A (Hypocritical) Slice of Life

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

I’ve sat here for half an hour. I’ve let my kids play on a screen for half an hour of quiet so I could write a slice.

Get back to slicing, Ona. Get back to slicing. 

You might know the drill — Write, delete, write, tap your fingers on the desk, delete, stare into space. . . repeat.

You like writing, Ona. Practice, Ona. Bad writing is still writing, Ona. . . 

 

On the way to school today, my 9 year old reminded me that he doesn’t like writing.

I reminded him that he is so creative, and he loves drawing and writing stories!

He gave me a look. “If we were like everyone else and went on a lot of great vacations every spring break and summer and winter break, then I’d have a lot to write about! I don’t have any topics!”

So I told him that really those stories all about someone’s whole vacation to Disney aren’t the most exciting ones to read…  “You have small moments happen to you all the time! Those are the things to write about.”

And now I’m writing about that small moment. How meta of me. 

And now I have no topic. How hypocritical of me. 

 

 

 

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Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree… A Slice (or 2)

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

True confessions. I’ve been a little grumpy this holiday season. The kids’ bickering, the to do list… it had me in a little funk. Then I watched a beautiful sappy video on facebook about how now, as the parent, I am in charge of the Christmas Magic. So, I took a deep breath and took a step out of my funk.

That’s when the Christmas tree was declared officially dead. It wasn’t sucking up the water… despite our best efforts and constant vigilance!

Fortunately, the tree place agreed to exchange it.
Unfortunately, the tree had to be undecorated. Including the lights.

Before this, we had lived with a dying tree, we had hoped, and crossed our fingers.
Before this we had decorated it with lights and special ornaments.
Before this, kids were crying as I smiled and told them it was okay. 
Before this an entire box of ornaments crashed to the ground, breaking one of my most cherished ornaments from my childhood that survived moves and toddlers and the puppy trying to eat the tree when he was just a baby. 

The kids agreed to undecorate the tree, while I went to pick a new one.

“Pick a good one!” they called after me as I drove away.

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I’d already been to the tree place twice this season for this Christmas Tree… 
The first time was the day we had promised we’d go and get the tree. The 12 year old kept having premonitions of things going wrong. 
The van wouldn’t start, even with jumper cables. We should have known then. 
The tree place was closed when we finally go there. We should have known then.
It was pouring rain the next day. We should have known then. 
We made a quick tree decision and had an 8 year-old crying, “That’s not the tree! You didn’t even ask me!” We definitely should have known then. 

Fortunately the tree place still had 2 concolor firs to choose from.
Unfortunately another family arrived minutes after me and chose one of them while I was deciding.
Fortunately, the one left was beautiful.

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When I got home with the new tree,  the old tree’s needles were all over the living room. So of course, the 12 year old had a little fun.

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#findthejoy

And then we stuffed the tree out the window, so I could return it.

 

I was able to easily lift it into my van. Because it was so light. And dead.

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That’s me, smiling so I don’t cry. And also laughing because as stressful as the holidays can sometimes be… as mean as my kids might say I sometimes am… I never felt so much like the Grinch until I stuffed my Christmas tree out my window and into my van.

Back home, after my fourth trip this season to the tree place, I took a deep breath.  I reminded myself (again) that I am the magic of Christmas… and then I forced everyone to help me put the lights on (again) and the ornaments on (again) and the candy canes on (again).

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A wise friend on facebook commented that I had been lucky enough to get the joy of decorating two trees. She’s right, of course. That’s the whole point … try to #findthejoy. Be the magic! 

I looked over at Mr. Thought and said, “You know? This new tree is even better than the first one!”

“Well…” he said, “That one was dead.”

… The next morning he texted me from downstairs, “This new tree really sucks.”

Thank. Goodness.

 

 

A slice of the Eye-roll

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

A Slice of the Eye-roll

She rolls her eyes – just a flick upwards. She’s so mad.

Grabs the paper from me. She’s so mad.

Get’s in the elevator. She’s so mad.

It looks like she is going to stand facing the corner, but she turns around and I laugh and tell her “I thought you were so mad you were going to go stand in the corner.”  

It’s always worth a try at a little joke.

