Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Today I grew the biggest smile.
I was at my desk while students came in and out, getting things around before school. One of my quieter students came in and handed me a book. It was an older book, yellowed pages, a dark green cover. It had a used bookstore smell. As I handled the book, I wondered what it was for.
"Is this your book?" I asked. "It looks like a book of poetry."
"It's for you. I bought it for you this weekend."
I don't even know what my face did at first because I was in full-blown shock.
"It's for me? That is just the nicest thing ever, thank you."
He just smiled, absolutely content and happy with his gift.
As he left my classroom, I couldn't stop smiling.
When my lunch break came around, I made sure to read a few pages. It's a beautiful book and one I'm looking forward to reading.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
A few weeks ago, my youngest and I were picking up last-minute items for the homecoming dance at our local Kohl's. As we wandered the aisles, every turn had something adorned with a pumpkin or leaf. That particular day was a bit crisper, and the sun just barely took off the chill. It was one of those first "feels like fall" kind of days, and the tips of leaves were just beginning to turn.
As we walked, we swooned a bit at the decor. Then we came to a blanket display. They were throw blankets covered in that oh so soft fluff. There were leaf prints, ghosts, plaids, and of course, pumpkin print. We just couldn't help ourselves, and each scooped up one we liked. It was faster than an impulse buy, almost like--we could not have even considered leaving without one.
Since that day a couple weeks ago, I have found myself snuggling up with that blanket at the end of each evening. That time of day, when dinner is done, the kitchen is tidier than it was, and everyone has settled down. That blanket is wrapping me in comfort at the end of the day, and I'm so glad I didn't resist the purchase.
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Actually, first you need to get your adolescent selves up at 7:45 and eat a little food.
Third—Unlock your boards and get psyched!
Fourth— Down to the water we go!
Fifth—Get balanced and ready for a some quiet lake time.
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Last week we were a day away from my oldest's road test. So I'll skip ahead and tell you he passed with flying colors before telling you the details.
My youngest and I went to my classroom to pack (I had to re-pack in preparation for a move-a whole other story). I kept checking my watch.
"Jane, Did you hear from dad?"
"I just wondered if they left yet--are they there--I don't know."
I got to work on a cupboard, then another, and before I knew it, time flew by. I had completely lost track of time. I looked at my watch, realizing it was near 2:30. The road test had been at 12:30.
Oh no, why haven't I heard? I better call. No, I'll text.
So, how did it go?
Phone rings--"Hello? How did things go?"
"Yeah, and I've got some stories."
When I got home, I got all the details of the test. One of which was, while on the bumper to bumper expressway, a semi began to merge, and the tester grabbed the wheel to avoid an accident. Elliot kept his cool and was not rattled.
After his test, he was able to go get his license from the Secretary of State. What a day!
Over the past week, I've watched his confidence grow significantly. He's had a tough year with losses and adjustments that no kid should have to experience. But this, this experience has filled him back up, and I can see joy creeping into his days again. Tonight he took himself through a fast-food drive-thru. He got back home tonight like it was no big deal. What a great feeling.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
I've been noticing things.
I'm not a super-clean-everything-must-be-spotless kind of person by nature. However, I can get into that mode, and I most definitely come from that upbringing.
The other day, coming up the basement steps, I noticed a line of dust on the inside of the door jamb. I haven't dusted here, I mean, honestly, I only dust what I see, so I have never dusted this spot. I also never noticed it until...until I did. This led to looking at the baseboards—the cupboards. Then the crevices in the windows and sliding doors. EW! So I did what any person would do. I went and watched a bunch of viral cleaning videos to get inspired! And, it worked.
Well, I mean, I should say it inspired me to grab the Swiffer, take care of the dust and then immediately buy a Scrub Daddy, some Dawn Power spray, and a box of Magic Erasers. I'm preparing for a deep clean. I've even been protein-loading my meals to get ready. You might think all this preparation is somehow a way to delay or procrastinate since I have so much time on my hands for a few days. But you'd be...well, you'd be right. I really kind of want to lay around a little bit. I'm still kind of winding down because I have no lessons to create or Seesaw videos to watch and respond to. I think I'm in shock.
