My 12-year-old is waiting for me to finish writing so we can watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Somehow, my 15-year-old is in the driveway with his dad getting a pre-driving driving lesson. “In just a few months I’ll be able to actually drive,” he said.
Before that, I was at Home Goods, missing my daughter. “I had to call my daughter who is away at school to ask her about having these pillows together!” I told the associate when she complimented the dining room chair pillows I had picked out.
Before that, I had indeed been Facetiming my daughter. She was at dinner, but answered the phone anyway and helped me decide on a few things. “Why do you have to go to college anyway?” I asked her. “Shouldn’t you live here so you can go to Home Goods with me?”
Before that, I’m pretty sure, My kids were babies.
Today I am grateful
Today I am grateful...
for kids who make bakery messes
and also cinnomon rolls and sourdogh bread
for cold weather, biting wind, March snow
and how it encourages rest and early pajamas
for a long basement to do list, hasitly scrawled
and organized by a friend who helped to clean the basement
for a dead phone battery
and how I have to plug it in and get to work
Today I am grateful
I finally successfully forced the boys outside to take Finn on a walk.
“It’s sunny finally! Don’t come back for at least a half an hour!” I called to them as they left.
I did a few chores and then sat on the couch with my water, looked outside, and saw that it was snowing. I knew they’d be back any minute, and I was right.
At first I was annoyed, I admit. What’s a little snow? But then I remembered how Finn hates the snow. And then the boys came in and described the actual snow to me.
Was it snow? Hail? Styrofoam?
H and I went into the backyard to explore.
It was cold, soft, but formed, and squishy. Little pellets all over the yard.
H and I joked about the weather not know what to do. The neighbor kids were running around their yard laughing.
“Why is styrofoam falling from the sky?’ I asked.
“I think the government messed up and programed the wrong kind of snow,” H said, and it started to really come down.
We Facetimed my mom to show her the odd hail-like snow and of course, it stopped coming down and the sun came up. But we showed her the piles that were still all around. She didn’t know what they were either.
We walked back to the house, and the sun was so bright I was really expecting to see a rainbow – at least some sort of chunky pixelated rainbow to go with the snow-hail-pellets.
Oh, and I looked it up. I guess it’s called Graupel!
“It doesn’t even seem like that was on our trip.” One of the boys said. He was right. Kansas was one of the first places we stayed on our 3 week road trip last summer. It feels like a lifetime ago.
There’s no place like home, but we do miss our road trip. Even Kansas! Kansas was where we met the cutest little kitten. I don’t know what his actual family called him, but to us, he will always be little Pepper Jack.
When I was planning the trip, everyone said it didn’t matter which road I took through Kansas, they were all boring, all flat.
So I was surprised to see such beautiful rolling green hills.
We stopped in Oz, where everything was even greener. We took pictures in the Oz museum. I got close to one of my childhood nightmares… a FlyingMonkey!
I always thought the Flying Monkeys were scarier than the witch.
Come to think of it, we didn’t see many witches while we were in Kansas. I guess they hadn’t moved there yet.
I’m sitting at the piano, relearning things I learned decades ago.
Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge FACE Great Big Dogs Fool Around All Cows Eat Grass
I’m 44 and I’m still reciting these things as I stare at music.
My first piano teacher was my best friend. We sat at her piano and she taught me to number my fingers, and how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb (32123332223553212333322321).
Then I had a piano teacher who came to my house every week. When I moved in 5th grade, I had a piano teacher whose house I went to every week.
In college my then-boyfriend, now ex-husband and I had my old piano teacher come over once a week to give us lessons. Soon we realized we weren’t ever practicing, since nobody was making us. So, when he came over we were paying him to play the piano for us. I mean, he was an amazing piano player…But I’ve never been wealthy enough to hire my very own concert pianist. Is that even a thing?
Now I’m learning by myself again. This time my teacher is an app, instead of a human, but I’m still basically the same kind of piano student that I’ve always been. (Although, I do practice more, and for longer, and with more joy now.)
I’ve always hated to count, but I don’t actually have any natural rhythm. So I have to count. My app plays along with me which helps me with my pace, and the measures move from right to left on my phone screen. I still don’t ever get 100% on the rhythm score at the end of each song. My teachers used to write things like “COUNT!” at the top of my sheet music, and I have “I-e-and-a-2-e-and-a” etched in my skull. But I still think to myself “Oh, I can just play this now.” And then I picture one of my piano teachers and the way they would remind me to count. Every week.
I am relearning things I already knew. Sometimes my son will call out from the other room, “That sounded good, mom” and twice I played for my parents.
