenges. How many masks do you pack per person? I've never had to think about that before, but settled on two. Is it safe to go out to eat? Should we stay in a hotel?

We ending up renting a cabin in Estes Park, Colo., to maximize social distancing while still being able to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park and other attractions in the popular tourist town. The national parks are open, but require reserving a time slot in advance. We packed up the car with a cooler full of food and fond memories of past vacations.

When we arrived at our destination, the check-in desk was a ghost town and all the outdoor seating on the porch had been removed. I worried briefly that it was a bad omen, but our five-year-old daughter immediately fell in love with the cabin.

"This is the nicest place I've every stayed," she said when she saw the bunk beds. The first night passed peacefully, although my seven-year-old son thought the quiet of the woods seemed spooky. He crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night.

So far, the rest of the vacation has been smooth, with some minor hiccups not related to the pandemic. Despite a car full of Colorado natives, no one remembered to pack a water bottle, which is essential for hiking at high altitude. The line of cars snaking into Rocky Mountain National Park also stretched just as far down the road as last year, even with the timed-entry system.

However, the majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park proved as majestic as ever -- even with our masks on. We even managed to eat out for buffalo burgers on a shaded patio.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Quiz: Who is Behind the Mask?

Image by shubham sharma from Pixabay
When do you wear the mask?
A. When out in public
B. When I'm assuming my other persona
C. All the time

2. What is your nickname?
A. Snowflake
B. Curse of Capistrano
C. Angel of Music

3. How do you like to relax?
A. Netflix and chill in my living room
B. Horseback riding near my villa
C. Listening to opera in my underground lair

5. What's your favorite pickup line?
A. "Do you want to quarantine with me?"
B. "Be careful seƱorita, there are dangerous men about."
C. “Say you'll love me every waking moment.”

6. Your mask makes you look...
A. Healthier
B. Sexier
C. Creepier

7. Why are you wearing the mask?
A. To prevent the spread of a highly-contagious virus
B. To hide my identity from the world
C. To cover up the deformed half of my face

8. What is your greatest fear?
A. Dying due to the careless behavior of others
B. Dying without avenging crimes against my family
C. Dying alone

Mostly A's - Congratulations! You are a concerned citizen doing your part to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Mostly B's - Congratulations! You are Zorro.
Mostly C's - Congratulations! You are the Phantom of the Opera.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Monday, April 27, 2020

A Return to Normalcy?

Gas prices at a 7-11 in Denver on April 27, 2020.
Colorado's stay-at-home expired yesterday, which means that today was the first day of the revised "safer-at-home" order. I ventured out to Dunkin Donuts to celebrate. What better way is there to mark one month of surviving a pandemic than deep-fried sweets?

It was almost back to normal. There was traffic. Someone honked at me, and another person cut me off, just like old times. I have never been more grateful for rude drivers. For the last month, everyone has been preternaturally polite.

The drive to the donut shop seemed almost normal, except for the fact that myself and my two children were all wearing masks in the car.

We passed a construction site, now bustling with construction workers. Normal. 

We passed my daughter's preschool, now closed for the school year in April. Not normal. 

We passed by 7-11, where I stopped to get gas at $1.65 a gallon. NOT NORMAL AT ALL.

Either I traveled back in time to two decades ago when gas was that price -- or
the new normal is an alternate universe where everyone stays at home, generating a precipitous drop in gas prices.

I vote for the first option.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Lessons in Doing Nothing for Quarantine

So far, it's been three weeks since Colorado's stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of coronavirus went into effect on March 26. For me, the hardest part has been wrapping my mind around the concept of doing something by doing nothing. Sitting at home binge-watching Netflix isn't exactly the heroic effort that previous generations have exerted in times of worldwide crisis.

I wrote about adjusting to wearing face masks for the Colorado Sun last week. This week, I finally got some additional to sew masks for local hospitals. So my net contribution to the Great Pandemic of 2020 will be 20 polka-dot face masks.

As I dusted off the sewing machine, I realized it has been years since I sewed anything. The last time I used a sewing machine, I was in high school, where I spent a lot of time doing nothing in a small town. If anything, this has been the best training for staying at home.

In high school, the main excitement consisted of driving in a loop around "downtown," which was approximately two blocks, in my friend's white Camaro. The car may have changed to a more family-friendly version, but last week the big weekend excitement was taking the family for a long drive around the neighborhood.

I'm afraid the rest of my quarantine will be a repeat of high school. I will lock myself in my room and listen to the Cure when I'm feeling angst. I will daydream of life in more exciting places. Maybe I will even sew my own prom dress in an '80s extravaganza of satin and chiffon.

Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Parenting During a Pandemic

As a parent, part of your job is keeping your children safe. If I could, I would wrap my kids in bubble wrap to cushion their falls.

But one thing I never worried about was a global pandemic. Now I'm struggling to balance my anxiety with trying to keep my kids occupied.

Yesterday, I tried to muster up interest in the backyard swing set -- now that all playgrounds are wrapped with police tape in Denver. "Mommy, can I sit on the swing? Does it have germs?" my four-year-old asked.