BUT...as soon as I'm done relaxing, binge-watching television, napping ridiculously, and sitting to sun myself in the backyard, I am destroying that grime on my baseboards. It'll be any time now.
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
They really have me checking, thinking, planning.
I'm really good at tracking student progress. I can take a note, type it, voice it, do anything with it, and use it for good.
When it comes to tracking my own progress, I fall down a bit. I take some care of myself, but not enough, and this has been a year I've realized it more than ever before.
My family got me an apple watch for my birthday. I hadn't wanted one until recently, but I love it. It's helping me to stop and take a moment to breathe. I've been told that will get annoying, but I seriously need the reminder. Stop--focus on yourself for a minute--you can--and you should.
The rings, they push me to move more. Being a teacher on my computer all day, I'm actively singing, dancing, and interacting as best I can, but it's not the same level of activity I'd have if there were 20+ bodies in the room. Still, I manage to get some exercise points in there.
What I'm also noticing is when I'm partway toward a goal (that's when a ring closes on the watch), I grab the leash, or run to the backyard to play chase, or drag a kid outside to hit the volleyball. I am doing better for myself, and although the watch seems a bit extravagant for me, I think it's doing the job I need it to do.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Sunday we arrived at our campsite. It was the afternoon, and we went back and forth on whether we should start down a trail.
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Today has been long. It was a full day of individual meets with students, one after the other. Then I had the last handful of conferences after. It was just one day, but there were not enough breaks today, and I felt it. When I finished, I stood up and could feel the tension just double down. You know, when you finally feel like you can relax, but your body is so conditioned to sitting up ready to go that it almost seizes up with more hostility.
I texted Shawn and said, "I cannot adult anymore today. I'm ordering Dominoes."
So now, on my last night of slicing, I'm waiting for a slice to come my way.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
After dinner, I went outside with Cassie to throw the ball around. There was a gentle rain that wasn't the least bit annoying. It was just a perfect kind of rain to be underneath. Fresh smelling, soft drops, with large spaces in between. Not enough to even make your hand wet or your nose drip. But just enough to be noticed and heard.
The birds seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the gentle drops. There was so much chatter and singing it was hard not to search and scan the trees trying to locate the conversations. I felt a bit surrounded, but it was a joyful sound, so I didn't mind.
The playtime ended, and I went back inside. Cassie stood at the door.
"Come on, Cass, time to come in."
She stands, staring at me.
"Cassie, come on. Come inside."
Slight whimper. Stomps one foot and stands there staring at me.
Eventually, she came along, but not happily.
Monday, March 29, 2021
It's one of several conference nights I've had over the past two weeks. One more night to go later this week, and I should be finished. In the fall, I remember conferences going pretty quickly. Everyone had finally fallen into somewhat of a rhythm and knew how to navigate the remote learning environment. I had communicated so much with families up to that point that talking again felt redundant. To top it off, they were all being done on Google Meet. Again, something that was more comfortable at that point but still a bit unusual
This time has been different. I know these families so well. Better than I've ever known a class of students. That is saying a lot. There are some families I've had multiple years, but this year, the connection I have to my families is so much deeper. I'm in their home every day. They've heard me sing, watched me dance, listened to me teach. I've heard them try and watched them help. It's not perfect, but we have all made it better along the way.
I love these kids and their families. These conferences have been tough but good. I'm looking forward to being finished and getting to relax these tight shoulders—just a few more days and then a break.
Sunday, March 28, 2021
You woke up early, ready to open gifts.
You squealed with joy after each gift.
I sipped my coffee--snapping pictures.
You wanted a castle cake.
You sent me example photos.
I did my best--snapping pictures.
You lit the candles.
I sang along--snapping pictures.
Saturday, March 27, 2021
It started over a year ago—no haircuts for anyone. Then the time came when haircuts seemed okay. At that point, our son Elliot's hair was pretty long. Longer than it ever had been. It was at a point where he felt like he wanted to see how far he could go with it and how long he could stand it.
