Ideas For Staying Sane While Social Distancing

Hello friends.  At my house, we are officially starting week two of working from home, and my first grader, after “enjoying” April vacation, will be starting online learning.

I have literally no idea how I’m going to make this work.  Conduct virtual meetings, interviews, numerous phone calls, and teach my child math, reading, music, library, art, health, and gym?

 

Dr Evil

I don’t mean to complain.  I realize that I’m lucky to even have a job right now, and my hearts go out to those of you who are filing for unemployment, even if it’s temporary.

That being said – I’m also lucky to have a child who’s relatively clever and can probably do a lot of this with minimal supervision (but still, she deserves better than that).  Either way, it’s a daunting task, and worse, I have no idea how long we’ll have to keep this up.  My understanding is that some states have already closed schools for the rest of the year.

My plan right now is to figure out some sort of schedule for her and stick to it.  Make it as much like school as I can, with a planned lunch hour where she and I and our chihuahua can get out of the house for a bit and away from our screens.

But what about all those other hours we are home?  I know many of us are having trouble concentrating enough to read, and there are only so many decent shows to binge.  So here are some of the things my daughter and I are doing to try and keep ourselves sane.

Diamond Painting

Diamond Painting

This is probably one of the most relaxing, mindlessly fun activities I’ve discovered in recent months.  You can find kits for less than $15 on Amazon and they will keep you busy for many, many hours depending on the size.

The downside, I realize, is some children will find this boring, or simply not have the level of focus required to sit at a table and stick plastic gems to a page.

Cooking and Baking

Birthday-Cupcakes-With-Sprinkles-500x375

With restaurants across the country closed for dine-in services (I hope we were all able to stock up on food), what better time to take up cooking?  My daughter loves helping me in the kitchen, and I love a good meal (and a good dessert).  Admittedly, baking is not even remotely my strong suit, but it’s more about the decorating for the kids anyway.

Some of our favorite things to make include: Tacos (make them kid friendly and bite size by using Tostito’s Scoops as your shell), Pizza, Spaghetti and Meatballs, and Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Mac and Cheese.

Virtual Family Game Night

65609494 - the colorful word trivia on wooden table

I actually stole this idea from a coworker.  His family is using ZOOM to video conference with his family and play trivia games.  Trivia questions are easily available for free online and players could take turns prepping and hosting the game.  

Build a Fairy Garden

Fairy Gardens

My daughter and I have been doing this every spring since she was three years old.  We typically incorporate plants or flowers into ours, like above, but I would imagine those might be hard to come by right now.  (Don’t worry, fairy gardens are still cute even without real plants.)  You can purchase some fun fairy furniture online, or even better, you can make some yourself using items from around the house or found in your back yard, like the DIY furniture found in this video.

Virtual Tours

Sunset over the Louvre - Paris

Okay – admittedly, I stole this idea from two sources.  One was a random list of stuff I could do at home with my daughter and the other was from a team building exercise we did at work.

There are plenty of museums offering free virtual tours (including the Louvre!).  To make it more interactive, pick your favorite piece, and do your best to recreate it.  My seven year old is super passionate about her artwork, so this is something I’d absolutely love to take advantage of while we are stuck at home.

Quilling

quilling-paper-art_500x309-r

Quilling is taking strips of paper, rolling them up into different shapes, and gluing them down to make a picture.  Again, kits like this can be found on Amazon for less than $15, and have everything you need to get started.  Some of the shapes are more difficult than others but otherwise this activity isn’t as difficult as it looks and the resulting pictures are very pretty!

And of course, I hope we’re all getting outside for some fresh air.  I’ll be very happy when the weather is warmer in our neck of the woods.

What are you all doing to keep from going stir-crazy?  Have you got any fun ideas we can try at our house?

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Movies I Wish Were Actually Books

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hello friends.  I don’t want to call it a reading slump- but life has been so busy I’m definitely on a little bit of a reading hiatus (I’m sorry!).  Trust me- I’d rather be reading.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is Page To Screen freebie, and I’m going to do it in reverse, because most of you could probably guess which books I want turned into movies.

Prison Break

Prison Break: I loved this show when it aired.  I’m a sucker for characters who are geniuses, and Michael definitely fits that bill.  I’m not entirely sure it would work well in a novel, but I’d give it a shot.

The Departed

The Departed: I love anything that comes out of, or is set in, Boston.  Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg are two of those things, and anytime they get to act with their full, glorious, Boston accents, I’m pretty happy.  Also- this movie will fuck with you.  Dirty cops, good cops, gangsters… nothing is what it seems.  If someone could turn this into a thriller style book and nail it, I’d read the shit out of it.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams:  This is like the ultimate American movie, baseball, corn farming, and Iowa.  It spawned some of my favorite movie lines: “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa!” and has enough emotion and mystery that I think it could make a wonderful book.

