The Beginning of What Comes Next-3/31/19

On this last day of the Slice of Life Challenge, I’m thinking about how I have written a post every single day this month. 31 days. I wrote after 14-hour work days, on lazy weekend days, on busy Saturdays, on vacation days. I wrote from my desk, my couch, Illinois, Florida. No matter how tired I was or how awake and energized, no matter the time. I got it done. I wrote every day for 31 days.

Yeah, yeah, we all did it, right? And some of the people doing the slice write all year, all the time! That’s a whole other league than I’m playing in, but still. I guess what I’m getting at here is that I set out to do this thing for 31 days, and I didn’t let anything get in my way to prevent me from getting it done.

So that got me thinking…I’ve tried to complete the Couch-2-5k program. I’ve tried to complete a workout program. I’ve tried I’ve tried I’ve tried. I let a lot of things get in my way. Excuses. Work. Being tired. But I just did this thing for 31 days and enjoyed the heck out of it, and read so many great slices that made me think, and laugh, and even cry a little. The power to honor the commitment I made to myself was enough. And I’m proud of myself.

So what should I begin for the next 31 days….?

Winding Down to Wind Back Up-3/30/19

This is my view today. And it will likely be similar tomorrow. When my mom was over the day we got home from vacation, I took out my binders and teacher-y stuff and put everything on the table. I knew I’d have to start tackling all my work Friday morning. She told me to stop! Told me I still have 3 days left of break and don’t take the school work out! I’m sure she said it partly in jest, but I do wish my last three days of break could have been as relaxing and mindless as my sunny, beachy days in Florida.

Truth is, I’m in a much better frame of mind after my sunny, beachy days in Florida than I was in the weeks leading up to break. I was struggling putting my lessons together in the way my students deserved. I was struggling with all of my commitments and the 14 hour days. Struggling with the behaviors of some of my students. I needed break this year like I’ve never needed break.

So I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to relax for a few days so I could be in a better frame of mind to finish my plans for the week and work on National Board. My head is clearer, my ideas are better, my stamina is stronger. There are 40-something student days left when we return on Monday. I’m hoping for a lot of warmth and sunshine as the days unfold, as they sure have done a lot for my mood, and I look great after some exposure to UV rays.

And I may have just a little bit of tan left as I start the week back.

Effects of Spring Break-3/29/19

It’s been a long time since I made dinner before tonight.

2 of my 3 children no longer live at home. But we are no less busy than when it was all of us together. Jake has track practice every night until 6 or later. Lee doesn’t get home from coaching until after 6 every night. I have negotiation meetings about twice a week where I may not get home until 9 or later. National Board meetings every other week put me at home after 6. The random appointment or meet-up with friends make for other nights I’m not home until late. So I haven’t made dinner in awhile.

Tonight? Tonight, Lee, Hannah, Jake and I were all home.  And no one had any plans to leave. We spent the past week eating seafood every day so I needed some red meat. Filet mignon, please! Portobello mushrooms. Potatoes. Asparagus. If I’ve got the time, I’m doing this right! I got to start dinner under no pressure of time. No rush getting everything cooked. I could pay attention to the grill to make sure the steaks were done perfectly. I could saute the mushrooms and steam the asparagus. I had time to prepare steaming baked potatoes. The four of us got to sit together and have a meal that could be tasted and chewed and digested. And we got to talk and be together one more time before we all go back to our busy schedules again.

You know, when you think about it, a meal is so much more than food. So glad I had time to cook dinner today.





No Wind in My Sails-3/28/19

Home from vacation.

It’s hard to get up the energy to want to do anything. Yoga pants are on. Suitcase is half unpacked. Laundry basket is full. Doordash delivered my dinner. I should have walked the dogs. I should be working on National Board stuff.

Tonight is going to be a good night to do some more reading (I read four books on vacation) and catch up on some shows. It’s funny how I have 43 years of slices I could write about, but nothing is coming to my mind right now.

A good vacation is exhausting.

Pain in the Beach-3/27/19

Last vacation day. So lovely to be here in such perfect weather, but the kids got some mad sunburn yesterday and we couldn’t go to the beach today. Or anywhere, for that matter.

We are no strangers to the beach. We have spent a lot of time over the years in southwest Michigan on the beach at the big lake (what we call Lake Michigan) and our tiny cottage lake. Been getting to know the beaches of southwest Florida the last few years during all seasons. Lee and I spent 2 1/2 hours on the beach on Sunday afternoon-no sunscreen, no umbrella-and we came away with a nice little rosy glow that turned to a solid tan on Monday. So what happened yesterday, I don’t know.

