Category Archives: Slice of Life

What will you do with it?

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

For some reason I’m thinking about wine tonight…

A few weeks ago I was at Wegmans at the end of the day and I threw some of their $6 wine into my cart before getting into line. I only do this when the “alcohol permitted” lines aren’t long, but the week is.

A woman approached me and scootched her mask down below her chin. She had an accent, heavy and thick. She spoke in a loud, friendly, slightly halting voice.

“Did you take — this?” She said as she held up a bottle of wine. Her friend stood a few feet behind her.

I must admit, I was taken aback. I wondered if she was asking me if I took it out of her cart. I have this mild, irrational fear that I will accidentally take someone else’s cart, or put my stuff into someone else’s cart. And even though I’ve never worried that I’ll take something out of someone’s cart, it seemed plausible because of her tone.

“Did you take this? This? From there?” She pointed at the wine display. Her friend walked over to the display.

“Oh. Yes. I did.” I was still confused, but didn’t feel like I was in trouble anymore.

“What will you do with it?” She asked me, leaning in. Her friend looked at me, intrigued.

“What will I do with it?”

“Yes, what will you do with it?”

This is when I wondered if I might be on some sort of “teacher caught buying wine on a week night” candid camera show.

I thought for a moment, about my week, my day, my remote coaching job, my remote learning kids, the world, the coming election. I thought about the $6 wine in my cart. I looked at the woman and her friend and raised my eyebrows, still trying to figure out what this was all about.

“I’m going to drink it!” I said with a big, not too-sarcastic smile. I think I might have taken an imaginary swig from the bottle.

“You will drink it?!” She said, as she turned the bottle around to show me the list of foods on the back. “But. All of this. Here.”

Finally, I understood. She just didn’t know if the wine was a drink or an ingredient!

“Ahhhh!” I said, with that feeling of relief you get when you finally understand. “I think those are the pairings… the things you might eat with the wine!”

I would like to note that I did not add that I actually prefer my wine with a bowl of chips or popcorn.

Now every time I get a bottle of wine, her voice comes back to me.

“What will you do with it?”

From my chair on a Tuesday

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

From my chair I see
(I kinda don't want to paint this picture for you)

A double dog crate, with 2 cats lounging safe from the dog
On top of the crates:
The printer, a stack of paper and a pile of new ink cartriges
Cat food
Cat treats
Magnet letters
A basket of bags of magnets - sorted to maybe give away, but what if I need them for school one day?
Extra curriculum books that need to be returned. 
Empty binders 
A lapdesk, folded with a vague plan to make it part of a diy standing desk because this is a lot of sitting

Next to the crates, 
A ladder perched to finish the electical work for the new router placement.
My bulletin board propped up against the wall it used to hang on.

From my chair I see
My desk, with 1 dog pretending to lounge but really tring to see the cats. 
On top of my desk:
Grade 1 phonics
Grade K writing 
I spy cards - I thought they'd be fun to use with kids, but when I looked more closely, they are just creepy. 
Glasses cleaner
Glasses cleaner cloths - 3 of them. 
A box of tissues
My ballot - must drop off tomorrow! (Feel free to bug me about this) 
2 staplers. Why 2? 
A rainbow of pens, now out of their fidgeted rainbow order. 
My earrings from today
Stickers: Still Growing, Coffee is always a good idea, I am a teacher who writes
Stickies: Call dentist, Find Joy, piles of blanks
A word wall card: at
earbuds
My computer
2 lamps
A document camera
A mug of cold tea: "Write your own story"
1/3 of a can of lemon lime seltzer
A dog training collar beeper, at the ready. 

From my chair I see
A mess --
A perfect metaphor for my mind

Scattered Slice of Remote Coaching

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teacher

My butt hurts from so much sitting.

Remote Coaching.

Also, I have brain whiplash from so many transitions in one day.

Remote Coaching.

There’s something discombobulating about going from a meeting to meeting to meeting, switching gears and then POP! switching gears again to talk to Kindergarteners about how writers can write books with a bunch of pages, using words they know in a snap to write sentences!