She laughs, but quickly. Like a groan. She’s so mad.

She says, “You didn’t ask me if I wanted to go.”

I say, “You’re right.”

She’s so mad.

But the elevator keeps going on its short trip.

Ding.

We’re there, we walk in and she starts filling out paperwork. She’s so mad.

Jams the pen to the paper, scribbles notes.

Rolls her eyes like a teenager, yes.

But also tantrums like a very quiet toddler.

Then a service dog walks by. He’s adorable, decides to nap.

She takes a break from being mad. Because, dog.

“I know what I’ll do whenever you are really mad at me!” I say. “I’ll just bring a puppy with me! Or flash a picture of a dog. Then I know you’ll smile.”

She rolls her eyes again, but this time with the smile still on her face.

This eye roll is friendlier, it has humor.

 

Choosing to Celebrate

celebrate-image…. a little early, but in the spirit of Ruth Ayres, I’m celebrating. 

Thanksgiving 

I made sweet potatoes with maple syrup, brown sugar
and earth balance
What a good name. 
Earth
Balance. 

I made stuffing
or is it dressing? 
It lives in a pan
not a bird. 
Thank goodness. 

I am thankful for
my family
duh
my friends
of course
The blue sky, the sunshine
I'm lucky
 -- not a Turkey. 
Thank goodness. 

A vegan Thanksgiving
requires a certain 
wall in your brain
so you can remain thankful
hopeful celebratory
instead of 
sad

I apologize to past Turkeys I've 
eaten, years ago. 
I hold the millions of murdered turkeys
in the light
I'm human
humane
Thank goodness.

I don't judge my 
friends, my family
for their 
tradition, their habit, or their tastes
But I have to tell you
even though I know you don't want to hear it
I've met turkeys
they are intelligent
unique voiced
social beings 
with 
affection and
geography skills
so...

I looked up who 
used to live where I live
#originalpeople

I live on the land of the 
Haudenosauneega Confederacy
Susquehannock
I don't know much about them
yet
aside from
longhouses

So I guess today
Thanksgiving
is even more complicated 
than I thought
(Just like everything, I guess) 

Much to honor and hold in the light
Much to be thankful for
Much to mourn
Much to celebrate

 


	

A Slice of Halloween Eve

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’m trying to attach a pokemon to the sleave of my third-grade son’s shirt. This should be an easy task, and I’m struggling more than I care to admit.

I’m sure it’s because I’m trying to do it with a piece of ribbon and 2 safety pins. It’s all I could find when I was searching for solutions in my craft closet. My mom would probably whip out a needle and some embroidery floss and go to town. There’s simply no comparison between my mom’s arts, crafts and patience, and mine. Also, she has tools and knows where to find them!

My childhood Halloweens were full of handmade costumes – some sewn, some put together with what we had around the house, and always fun and creative. You would think I would have a little more Halloween craftiness. Instead, I encourage kids to be something they can buy in the store, or easily put together.

It’s times like these, when the pokemon keeps tipping over,  that I realize my own kids deserve to have my mom, and then I realize that they do and that she’s only 20 minutes away. However, I’m sure my mom wouldn’t appreciate a late night visit to solve this Halloween craft dilemma. So, I take a deep breath and retry my ribbon and safety pin strategy. I hope that tomorrow the pin doesn’t come out, poke him, or otherwise self-destruct.

Finally finished with that, I turn to my 6th-grade son. “Can you make me the headset to go with my costume?” I ask.

And, he does.

He goes upstairs, collects tools (from his toolbox, of course) and gets to work.

Tomorrow morning before school, my daughter will help my youngest spray paint his hair for his costume parade, just like she helped him with crazy-hair day today.

Thank goodness I have these kids of mine, thank goodness they have each other. Thank goodness the craftiness and patience didn’t disappear — it just skipped a generation!

 

 

A slice of Harry Potter

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

I really had to pee, but I knew I’d be home soon so I didn’t run into my friend’s house when I dropped her off.

“Is this going to be a problem?” I asked myself as I drove home. I had been gone for 2 days, so sometimes it’s hard to run right in and go straight for the bathroom. But, my kids are older now, and I knew they’d understand.

