Who Stood Behind You This Year? #SOL21

I’m 7 school days away from the end of the most challenging year of my 23 year teaching career. I’ve taught in person for the majority of the year though I did teach remotely for a short time in September and again between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I spent the first two and half months of the school year teaching a 2nd grade hybrid class where every day I had 14 students in person and 5 students join my class remotely. I’ve heard this modeled referred to as “the unholy hybrid model” and I have to say, I agree. Thankfully, my district realized this wasn’t best for K-2 students. Sadly, my 3-5 colleagues have continued teaching this way the entire school year.

We teachers have been through a lot this year. Personally, I could not have made it through this year without my husband by my side every step of the way. While I went off each day facing the risks of exposing us to a possibly deadly virus he worked from home. As he worked from home he also assumed many of the domestic duties that we used to share. Laundry, cooking and dishes pretty much became solely his responsibilities. While we planned our meals together and I pretty much did all the grocery shopping, he’s been cooking and doing all the dishes for the entire school year. This school year has left me exhausted at the end of each day. We would have starved if I was responsible for the cooking and our kitchen would have looked like the kitchen in The Man Who Didn’t Wash His Dishes.

We went away this weekend to celebrate his birthday so we didn’t do our usual menu planning and grocery shopping for the week. I texted him at lunchtime to let him know I couldn’t get to the store after school. Between after school meetings and needing to be ready for tomorrow it just wasn’t going to happen. I knew we were running low on most things but he texted back a thumbs up emoji followed later in the day by “I’m working on dinner now.”

He pulled together the most amazing mediterranean influenced dinner of marinated grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, brown rice and an amazing garlicky sauce. I could have been convinced he ordered take out from our local Greek restaurant but I actually watched him cook it. Coming home to our nightly dinners has been the highlight of my day this year. Most nights if I even attempt to start doing the dishes he just waves me away. I never could have made it through this year without him and I can’t thank him enough for all the love, help, kindness, patience and understanding he has shown me this year.

Teachers, we’ve had a rough year but many of us have had family and friends who have stood behind us and held us up throughout this year. Give them an extra hug and kiss this evening.

Part of the Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge

Joys on Day 31 #SOL21

It’s the end of the SOL21 challenge and I have to admit there were days this month that I found it more challenging to write than I have during the other two years I participated. There were days when I would get to the end of the day and realize I really didn’t do a great job noticing that day. I have to wonder if pandemic teaching made it harder to notice the little things throughout my day that could turn into slices. I wanted to try and focus on the positive because there have been so many challenges this year and some days that was difficult.

For the last day of the challenge I want to focus on some joys I found on day 31 of the SOL21 challenge:

Today was the end of my teaching week.

I’m looking forward to a relaxing 3 day weekend.

We have plans for a safe Easter dinner with family.

More family members got vaccinated today.

My class was shocked that we made paper airplanes as a follow up to a great Women’s History Month read aloud, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride.

We read another great Women’s History Month book today, Searching the Stars: The Story of Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician.

We watched an Arthur video that brought sweet memories of my boys’ childhood.

The rain stopped so we could have our extra recess reward outside this afternoon.

There were squeals of delight as paper airplanes flew through the air.

I’m looking forward to some knitting.

I don’t have to pack my lunch tonight because I can work from home tomorrow.

I’ve completed 31 days of slicing and this year I did it with a group of colleagues.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Nonfiction Writing Graphic Novel Style Day 29 #SOL21

My second graders have been working on nonfiction writing projects. They have been able to choose from a variety of types of writing for this nonfiction unit. Most have decided to write a how to book but some have decided to write an alphabet book and a few have chosen to try a graphic novel nonfiction piece. This is new for me but I am embracing it because two of my graphic novel authors are reluctant writers.

This week we are focusing on helping our reader get a picture in their mind to teach them our topic. We are learning to use descriptions and comparisons to help give our readers more information. Today I modeled this with my how to book on cookie decorating. Tomorrow I will be modeling this with the graphic novel book I’m attempting to write to teach the same topic. I’m hoping my reluctant writers are motivated by my page on piping and flood.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

“Did you find everything you were looking for?” Day 28 #SOL21

Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. is not the time to do your weekly grocery shopping at our local Wegmans. During the school year I grocery shop for the week on the weekend. I usually go on Saturday but today it was a Sunday activity and later than I would normally go because I had to stop by school to do a few things I couldn’t do on Friday due to a power outage.

