Wednesday, March 4, 2015

2015 SOLSC 4/31: My Slippery Slope

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday
and for nurturing our writing lives.

My slippery slope is not snow and ice related.  It's a behavior challenge that I face.  One would think that someone who is retired would have all the time they need.  I do have more time available than before and love that I no longer spend my evenings grading papers and planning for the next day.  However, I'm highly distractible.  In fact I'm so distractible that I could be the poster child (woman) for the distractibility movement!  

I woke up at 5 this morning and headed for the computer.  I wanted to leave a few comments on some of the newer slicers before writing my own post.   But first, I had to check to see if I had any new comments.  I made a couple of revisions to yesterday's post.  Then I decided to give some comments to the late night slicers.  That was always me last year.  Before I knew it, it was 5:39.  Shortly after that I clicked on Twitter and noticed that today is World Read Aloud Day.  I had to retweet the fact and wished that I could read aloud to someone today.  Do you think my contractor and plumber would enjoy a nice read aloud?  I clicked on some of the posts from yesterday (there are so many of us) and even managed to comment on some newer slicers.   But one of them had a link to her Pinterest boards.  Oh my, that is a rabbit hole I should always avoid.   Once I climbed out of that hole, I stopped at the blogs of some old slicer friends and clicked on blogs that lured me in with an intriguing teaser.  And before I knew it, it was 6:30 a.m!  Time to shower and head downstairs since the contractor said he would be here at 7 ish.  I hadn't penned my own slice, but I had several ideas for future slices and a longing to visit more blogs.  

That's when I came up with a new acronym SAFTS to guide me for the rest of the day.  You read that right, SAFTS (Step Away from the Slices) became my mantra for the day as I focused on several other important tasks.  So the next time you lose precious time meandering among the slices, you may need to remind yourself to avoid my slippery slope and to SAFTS (Step Away from the Slices) for at least awhile.  But tonight when I get home from my evening commitment, you'll find me meandering among the slices to read some posts, leaving some comments to show I was there, and collecting ideas that will inspire my future slices.  When you are able to successfully SAFTS, then you are entitled to some fun time to MATS (Meander Among the Slices)!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 SOLSC 3/31: Memories to Last Awhile

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday
and for nurturing our writing lives.

 My OLW word "stretch" rescues me on a difficult day:

Today's airport drive time is different from the drive three days ago.
On Saturday, hubby and I excitedly left for the airport
Eager to greet son and his wife arriving from DC.

We took advantage of a gorgeous day to drive to North Bend.
First stop was Scott's Dairy Freeze, second stop the outlet mall.  
Stefi remarked that it was the first time she'd been shopping with Lance, 
it's amazing what a dad will do with the in-laws.
On our way home, the group indulged me with a stop by Slater Park,
Blake showed me how to get rid of the filter on my phone,
No gorgeous sunset, but Blake filmed the setting sun,  
and advised me to use his tripod to capture it sometime.

Sunday is time to worship, see friends, and get Dad's help on the tax return,
Sunday dinner is sloppy barbecue chicken in the crock pot
(kitchen is still a work in progress).
Stefi remembers to check the vibrate setting on my phone.  
We settle in to enjoy the last Downton Abby of the season. 

Monday we head out to enjoy the day,
Find the Hello Robin bakery recommended by Stefi's friend
browse Eliott Bay Books,
walk around Capitol Hill, and stop by Dick's Burgers. 
After a visit to the Tom Bihn Factory Showroom, we hit Costco.
Come home to painting and tile work in the kitchen, 
grab dinner at Georgio's to escape the fumes.
 Then it's home to visit, but still wearing our coats
since all doors are open to air out the house.
Giggles as Stefi learns more family history from Addison Road, 
Pride as Blake shows me his method of bullet journaling,
Excitement as everyone heads to bed by 9 p.m.
Love it when east coast kids come home to visit, 
they're on my schedule - early bedtime, early rising.
I pack Blake's muddy buddies for tomorrow's travel,
and squeeze in some quick reading and commenting on slices.

Wake at 4 am, but without my usual morning chirpiness,
drag my feet unwillingly toward early morning drive to airport, 
our longed for visits always pass too quickly.
I shake off the doldrums, and head downstairs,  
a quick breakfast, hugs all around, and off we go.

