#SOL23 March 28 If we were having coffee . . .

If we were having coffee we’d be sitting on my porch swing. A favorite spot when you would visit. We’d have some homemade sticky buns with our coffee for your special day. I sent some to Tara and the kids hoping having one of your favorite treats would make the day a little easier.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you we celebrated your life in early December. You wouldn’t believe the crowd that gathered. The tribute ride by your biker friends on a cold December day was touching. The kids and Tara put together a wonderful display of your life. Your oldest used his skills to make a video collection of favorite memories set to the the song Forever Young by Rod Stewart. Your youngest shared words well beyond what anyone would expect a 16 year old to be able to share after losing his dad and your girl was right there by her mom’s side greeting everyone who came. The next day we gathered at the cidery to toast you.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you you fought an unbelievably hard fight against leukemia. I know you spent way more days in the hospital than anyone should have to. I know you did all you could to fight this insidious disease and I wish this hadn’t happened to our family.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how much we have missed you in the four months since you left. There’s been Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, anniversaries and just regular old days when you’ve been missed. It’s been hard for everyone. Family and friends have been there for Tara and the kids. We do what we can to try to ease the pain but sometimes I know we just can’t. My experiences with grief tell me it will get easier with time and how much time that takes will be different for everyone.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Tara has been doing some of those things to the house the two of you planned. The windows have been replaced along with the flooring and the bathroom vanity. I haven’t seen it yet but the photos look great. She had to replace the dishwasher too though that one wasn’t planned. You would be so proud of her and I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you that she has jumped right in doing what needs to be done. She loves her new job by the way and they have been really great to her.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you I miss your laugh and your dancing at family events. I would thank you for the way you supported Tara when she suddenly found herself alone and on her own when our mom died. You told me you would take care of her and you kept that promise. I would reassure you that we will all do whatever we can to support her and the kids now. I hope that brings you peace.

If we were having coffee I’d wish you a Happy Birthday dear Tim. We love and miss you.

My Three Positives in Memory of Tim

1. I was able to write this slice which has been weighing heavy on my heart all month.

2. The sticky buns arrived in time.

3. Tim brought joy and laughter to our family.

Tim 1972-2022
Part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge by
Two Writing Teachers

#SOL23 March 21 Gifts from the Past

For the past two days I have been teaching my second graders about schools in the late 1800’s. We have been learning about one-room schoolhouses in preparation for a field trip to a local one-room schoolhouse later in the year. My students were surprised about a number of things we have learned about schools during this time in history.

To say they were shocked about the discipline practices and seeing a student sitting in the corner wearing a Dunce Cap, would be an understatement. They declared,”That’s not fair!” when they learned a teacher in the 1800’s couldn’t be married. “You couldn’t be our teacher, could you?”

“No,” I replied, “I couldn’t.”

We continued exploring schools in the 1800’s today and read about school supplies. We learned about slates, inkwells and Mcguffey Readers. While I don’t own a Mcguffey Reader, I do have some other school supplies from the late 1800’s that came from my husband’s family farm. I shared some readers, an arithmetic book, an English book and two penmanship books. The penmanship books are my favorite part of this collection because they belong to actual family members whose names are on the front. They also include the teachers’ names along with the dates of 1895 and 1897. The penmanship books are falling apart but the handwriting of these family members preserved in the yellowed pages are family treasures.

My students oohed and ahed has I shared these precious items that I received from my husband’s grandmother. As I was returning the materials to my desk before recess, one of my students came over to me and asked, “Do you have more books?” This one simple question communicated so much from this student. He has only been in this country since August and, while he has learned a great deal of English in a short period of time, he very rarely speaks in a complete sentences. I knew our time exploring these gifts from the past was more than just a fun activity today.

My Three Positives in Memory of Tim

1. I didn’t need to wear my coat to go to my car this afternoon.

2. I received a nice note today.

3. I got a workout in this afternoon.

Tim 1972-2022
Part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge by
Two Writing Teachers

#SOL23 March 6 My Dad’s Pie

I made a pie recently to take to dinner at a friend’s house. I haven’t made this particular pie in a while but as I was scrolling through my digital recipes I kept going back to it. The recipe was one I got from my dad who never really cooked until he became single when I was a teenager. One of his social activities as a single was a gourmet cooking group. He picked up some pretty decent skills through the group and enjoyed cooking when we would get together. Every December 26th, when my siblings and I we would get together with him to celebrate Christmas, he would make bouillabaisse. I love seafood but I really dislike fennel so this was not my favorite dish.

