Stay at Home Order #SOL20 Day 29

I escaped the house this morning at 7:30 a.m. to go to the grocery store. The rainy day yesterday had me feeling trapped. We couldn’t get out for our daily walk with the dog and by evening our governor had issued a stay at home order for our county. The news only increased my feelings of isolation.

I felt like I was violating the law as I drove the winding road into town this morning. I was expecting to get pulled over and asked where I was going. Grocery shopping is allowed but it still felt strange to be driving somewhere this morning.

I got up early to grocery shop in hopes of finding more things on the shelves and fewer people in the store. While the store wasn’t packed, there were more people than I expected for the first morning of the stay at home order. Fortunately, I found everything I needed, even toilet paper.

The world has changed drastically in the past two weeks. To grocery shop this morning I gathered my hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and rubber gloves. Before I left I set up my wipe down space in the garage. I now teach from a bedroom in my house where I spend most of my day in front of a computer. We only leave the house to walk the dog or gather supplies so we can continue to work and teach from home. It’s not looking like things are going to change anytime soon. I’m hoping I don’t have to repeat the grocery store ordeal for two weeks. Maybe by then things will be a little more normal.

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Two Writing Teachers

 

 

Revelation #SOL20 Day 25

“You sound different.”

“What do you mean I sound different?” I said as I descended from my office classroom. I had just finished doing my daily Morning Meeting over Zoom with my 2nd graders and it was time for a late morning snack so I ventured to the kitchen.

“When you’re teaching, you sound different. Your tone of voice, it’s different. You’re just . . . different.”

It seemed like my husband thought a stranger had emerged from our upstairs office but then I realized he’s never really seen me at work. He’s never really seen what I do day in and day out when I’m with my kids. He sees all the preparations. The hours of making plans, creating materials, reading children’s literature and this year pouring over my Units of Study in Phonics as I learn yet another new teaching resource, but he’s never really seen me carry out all those plans.

I’m an introvert by nature but elementary teachers, especially in the primary grades, need to have the qualities of an extrovert. So, every day as my kids stream into my classroom I transform into Teacher Beth. Teacher Beth loves to get silly at Morning Meeting, do read alouds and get kids excited about books, use my mascot Gus to help me teach phonics, get over the top excited when someone shares a math strategy, or embellish a personal narrative to help make a teaching point.

“My job is a little like acting, you know, putting on a performance.” I explained. “I have to act different when I’m in front of a group of kids.”

“I guess I never really thought about it.” he said.

“As an introvert I really do need to become someone different in my classroom. It takes a lot of energy for me to do that.” I shared.

“That explains why you’re exhausted when you get home.” he concluded.

“Exactly!” I replied.

There’s so much we’re learning through this strange experience of social distancing and quarantine. I’m sure we’re all seeing a side of those we live with we’re not used to seeing. I hope my husband likes Teacher Beth, I’m not sure I can tell yet. Maybe once he gets over the shock I’ll know.

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Two Writing Teachers

#pandemicbirthday #SOL20 Day 24

“Is it over yet?” I asked my husband as I woke up this morning. I have asked the same question many mornings since this started but this morning was a little different because I woke up a year older this morning.

Hopefully celebrating a birthday during a pandemic is a once in a life time thing. I decided to take the opportunity to preserve my special day in photos.

My husband decided since we were stuck at home we would do things a little differently this year. I opened gifts throughout the day rather than after a family birthday dinner. So after my Zoom Morning Meeting it was time to start unwrapping.

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Screen Shot 2020-03-24 at 11.16.49 AMNext came some Zoom fun with colleagues.

#who’speelingtheapples?

 

 

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The daily walk in the sunshine was part of the plan.

 

 

 

We practiced some social distancing with the in-laws too.