This one is my favorite. He looks so surprised.
Friday, March 26, 2021
I sat on my couch with the curtains pushed back and watched out the window for a moment today. There were no cars. No one was walking. The rain had stopped. All seemed a bit quiet.
Looking around, I could see the grass is starting to green up. I love that fresh grass green. Such a hopeful color. A renewed color. A robin was quietly still. It didn't seem to have any plans. I wondered, is it waiting for something? Waiting for a tell-tale vibration from below, or is it just enjoying the peace? A moment later, a squirrel ran through, and I started to wonder if it was looking for a hidden stash of nuts buried from fall. It seemed to zig-zag through the yard erratically. Is that worry...Nah, just normal manic squirrel behavior. I could hear a dog bark in the distance, but it didn't seem to disrupt the intent of the squirrel or the stillness of the bird—each of them there, each of them competing for something different. Or so I think.
Thursday, March 25, 2021
Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
This week my son is taking driver's training courses. It's just for the week and is basically a recap of what he did about a year ago. We've been doing lots of practicing the past several months. Night driving, day driving, rain, snow, ice, highway, back roads, you name it, we've done it. Well, I should say, we've almost done all the things you can name. There is one thing we haven't practiced, and that is parallel parking.
Monday, March 22, 2021
Tonight it was so sunny I pulled my infinity chair out from the garage.
I had been sitting on the back step letting the sun settle onto my skin. My face was so warmed by it I started to think some stress was melting away. It was time for the chair.
Dragging it out, I got it to the back patio. Success! A little wipe, and it was ready for me to sink right in. I sat down, reclined my feet up, and just let that sun do its job. For a moment, I felt really relaxed, warmed, and grateful for a quiet moment to just be in the sun. I am truly looking forward to more days like this in my near future.
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
~Mary Oliver, "Wild Geese," from Wild Geese, 2004
Today is World Poetry Day. I spent some time today listening to the audio of Mary Oliver reading selected poems. At Blackwater Pond, the CD, was released in 2011, but today was the first day I listened to the selected works. The poem I shared a selection from is one of my favorites of Mary Oliver's poems. I kind of feel like I say that about several of her poems, so maybe I don't actually have a favorite. However, at this time, in this space within my life, her words continue to be words that reflect the way I see the world. That is why, I think, I've always felt so connected to her poetry. It is the reason I one day decided to write a poem as an adult. The way she describes her observations, the ordinary of life, but in a way that makes it feel extraordinary because, really, every breath taken is extraordinary.
What is it about a pebble and a drop of rain?
Is it that they exist?
Is it that we can touch them?
Is it that they would be here whether we were or not?
Or is it the way the sun sends a sparkle?
Or how minerals compress and transform?
Or when we are there, how we witness their presence?
These are just poetry ponderings.
Saturday, March 20, 2021
For as long as I can remember, I have loved cooking. One of my favorite things to make when I was a young teen was pasta with a homemade cheese sauce and sauteed zucchini. I would make it all the time. Something was amazing about making that white sauce. Fat and flour, adding in the milk to make the smoothest sauce, cheese, voila!
I was reminded of that favorite meal tonight. See, as an adult for some time now, I've toggled back and forth between eating exclusively vegetarian or vegan. I went the vegan route again in 2018 and have been strictly meat and dairy-free, with the occasional egg and seafood thrown in for good measure. However, this makes macaroni and cheese a challenge. There are many great vegan cheese options out there now, but I still have struggled to find the best cheese sauce recipe that isn't cheese until tonight.
A while back, I found a frozen mac and cheese that I had not seen before. It was Chao Mac and Cheese. I tried it and loved it. It had a great texture for a frozen mac, and the cheese flavor was yummy. Of course, after finding it once, I never found it again. Then, I discovered that Chao Shreds were a thing, so I figured someone had come up with a recipe using these shreds. Sure enough, this morning, I found this blog, The Vegan Hippie. The recipe followed the same method as my old favorite—standard white sauce with typical replacements and Chao shreds as the cheese option. I got to work. Made my roux, almond milk added slowly, lots of whisking, shreds melted in, and a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. It was the best mac and cheese I've made in the past several years that is non-dairy. I'm so excited to have an indulgent option when I want something creamy and savory for a side or for a whole meal!
