Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Slice of Life & Sharing Our Stories: It's Back to School Time!

I arrive out of breath, unprepared, after the bell has already rung. I was summoned by our school secretary who called when I failed to show up for school. When I arrive at my classroom door (which I needed help finding since I have a new classroom and a new grade level assignment in a new wing), the "substitute grabbed for the moment" has already opened the door. I try to shoo the students back into the hallway, so I can greet them individually at the door, per my usual practice. But there are so many of them!

I have no lesson plans and all my "go-to" first day ideas don't work for this grade level.  I muddle my way through the morning until someone arrives to tell us it's time for recess. I step into the hall, eager to connect with three fellow grade level teachers, frantic to know which textbook of the many on the shelves is the right one to begin with. They look at me with judgment in their eyes and little understanding for a colleague who would fail to show up for inservice days and then be late for the first day of school.

Somehow I make it through until lunch when I hope to try once again to connect with my grade level colleagues. And that's when I discover that my lunch time is different from the three of them! I head off in search of our principal, furious of how I've been treated and wanting to know why I didn't receive the summer letter about inservice days and why on earth no one called when I failed to show up for them. She's nowhere to be found. 

I return to class, still frantic, but trying my best to muddle through. Someone comes to tell us it's time for afternoon recess. When I step into the hall, I come face-to-face with our principal and I utter three words, " Go to _ _ _ _ !" (and I am not a woman who swears) before I awake with tears streaming down my face. 

Every nightmare of classroom management was manifest in my classroom of 30 students. 

And my new grade level? Kindergarten!

I'm beginning my eighth year of retirement from teaching middle school language arts and social studies.

One question. Do the first day of school nightmares ever go away?

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Slice of Life: Lost and Found!

The day started out well. I walked early in the morning with a friend. We caught up with each other's lives, noticed some beautiful blooms, and spotted a cute green caterpillar. 

I fed the neighbor's salamander and picked up a friend to run errands with me. We went to TJ Maxx and then Target. We came back to the island and had lunch at a local spot we love. I dropped my friend off and headed home without remembering that I had planned to stop by the post office.

When I arrived home, I saw the package on the table that needed to be returned. A company recently sent me the wrong size and they gave me a $10 credit on the new order to cover shipping. I decided to head to the post office with the plastic envelope (that it came in) so I could discover the least expensive way to return it. I waited for a long time (post office miseries) to arrive at an open window. I learned the best way to return the item was in the package it arrived in.

So I stepped aside with my trusty "big box" tape dispenser to ready the package and affix the label. After the next customer was processed, it was my turn at the window once again. I reached into my wallet and discovered that my credit card was missing. Luckily, I had some cash and could pay the required postage. My mind frantically went over the morning's tasks to determine the last time I had used my card. 

It must have been when I placed my lunch order. It was a completely self-service ordering spot. I probably just failed to retrieve my card from the reader. Another wait while someone checked the safe (even though they assured me no one had turned in a card recently). They pulled out a stack of credit cards (more than ten) and flipped through them looking for my name. No luck!

I returned dejectedly to the car, thinking that we might have to cancel the card (on the chance that someone had taken my card). I went through my wallet again, pulled everything out of my purse and flipped through the contents on the seat. No card! It was probably time to call my husband and report the card as missing. As I picked up my planner to return it to the purse, the card I was seeking fell out of its pages and onto the seat. Hallelujah! We don't always find the lost item, but when we do it is a time of rejoicing. I uttered a quick prayer of gratitude and made sure to return the card to its correct slot in my wallet.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Remembering Patty!

Sharing a tribute to our administrative assistant, Patty McCann, a beloved fixture at our middle school (for 27 years until her retirement in 2020) and dear friend who recently lost a valiant fight against cancer:

It is impossible to measure the way Patty loved so many and impacted so many lives. My own children, Blake and Sara and son-in-law Will, were recipients of Patty love. And when I started teaching at IMS, my favorite way to start the day was to stroll through Patty’s office to check in and chat.

She had an unlimited supply of whatever one might need in her office drawer. And if you happened to need something larger than a rubber band, a Tylenol, or a packet of Emergen-C, she could find just what you needed in the safe or in her magical stash in the supply room.  