Got to the beach around noon, and set up our spot. Beach chairs, towels, umbrella, cooler all deliberately placed and arranged. Lee went looking for shark teeth and the kids and I settled into our little beach chairs, low to the sand, and relaxed. We took various positions in chairs and on towels in full sun for about an hour and a half. Then we got up and put sunscreen on and got out snacks and drinks. After another 1/2 hour, the kids moved to sit under the umbrella, fully shaded. I ended up under the umbrella at some point, too, not much later.

Well. By the time we got home, I could tell I was going to have quite a sunburn in a few places. But the kids… Wow. By the time we all showered and got ready to go to dinner, the kids were on fire. And shivering. Jake was having a hard time walking, his feet and legs were so badly burned. I cut open aloe plants and rubbed them on their burns. They were miserable. But nothing like when they woke up today. Jake’s nose was already blistered (the ONLY part of his face that burned). The fronts and backs of Hannah’s calves were screaming red, her stomach just as bad. Jake’s feet…oh, his feet were swollen and almost purple! His chest and stomach were a deep maroon color. He was so miserable he couldn’t eat. And he’s a teenage boy so I knew it must be bad. I even tried cold washcloths, more aloe, aloe gel, Solarcaine. No relief.

I have a friend whose mom has a place nearby. She and I were texting and I sent her a picture of Jake’s feet. She quickly came over with lavender oil and mixed it with olive oil and started putting it on Jake’s burns. Hannah used it too. It was the first bit of relief he had since yesterday. Thank heavens. We put more of the greasy concoction on him this evening, and he’s feeling a bit better.

Not sure how it got so bad so quickly, but it’s just proof that too much of a good thing can have unintended consequences.

Rotten Apples-3/26/19

Sitting on the lanai this morning looking out at the yard, I noticed we have several oranges on the tree, ready to be picked. It made me think of an apple tree we had in the yard where I grew up.

I don’t recall what kind of apple tree we had, but I remember it being fairly large and quite tall.  And boy, did it produce apples. All those apples that found their way to the ground had to be picked up when it was time for Dad to cut the grass. This became a chore for which we kids became responsible.

None of us wanted to pick up the apples. Chances are, they had been on the ground for several days or maybe even a week. When they landed on the ground, they were often bruised and became food for whatever was lurking nearby. And one of the most frequent apple-eaters were the wasps.

Picking up the wasp-infested apples was quite a trick. As fast as we could, we would do a quick once-over and first pick up any apple that didn’t have a wasp attached. Into the bag they went. Then it was like a game of chicken: would one of us kids make it to the next apple first or would it be a wasp? There was a lot of sprinting forward, bending down for the pick, then jumping away backward when a wasp showed its face.

Needless to say, this job could take awhile. And I can remember, more than once, Dad being annoyed that we were so cautious of the wasps. “Oh yeah, Dad? How about YOU pick up the apples then?” Said none of us ever.

So as I look across the yard at the oranges that will inevitably fall from the tree and end up on the ground, I’m thankful I can just leave them there, and let all creatures great and small enjoy the fruit.

This is Not a Complaint-3/25/19

Today was a “tough” vacation day! (I say this in jest…partially)

We bought this house in Florida at the end of the summer of 2017. And every trip down here has been more work than play, but it’s Florida so I take the good with the bad. We have gotten to the point where all the big stuff is finally finished. So now it’s time to do all the “little” things around here. Like fix fence posts that were blown half down from the hurricane a year and a half ago. And organize and put away all the tools and supplies that have consumed the master closet throughout the remodel. And yard work.

I don’t know how people do any kind of outside work around here in the summer time. It’s gross. It’s awful. I can hardly breathe outside here in the summer. So yard work is not an option for me come June. This week would be the last opportunity for me to take any part in the outside work until next Thanksgiving. Because I love hot and sunny probably more than the next guy, but stifling humid sauna I do not love.

We were on a schedule today, as we had to pick up the kids from the airport at 5:40. Which meant leaving the house by 4:45. Which meant shower by 4. So my work had to be finished by 3:45 so I could clean up and put everything away. By the time we got home from breakfast and Lowe’s, I had about 4 hours of work time.

I spent all 4 of those hours slashing, cutting, sawing, digging, breaking, lopping, and burning. Our yard is like a jungle and I try to clear a little bit every time I’m here (when it’s not summer, of course). I should have taken more before and after pictures, but regardless, the yard looks infinitely better than when we moved in. So it’s slow, and painstaking, but it’s coming along. After all that work in 85 degree sun, I was scratched and sweaty and dirty. A cool shower never felt so good.

My arms are sore, and I’m beyond exhausted. But I’m going to the beach tomorrow and Wednesday with Lee and the kids. So I think one day of work is a good trade-off.