They said they enjoyed it and also that they would look for the old metronome if I wanted it…
Once, as a teenager, I spent hours on the couch, transfixed by the shadow of clouds and trees reflected on a metal filing cabinet. The shadow was in the form of a man’s face, and the wind made his mouth move over and over again. It looked like he was shouting. I tried to figure out what he was trying to tell me, it seemed very important.
I used to sit and make mixtapes, or sometimes just listen to the same song over and over again.
As a kid, I spent days trying to solve the riddles in King’s Quest on our IBM. I had the joystick mastered, and knew many of the phrases I had to type out to the characters to get by. But there was still more adventure ahead!
In the summer, I’d spend the afternoon by myself floating in the fold-out pool.
When I was very young, I loved to listen to my records of Disney stories. I’d follow along in the book, and turn the page at the sound of the bell. Sometimes I’d switch to the Disney song records, and sing along to my heart’s content.
I used to color, and later, I’d spend hours talking on the phone.
When I got something new – a cassette, a walkman, a video game… I would study it closely to really get to know it. I used to spend the time.
Why is it so hard to spend time now? Why does slowing down feel wrong? Why do I feel guilty? Why don’t I sit around and listen to music just to listen to music anymore? And for goodness sake, why am I not playing King’s Quest anymore? I would totally rock that game now.
Theodore Snuggling is his favorite. He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Sometimes he sneaks up, investigating the couch, slowly walking towards where I am reading. This is a familiar dance. He knows he needs to be careful.
He isn’t the only one who thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Finn Snuggling is his favorite He thinks that wherever I am, he should be.
Each time Theodore tries to sneak on the couch, he must think that this time I’ll be alone. But then he takes one more step and realizes, it’s not his lucky chance for snuggles. Finn thinks the couch belongs to him. He’s pretty sure I belong to him too.
But, when Finn is away, the couch belongs to the cats.
Talula Playing is her favorite. She can catch a pipe cleaner and loves to play fetch. She’ll snuggle nearby and on her terms
She’s one smart kitty. She waits until Finn is distracted to get her couch time.
Then, when she’s sure he’s occupied, she jumps on the couch to hang out nearby.
The truth about these cats and dogs is that they would be bestest of friends if they stopped being so possessive about snuggling me. They’ll touch noses sometimes, and I’ve seen Finn bring over a toy and ask Theodore to play. He’s usually not in the mood, but I’ve also seen him play with Finn’s tail. They have so much in common. I think maybe they hang out while I’m at work.
In normal life, in the past, I’d be walking down the streets of New York City after hearing the closing keynote at the TCRWP Saturday Reunion. So, as I sit here after the inspirational virtual TCRWP Saturday Reunion, I can’t help but reminisce a bit.
The first step to a normal Saturday Reunion was always seeing who could go and then picking a hotel. (Tip: You need 2 beds for 4 friends, an extra pull-out sofa if you have 5 people.) Then there was the road trip on a Friday after school. We usually had normal car snacks like pretzels and carrots, chips, dip, dried mangos. But one year someone brought a plate of cheese. “Care for some cheese?” is a favorite road trip saying to this day. (Tip: Accept any kinds of snacks, the driver gets first dibs)
We’d check-in and quickly decide if we were going to do a late dinner at the Mexican Restaurant or the Italian one. (Tip, decide if you want chips and guacamole and a margarita, or bread, sauce, and wine. Also, don’t worry, you can have the other one tomorrow.)
The next morning was a mad dash to get out the door in time to stop for a coffee, a bagel, or oatmeal, and catch a taxi to Riverside Church for the 9:00 Opening. (Tip: If you walk in next to Jason Reynolds, don’t stop yourself from stroking his shoulder. You only live once)
Then the day of inspiration would begin and was a whirlwind of learning and moving and seeing so many awesome people. When it was over, we would leave with the thousands of other teachers, and make our way back to the hotel. (Tip: Look before you cross the street – I am a teacher, I love teachers, and we aren’t always the best at following directions.)
A few years ago, we decided to stick around the Columbia University campus area instead of getting a taxi back to our hotel. We found a little bar. It wasn’t crowded, it wasn’t fancy. But, it had a nice vibe, great drinks, and even some vegan snacks. We sat at a table or the bar for a bit and then we’d walk some more. (Tip: Wear sneakers!)
One year we stopped where a crowd was gathered and watched as a church security guard chased an albino peacock. At least, I think that’s the story. Seems kinda farfetched now, right? (Tip: don’t just take pictures on your phone, but remember where they might be stored!)
Today I finished the whirlwind day of inspirational zoom learning, closed my laptop, and emptied the dishwasher. (Tip: Make your kids do this chore.)
Although, I must say: My notebook is still full and my brain is still thinking, I still saw so many awesome presenters along with thousands of other teachers… and I still haven’t put shoes on today! (Tip: Wear really comfy soft clothes so you can go directly to the couch to read or take a nap.)