Patty was one of the strongest supporters of Poem in Your Pocket Day and could always be counted on to recite the poem in her pocket. We shared books and loved passing our latest finds back and forth. We became Grandmas within a few months of each other and never tired of sharing pics of our fabulous little ones.

Perhaps Patty’s greatest gift was her unique way of listening to your woes, dusting you off, and booting you out the door to face whatever dragons your day might bring. She was more than just my colleague at work. My world is less bright without Patty in it, but my heart is stronger because Patty is my friend.

To savor the magic of story, link your post at Sharing Our Stories.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Slice of Life and #PB10for10: Storytime with Grandma!

I'm a some-of-the-time participant (this is my 7th year) in the 12th annual #PB10for10 event held each year on August 10. My happiest times are spent reading picture books with a grandchild or two in my lap! Here are ten books we've loved and read many times during the past year.

I picked up this one before our visit to Teddy's house last spring. Four year old boys love books about underwear and knights and dragons.

A recent find from the library, this one is perfect for machine loving youngsters and even has an element of guessing as they try to figure out the machine approaching by the lights it shows at night.

When our libraries reopened in July, I made a beeline to the Things that Go section. This one did not disappoint!

Such a sweet tale of a young girl's love for a place through the years. A perfect book to pair with All The Places to Love.

Who says old favorites don't still delight? Two year old Robby loves this die cut book with Little Green Monster's face that emerges and disappears.

 A wonderful book to celebrate the joy and magic of making things!

A lovely wordless picture book to celebrate the adventures of beachcombing. Four delightful end pages of fun facts.

Optimistic Sunny shows us how to find silver linings in the darkest clouds.
I couldn't remember the title of this one, but when I described it to my daughter, four year old grandson Jack recited the title verbatim. It involves three cousins, a spooky encounter at an old house, and the way the young people get to know an older person in their neighborhood.
All of us need a story friend to listen to our stories so that we can find our way and discover our voices. "We can do many things in this world, ... but listening to each other's stories is the most precious of all."  
Stop by Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect and Refine, for more #PB10for10 lists.

Here are my lists from previous years:
2019 - One-Day-Late List of Picture Book Favorites
2018 - Favorites Paired
2013 - Golden Lines about Night

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Respect


Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise 
is hosting our gathering for August. 
She invited us to write about the word respect.
I must admit that I was a bit baffled about how to approach the word, respect, chosen by Linda Mitchell for our August posts. I thought about respect for God which links closely to the love I feel for Him. 
But then I decided to go in a completely different direction and to write about the newfound respect that I'm gaining for my body. A little over a year ago I decided to walk away from diet culture and the expectation that at some point in the future I would achieve weight loss success. More than five decades ago, I was sucked into diet culture when I joined T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) with my brother, Karl. I managed to lose a bit of weight (11 pounds) and won the Princess Award in my age group category. And then I joined Weight Watchers when I was in high school. I reached my goal weight when I was a freshman in college. I jokingly say that I was there for about ten minutes, but I was always glad to have reached it (since it meant that I was a Lifetime member who never had to pay a joining fee and did not have to pay for missed meetings either).

And then I spent the next 40+ years in pursuit of my goal weight. That's a lot of time to spend in search of body satisfaction. I explored Intuitive Eating (by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch) last spring when I was prompted by a podcast I followed.  Mid-pandemic, I left diet culture to learn to listen to my body, to respect my body, and to have dignity, health, and happiness regardless of my body size or shape. 
It's an ongoing journey, but it's been interesting as I've challenged my long-held notions that my good (or bad) feelings about myself, indeed my personal worth relies on a number on the scale. I'm trying to unlearn habits of judging others based on their size and seeking to acknowledge the worth of every individual I encounter along my path.  

So it's been over a year of slow and steady unlearning and new learning. I've learned that I don't need to weigh myself every day (or even once a week), that I can trust myself, and that I can choose what I want to eat without relying on a specific plan. I want to respect myself and others without the lens of body shape as a determining factor. It's new territory, but it's an exciting and liberating journey.