Category Archives: Family

#sol21 March 28 Mindful Meditation Practice

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

I’m trying to put myself first, or at least as one of many top priorities. You’d think this would be easy work, but alas, it is not. One thing I’m working on is my mindfulness and meditation practice. I am not a natural at this.

Last night while L was out and the boys were busy with a minecraft build, I downloaded a new meditation app to try: A free trial of special mindscapes. You have to listen with earbuds or headphones because it’s 3D sound. I settled into a nook in the couch, put my airpods in and started.

I looked at my clock and realized my newly licensed daughter hadn’t contacted me for over 2 hours. And I had forgotten to give her a curfew even. I don’t know what kind of mom just doesn’t even think to give her 17 year old a time to come home, but I just didn’t. There’s one rule that I did remind her of though – you have to text when you arrive somewhere, and text when you leave somewhere. (Thanks, Mardi for this rule idea.) She hadn’t called or texted since letting me know she had “arrived on the mountain.” It’s a hard rule to remember, I think. But, we can do hard things. Right?

So I paused the meditation after it told me I’d need 20 minutes of distraction free time. I texted L, I called her, I left a message. Mr. Thought did the same. Even though I knew that it was most likely that she had forgotten to text when she left, and her phone was dutifully put away in her bag and she was driving. . . I can jump from mindfulness to full blown worry pretty quickly. (This is why I need the app, friends)

Finally (and by finally I mean less than 10 minutes later) she called to tell me that she was on her way home, and that she hadn’t seen my texts or calls because her phone was dutifully put away in her bag and she was driving.

I started the introduction meditation again, but realized that it would totally freak me out to be jolted out of meditation when she arrived home and the dog started barking. So, I paused it again.

She got home, the boys came upstairs, I sent them all up to get ready for bed.

“I’ll be up soon, after I do this meditation,” I told them. “Please don’t yell for me.” I was feeling pretty desperate for mindfulness.

I settled into another nook of the couch, with my airpods in – noise cancelation on and started the meditation for a third time.

It’s a neat app, but the voice at first sounds a little freaky in a dystopian-robot-mind-control sort of way. So I texted Mr. Thought to warn him not to startle me because it will freak me out. I laughed at myself for not trusting the meditation app, for letting the mindfulness app freak me out, and I started to settle in. I reminded myself I was safe, in my house and had taken care of things that would startle me. I started to relax into the soundscape.

Then I felt a hand on my shoulder.

That’s not a hand I told my brain. It is a cat, here to snuggle.

Then I opened my eyes and it was a hand.

I startled, friends. I may have jumped a bit.

It was E. My 11 year old thought I was sleeping and gently put his hand on my shoulder so that he wouldn’t startle me. But I wasn’t sleeping, and I did startle. Of course he felt terrible, and I told him it was okay, while taking some deep breaths to calm myself down.

I laughed to myself about my attempts at mindfulness and invited him to sit next to me. He snuggled in, I finished my meditation session, and he fell asleep.

I guess that’s why they call it a meditation practice. Because, I for one, still need a lot of practice.

#sol21 March 23 Rules are Rules

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by

I was working after school when the neighbor texted to make sure I knew that one of my kids had started a fire pit — in the driveway.

This is confusing because we don’t have a fire pit in the driveway.

In my mind, I was remembering the science experiment about 5 years ago, where our driveway looked like a scene from a miniature dystopian book.

September 2016

So when I went outside, I was surprised it was an actual fire pit. In the middle of the driveway. Being fueled, of course by old firewood and hand sanitizer.

It was actually quite cute.

“Oh my.” I said. I was pretty calm, even though my 8th grader knows better.

I reminded him of the rules about fire. Namely that you don’t make one without permission and that the only fire pit you use is the actual fire pit in our backyard.

“It’s a really great fire!” the kindergarten neighbor from up the street said.

Our next door neighbor kids came back out for a quick fire check, bringing along some fire starters in case they were needed. One of them sat in a camp chair even though it was her dinner time. I have a feeling if I had started singing some campfire songs, we could have started something… But they were called in and it was time to get rid of the fire.

I told my boys that it was a well made, very cute fire – but still… It had to go out.

“Ahhhhh…. But first!” I said. “Do you know what month it is?” I looked right at my 14 year old, who has done the classroom slice of life challenge before. I raised my eyebrows a few times.