When I told my husband I was making the pie he immediately thought about my dad and we reminisced about our visits with him. The interesting and sometimes unnerving meals we had with him. There’s a story about steamers that I’ll save for another blog post. It’s fasinating how the smell and taste of foods can evoke so many memories.

The pecan cheese pie he made for dessert was one of my favorites. It’s a combination of cheesecake and pecan pie. It’s quite rich but the cheesecake part of the pie cuts down the sweetness of the pecan pie. Though my dad got to be a pretty good cook, he always made the pie with a store bought crust. I have made it the same way because it’s easy and pie crust has never been my favorite part of baking. I finally found a pie crust recipe that is worth the effort so this time I made the pie with a homemade crust. I’ll never use store bought crust again.

Before the pie was served at my friend’s house I shared about where the recipe came from and how the pie always makes me think of my dad. My friend was touched by my story. As we enjoyed our dessert the crunchy pecans and creamy cheesecake filling flooded me with memories of days with my dad and siblings gathered in his small apartment. My sister-in-law was always happy to have my portion of bouillabaisse while I found other morsels to enjoy. Making a pie to take to my friend’s house reminded me of the importance of passing down family recipes and the love and memories we share when we enjoy time together around a table.

My Three Positives in Memory of Tim

1. We visited a museum and garden today

2. The weather is beautiful – sunny and in the 80’s.

3. I’m not at home where snow is expected tonight.

Tim 1972-2022

All month I’ll be joining my sister in focusing on three positives a day in memory of my brother-in-law.

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

#SOL23 March 1 March is Here

I have looked forward to March each year for as long as I can remember. It’s my birthday month and the month when the dark and dreary days of winter begin to be replaced by the dawning of spring, eventually. Though way too early and not quite spring, March also brings our spring break. In addition to my own birthday, three other family members celebrate birthdays during the month. This March my family will be marking some new milestones during March. Not milestones you look forward to marking. There will be many firsts we wish we didn’t have to acknowledge.

My niece and nephew, the second set of twins in my family, will celebrate their 17th birthday in a few weeks. It will be their first birthday without their dad. Later in the month, just a few days after my own birthday, it will be their dad’s birthday, he would have been 51. Their mom, my little sister, will also mark the anniversary of the beginning of her relationship with their dad. They would have been together for 30 years this month. These firsts will be hard.

My sister has decided to focus on three positive things each day during the month of March. I think that is a wonderful way to honor my brother-in-law’s memory so I am going to join her and look for those moments in my day and include them in my slice each day.

My Three Positives in Memory of Tim

1. I slept through the night last night.

2. I needed sunglasses to drive to school today.

3. The kids I taught how to jumprope with a long rope yesterday, were able to do it on their own today at recess.

Tim 1972-2022

All month I’ll be joining my sister in focusing on three positives a day in memory of my brorther-in-law.

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

Grief Journey

We all have a grief journey we take throughout our life. We journey down this road because we have loved. Some of us start this journey early in life and some are blessed to not start the journey until much later.

My grief journey began as a 7 year old the summer before I started 3rd grade. My grandfather, who wasn’t much older than I am right now, died of a heart attack. I have many fond memories of my grandfather because he lived with us until I was almost 6 years old. My mom was not a morning person so my grandfather almost always made my breakfast. Back then my breakfast of choice was a soft boiled egg which he served in a special egg cup. I’m not sure why this was my favorite breakfast as I really do not like runny egg yolks at all. I think it was because Grandpa liked soft boiled eggs.

In the middle of kindergarten, a few months before I turned 6, we moved and Grandpa no longer lived with us. I stopped eating soft boiled eggs. Despite her continuous efforts, my mom could never make them quite like Grandpa did. Maybe she could, but I refused to eat them. They just weren’t the same.

My grief journey has continued as everyone’s does. My grandmother was next. I only knew her a short time because she and my grandfather divorced, probably before I was born, so I didn’t meet her until I was 12. She left the same day as my grandfather 7 years later.

My grief journey has gone on to include my mother, cousins who left too young, another grandmother, a precious grandmother-in-law, my father, aunts and just a week ago my father-in-law. My children have now lost three of their grandparents. While their Pap Pap didn’t make them soft boiled eggs, he passed on many bits of wisdom to them. A family favorite is, “There’s a lot of trucks on 80.” My oldest just confirmed that was good advice as he traveled 80 last night to come home for Pap Pap’s funeral.

