Where Will You Go?

Source: photo by Stefan Fluck on Upsplash

I was recently chatting with my sister trying to determine if our planned April 2021 trip would happen or not, and it got me to thinking how wonderful it will be to travel again. Last year, we had to cancel our Universal Studios trip, but we did get away to Ocean City for a socially distanced beach vacation. In 2021, we were hoping to take a trip to Florida to celebrate my sister’s (twins) 30th birthdays. With the vaccine rollout, I’m thinking we will have to pass on that vacation too. Which is such a bummer.

I love having a trip to look forward to though, so I’m considering trying to tentatively plan something for Summer or Fall 2021? I mean, in a way that seems very, very far away… but also um, not.

Which brings me to thinking that I’m certainly not the only one with wanderlust right now. So, tell me… when you are able to travel again, where will you go?

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2021 Book List

Last year was the first year I really kept track of my reading, as I shared each book I read in real-time on my Instagram Stories and kept a list updated here on Pocketful of Joules. I ended up reading 113 books in 2020 and you can find the full list of them here: 2020 Book List.

I decided to keep it up for 2021, but wanted to improve my list by incorporating my mini-reviews. Feel free to bookmark this page, as I will keep it updated as I finish each book. I’ll also stick a link to this post over on the right sidebar for easy access.

Here are the books I’ve read so far in 2021:

Book #, Information & LinkMini Book Review
Book #1 of 2021:
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Oh my gosh, this one was AMAZING! A plus-sized fashion blogger is the new star of Main Squeeze, a Bachelorette-type reality show. This book was so, so, so, so good! Add it to your MUST READ list now!
Book #2 of 2021:
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
I haven’t seen the movie and wanted to give the book a try. All in all, I didn’t enjoy it and thought it was a boring name-dropping slog. Money, money, rich people, money. Just repetitive and rather boring.
Book #3 of 2021:
I Hate Your Face (and other things I wish I could tell my coworkers) by Connie O’Reyes
I wanted to love this book of short stories about office-life…but it just sounded like stories I’ve heard 1,000 times before and to me the book fell flat.
Book #4 of 2021:
Hadley & Grace by Suzanne Redfearn
A ‘Thelma & Louise’ type caper story about two moms who find themselves on the run with their kids. Overall pretty entertaining and a fun ride!
Book #5 of 2021: Widowish by Melissa GouldI thought this book would focus on her journey after her husband passed… but it was brutal to read about them falling in love, him in the hospital, and her having to make the difficult decision to let him go.
Book #6 of 2021:
Please Like Me (But Keep Away) by Mindy Kaling
I thought this was a whole book, but it was just 2 short stories. Super relatable and funny. I wish it were longer! (It looks like Amazon broke “Nothing Like I Imagined” into a bunch of shorter stories.)
Book #7 of 2021:…Coming Soon…

Many of my books are borrowed using Kindle Unlimited (you can read my full review from 2015 here). If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited yet, it’s like an all-you-can-read for books and I’ve been using it for the last few years: Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans.

I’ve also recently started using the free OverDrive Library, through my local library website. If you have a library card, be sure to check your library’s website to see if they work with an online partner. I mean, FREE BOOKS!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. This means that clicking on a link may help me earn a small commission at no cost to you.

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How We Are Using Online Learning as an Opportunity

I’ve grumbled about the challenges of Jack attending school 100% online before. However, due to both myself and Jack being considered high-risk for COVID, we are trying to be as careful as possible. Our school system has been alternating between 100% online and a hybrid model since the start of the year; however, students have the option to stick with the online format.

So yes, there are challenges. I’m working from home full-time right now, while also overseeing all Jack’s online classes. Luckily, as the months have gone by, he has gotten more and more independent. One thing that has been a HUGE help is my “genius” trick that I shared with you back in October of getting Jack his own cellphone. It’s not hooked up to any service, but it allows me to set his online school alarms.

Rather than me keeping track of when he needs to get back to his laptop after each break, the alarm will prompt him throughout the day to log into his different classes. This has been a lifesaver for me, since I may have Zoom meetings at the same time that he should be logging in. Instead of depending on me, once that alarm rings he knows he needs to log in on his own.

Life. Saver.

When it comes to classwork, each teacher assigns an online assignment to be completed after the live portion of class. I’ve found that it works best if Jack completes the assignments throughout the day, rather than waiting until the very end and doing them as ‘homework.’ Of course, some days it all goes to crap and he has a bunch of work to complete at once, but we are all just doing our best.

Over the years, Jack has fallen behind in the areas of ELA – reading and writing. He’s had reading intervention helpers work with him in the past and we read every night at home, but he still needed some extra help. I was very concerned with him falling behind this year since he has no extra reading help, so we decided it was time to hire a tutor.

A co-worker of mine actually recommended his mother for the tutoring, which was one of those right place-right time kinda of things. His mom is a private school teacher in a nearby county that specializes in ELA tutoring. Crazy, right?! We started Zoom tutoring sessions back in November and most weekends he has a one-hour session on both Saturday and Sunday morning. It’s hard for him to give up his free time, but we’ve implemented a sticker earning system which mostly keeps him motivated (he still has some days that he just isn’t into it at all, but for the most part he is engaged). And frankly, if that morning is not working, we will reduce the session time so we aren’t just torturing the poor kid.

His tutor is AMAZING. I am in constant awe of her knowledge of the areas where Jack has learning holes and how she is working with him to solve them. She has devised a number of games to keep him engaged and competitive and within the past month and a half his skills have grown in leaps and bounds.

Part of me wishes we had done this earlier; however, online schooling really has worked as an opportunity in this case. Rather than dropping Jack at before-care at 7:30 am, having a full day of school until 4ish and then hanging out in after-care until 6:00 pm when we could pick him up, he’s home. He gets ‘down time’ to watch TV, play videogames, or build something with his LEGOS throughout the day, so when class starts, he’s more refreshed and ready to learn.

Because we aren’t running around like crazy all week long, when the weekend comes fitting in a 1-hour tutoring session isn’t the end of the world. Instead, it’s just one more little thing to check off the list before he’s free to play.

And the best part, by looking at online learning as an opportunity to bring in some supplemental help, I finally feel like this isn’t the year that he’s going to fall behind due to online school. Instead, this may be the year that he’s finally going to catch up!

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