“Oh no!” he said, and he tried to stop me from taking a picture.

“No, no, no, no…” he said with a squinty look.

“Your only saving grace is that I can slice about this.” I said.

He looked at me with puppy dog eyes.

But, rules are rules. Some parents discipline with restrictions, groundings, and other assorted forms of punishment.

I just write it down.

“You’re going to take a picture of this little fire?” my kindergarten neighbor asked me.

“Yep!” I said, “and then I’m going to write a story about it and publish it! It will be famous!”

“But it’s just a little fire!” he said, surprised.

A little fire, a little slice, I guess. If you build a mini fire pit in the driveway without parent permission in March? I’m going to write about it.

So, I hope that serves as a fair warning to the next person who wants to build a fire pit in my driveway.

So to speak.

#sol21 March 22 A driver . . . and A simple request!

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by

Hey everyone –

My daughter can drive now.
Like all by herself.
On the roads
YOU drive on

I think you know where this is going.

She was a baby who stretched her arms with her elbows bent
She wore sleepers and sleep sacks and slept in my arms for most of her babyhood
She was a toddler who called grapes “erdeps” and loved mud puddles
She watched Elmo over and over and changed her clothes 5 times a day in preschool –
always with a turn in the snow white dress

This was just yesterday, friends
And tomorrow she will be off to college

Metaphorically tomorrow –
Geez – I have more time than that.

So I have a request

That. Means. YOU.

It’s simple really.

Get off the road if you can
I mean do you really need to drive?
And if you must drive, do it safely
Obviously don’t drink or text or try to put your mascara on
Be safe and kind or stay home.

Thank you.

#sol21 March 20 Starbucks Drive-Thru

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by!

I totally know better, but I still ordered mobile app Starbucks for drive-thru. It was just E and me in the van, but we wanted others to enjoy the coffee treat too. I texted to see if they wanted some, but didn’t hear back. . .

L and I have wanted to try some of their new oat milk iced lattes, and she had her driver’s test today. I thought I could bring her home a latte that would either be a “Congratulations!” or an”It’s okay! Better luck next time!” latte. I ordered hers without ice in case she wasn’t home yet. I’m considerate like that.

Then Mr. Thought texted to say they had gotten Dunkin.

There was nothing to do about it though, so E and I waited in the drive-thru line for over a half an hour. It’s just funny when you know better but you don’t do better, you know?

“Let’s just remember,” I said –

“Never to go to Starbucks on a Saturday?” E finished.

The thing about being in a line for so long is that you have a lot of time to chat, and to think.

I thought about how I should try to grab a spot and just walk in. But grabbing a spot with the traffic in that parking lot seemed worse than waiting in the line that curved around the building. So instead, we waited.

I wanted to know if L had passed her test. But I knew she’d want to tell me in person. So I just waited.

Finally we were just a few cars away from the window. At the speaker the barista informed me I couldn’t have it without ice because “for that drink, the ice makes the drink.” I maybe should have canceled her drink, since she got her Dunkin, but it was too complicated.

At last we were at the window and our drinks were on the way!

And then I knew why I had to go through the drive-thru today. It was because of the sign that makes me laugh. When I look at it, I think it is saying “Can drive! Can drive! Can drive!” Like a motivational cheer for those in the drive-thru. Last time I was at that window I tried, unsuccessfully to tell the barista why I was laughing.

It’s A CAN DRIVE. Like to collect cans.

This time I was able to tell E why I was laughing. I was also able to hope that it was a sign that L did indeed pass her driving test.

Can drive! Can drive! Can drive!

And now, friends, she can! 🙂

#sol21 March 14 Quiet Laundry

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

I was stopped at a light on a hill on the way to my parents house. The sky is blue today, the sun is bright, the wind is cold and noisey.

I watched as a one of those extra large playground balls rolled down the street toward me. It was weathered and pink and bumpy. I wondered if had been a bright red last spring. I wondered if it would roll into my car, and what the plan was if that happened. Would I need to get out of my car to move it? Would it pop? Could I just push it the mile to my folks’ house? It was too big to fit under the car . . .

I watched it as it skimmed my front bumper, and rolled down past the car behind me. Cars started turning down the road, blocking my view.

“I’ll never know what happens to that ball, or where it came from.” I thought as I continued to my parents’ house with my laundry.