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And finished the day doing a Google Hangout with all the kids, IMG_3550

We made the best during this strange time. We focused on the important things family, fun and getting out in the sunshine. It will be a birthday to remember. #pandemicbirthday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Two Writing Teachers

 

It’s Not Your Grandmother’s Dishcloth #SOL20 Day 20

I don’t like to admit that I knit dishcloths, but I do. It’s something old ladies do and I’m not an old lady, yet. Knitting provides a creative outlet for me and it helps reduce stress. I’ve seen memes that say I Knit So I Don’t Kill People and I’ve read articles that cite research showing knitting reduces blood pressure so it must be true that knitting reduces stress. Dishcloth projects are very portable and they’re a great project for traveling so I always take one along on a car trip or if I’m flying somewhere. I’ve recently decided I can justify my dishcloth habit with the thinking that a knitted dishcloth is more environmentally sound than a sponge or other disposable cleaning device. I’m on a mission to make knit dishcloths cool.

IMG_3441On my recent spring break trip I knit the yellow dishcloth. It’s for my older sister. The purple one is for my younger sister. We were supposed to be getting together today for a girls’ weekend and I was going to deliver the butterfly dishcloths to them. We were getting together with their daughters for a girls’ weekend because we were supposed to be celebrating my soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s wedding shower tomorrow. Thing 2 and soon-to-be Mrs. Thing 2 are getting married in 8 weeks. (I’ll just leave that sentence sit there.)

IMG_3244_2I also knit a dishcloth for my older brother who was a huge Wizard of Oz fan when we were kids. The pattern is called Emerald City and when I saw it I knew I had to knit it for him. Now that I’m blogging about my dishcloth habit I’ll have to find a pattern to knit for my oldest brother in case he reads this post.

If this social distancing and remote teaching go on for any length of time it’s hard to tell who might get a dishcloth from me. Hence my need to make dishcloth knitting cool. My husband’s grandmother taught me to knit and she was pretty cool and, no surprise, she knit dishcloths. My husband’s cousin and I are carrying on the legacy of dishcloth knitting. I’m hoping to pass it on to Mrs. Thing 1 and the soon-to-be Mrs. Thing 2. They both have knitted dishcloths in their homes and I’m sure they think they’re cool.

Follow the link to see some of my cool dishcloths over on Instagram Beachnitter

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Two Writing Teachers

 

 

One Last Look

Dear 18 Year Old Me,

It’s almost time to leave so take a long look before you head westward because you won’t be back except for summer visits. Notice the way the sun sparkles on the water as you drive along Maple Avenue. Do you see how the water touches the sky? You won’t be able to see the horizon like this every day anymore so don’t take it for granted. Take in the sun and the ever squawking seagulls as the cool morning sand oozes between your toes. The sun will only be a sometimes visitor where you’re headed.

You’ll never live in this house again so take a walk around the yard. Make sure it’s when the rhododendron are blooming and not when those hard nuts are falling from the tree in the front yard. Take in the forsythia that grows along the neighbor’s yard right outside your bedroom window. The screened in patio is just to the left. Remember that August night when we sang Happy Birthday to Mom as 40 candles illuminated her face? She wasn’t happy with us. Who knew she would never make it to 60. Mark milestones because you never know when you won’t be able to mark them.

The maple tree still has the L shaped scar from the night the car came barreling through the backyard only to be stopped by the boat anchor in the shed. What a night that was. It was the first time I heard my older brother swear and he didn’t even get in trouble. Remember how Dad tried to coax the neighbor out of the car but she wouldn’t emerge until she had her wig back on? Little did she know there was a gas can nearby. Fortunately, the only damage was to the tree and the contents of the shed but it was a memorable night in our quiet neighborhood. Be thankful for near misses.

The roses are just around the corner. Mom loved the roses. Be careful of the thorns though. Life is kind of like those climbing roses. There will be many beautiful moments but there will be some thorns along the way. You’ll suffer the occasional pains from them but in time you’ll see the beauty. Sometimes it takes a while to see the beauty though. Keep searching, it’s there.

The last stop around the yard will bring you to the tree. You spent hours under that tree watching your little sister play in the dirt with her Matchbox cars and Tonka trucks.  That tree provided shade for your 11 year old self as you watched her blond banana curls blow in the breeze while she rode her Big Wheel in the street with the neighbor boy. Someone would always be there to yell “Car!” as kids played. Kids don’t play in the streets anymore because they are over-scheduled. Make sure your kids have time to play in the street.