I pulled into the garage, grabbed my bags as quickly as I could, and wondered why the dog wasn’t at the window wagging his tail.

As soon as I walked in the house, I noticed something was wrong. The lights were low, the dog didn’t greet me at the door – he was harnessed and held.

Then the music started, and the kids began their Harry Potter performance.

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It was a very intricate performance.

It depicted all 7 books.

There were letters floating in the fireplace, fake smoke, wands, a broom, Quidditch, a Hogwarts Express Trolly stocked with actual candy, and even Voldemort. There were individual candles crafted with tubes, hot glue, and paint. There was even a Deathly Hallows garland strung on the fireplace. A Deathly Hallows garland!

 

I watched the whole thing. I clapped, I hugged. I admired the hard work.

And then, I ran to the bathroom.

 

A slice of data

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

The other day, I came across a facebook memory:

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This memory should make me think, “Thank goodness I’m not in the classroom this year, getting interrupted by the phone.” It should make me think about all the stressful things about being a classroom teacher.

But for some reason, it made me write a little note and stick it next to my desk:

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I think I wanted to collect a little reminder for myself, a little data.

There’s so much joy around me, so many welcoming teachers and students. Yet, I still miss my corner of 6th grade. I miss my classroom:  The room where I close the door and take care of my class; The place where we work hard, and we laugh, and we read and we write and we talk and we learn and we play. It’s a place where I always belong.

This school year, I’m collecting joy. I am documenting the times I am able to #findthejoy during the day. It isn’t hard work because I work in elementary schools. I challenge you to work with students and teachers and not find joy. It’s everywhere!

But maybe I need to keep collecting my little post-it note reminders about things I’m missing too. There’s something comforting about missing my classroom. It’s a good reminder to me that my teaching heart is going strong.

 

 

Slice of Life: The night of homework, the dog, and a little bit of quiet

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I’ve helped everyone start their homework, and I’ve taken the dog out. He tricked me though and didn’t pee. He just ominously stared into the darkness behind my house. I think he knows just how to freak me out.

Or, he knows something I don’t know about the forest back there.

My house is quiet now. The sophomore is doing her Art History homework, the third-grader is reading a Captain Underpants book. The 6th grader finished his reading (Good Dog) so I think he’s doing scratch or very quiet youtube. It’s quiet though, so instead of checking on him, I write. (I should teach a parenting class, no?)

Did I mention that my house is quiet now?

The dog can sense the quiet so he does his little growl-bark. Again.

“We’ve been through this, Finn.” I tell him.

“If you are lying, I’m going to be mad.” I say as I get up and put my shoes on, open the door and take him out.

He sniffs around. Again. I have to shine the flashlight because if I don’t, that’s when he will find a toad, chase a toad, try to eat a toad, and (hopefully) spit out a toad. I just don’t want to end my night by prying a toad out of my dog’s jaws. Please.

Finn slowly starts towards the back of the house again, and I wonder if maybe this is my small moment of the day; the dog sniffs, the dog barks, the dog is a liar and doesn’t have to pee. “Wow,” I think, “my life is super exciting!” A new thought creeps in though.  I hope my story doesn’t get too exciting, too scary, too interesting. I don’t need a skunk, or a  bear or an intruder.

“What if I can’t even finish writing my slice because I get attacked out here while my kids are inside doing their homework?” (I knew I didn’t like homework)

This thought is interrupted by Finn finally finding a spot to do his business.

Inside, it’s still quiet, but now it’s bedtime. Wish me luck.

A slice of Writing Again

Slice of LIfe Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

 

I'm slicing
I'm writing
I'm soon-to-be-sleeping
I'm slicing
I'm writing 
I'm just-want-to-be-starting

Today, I told a group of 5th graders that in March, I slice every day. In the back of my head, a little alarm went off.

“You haven’t sliced in over 2 months!” I shouted at myself.

So now, I slice. I write.

I wonder how many slices of life I’ve lost forever because I didn’t write them down!

I'll slice again
Maybe next Tuesday
I'll slice again
Maybe with Substance
I'll slice again
Maybe with story
I'll slice again
Maybe next Tuesday