Our washer is broken and the repair place says they can come next week. So until we get it fixed, we bring baskets and bags of laundry to my parents’ house. I don’t care how old you are, if you carry a basket or bag of laundry from your car to your parents basement, you’re basically 19. Even if one of those baskets is your 11 year old’s laundry.

An afternoon of laundry at my parents’ house felt like quiet respite. Maybe I shouldn’t get my washer fixed . . .

My dad made sure I got the settings on the washer correct, since last time I accidentally put the detergent in the spot for bleach.

My mom darned my torn sock. It’s a special sock, Mardi’s sock. I gave her donut socks last year, and after she died, I was given a pair back. These socks are holy to me, but I really don’t want them holey. (You can’t blame me for writing that. Seriously. It had to be said.)

Yea. My mom darned my sock, my dad made me tea, my laundry churned around in the basement. It was quiet. Maybe I shouldn’t get my washer fixed.

I packed up and drove home.

When I stopped at the light on the hill, I started looking out for that weathered playground ball. There is a creek and a park at the bottom of the hill, and I really hoped I’d see it there.

I mean, doesn’t a weathered playground ball deserve to retire on the water? I can imagine it floating around in the sun, playing with the ducks and enjoying the sounds of children at the playground.

But, I didn’t see it anywhere. Not in the street, not in the park, not in a lucky child’s hand.

“I’ll never know what happened to that ball, or where it came from.” I thought as I drove home, wondering about the metaphor of laundry, darning, quiet tea and a lonely lost weathered toy on a windy day.

“I’ll never know.”

#sol21 March 11 Mountains and Flowers and …

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

The kids and I – we want to get away. We dream of a summer road trip.

We spend the morning looking at pictures online. Then we get out our National Park map book and the Road Trips book I recently bought.

I slide the iPad away and L laughs. “Way to put the computers away and use the books!” she says. Or something like that.

E opens to a random page in the atlas: Grand Teton National Park. We look it up int he Road Trip book, we open up the computer for more pictures.

The kids and I – we dream about the pictures we see. E has always dreamed of going to Arizona, or Wyoming.

“This will make me so happy.” E says

“Remember, ” I warn them all, “We are just brainstorming here. I don’t know what is possible.”

We look at cabins and towns and roads.

We like to plan road trips, and we like to dream while we look at pictures of mountains and lakes and fields of flowers and bears.


While exploring the website, we decide to click on how to explore safely in “Bear Country.”

At first it’s fine. All good information: Don’t leave food out, make noise on the trail, stay away if the bear hasn’t noticed you, don’t climb trees.

But then there’s the section on If a bear charges you.

That’s when the kids are not so sure.

“I don’t know if I can follow all these safety protocols…” E says.

And then we get to the section that says “If you are attacked at night or if you feel you have been stalked and attacked as prey, fight back.”

So now bears are going to be stalking us?

“Well, we have bears around here. Bears are cute!” someone says.

And I stupidly say “Well, these are grizzlies though.”

So we look up picture of grizzly bears.

And some of them do really look like cute creatures, walking through fields.

Grizzly bear - Wikipedia

But, um.

Forestry worker in Terrace comes away from grizzly attack unscathed | CFNR  Network

Yes, we googled. Only 1 death by bear a year.

Yes, bear spray.

But… can we do it? Can we hike when bears might be around any corner?

The kids and I – we want to go on a trip and not get attacked by a bear.

#sol21 March 9 Pandemic Chocolate Chips

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

Am I the kind of person who thinks it’s okay to keep a ziplock bag of chocolate chips on the counter in an unused pot?
No. No. No. I assure you, I am not.

I think it started with a bag of mini chocolate chips my daughter liked to add to her yogurt
with granola and fruit
Then the kids started throwing chocolate chips in their hot chocolate this winter,
which was cute.
I noticed the chips started staying out on the counter only recently,
and the ziplock bag in a pot thing?
That started just last week.

Am I the kind of person who had some of those chocolate chips, with a dollop of peanut butter on a spoon?
Yes. Yes… I did that just this afternoon.

Am I the kind of person who thinks those chocolate chips would look prettier
in a big mason jar?
I mean, if they are going to be on the counter . . .

If you can’t beat ’em,
join ’em.

#sol21 March 8 – Before That, March 8th

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

March 8th

March 8th. 
spring is in the air 
for now. 
Kids are out on wheeled things 
"spring break" is two days off later this week
Kids and I really wish we were going somewhere. 
Any. Where.