You’ll have a few more places to call home after this one and you’ll make great memories in all of them. This first one will always be special though so keep it close to your heart. In the future you’ll only be able to drive by to show your kids and husband but you’ll marvel at how much the trees have grown. Though most of the families have probably moved on each house will always belong to that family who lived there when you were a child. I hope our neighbors are driving by their childhood home and remembering our family and our street games of Kick the Can and Cops and Robbers. There’s no place like home.

Love,

Much Older Me

 

 

 

 

July 24, 2018 . . . Before That

Today is a lazy summer day due to the rain and nothing pressing on my schedule for the day. Not all summer days are like this but many are now. It’s one of the things I treasure about summer, unscheduled days to do as I please or do nothing at all. This morning as I sipped my coffee with a sleeping puppy on my lap Facebook reminded me of past events on July 24th which made me think about writing a Before That Slice of Life.

July 24, 2018

Sipping coffee, puppy sleeping, rain arriving soon.

Before That . . .

July 24, 2017

Breakfast in Venice on a silver tray, train to Verona, gelato in the rain.

Before That . . .

July 24, 2015

Packing up memories, starting a new chapter, first dinner at our new house.

Before That . . .

July 24, 2014

Caribbean sun and a shady palapa with my love.

Before That . . .

July 24, 2013

The nest was full, the sun was shining, reading on the deck with Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Before That . . .

July 24, 2009

Painting shutters by day while taxing to and from the golf course and theater rehearsals.

For the most part time spent scrolling through Facebook posts can be a huge waste of time but it is fun to look back on the memories. Some would have been forgotten without the reminders. I have no idea what might have happened on July 24th in 2016, 2012, 2011 or 2010 but it’s fun to be reminded of the other events. I often don’t look back fondly on the summer of 2009 because all I recall is trying to paint 28 shutters while taxing Thing 1 and Thing 2 to their various summer activities. Today, Facebook helped me to see that time in a more pleasant light. It’s funny how your perspective can change.

If you’re a Summer Mom shuttling your kids to and fro counting the days until they go back to school take some time to enjoy your time with them. These days don’t last forever and while you will enjoy your new found freedom you will miss these days. Take some photos and write some silly Facebook posts so you get a reminder of days gone by in the future and think about what was happening Before That . . .

 

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Two Writing Teachers

 

 

Summer Wife Gets a Puppy?

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My girl Zoe last summer.

I’ve been Summer Wife (click to read one of my earliest blog posts from about a year ago) for five days now and I have come to the realization that the house is truly empty. So, maybe yesterday was the first day I was actually home alone because my husband took Friday afternoon off but things just aren’t the same this summer without my girl Zoe by my side. We lost our 14-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel back in February and at the time I was convinced I wouldn’t get another dog until I retire. I started looking for a new dog Saturday morning.

 

I know there are lots of great dogs waiting to be adopted through rescue agencies but we are really attached to Cavaliers due to their awesome personality. We also want a puppy because we’ve had a crazy dog in the past and we don’t want to live through that again. Finding a Cavalier puppy is not an easy task. The fear of getting a puppy from a puppy mill is high and Cavalier breeders can be persnickety. The breeder we bought Zoe from has one puppy right now but she is non-responsive through email which is the only way we know to contact her. She’s trying to decide whether or not to keep the puppy so she can show it. We’re hoping she discovers some giant flaw in the dog soon so she can be ours.

In the meantime I’ve been searching the internet and contacting everyone I can find in a 250 mile radius looking for puppies. I’ve found many but I’m cautious about how the puppies were bred and how they are being raised. I’ve sent Thing 1 to investigate a breeder an hour from where he lives and I have a day trip planned tomorrow to visit some puppies near where Thing 2 lives. I just don’t know if the time is right. I wake up in the morning thinking I’m crazy for getting another dog. What will happen when I go back to school? Will he/she be able to be alone all day? My school hours are changing next year and I have no idea what my schedule will be like. I will need to leave home much earlier but will I be able to get home earlier? There’s many unknowns.

Life is full of unknowns though and fretting about them isn’t profitable. I’m looking for someone to talk me out of this, to tell me I’m crazy for bringing a puppy into my life right now but I’m not having much luck. I blogged about test driving a car recently and most of my friends and co-workers were convinced the post was going to be about a dog. I did get a new (used) car and several comments about needing a dog.