Pap Pap turned 90 less than a month ago. We celebrated with his favorite marble cake with peanut butter icing. The tiny peanut butter cups decorating the top were too much of a temptation for him. He picked one off and popped it in his mouth with a grin when he thought no one was looking. Thankfully, we caught him because his mischievous grin brought all of us joy. It’s the memory I’ll keep with me. I know this grief journey will continue throughout my life. While these times are not easy, they are necessary, for there would be no grief journey if we hadn’t first loved.

Happy 90th Birthday Pap Pap!

Missed Calling? #SOL22

“If you’re going to stick with this teaching thing you better find yourself a husband at college.” These we’re the words of advice my father gave me as I began my college career. He made up for it on my wedding day but that’s a slice for another day.

My dad was a lawyer and I think he always hoped one of the five of us would follow in his footsteps but we didn’t. I think he might have thought I was the one to do this because of my love of history. At the time, I was heading to college to be a social studies ed major. Back then I didn’t think I was smart enough to pursue a law degree but over the years I’ve wondered if I had missed my calling.

As I had the good fortune to sit on a beautiful beach and read today, my wonderings about my choice of career resurfaced. In addition to knitting mysteries I also love lawyer stories. I got hooked on John Grisham years ago though I haven’t read one of his novels in a long time. My latest book was sparked by bingeing The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflicks so I was delighted to find a whole series of Mickey Haller books. Mickey is a defense attorney but I see myself more as an Erin Reagan prosecutor.

I know deep down I would not have wanted the lawyer lifestyle. As stressful as teaching can be, it has afforded me the family life I wanted. Though my teaching career has not panned out the way I had hoped it would and there have been tremendous challenges along the way, there have been some very rewarding times too.

One of those rewarding moments came just a few weeks ago when I ran into a family of three children from my school after a church service. The family is moving to another state and I had the pleasure of teaching two of the three children but after a brief chat I got a group hug from all three of them. I bet Mickey Haller and Erin Reagan never got a hug like that one. I think I just might be right where I’m meant to be.

Part of the Slice of Life Story Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers

Coconut Day 28 #SOL22

The smell of coconut is divine.

The taste of coconut is foul.

The smell of coconut transports me to a tropical place.

The texture of coconut makes me cringe.

The smell of coconut is sunscreen, summer, childhood and travel.

The taste of coconut is the disappointing bite into a chocolate from the Valentine box from Dad.

The smell of coconut in my conditioner brings joy.

The taste of coconut brought love from a grandmother who made a slice of coconut-free angel food cake just for me.

Grandma Myrtle 1910-2011

I am participating in the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my fourth year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

Pampered Day 15 #SOL22

He carried my beach chair every day on our short walk from our apartment to the beach while we were on spring break last week. He didn’t need to as I’m quite capable and he knows it but he did it anyway. He pampers me. He always has but it’s been even more so since I became a pandemic teacher. Evident in my SOL21 slice Who Stood Behind You This Year?

The years of pampering have not gone unnoticed by others nor have they been unappreciated despite my independent streak. A streak that was born from the need to grow up quickly when I was the oldest child at home when my stay-at-home mom suddenly found her self divorced and a single parent. While that was a difficult time, it lead me to my university 8 hours from home where I met him.

The years of pampering have not gone unnoticed by our sons either. I’ve seen them carry out the example he set in the few short years they’ve been married. Our oldest pledged to always feed his bride in his vows and our youngest promised to always seek adventure with his. They’ve kept the promises they made.

Sometimes the three of them pamper the three of us in silly ways. I recently learned that a giant bottle of Kraft Parmesan Cheese sparked feelings of gratitude and love in one of my DILs. The gifting of a plant or the presentation of just the right cup of tea brings a beautiful smile to the other. For myself, a new set of Flair pens was the perfect Valentine.

He carried my beach chair every day last week. He often lugs my school bag to and from the car. He does way more dishes than I ever do these days. He makes the bed daily and can make a decent cup of coffee despite being a tea drinker. Our sons can’t go wrong if they continue to follow his example.

I am participating in the 15th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge by Two Writing Teachers. This is my fourth year of daily slicing during the month of March. Thanks for stopping by!

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

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!