Our Wegmans is a crazy place on a Saturday afternoon because we live in a Big 10 University town and all the students come out on Saturday to grocery shop. Sunday is a much less busy time but it comes with a cost. I should have been prepared because this wasn’t the first time it’s happened but I still ended up frustrated.

The shelves are bare and the produce is picked over on Sunday afternoons. I remembered this as I hurried into the store to get out of the rain. There was plenty of asparagus to go with the salmon I planned for tonight but when I made my way to the green onions and cilantro I found empty black baskets. This is a frequent occurrence. Apparently we really like green onions and cilantro in our town. Then there was the salmon that was to be for dinner tonight and leftovers tomorrow to go with the giant bunch of asparagus I already had in my cart. We seem to eat a lot of salmon here too. My choices were individual portions or a 3.5 lbs. piece that could feed an army. Since we no longer have an army it was the individual portions and improvising Monday’s dinner. While there were a few other things on my list unavailable I did get the last bag of my favorite coffee and the last two boxes of Bubly. Though one Buby box was broken open it went in my cart because peach flavored Bubly is next to impossible to find.

As I loaded my groceries onto the belt I was making my mental list. “Did you find everything you were looking for?” the checkout person frequently asks. I almost always say, “Yes!” even if it isn’t true but today I decided I would be honest when asked. While my checkout person carefully packed my groceries and kindly asked me where I wanted my cards and Bubly packed, he didn’t ask me if I found everything. Perhaps he’s learned not to ask that question on a Sunday at 5:00 p.m. As I left the store my frustration melted away when I felt the sun on my face. I popped my new sunglasses on and drove home feeling satisfied that I found a slice for today.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Work Day Day 27 #SOL21

The power went out at school yesterday in the middle of writing workshop. It wasn’t a problem as we were using our entire writing time for writing yesterday. No need for technology for a mini lesson and the speakers I use to play instrumental music during our writing time are battery powered. The sunlight lit our room sufficiently so we carried on as if nothing had happened.

I was able to do my read aloud after writing. I told my class we were doing an “old school” read aloud since we had no document camera. Unfortunately, gathering on the carpet around my rocking chair is also “old school” right now too so I read from the front of the room and held the book up and panned it from side to side for all to see. Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride is a large book with beautiful illustrations so it was better shared this way anyway.

The power never came back on before my students left and the power outage also brought a lack of internet. This didn’t cause me any problems with teaching but it did prevent me from getting my after school work done. I’m a late stayer type of teacher at this stage of life. I’ve never been the early morning type and working after school fits my current lifestyle. I’m not one to work on school once I’m home so I’d rather get it all done before I leave. Having a husband who now works from home and does most of the cooking these days has contributed to this mode of operation.

After about 45 minutes of trying to edit my digital planbook on my phone I gave up and went home. Unfortunately, that has made today a work day. We only have a three day week next week and I only have a few things to finish planning but the work must get done. After almost 23 years I have finally found a method that has resulted in not working on the weekend most weeks but this weekend isn’t one of them. Last weekend wasn’t either due to having to finish report cards. I don’t know how to get those done without working on the weekend and I doubt I’ll figure that out before I retire. Though I will be do some work this weekend, I’ll make sure to take some time for me too. Hoping all those slicers on spring break this week aren’t working and the rest of you have a restful weekend.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Knitting a Heritage Day 25 #SOL21

Over the past year knitting has been the activity that has brought me peace and helped me to escape all that has been happening in the world. I didn’t realize the key role my knitting had played during the pandemic until I took some time at the end of 2020 to reflect on the year. I’ve been knitting for 35 year and this past year I’ve probably knitted more than any other time in my life.

I’m intrigued by the stories of how knitters learned to knit. While most knitters have taught themselves to do a variety of stitches and techniques it seems every knitter learned from someone else the basics of knitting and purling. I especially enjoy the stories of knitters who have been taught to knit by a relative. I appreciate the family heritage that is created by passing on knitting skills from generation to generation.