Friday, March 19, 2021
Shaping the pillow, I place it against the armrest. I've grabbed a bubly, and it's grapefruit-flavored--one of my favorites. I'm in my comfy clothes. My legs are curled up. For the first time today, my shoulders are relaxed. Friday night has come, and I am ready for it. On my couch, surrounded by my family, writing a slice at the end of a challenging week. I am relieved and looking forward to a weekend to reset.
Thursday, March 18, 2021
As a little girl I found nature to be magical. Lady slipper flowers, the pattern of a fern, lines within a rock, and even floating algae seemed to perplex my mind and grab my attention. I would often watch out my window as birds gathered in the yard or flew through the trees. There were many times I would sit quietly in the grass and attempt to catch a bird. It turns out running toward a bird is a poor strategy if you are trying to capture it with your bare hands. Well, at least that was my experience.
A few nights ago I was outside taking pictures. My backyard in 2021 is very different from my childhood backyard, but I often get those same magical feelings. Whether it's from the snowdrops, our pine tree, the occasional woodpecker, or the frequent deer, there seems to be magic in how nature makes me feel.
While continuing to photograph and wander, I stepped into what looked like skeletal remains of our milkweed garden. We have a lot of milkweed and when it dies each season, it dries into ash colored stalks. The seed pods dry and crack, releasing seeds into the wind.
One stalk in particular caught my eye. I took several photos to try and capture exactly what I was seeing, and the way I was seeing the dried out stalk.
It was a bird. A bird in flight. It made the desolate area seem a little more alive. Soon, it will be teaming with buzzing, blooms, and butterflies.
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
I called my mom tonight to chat. The conversation started out as it does now, checking in on everyone, talking about the latest. Then there was a mention of routines, and my mom started to tell me about something I hadn't heard before.
"So, I was watching tv the other day, and on the show, they were talking about when they brush their teeth. One of the hosts says they brush their teeth first thing in the morning. It led to this whole conversation about how you are actually supposed to do this first. I remember always being told to brush after meals. No one ever said first thing. I guess it's because so much bacteria builds up, and it's better for you. So, when do you brush your teeth?"
I responded with my entire morning routine—every little detail and step, including dog snuggles and coffee quite time. I told my mom I always brush my teeth once I'm in "get ready" mode, which is a totally different mode of my morning. I like to start out slow.
We continued. My mom then told me her entire morning routine and said she had decided to change when she brushes her teeth, doing it first thing after she wakes up. She said there's something about it, that effervescence of the mint or something. It just wakes her up, and she loves the change to her routine.
I may consider it. Routines are tough to change, but this does seem like a very doable change. We'll see.
When do you brush your teeth?
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
My youngest and I went on a walk with Cassie tonight. As we started down the driveway I could hear shuffling behind us.
The stocky and sturdy dog that thinks it wants to be friends with Cassie was in our driveway. Jane sprung into action.
"Chubs! Hiiiii Chubs. How are you doing? Were you waiting for us?"
I quickly got Cassie down the driveway and out of "Chubs" reach. I should clarify, we've given the dog the name Chubs. It's a term of endearment.
Jane ran to catch up as Chubs walked away, satisfied with the belly rubs.
"And how was Chubs tonight?"
"Happy as always. Okay, so down to the circle and back?" Jane was pleading.
"NO, we are going all the way to the school and back."
"OH MY GOSH. I'm too tired and my legs hurt."
"I need a good walk tonight and you do too."
As we continued walking, laughing, and talking, we were only halfway to the school when I noticed two dogs running around in a neighbors yard just ahead. I didn't recognize the dogs and I could assume they had an invisible fence, but I wasn't in the mood. Cassie had finally settled into the walk and this was going to derail it for sure.
Pausing, Jane and I exchanged glances.
"Okay, that's it. We're turning around."
"Go find Chubs."