I'll linger in these memories for days, 
it's a long time until our fall visit to DC and their Christmas visit home.
I'll savor our technological connections - messages, instagram pics, and Facetime.
I'll saunter through these memories of meals and laughter shared.
I'll cherish each hug and happy moment,
stretching each one to last until our next time together.  

Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 SOLSC 2/31: Strolling Down Memory Lane

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday
and for nurturing our writing lives.

It's Read Across America Day, one of my favorite classroom celebrations, and I'm not there to celebrate this year!  When I read Catherine's post, I started thinking about the different ways I've celebrated this event with my students.  One year we wrote postcards about our reading lives and requested a return postcard, attempting to connect with someone from every state.  That would certainly be easier in today's age of virtual connectedness.  We didn't reach our goal, but each and every postcard we received was proudly suspended from the ceiling over student desks to remind us of the power of reading.   

We ventured across the playing fields to a neighboring elementary school several years to share favorite picture books with students.  My students laughed when I insisted on plastic bags to protect the precious books, but banned umbrellas for our walk.  (Ever tried to herd a group of 30 sixth graders carrying umbrellas?)  They insisted that I cared more about books than I cared about them.  One year we paired with fifth grade classrooms to share favorite books.  My students were amazed that many fifth graders were reading the same books they were reading and came away with books to add to their Want To Read lists.  One year we listened as students read to us.  My students were reminded of the power of sharing what we're reading with someone else.  

One year we did state reports.  Another year we read books set in specific states.  One year we focused on favorite Dr. Seuss books.  Another year we celebrated with games and quizzes based on Dr. Seuss books and Theodor Geisel's life.  It didn't matter that our celebrations changed from year to year.  Regardless of a particular year's focus, we always found a way to celebrate this beloved day.  Next year, I may have to adopt a classroom so I can share in their festivities for the day.  How are you celebrating Read Across America?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2015 SOLSC 1/31: The End of the Road

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday
and for nurturing our writing lives.

Stair climbers . . . I remember my first encounter decades ago at a health club.  Modern man's instrument of torture, second only to the stationary bike.  I banned both from my life. But yesterday I  indulged in stair climbing with weights.

In June 2013 I brought home several boxes and crates from my classroom promising to spend some time organizing them over the summer.  Sunshine, lunch on the deck, good books, and walks with friends enticed me more than organizing.  I never moved those boxes back to school.  If there was something that I couldn't find, I just reminded myself to look in the boxes and crates in the guest bedroom.

Fast forward June to 2014, the end of the school year and the end of my teaching career. I moved 30+ boxes out of my classroom and into the garage at home.  My husband kept reminding me that the boxes had to gone by January since our contractor would need the garage space during our kitchen remodel project scheduled for February.  I whittled away, a box or two a week, but as the weather grew cooler working in the garage was not on my list of desired activities.  So in December I moved the remainder of the boxes into the guest bedroom.  A perfect activity for the slow days of January, right?  And then a friend took a medical leave, and I stepped into her shoes as school librarian for six weeks.  Plus I had my share of moving and packing of boxes to do in preparation for the kitchen project.

Yesterday I lugged the teaching boxes and crates upstairs into my son's former bedroom, now dubbed the junk room by my husband.  My son, Blake and his wife, Stefi were coming for a quick visit.   No one wants to sleep in a room surrounded by boxes.

My organizing project has reached the end of the road.  There's nowhere else to go, no more stairs to climb, no other place to stash my treasures.  It's time to purge and organize. My six weeks in the school library are done, and I'm filled with hope.
March looks promising . . . except that it's almost time to start moving things back into the kitchen!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Celebrate This Week

                              Join us each weekend for Celebrate this week with Ruth Ayres.  
 When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
  A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember!
1.  The Spelling Bee
We had our school-wide spelling bee on Wednesday.
Two sixth grade girls (we're a 6-8 middle school)
qualified as our runner-up and champion!
Look at these creative sushi (Rice Krispies) treats created
by a student and his mom as part of our nourishment after the first round. 
2.  Playdate with Imi!
I've missed my twice monthly playdates with my favorite almost one year old while her mom volunteers in her sister's kindergarten classroom.  Now that my six week commitment in the library is over, Imi and I are back to our regular play dates.  She's grown a lot since our last time together in December.
She loved showing me how fast she can scramble up the stairs.
And she'll walk around the house if I hold her hands.  
3.  Granite is in!
I felt like a kid waiting for Santa Claus as I waited for the installers to arrive on Friday morning.  Next week the tile, some painting, completion of a few final projects, and then appliances will be installed the following week.  Almost there!