Then she nervously took my hand when we took the dog for a walk. "I'm not sure if we should do this," she said. I tried to explain to her that we were still allowed to leave the house to go for walks

I thought I was doing a good job of explaining to her why we couldn't see grandma for a while. Of why preschool is closed. Of why one person has to go to the grocery store instead of the whole family.

Yesterday, as the US became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, I seemed to have faltered as well. Today, I'm going to take a break from reading the coronavirus body count.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, keeping calm is key. "Remember that children will react to both what you say and how you say it. They will pick up cues from the conversations you have with them and with others," the CDC said in guidelines on its website.

Here are some other parenting tips from experts:

  • How to Calmly Explain the Coronavirus to Your Kids
  • Tips for handling work and kids during COVID-19 isolation
  • How to talk to children about the coronavirus
  • Do you have any tips to share about talking to your children about the coronavirus?

    Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2020

    Trying Not to Panic at Stay-at-Home Order

    A stay-at-home order for Denver residents starts today at 5 p.m. due to the coronavirus. I'm trying not to panic. I support it as this right thing to do, and yet, it has finally hit home that my life is going to to be drastically different in the next couple of months.

    We have been staying at home as much as possible, but my two children don't always understand why we are home so much. School is out for at least a month, and most likely the rest of the year.

    Yesterday, I took them to a deserted playground to let off steam. We also visited grandma's house.

    But now, the playgrounds are closing at 5 p.m. And now grandma says it would be probably better if we stayed away. I'm sure both decisions are the right thing to do, but I have no Plan B.

    The order allows people to go outside and exercise, as long as social distancing is maintained. But my elderly dog is already sick of walks. She hides from me when I try to go for walks.

    Please don't inundate me with emails about flattening the curve. I want to flatten the curve. I just don't know how to keep my sanity while doing it.

    Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer

    Thursday, March 12, 2020

    Let's Do the Corona Cancel

    As coronavirus fears sweep the nation, let's do our part and hibernate. I canceled lunch with a former coworker on Friday, which would have involved taking public transportation and eating in a crowded restaurant.

    It's 2020, for God's sake. We don't have a health care system in the US that's remotely prepared for a pandemic, but we do have Netflix. We don't have a president who even understands what a virus is, but we do have the technology that lets some of us work from home.

    My children are on Spring Break next week, and we idly talked about taking a trip. Now it's Corona Cancel time. We're going to stay home and do crafts until our fingers ache and our dining room table is completely coated in glue and glitter.

    Now is the time to embrace the aspects of American life that are so often denigrated. Let's embrace the drive-thru. We don't have to go into a restaurant to eat. We can avoid social contact and still receive delicious food.

    Let's live all our life on Facebook. We don't have to ever talk to each other in person again. Forget "Bowling Alone." Let's try existing for the next four weeks without face-to-face contact.

    Just practice with me.

    "I can't make it. I have to Corona Cancel."

    Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

    Saturday, February 29, 2020

    Everyone Needs a Little Encouragement

    Sometimes everyone needs a little encouragement. Today at the library, I wandered upstairs to the bathroom because one of the quirks of my favorite library is there are no restrooms for adults on the first floor.

    As I walked past a meeting room on the second floor, there were a flock of young women dressed in black in a standing-room only meeting. Because I'm old and cynical, I assumed it was a a meeting of the anonymous variety.

    However, as I'm in the bathroom washing my hands, a young woman nervously shares that it's a casting call. She's slender and blonde, with an enviable pair of peep-toe high heels.

    She's fidgeting with her outfit, and seems very nervous. I assure that she looks great and that she'll blow them away. Then I wish her luck one more time, and head back down to rejoin the normal library patrons.

    Now if only I could send myself some of that same positive energy as I sit down to apply for a writing opportunity that seems like a complete long shot. Everyone needs a little encouragement, but it's easier to encourage other people than myself!

    Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.

    Wednesday, January 8, 2020

    My Achievable New Year's Resolutions

    According to the American Psychological Association, making New Year's resolutions can help you focus on a goal, but only if you start small. The association recommends making resolutions that you can actually keep.

    Every year, I resolve to lose 20 pounds and get my novel published. Every single year. This year, however, I am starting small with my scaled-down New Year's resolutions that are completely achievable.

    1. Listen to the whole song on the radio when it's my favorite.
    2. Go for a walk when the weather is nice.
    3. Savor the first sip of coffee in the morning.
    4. Hug my children more even if they moan and groan about it.
    5. Start playing my guitar again instead of letting it collect dust in the corner.

    Also, I would hereby like to start New Year's resolutions about a week into the New Year so everyone has enough time to really think over their resolutions. I think it's best to ease into the New Year instead of jumping in all at once.

    What are your New Year's resolutions for 2020?

    Nina Snyder is the author of "ABCs of Balls," a children's picture book that makes learning the alphabet fun for toddlers. Follow her on Twitter @nsnyder_writer.