Following My Ears, and Stomach, and Heart

I spent the morning washing windows and had just sat down when I heard the familiar calliope sound of the ice cream truck. I had planned to make myself a salad for an early dinner, but the call of the truck was tempting me. And then my daughter appears asking “Ice cream for dinner?”

It was summer after all and my plans tend to be a little less rigid. Besides washing those windows was tough work and I deserved a little treat. I decided to give in to my ice cream weakness and grabbed my wallet and mask and ran out to the road to greet the smiling college driver, who was probably wondering where our little kids were.

Little did he know they were standing right there in front of him ordering ice cream treats for their dinner from a truck on a sticky summer day. Yes, I followed my ears, stomach and heart with that purchase of a Dove bar on a stick! And am I glad I did!

It’s Tuesday and I’m adding my slice of life story to the writing community blog page over at Two Writing Teachers. Won’t you join in too?

Virtual Party

Last week I officially retired from public school work after 22 years. It was an emotional day starting with a rolling rally of students driving around the school parking lot waving thank you banners and balloons and arms. I headed home to be met with a gathering of my children and grandchildren, complete with floral bouquets, popping corks, and a lobster dinner enjoyed lakeside.

Of course laughter and tears were part of the afternoon, especially as I was presented with a few virtual guests. My kids pulled together a video montage of warm messages from my present day colleagues, friends who retired from teaching long ago, students from way back when, and even my trainer wishing me best in German. It was a joy to have all these special people share their well wishes to me via video. Each little message was like opening a precious package filled with memories and smiles.

The surprises didn’t end there for interspersed between family and friends were virtual visits from a few celebrities. Comedian Paula Poundstone made a cameo appearance and offered retirement wishes to me. Then my favorite designer from Project Runway, Geoffrey Mac, left me a five minute message congratulating me on my 22 years of teaching. Finally Food Network star Justin Warner popped on to share words of wisdom for my special occasion!

I felt like a star watching this line up of celebrities sending along messages of cheer. And while COVID has certainly changed how we do things, this video message filled with warmth, love, and laughter will be held close to my heart as I move slowly into my new lifestyle. I’ll now have a few extra minutes to relive my virtual party over and again!

Book Buzz

The last ten minutes of my meeting with fourth graders yesterday turned into a book buzz delight. We were discussing their last independent project of the year: to think about a book recently read and write a description that created enough enthusiasm that a classmate would want to read it over the summer.

I modeled the buzz with a book we had just read as a group. Then I showed them some of the books that I had in my summer stack, that my friends had recommended to me, making the point that we read books that are shared by our friends. I lifted up Kate DiCamillo´s Flora and Ulysses, and noted that a teacher they knew had loaned the book to me and that I would be writing a book buzz on the classroom site about that book. I suggested they might consider this book, reminding them of other books they had read by her: Tiger Rising, Mercy Watson, Winn Dixie. The kids oohed and aahed recalling those much loved read alouds. It was then that one of the students asked if anyone had read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I quickly replied it was one of my all time favorite books.

Of course I told them that I cried at the end, to which two of the five participants said they did as well. One girl piped up and shared her saddest part of the story. Recalling these moments brought tears back to our faces, marking another first for remote learning, crying with students on google meet.

I believe we convinced the three non-readers of Edward Tulane to pick it up this summer, either that or we scarred them for life with our gushing and praise. It is making me consider adding this book to my summer list to revisit those favorite parts as remembered by my fourth grade reading friends.

Oh! The power of a good book buzz!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for providing us the space to share our writing adventures! Click in to see the buzz!

Bubble Joy

My love of blowing bubbles goes way back. It may have started with my aunt who made sure every vacation included a new jar of bubbles and a variety of wands. Goodness knows my family couldn’t afford even that treat. We relied on diluted dish soap and pipe cleaners or twisted wire we found laying around the house. The jarred variety seemed like such a luxury. My bubble loving was further reinforced when on a lonely day a few years back I happened upon a car surrounded with bubbles. As I inched closer I realized that the driver was holding a bubble wand out her window leaving a trail of opalescent globes behind and a smile on my lips. I lovingly refer to this mystery woman as my bubble angel and I vowed to spread additional joy with bubbles.

Having grandchildren it is easy to share bubble joy. Watching the delight of a toddler chasing bubbles across the yard is priceless. And when the jar tips over and the bubbles are gone, I see it as my job to replenish. But not with any old bubble solution, rather one that bears bubbles galore, that shimmer and shine, and float high above the clouds. I recall a visiting scientist using a recipe with dish soap and glycerin to make the best bubbles, so I began my quest for a similar recipe. One hour later, and a quick order to an online provider I have all the ingredients on the way to make the best bubbles the world has ever seen.

The ingredients arrive a few days later and I quickly get to work mixing and stirring, so that when the grandchildren arrive the solution will be ready. The babies are barely at the door when I mention the concoction. We head down to the back yard and pour the liquid into the trays. The bubbles are HUGE! And the bubbles soar HIGH! This is not your average watered down bubble mix that I used as a child, no this is the mix of champions!

We spend the next hour blowing and chasing and popping and of course giggling. Isn’t that what bubbles are for? We have found the perfect mix of ingredients and the perfect mix of fun. Bubble joy has arrived!

I am joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers today, sharing this slice of life story. Check it out and consider joining in the fun.

Who Am I to Worry?

I tend to worry about things… big things and little things. Most of the time the big things I worry about suddenly and magically turn into little things. My husband would call these issues useless anxiety.

Today was filled with worries. I had a jammed packed day scheduled: finish plans and meet with two fourth grade small groups, three writing and reading coordinators meetings, and a wrap up meeting to discuss the work accomplished this year on a conventions team. I was booked from 8:30 – 4pm, tightly packed with 20 minutes in the middle for lunch. NO worries I got this. I said to myself when I awoke. But then…

7:45 am voicemail from the electric company: We are turning off your power for 90 minutes starting at 9:00 am. I was panicked. I made a few phone calls to confirm the change of plans, sent several emails to inform parents of possible disruption in schedule, and drafted messages to teacher leaders letting them know I may be late or maybe even a no show. Yes, my stomach was churning and I was growing in anxiety as the power clicked off 20 minutes late at 9:20am.

And guess what? Another case of useless anxiety as the power came back on early at 10:00.

I was left with a moment before my next meeting to think. My problems were an inconvenience. ONLY an inconvenience. How could I let such inconsequential things get me in a knot? Today the world is swirling with a mega-storm of crises, and I worry about a few inconveniences? I felt ashamed with these thoughts.

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences when I have the funds to pay for and have electricity?

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences when I have job that pays the bills?

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences when I have a roof over my head with a nice view?

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences when my skin color allows me so many conveniences and opportunities?

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences when I can walk down a street and not be concerned with someone wondering why I am wandering in the neighborhood?

Who am I to worry about such minor inconveniences?

Today I am counting my blessings, and I am also realizing that I do live a privileged life. I need to step out and speak up for those that do not have such luxuries. I need to stand up for those that have no voice, no power, no life because yes, everyday black lives matter and my little worries don´t really matter.

It´s Tuesday and I am joining the wonderful team of writers over at Two Writing Teachers. We share our slice of life stories every week. Take a peek and consider joining in!