Lockdown Living Quick Hits


We played lots of Sushi Go this week as a family. It’s a simple introduction to the “hand drafting” mechanism for the 6-year-old. Thought we’d give him a dose of that before busting out 7 Wonders. When my mom and cousin were staying with us for a few weeks last year we were playing that game nightly. Be cool to have Zak in the mix when we get the band back together.


I introduced Zak to Scratch Jr this weekend which is a block-based coding language derived from Scratch, a coding language developed by the MIT Media Lab about 5 years ago. It’s very intuitive. Within an hour Zak was able to design and loop a very simple story (a snake walks around on the screen, and when it touches the cat, the cat says “ouch”). It’s free. We used the iOS version.

Homeschooling has been more like homeplaying. It’s been really fun to watch the progression of how the boys play together with so much time together. They are role-playing Marvel, playing with Beyblades, fuse beads, drawing/coloring, building forts and jumping all over the furniture. Giving them “school” stuff to do feels like it’s more about giving us some quiet.

We implemented a system this week for Zak. He collects and files a bead for any of the following accomplishments.

  • Math (workbooks, online, Singapore math tests, Sudoku)
  • Reading (he’s into Bad Guys books)
  • Research (this is writing about an experience. So going on a hike, or something he learned from watching a video or show)
  • Act of kindness (this week was writing letters to grandma and a cousin. Could also be helping with someone else’s chores)
  • Games (playing Chess online)
  • Writing (any creative story or simply about his weekend)
  • Special Projects (ie learning Scratch Jr, science project, helping me with the Census, learning to ride a bike)

The rule is he must collect 3 beads per week per category, except acts of kindness which is every day. When he earns a bead he files it in a tray with compartments and at the end of the week, we reset. Week 1 went well as he felt like he had a say in how his days went and it otherwise provided a touch of structure to the day which is mostly them playing. 10am is garage time. That’s when they come to my home office and do stuff. Mostly jumping on furniture and pulling things out of storage that they shouldn’t. Like the plastic Easter eggs.

I got some inspiration of having a system from this post called Kanban Kids.

I’ll caveat all this with a quick thought. If the kids were singularly obsessed with something like music, chess, or anything where they were more on the “producing” rather than “consuming” side of the spectrum, I’d pretty much be ok with letting them do that the whole time. We try to span different things because they aren’t obsessed, not because we have an issue with obsession.
Date Night

We are very lucky to have Yinh’s mom living with us. Yinh and I were able to steal a few hours on Friday. We ordered takeout sandwiches from Southie’s in Rockridge, grabbed some sodas and fries from McDonald’s drive-thru, then parked in an empty lot to eat and chat without being yelled over. I’m not exactly recommending this behavior which I learned makes us scofflaws. Interested in how other couples are mixing up the routine.


We are still watching these Marvel movies. The 3-year-old is obsessed with Thanos who is one of the most diabolical villains ever. Channeling a Chris Rock joke, I’m thinking his 529 will be used as bail money one day. After the kids go down, Yinh and I are watching season 3 of Ozarks. Every time I watch Ozarks I go to bed grateful for how simple my life is. It’s like a parable of the perils of compounding lies. The relief after an episode ends is that same feeling when the alarm goes off, and you realize it’s Saturday.

Zoom happy hour

Saturday night a group of college friends got together for Zoom and booze. I do recommend this. It was a highlight of the week. When you are 20 years removed from college you probably don’t see your college friends that often, even if you  have a Whatsapp group with them. These happy hours are a COVID silver lining. Something that should persist when it’s all over. For a fun wrinkle, this week we all got on the Houseparty app which has a built-in trivia and charades system. It works well enough. The questions flash kinda fast. Or our reaction speeds are not on par with the average Houseparty user. Or we were all drunk. I’m gonna go with that.

Finally, some pics from our hikes this week.

This upcoming week Zak wants to do a 10 miler with a 6lb weight in his pack. His mother’s genes. I put a 25 lb kettlebell in my pack and was tired after a 3 miler. Lotta wood to chop.

The second bug is a yellow velvet ant which has a strong sting like a wasp. Its nickname is the “cow killer”.

Stay groovy.

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