It’s day 5 of the Spring Break from Hell. Send help!!! (Just kidding…) Last week, our school district shut down early and extended spring break to 2.5 weeks. That’s okay with me. Some extra days off wouldn’t hurt. Our son is very happy about it and I already have a few projects lined up for us. That’s what I thought at first. Then yesterday, the governor announced the school will be closed until the end of April. That’s 6 and a half weeks! Our son is ecstatic, but we’re not happy at all. I really hope things are better by then or else spring break will stretch into summer. Oy vey!
This extra long spring break isn’t easy for anybody, but I’m better prepared than most parents. I retired from my engineering career in 2012 to become a SAHD/blogger so this is old hat. In fact, it is way easier now because I don’t have to deal with diapers, feeding, and random tantrums. Older kids are so much easier to handle than a baby/toddler. Blogging will be harder with RB40Jr around, but I can handle it. The posting frequency might decrease a bit over the next few months, though.
Another problem is the disruption to RB40Jr’s education. But I’m not too worried about that either. He’s only in 3rd grade so we can homeschool for a few weeks. For now, we’re making him do 1-2 hours of schoolwork every day to maintain his basic competency. He complains this is the worse break ever. Welcome to the club, kiddo. Hopefully, the school district will send out some kind of online learning program in April. The disruption to education is a much bigger deal for college and high school kids. We’re lucky our son is in 3rd grade.
Spring break projects
Anyway, spring break is supposed to be fun, right? That’s why I’m trying to make it less painful for everybody by coming up with some projects. Originally, I had 2 projects lined up for 1 week of spring break. Now, we’ll have to expand a bit. This is a great opportunity to learn some old school economizing skills. Who knows how long this lockdown is going to last. I’ll add some of those so Junior knows how regular people get through lean times in the olden days. Check out our projects and share your ideas. We all need to keep busy to get through the next 6 weeks.
1. Growing food
My first project is inoculating some mushrooms! We just cut down a huge tree in our backyard so we have a big stump and a bunch of logs lying around. They wanted $400 to haul the wood away, but I opted to keep them. We’ll use some for firewood and grow mushrooms on the rest.
I ordered 400 spawn plugs of blue oysters, pearl oysters, shitake, and reishi mushrooms. The process is pretty easy but somewhat time-consuming.
- Drill holes for the plugs.
- Hammer the plugs (dowels) in.
- Seal the holes with wax.
- Provide shade to minimize moisture loss. I’m using old cardboards.
RB40Jr is fairly helpful. He learned how to use the drill and only smashed his fingers once with the hammer (so far.) He’d rather go play, but I’m making him help. Kids need some tough love too. This project will pay off in about a year when we can harvest the mushrooms.
That’s the first part of our food growing project. Once we’re done with the mushrooms, we’ll work on our vegetable garden. We have a planter and 6 big pots that we can work with. It’s about the right time of the years to start a vegetable garden. Hopefully, the garden centers are still open in a few weeks.
2. Making YouTube videos
The 2nd project I had was to make some YouTube videos. We’ll visit some food carts in Portland, try new food, and make some videos. This is a great way to learn about building a personal brand. Kids need to learn how to shoot a video, edit, write a blog, and build followers. It’s a new world. If RB40Jr knows how to do these things, he’ll have a head start on his peer. Focusing on education isn’t enough anymore. You need a great personal brand too.
* Start a blog with the help of my tutorial – How to start a blog and why you should.
We visited one food cart so far – Tokyo Sando. They make these Japanese style sandwiches (sando.) They were awesome. These local small businesses really need some support right now so we’re trying to do our part.
Our first video isn’t too great, but we’re learning. RB40Jr helped with the shoot and I’ll make him help with the editing as well.
Two projects are enough for one week, but now we have 6+ weeks of social distancing. Our son will forget everything if he doesn’t keep learning. This is also a great chance to practice homeschooling. We plan to travel for a year when Mrs. RB40 retires so road schooling is a must. For now, we’ll study for 1 to 2 hours every weekday. Hopefully, the school district will send some material out in April. Here’s what we’re doing.
- A few modules of 3rd-grade math at Khan academy. We’re starting division now. It’s a hard concept for kids to grasp.
- One math worksheet. RB40Jr’s teacher sent some work home. This will run out soon so I guess we need to make up some worksheets.
- 30 minutes of reading. Luckily, we checked out a bunch of books before the library closed down. We can download some ebooks too.
- A bit of writing. Junior hates writing and his report card reflects this. We’ll make him write a bit every day.
4. Physical activities
At school, the kids have PE twice per week and they expend a huge amount of energy playing during recess. It’s much harder at home because there are no friends around. Mrs. RB40 is also working from home right now and she needs exercise too.
I’m going to start an exercise program for our household. This is what I usually do after I drop my son off at school.
- Stretches – shoulder, back, side.
- Step up – 40 reps
- Push up – 10 reps
- Squat – 10 reps
- Pull up – 5 reps
- Plank – 20 seconds
We’ll start with 2 sets and work up to 3. Once the weather improves, we’ll play soccer in the backyard. Hiking is another good option for us.
5. Backyard improvements
Actually, this was another thing on my to-do list. I took down the rope swing last fall when it started raining. I want to put that up. I’ll order a set of pop up goals so we can play soccer too. We also need to put some grass seed down. We have some bare patches from the leave pile last winter.
Lastly, I want to install a fire pit in the backyard. I’ll have to move the old planter so it’s going to take a lot of effort. RB40Jr is only 9 so he won’t be much help, but I’ll make him do as much as he can.
Cooking is another economizing survival skill everyone should have. I’ll try to involve Junior more and we’ll make more videos too. I think we might have to be creative soon. The local grocery stores are out of many items.
Here are the cooking videos we made this year on YouTube – SAHD Recipes.
7. Canning/food preservation
Now, we’re really dipping into the depression era skillset. I love kimchi (Korean preserved vegetables), but I always buy them from the Asian grocery stores. They’re not cheap. A 28oz jar cost $7-9. Now that we have a basement, I can try to make this at home. Maybe we can try making pickles and sauerkraut too.
8. DIY hair cut
Heh heh, RB40Jr was due for a haircut so I gave him one yesterday. We saved money and avoided a public outing. This spring break is a great chance to try giving your kid a haircut. If you screw up, the hair will grow back enough in 6 weeks. Do it!
My big screen TV + Xbox investment is paying off big time this year. I got them over on Black Friday and they’re awesome. Now, I’m replaying the whole Halo series with my son. This brings back memories from my college years and it’s a lot of fun to play split-screen with him. Playing video games is perfectly okay as long as you don’t overdo it.
I’m out of ideas. What would you suggest for a 9-year-old boy? Maybe we can try fishing. That will give us a chance to get out of town and maybe catch some food. Kayaking would be a lot of fun too, but we don’t have space to store it.
What are you doing this spring break?
How are you holding up this spring break? It isn’t easy to have the kids at home if you’re not used to it. Little kids are very disruptive when you try to work. What kind of projects are you planning with the kids?
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
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