Writing Sentences! Today Mr. Thought said something about the complex work I do each day, only he said it as I was repositioning the sticky note of the word is and at on my chart. I mean, definitely teaching kindergarten writing is a complex chart, but it was still ironic.

Then POP! Back to meetings about teaching and data and SLOs (and also can you believe they made this decision and do you know what is going on and why are things like this? Because teachers are breaking a little bit, friends…)

Then POP! Kids again.

Remote Coaching.

I don’t know if floobergated is a word you are familiar with, or just one of those words from my childhood, but I work hard to not be floobergated each day. Here are some tips if you happen to be a Remote Coach: *

  1. Reheat your coffee in between meetings, this is like a walk, even if it is to the microwave
  2. Don’t feel guilty if you have a gingersnap with that coffee
  3. Don’t feel guilty if it is actually 4 gingersnaps. They are almost like breakfast
  4. Stretch
  5. Breathe
  6. Drink water
  7. Text a friend in between meetings for music recommendations and play that music during any work times that you can have music playing in the backyard
  8. Plan walks with a friend for after your after school meetings. (Actually go on those walks too! Crunch acorns if you can)
  9. Keep a post it available to jot down any small thing that brings you joy (You don’t have to post videos of this joy but that is fun too)
  10. Drink more water

*Full Disclosure, I work hard to not get floobergated or discombobulated, but this does not actually mean I am successful at it.

Remote Coaching.

A Slice from the Porch (with a Pooch!)

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Up and bark and run and down. Repeat.

My dog won’t stop with the crazy barking tonight. I mean, the other dogs up the street won’t stop either, I think they started it. But it doesn’t matter. Every time someone walks by, or a bird lands too close, or someone is walking their dog on our street, or he thinks maybe a chipmunk is under the bush, Finnegan jumps off of his chair to leap into the yard and bark.

“He’s on a lead!” I yell. Mostly because I accidentally bought a clear lead. And invisible leads don’t instill much confidence in passerbys.

Maybe the dogs up the street are a bad influence.

Maybe I’m a bad dog mom.

Maybe he’s tired. He started with a new trainer today, and he had to learn new rules.

I’m annoyed, but I think there is probably a metaphor for life somewhere here: on my porch with my dog. (A porch pooch!)

I’m sure there’s meaning here because now that I’ve written it all out he has jumped back on his chair, given me a few weighty sighs, looked at me with droopy puppy dog eyes and he might, just might be falling asleep.

Distractions from my Deck

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

I love my deck. I mean the actual deck needs to be redone or maybe demolished and rebuilt. But I still love my deck.

I come out here to work, to write, to read, to meditate, to play games with the kids, to be distracted.

I like to look up at the trees where I can’t see the houses behind them and imagine I live deep in the forest. A cabin, or a treehouse, but clean. No bugs.

Maybe it’s my childhood full of reading Berenstain Bears and Richard Scary that makes me think I might be able to fashion a house out of a big tree, with neat labels on everything.

In reality, even my deck umbrella has a huge spider web from corner to corner. So I’m thinking that a whole cabin in the woods would probably give me more spider issues than I really want.

I’m not as outdoorsy as I wish I were, but I do love, you know, being outdoors.

It’s quieter here, kinda. Unless you start to pay attention to the birds. Their tweeting is melodic until it gets repetitive. There’s also the mower in the next street over. Or is it a leaf blower? I don’t know. It becomes white noise until it stops and starts and stops and starts again. When there is finally a moment of no mower, no tweeting, no cars driving by, the dog usually starts barking.

Usually it’s a bark to tell us about a leaf, or perhaps a squirrel. He stands on the sunny part of the deck, lifting his paws one at a time to relieve them from the burn and he stares into the yard, barking. The other day he was barking at a deer nearly camouflaged at the back of our lawn. The deer looked up from chewing on some low brush and just stared right back at Finn. She stayed for awhile and we imagined that she and Finn could actually be bestest of friends. And then she left.

Later that day I saw her again on my walk. I turned Finn away before he could see her, and we walked the other way. But she followed me for a bit as if she had something to tell me. I’m not sure if that was a sign or a visit or just a random deer. (Again, my childhood of reading animal stories may have something to do with my thinking that the animals have messages for me.) I am on the lookout for signs from Mardi, but I think she might only send rabbits and rainbows, which doesn’t even make sense. I can see her laughing, eyebrows curled at the very thought. Rabbits and rainbows?