Before that, 
March 8th - 2020 
we drove to Georgia 
mountains and hikes and family time and laughter and fireplaces and wine.
Our last pre-pandemic normalcy. 
We knew something was happening - 
but not really. 
We clorox-wiped the vacation house, we didn't go to crowded places…
but it felt normal. 
We even brought the dog! 
Our Georgia trip felt like family in a cabin, 
but not a cabin-fevered family.

Before that,
March 8th was Finnegan Foxy Feinberg's birthday. 
Always during spring break, 
He’s always at the "Pet Resort" for his birthday. 
Our spring breaks were never fancy, 
but they were breaks. 

Before that, 
March 8th marked the anniversary of my father-in-law's death. 
A day to remember him, 
gone now for over 20 years. 
A character 
we wish he had seen our wedding, 
We wish he had met his grandchildren. 
Every March 8th I will remember him and feel lucky that I got to know him.

Before that, 
March 8th was just a normal day.
I'm sure spring was in the air sometimes, 
other times there were blizzards. 
I'm sure life looked normal - headed on a vector I didn't notice
just living life.

Now I wonder. 
What will March 8th look like next year? 

March 8th 2022
March 8th 2023
March 8th 
March 8th
What will the March 8ths of the future have in store for us?

#sol21 March 4: Time Travel

Slice of LIfe
Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge! I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by.

Time Travel

From my couch, I can stare at the picture of my grandma’s house.

I can pretend I’m back there on Borbeck.

Is this how time travel works?

Art by my Aunt Cynthia

How does memory work for you?
Can you remember whole days? Close your eyes and remember entire conversations?
How much continuous memory can you have at a time?
Is it like time travel?

Or are you like me — do you remember things in slices?
The toys under the dining room hutch.
The big table with blue and white dishes.
A column between the living room and dining room – perfect for leaning.
Aunts and Uncles and cousins filling the living room with the glow of big Christmas Lights on the tree in the corner?
M&Ms and ice cream served with pretzels.
The way the sidewalk led down to the garden shed.
The sound of the porch.
The azaleas.
The shelf in the corner with photo albums.
The saltines in the canister on the kitchen counter – cookies were sometimes in the next canister over.

And oh – the chalkboard in the kitchen.
I had to stand on the vinyl chairs underneath, but once I was up there…?
Oh that chalkboard.
It was meant for chores, I think. A leftover from the 10 children household.
But to me it was a place to draw, to list important things, to play school.

I can’t travel back in time,
but I can sit on the couch and stare at the picture of my grandma’s house.

A slice of another mystery

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

On the deck, Finn starts acting like a wack-a-loon. He’s sniffing around and we think maybe he’s been stung by a bee.

The kids are freaking out.

“Call the vet right now.”
“I think he’s having a seizure.”

We try to calm the children. We say, “Let’s just finish our dinner and watch him. He probably just got stung or something.”

We try to sit and finish dinner, but the children are preoccupied with Finn’s preoccupation. He’s really sniffing the edge of the deck, and his tail is curled under.

“He’s scared!” the kids yell.

“There’s probably a bear under the deck!” they say and the freaking out begins again.

Everyone is convinced that there is a bear hiding under our deck. They refuse to calm down until we check.

Mr. Thought asks, “If it is a bear, will I be able to outrun it back up the steps?”

The kids tell him no, but remind him that he only has to creep down the steps and look under the deck, he doesn’t have to go all the way down to the doorway where he would, perhaps, corner the bear and be attacked.

Mr. Thought practices getting over the gate quickly.

H takes Finn inside, where Finn begs to be let back out to the deck to protect us all.

Mr. Thought walks down the steps slowly, looks around, and walks back up slowly.

“I was about to give up my search when I saw the most …”

H comes back out, “What was there? Was it a bear?”

Mr. Thought begins again in a slow calm voice. “Everything is okay.”

There’s something about the way he says it though, that makes us all feel like maybe he did see a mama bear hiding in the corner under the deck.

“I was about to give up my search when I saw the most beautiful nest of baby birds!”

I can’t wait for the next time we think there’s a bear close by. Third time’s the charm, maybe?

That was last night. The birds are learning to fly today. It’s nice, but I mean I feel like we just met them and now they are all grown up.