I’m not sure what the future will hold but you can only look at and visit so many adorable puppies for so long before giving in. Maybe I should stop the search cold turkey so I can resist. I’ll spend my summer by the pool reading or knitting rather than chasing a puppy around and trying to housebreak it before going back to school. Only time will tell whether or not I give my heart to a new four-legged friend. Stay tuned!

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Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge

Struggles Bond Strangers

“You know if I write the plans I won’t need them.”

“Get writing then!” my husband said as he dug his work laptop out of his bag and handed it to me.

We arrived at the Chicago O’Hare airport on time knowing our final flight home from San Antonio was delayed by an hour. We grabbed a quick dinner and headed to our gate. Upon reaching the gate we found our flight was delayed another hour. Now we were getting home at 11:00 p.m. rather than 9:00 p.m. Though it wasn’t an ideal time to arrive home and head to work and school today, it was manageable.

We settled in and did all those things you do while waiting for a flight, people watch, hunt for an outlet for your phone, buy expensive water and snacks to help pass the time . . . Every half hour or so the departure of our flight home got later and later. This was a familiar situation for us and experience had taught us it wasn’t looking good. Despite having a Big Ten University in our backyard, it’s never been easy for us to fly in and out of our small town, even after the airport was expanded to accommodate larger planes for visiting football teams. The weather can be unpredictable and though the airport is bigger it’s still run like a small town airport.

By the third delay I decided it was time to think about writing the sub plans just in case. Only a teacher and his or her significant other knows what this entails. I had nothing with me to deal with this but thankfully my husband had been traveling for work and had his laptop along. I logged into my school account and started searching Google Docs for old sub plans. I moved myself to a counter and joined other travelers who were trying to get some work done as we waited for our flight.

Our town is small enough that it turned out we met some other locals at the table. We also met some who were heading to our town for professional reasons; meetings, consultations and conferences. One traveler didn’t actually know why he was heading to our town though that may have had something to do with where in the airport he had spent most of his time waiting. As I wrote my plans I learned one fellow traveler graduated from our local high school two years ahead of my husband. My husband knew his sister and he knew two of my coworkers pretty well. Additionally, his wife also works in the same school district though at a different elementary school. It’s a small town.

As time passed and the delay increased I shared what I was doing.

“I’m writing sub plans for tomorrow just in case. I’m hoping I don’t need them. If I write them chances are we’ll get home,” I shared with my table-mates, “that’s usually the way it goes.”

“Keep writing then, we want to get home!” my neighbor urged me.

I stopped for a minute to engage in the conversation at the table.

“Hey, keep writing so we get home tonight!” my new friends teased.

As I put the finishing touches on plans I was not confident were very good, the captain arrived to board our waiting plane. The crowd at the gate cheered and clapped. The mood lightened and we were feeling hopeful. The co-pilot showed up next and once again this group of strangers came together and cheered and clapped. A few minutes later the final needed crew member, a flight attendant, arrived at our gate. The claps and cheers started again though she shied away from the attention.

It had worked. I wrote the plans that wouldn’t be needed. The crew arrived we boarded the plane. We said farewell to our new acquaintances and settled into our seats exhausted and ready to get home by 1:00 a.m. We sat and waited for the plane to back away from the gate. We waited and waited and waited.

After an hour we were offered to deplane though we were encouraged not to because we would probably be leaving shortly. Everyone stayed in their seats. We were told we were waiting for a weather report from the tower back home. One eager passenger even called our airport and offered her phone to the flight attendant to take to the pilot for the weather report. All was fine back home weather-wise.

After 90 minutes of sitting at the gate we were told to head back into the terminal to talk with a customer service representative. It turned out the sub plans were needed. This wasn’t the first time I wrote sub plans in the O’Hare airport but I hope it will be the last.

As we arrived back at the gate this morning we were greeted by a number of friendly faces. Faces that were no longer strangers to us because our struggle to get home bonded us together. We chatted about the short night’s sleep we had at the hotel the airline provided and compared notes on where we stayed. After a short delay we all boarded the plane again sitting in our same seats and joked about how familiar it all felt. After a short delay we were in the air and headed for home forever bonded by the struggle to get there.

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Two Writing Teachers