Pitch Black

Pitch Black:  Laugh all you want, but I love this movie.  In case you haven’t seen it, Vin Diesel plays a convicted serial killer.  When the interstellar bounty hunters who arrested him crash land on a planet full of blood thirsty monsters, he becomes their only hope for survival.  If someone could please turn this into a Crichton style horror/sci-fi thriller, I’m going to read it.  I don’t think it even has to be that good.

Justified: This is probably one of my favorite TV shows of all time, and I’ve never actually watched the last season (I couldn’t watch knowing it would be over, it was just so unfair).  Raylan Gibbons is a US Marshall, returned to his hometown to put the smackdown on a bunch of old timey crime families.  Boyd is perhaps one of the greatest shades of gray characters ever written- and I’d read a novel just about him (but including Raylan would also be A-OK).

The Last of Us

The Last of Us: If you aren’t a gamer, then I’m sad for you, because I think The Last of Us has one of the greatest gaming narratives ever written.  It’s tragic, emotional and thrilling.  For 10-13 hours you play as Joel or Ellie.  When you get to the end, you’re punched dead in the face with the realization that Joel is not a good guy, and also, he is  terribly human.  I thought about that ending for days afterwards, and all these years later, with TLOU2 on the way, I’m still not sure how I feel about it… Which is why I think it would make a great book.

Arthur Morgan Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption:  I love Arthur Morgan, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a book about John Marston either.  I’ve added Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West to my TBR this year, but I’m reasonably sure it won’t be the same.

300.gif

300: Before you get all righteous on me and tell me that this is based on a graphic novel- hold your horses, I know that.  I also know that the visuals were carried out exceptionally well, so it’s hard to imagine this being translated into a strictly novel format and working, but I don’t care, I want it anyway.  Someone could make it good.  I have faith.

Lagertha Vikings

Vikings: I feel like I haven’t mentioned this show in a couple months.. so here it goes again.  I want a Vikings novel told from Lagertha’s POV.  I want a woman warrior who claws her way out of the trenches and shows up every man that ever tried to take advantage of her.  It’s okay if it has romance- but I’d really rather it didn’t have a HEA or get all mushy.  I do not want Sky in the Deep (which IMO, tried too hard and came up way short).  Lagertha’s story is not a happy one- and that’s what made it so compelling.

Gladiator

Gladiator: Guess who else didn’t have a happy ending?  Poor Maximus.  Someone write a book on this guy.  Side note- can anyone recommend something similar?

That’s it!  I think.  If you have any good books to recommend that reminded you of some of these movies/shows/games, I’d love to hear them!  What’s in your T10T post for the week?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroes

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Hello!  I apologize I’ve been on hiatus.  October and November are super busy months for me at work and December hasn’t been looking up either.  A couple weeks to go and hopefully I can get back to reading and blogging regularly.

Today’s TTT was a freebie.  I’ve already listed my top ten favorite villains, so I wanted to go the opposite route and talk about my favorite heroes.  We’ll venture into four forms of media today: Books, TV, Video Games and movies, so I’ll apologize in advance for not making this post completely bookish.

TJC_JW

10. Apollo in The Just City by Jo Walton (review here) – The Just City is a book that I feel like doesn’t get talked about enough.  It’s incredibly relevant, beautifully told, thought provoking, and entertaining.  Apollo is a favorite, not only because of the transformation he goes through, but because of his complexity. He’s thoughtful and loving, but also sometimes driven by rage, and clearly very flawed.  (You see a lot of that in book two: The Philosopher Kings.)

Gladiator

9. Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator – Gladiator is one of my favorite movies of all time (and that’s saying a lot because it’s largely a tragedy which I find incredibly depressing). He’s a reluctant hero, driven largely by love for his family.  When he is first asked to help make Rome a Republic again he declines, wanting instead to return to his home.  He embodies just about every quality you could ask for in a hero, and despite not really trying or even being in a position to do so, he succeeds in his goals.

DarkFever

8.  Jericho Barrons in the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning – Jericho is arguably one of the least heroic characters on this list.  I wouldn’t say he undergoes a major transformation throughout the books, but as we come to know more about him and better understand him, it’s hard not to be sympathetic.  Also- the man is damn entertaining to read.