Yesterday I came out on my deck and thought about how nice it would be to have Mardi over for a glass of wine. She’d probably like my rainbow flowers, and she’d be nice about the mess of my house, yard, life. We’d laugh about it all. It took me just a sliver of a second to remember that she’s gone. That sliver of a second was nice though.

So I sat and closed my eyes and meditated a bit into quietness. When I opened my eyes and looked at my yard, there was a rabbit. I said, “Ha. Funny Mardi” out loud. The bunny hopped away into the woods, and I got up to make dinner for the kids.

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.

Blank Page Published: A Slice of writing

Slice of LIfe

Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Blank page, typed and then deleted.
Type, delete, type delete.
I’ve done this before.

A few things I almost wrote about, but then erased…

I deserve an adulting award for ordering mulch today
I’m failing as a mother, #screentime
Sitting in the sun begs the question, is it summer yet?
I miss a lot of people and things right now.
I think I have a cold. It better be just a cold.
Filled out my mail-in ballot today. Hope I followed all the rules. There were a lot of rules. I will send it when my stamps come. It’s so odd to order stamps to be mailed.
Voting makes me feel like I need to pay more attention to the news.
The news makes me feel like I need to go back to bed. Under the covers.
This Groundhog’s Day life is devoid of usable slices. Boring, but also too raw.
Man it’s hard to have a friend dying during a pandemic.

I told myself to write on Tuesdays, though.
Keep up the habit, build it up
Remember that I love to write.

Remember that I love to write.
Remember that I love to write.
Remember that I love to write.

I still don’t know if I’ll hit select all – Delete, or
“Publish.”

The Teacher Across The Hall

Slice of LIfePart of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers

Have you ever had a teacher across the hall like Mardi?

Let me paint a scene for you. Mardi at her desk, grading papers, checking things off of her to-do list one by one. The rest of our team is there too, chatting away. Sure we’d talk about things that needed to be talked about, but then we’d stay there chatting, Mardi would chat too – but while getting work done.

“Hey!” We’d say every so often. “How is this fair? You’re getting all your work done!”

“You guys came here.” She’d shrug, smile, and check something else off of her to-do list.

Mardi used her planning period exactly the way we were supposed to use planning periods. She’d grade and plan and get kids set up for success. It was maddening really. I mean, how dare someone be so good at all the things?

One of the last years we taught together, Mardi had a planning period right while I taught Social Studies.  It was right after lunch if I am remembering correctly.

At some point, I noticed a pattern. My kids would be settling down, I’d be passing something out, or I might even be starting my lesson. That’s when I’d notice Mardi. She’d be walking around my room, holding a post-it with kids’ names on it, kids with late math work. She’d walk around, telling those kids that they needed to finish that work at the end of the day instead of going to their last choice period.  Sometimes she wasn’t quite as quiet, interrupting the start of my lesson, telling kids in no uncertain terms that they would need to get the work to her.

(Mardi always knew who owed late work, like 30 seconds after it was due. She probably knew the night before she assigned it, honestly.)

The first few times I noticed her in my Social Studies class,  I probably just ignored her and got to the business of teaching. After I noticed a pattern, I think I most likely smiled at her and raised my eyebrows. Once I realized it was happening often, I started to welcome her with open arms as soon as I saw her. “Good afternoon, Ms. McDonough!” I’d cry with glee. “Welcome!” We’d laugh, and I’d not so secretly be jealous of her organizational and time management skills. I’ve always wished I could be like that, but alas I haven’t gotten there yet.

Then one day I realized that I had a planning period while she taught Science. So I grabbed my orange megaphone and marched across the hall. Revenge!

“Alert! Alert!” I said into my megaphone as I walked into her classroom. “This is an interruption. I repeat. This is an interruption.”

I might have scared a kid or two, but Mardi paused her lesson and we both laughed. I took a blurry selfie, which I will always cherish, and I left.

What I wouldn’t give to teach across the hall from Mardi again.

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