4.  Blake and Stefi come today!
My son and daughter-in-law arrive this afternoon.  I love anytime we can squeeze in a visit with my kids who live in the other Washington
(technically they're now in Virginia), but both are a long way from home.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spiritual Journey Thursday - STRETCH

The bloggers at Spiritual Journey Thursday are writing about the spiritual focus of our community's One Little Words.  This week, we are writing about my
One Little Word, STRETCH.  I can't wait to read the posts this week!

"One small step at a time in the right direction will get us where we want to be."

"Little by little, one travels far."
- Tolkien

Stretch is an anti-resolution response.  I've spent years setting the same resolutions, but several years ago I decided to no longer play the resolution game.  I love this quote that came from a thought-a-day calendar several years ago.  "The courage that counts is the courage of the every day.  Most of life is putting one foot in front of the other.  Big leaps have received too much press."  
To this quote that I've loved for years, I add today's inspiration: 
Small stretches are where true growth is found.  

In her book Sunshine in My Soul, Linda Archibald talks about seeking equilibrium and pacing ourselves so that we don't run faster than we have strength.  "We'll understand that we can be diligent daily without feeling eternally exhausted.  We will balance relaxation with 
stretching and steady improvement.  We will rejoice in baby steps
dream a little instead of just make plans, and respond smoothly to life's transitions.
We will be too busy enjoying each day to stop and take measurements of
how far we've come and how far we have yet. to go.  
Instead, we'll just check our course headings:
'Am I still on the straight and narrow path, . . . 
and little by little improving?'"

A good friend shared an article about meditation with me.  I reread it in preparation for a talk I was giving.  I decided to practice the simple guidelines and to meditate for ten minutes.  As I finished, my eyes fell on a picture of the Savior that my son gave me.  I've always loved this particular print.  The Savior is seated, staff in hand, a flock of sheep in the background.  One sheep is nuzzled at his feet  and another sheep rests his chin in the Savior's outstretched hand.  As I gazed at the picture, I reflected on the Savior's hand stretched out in love.  In Deuteronomy the children of Israel are reminded to not be afraid, but to remember their deliverance from the Egyptians
" . . . the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm,
whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: . . . "  (Deuteronomy 7:18,19)  
I want to spend more moments in the Savior's outstretched hand,
understanding that he knows me and wants me to stretch,
to rejoice in baby steps, and to improve little by little.   

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Finding Joy Amid the Chaos . . .

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, Beth, and Anna
for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday 
and nurturing our writing lives.  

Some of you know that I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel.   As part of that process, I had to empty all my lower cabinets and drawers.  Because I've done this before, I tried to keep each drawer or cabinet contained in a specific box (for the most part), except for the piles of stuff that I put on the dining room table and another folding table.  I discreetly covered them with sheets to keep the dust away, but when I glance into the dining room, they look like two coffins with a path between.  

I am rather proud of my ability to find things in the middle of the current mess.  When my husband mentioned needing painter's tape, I immediately went to the first shelf of the laundry room where I keep a blue basket of tape and twine.   However that shelf has been repurposed to hold containers in the makeshift kitchen.  Less than one minute later, I walked into the dining room, located the blue basket, and retrieved the painter's tape.  He wanted the big glass mixing bowl on Saturday so he could boil sugar water (in the microwave) for the hummingbirds.  That took a little longer ,and I must admit to looking in 3 or 4 boxes before finding the set of 3 bowls wrapped in a tablecloth at the bottom of a big box.  I finally moved the Rolodex from the dining room to my desk since I needed it so frequently (I know, who besides me still has a Rolodex?).  Old habits and routines die hard.  

But my proudest moment came when I was cleaning out and packing up the junk drawer so it could be used as a silverware/plastic bag drawer in the laundry room makeshift kitchen.  That's when I discovered this piece of gray plastic!  
You don't know what it is?  Usually I throw random finds like this away only to discover in a few days the real use of the item.  But this time, for some odd reason, I recognized the original use of this plastic thingamajig.  With a smile, I grabbed it, walked to the laundry room trash can, and snapped it in place.  
I'm not sure why I didn't recognize it months or maybe years ago when I stashed it in the junk drawer.  But I'm glad I remembered and every time I look at the trash can, I'm reminded that in the middle of a big mess, it's the little things that bring us joy!