I learned to knit from my husband’s grandmother. At the time she was called Gram but she came to be called Grandma Myrtle once she became a great-grandmother. I don’t recall where my interest came from but Grandma Myrtle was always knitting something as she relax in the evening so I asked her if she would teach me to knit. Most people start with something easy like a scarf but for some reason I decided to tackle a sweater for my then 1 year old nephew. Thinking back on that now I wonder if she thought I was crazy. I would never recommend a sweater as a first knitting project but I don’t recall Grandma Myrtle being phased by my ambition.

Grandma Myrtle guided me through each step of the project from ribbing to knitting in the round, increased stitches, decreased stitches and weaving in ends. I would often have to wait until I saw her to move on to the next step because at the time there were no YouTube videos to help me. She never discouraged me and was patient when it took me a few tries to learn something new. I eventually finished the sweater for my nephew and actually knitted several more sweaters for friends’ babies and even my own son.

My knitting journey has included blankets, shawls, dish clothes, socks, mittens hats and more. Grandma Myrtle left us almost 10 years ago now about 6 months after she turned 100. I’m so glad I learned to knit from her. There’s a piece of her in every one of my knitting creations. I’m passing on what she has taught me to my daughter-in-law and I know it would please her to see her craft passed down. I know she passed on her craft to her granddaughter and I hope between the two of us we are able to keep this family heritage going for generations to come.

Sharing a little of Grandma Myrtle in the hats I knit for my daughters-in-law for Christmas 2020

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Pandemic Birthday #2 Day 24 #SOL21

Pandemic Birthday #2 is shaping up to be better than I expected and not at all like Pandemic Birthday #1.

5:30 a.m. Hit the snooze button for a few more minutes of sleep. I was greeted with a “Happy Birthday!” but no mention yet that I’m older than him (only for the next 2 months).

5:45 a.m. “Couch Coffee”, as my teammate calls it, sitting in my new favorite chair.

7:35 a.m. Leaving later than I should for in person school. Last year we were in lockdown and there was no birthday at school.

8:00 a.m. Birthday greetings in the hall overheard by one of my students.

8:10 a.m. The secret is out as birthday wishes come trough the announcements. “Why didn’t you tell us?” they cry.

8:15 a.m. The guessing starts. “I don’t mean to be rude, but how old are you?” she sweetly asks.

8:30 a.m. Our morning of math and reading gets underway.

10:40 a.m. It’s indoor recess on a rainy day. “It’s really not a birthday if you don’t say how old you are, what fun is that?” he inquires.

11:15 a.m. A yummy lunch provided by my team. Homemade soup, delicious bread and Hummingbird Cake. Last year’s lunch was over Zoom.

1:00 p.m. Time to model how to write different types of nonfiction pieces. How To, Alphabet and Comic book examples. I love how easily they are awed by my simple drawings.

2:00 p.m. Outdoor recess for our short break. The girls make a six foot semicircle in front of me. “I think she must be 40 something.” she tries again.

“No she’s not. Mrs. F. said she’s in her late fifties. I think you’re 59.” another says.

“No, not 59.” I say.

“Okay, 58 then.” she persists.

“No, not 58.” I reply.

“Then 57!” she insists.

I smile from behind my mask, “Maybe!”

“That’s it, that’s it she’s 57!” she exclaims.

They love this game. The ruse is up. I can’t keep them guessing anymore.

I’ll take my 2nd graders guessing my age on Pandemic Birthday #2 over last year’s isolated celebration.

I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Forever Friends Day 23 #SOL21

Forever friends have been there for all the joys and sorrows.

Forever friends are only a phone call, text, email or private message away.

Forever friends might be four hours away but they’re always ready to lend a hand, a shoulder or an ear.

Forever friends can go long stretches between visits but the reunions melt away the absence in no time.

Forever friends don’t need invitations or doorbells.

Forever friends don’t mind dirty dishes on the counter, dog hair on the carpet or toothpaste in the bathroom sink.

Forever friends have seen your best and worst and love you anyway.

Forever friends never end.

I was blessed to celebrate a special birthday with this group of forever friends a few years ago.
I am participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my third year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!