Uncharted

7. Nathan Drake in Uncharted – You’ll notice a large part of my list is comprised of video game characters.  Aside from television- you’ll spend more hours with game characters than you ever will with book or film characters.  Furthermore, being that you control them, it’s really, really hard not to become attached.  Nathan Drake first appeared in Uncharted in 2007.  He’s a charming, fast talking, scrappy adventurer.  He seems to have a knack for getting himself into trouble. When the last game released in 2016, I was literally sobbing my eyes out at his ending, both because it was perfect for him and because I knew it was the last game he’d star in.  (In case you’re curious about Nathan Drake: I just stumbled across a 15 minute short film that nailed everything I love about him.  You can find it here.  Also- where is the full length film and why is that not a thing already?)

TB_SdC

6.  Falcio val Mond in The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell (review here) – This is another series I feel like doesn’t get enough recognition.  These books are so much fun.  Reading this was a lot like playing Dragon Age.  The banter between the characters is perfect.  Falcio himself is honorable and loyal to a fault.  He’s self deprecating, freely admits he’s not the best swordsman of the Greatcoats, and frequently sings himself out of life and death situations.  He cares a lot for his friends and it shows.

Geralt

5. Geralt of Rivia of The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski (as well as the video games, review for The Last Wish here) – My love for Geralt, admittedly, comes primarily through the game The Witcher 3.  He’s truly unique in that he’s a mutant, and the wider world he lives in actually doesn’t like him or want him around.  Witchers are viewed as a necessary evil (they take contracts to kill monsters, something their mutant abilities make them much more equipped to do).  He’s basically a snarky, mutant, sword wielding ballerina.  What’s not to love? (Side note: Henry Cavill being cast as Geralt in the upcoming Netflix series is a crime.)

Arthur_Morgan

4. Arthur Morgan in Red Dead Redemption 2 – Arthur would probably be a better fit for my villains and antiheroes list, and truthfully, him being a hero is entirely dependent on how you play (I played the honorable outlaw so we’re going with it). There were a lot of things I felt RDR2 didn’t get right (mostly the gameplay) but Arthur’s narrative is not one of them.  He’s loyal, he cares deeply for the people around him, and he’s willing to suck  venom out of a complete stranger’s leg.  I haven’t even finished the game yet because I’m not sure I’m emotionally equipped to watch that ending. Rockstar, if you’re reading this, I NEED an alternate ending DLC.

Ezio

3.  Ezio Auditore da Firenze of the Assassin’s Creed franchise – I find it really odd that Ubisoft made a character so compelling for three games and literally no more in all EIGHT other games.  (Admittedly, Bayek came pretty close.)  What I love about his story, is that we get to see the full arc, from the time he comes of age to his death.  Like many of the heroes on my list, on the surface, he seems like a carefree, easy going kind of guy, but as his story and arc progress, it becomes clear that he cares a lot about the fate and the troubles of his people.  (Fun fact: the real protagonist of the first few AC games, Desmond Miles, is voiced by the same actor who voices Nathan Drake! Thank you Nolan North.)

Uhtred

2. Uhtred, son of Uhtred of The Last Kingdom/Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – This series has also been turned into a TV Show for Netflix, and Alexander Dreymon (above) does a pretty good job as Uhtred- but ultimately, he’s no Uhtred.  I don’t think it’s Dreymon’s fault, I think the show producers are cutting WAY TOO MUCH of the book’s plot lines for TV Uhtred to live up to book Uhtred.  He is compelling because his greatest downfall is his pride.  I mean, he has lots of reasons to be proud, he’s pretty much unstoppable, but it makes people hate him.  Even though they need him.  He’s a little like Geralt in that way- a necessary evil.

Ragnar Lothbrok

1. Ragnar Lothbrok of Vikings – Ragnar is far away my favorite fictional character of all time.  It’s due in large part to Travis Fimmel, who played this character brilliantly.  In the show, Ragnar is a master strategist.  He’s often ten steps ahead of his enemies (remember season 2 with King Horic? and how he conquered Paris?).  But sometimes he is curiously naive.  He admits he wasn’t the greatest father, and that he wasn’t the greatest king.  Watching him triumph and then unravel slowly over the course of the show were the greatest four seasons of television I’ve ever seen.  All the actors on the show do a phenomenal job, but it definitely lost a little of it’s spark without Ragnar around to break up the tension.

Looking at this list I was really sad not to have any women on it.  I can’t tell if this is mostly due to my personal tastes as a reader/watcher/player, or if modern media is really just lacking that many well written heroines. There are a lot of heroines I can think of that are well done and that I adore, but many of them play supporting roles to the heroes (Lagertha in Vikings, Aethelflaed and Hild in The Last Kingdom, Ciri and Yen in The Witcher, Simmea in The Just City, and Valiana val Mond of the Greatcoats.)  Writers, if you’re reading this- give me a female version of Uhtred or Ragnar (think genius warrior with fatal flaws and a sense of humor.) Readers – if that heroine is already out there- please let me know!