Simple Sunday – Laundry

 

Don’t let the cat out of the!…oh, nevermind.

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Where did I put My Cup of Sugar?

My typical is the silly and uplifting snippets from life: quirky things my kids say, the cute antics of our fuzzy orange cat James, hikes and meals enjoyed by family and friends. It is the lemonade from the lemons of life. But I have lost my cup of sugar and my water supply is depleting rapidly, leaving me with lemons I struggle to dilute and make tolerable to the taste. 

From me, when you see my name pop up in your digital noise, you expect lemonade with a sprig of mint, picturesque and thirst quenching on a lovely summer day. It is what I expect from myself when I am inspired to write.

And that is it. I have been unable to see those moments, unable to make anything that would be recognizable as lemonade, so I have stopped writing. 

But now, maybe I need to write about the lemons. So here is one:

Standing in my classroom just yesterday, a classroom which should have 29 students, but several are out due to exposure or being positive or they have simply not shown up. We are all masked and they are busy learning about Martin Luther King Jr. – watching parts of his I Have a Dream speech, reflecting on what they might dream about and how they can make a difference, when I get a text with the results of my COVID test. It is negative so I sent a flippant text to Husband – “Ha! I am negative! Take that world! Did you get the other results?” Only Cody’s has come in and his is negative too. Trying to make light of it all, I text back that now half of our family can go out and party this weekend. 

A student raises their hand and as I walk over to address their question, Husband sends a one word text – Crap

Carter has come back positive. I manage through the last twenty minutes before I can get my students to lunch and then have lunch myself. I am very glad for my transition lenses which darken in the sun and for my mask, masking more than it is designed to –  my raw terror, my fear, my fight or flight instincts. These are the same feelings that caused me to drop everything and collect Cody from school on the day of Sandy Hook.

I cry in the bathroom.

It is not that he is positive, his fever has gone away and his cough is receding, but I worry about his emotional state because I know that mine is in shambles. 

I am angry. I am angry at the virus. I am angry at the selfish, disrespectful, self-entitled masses that give more weight to their individual wants instead of providing support and kindness to humanity so we can uproot this invasive virus that has sprouted and consumed the garden of our lives.

I am sad. I am sad that children are being robbed of years of their childhood, the innate innocence and youthful bliss of simply being a child. 

I am tired. I am tired of all of this. I want to peel away the oppressive and unsettling weight pressing down upon me, roll back time and start over. But I can’t. I can’t and that makes me feel trapped and in turn claustrophobic in my own life. 

And now it is like that phenomena where, say, you decide to buy a car, a Subaru. From that point forward you start to see them everywhere. You can’t not see them. Despite my efforts I am getting to the point where I can only see the bad, the negative, the dark. And I don’t even watch the news.

So, at five o’clock this morning all of this was rolling around in my head. My COVID positive thirteen year old son sleeping in his room across the hall. Tears sprang to my eyes and I turned my wrist to see what time it was, gadging if it was late enough to get up and make some coffee. 

My watch did not show me the time, or rather, maybe it did. On the screen was the low power notification. 

Exactly. Exactly perfect. Low power feels about right. 

(And a note so no one judges my texting during teaching, having our phones on us, as teachers, has now become an expectation. Things move so fast, being untethered from communication is a thing of the past.)

Forever my sprinkle of sugar.
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Simple Sunday – Alley Cat

Cutting through an alley in Flagstaff on our way to an art festival yesterday, we walked past the above door. Carter says “Look momma, a cat!”

“Ahhh,” I replied, already missing our cats even though we just left the house this morning.

“Momma! Don’t ‘ahhh’ vandalism!” The horror in Carter’s voice dripping off each word.

In my defense, he was the one that pointed it out.

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I don’t know what dinner will be

I don’t know what is for dinner tonight, but what I do know is that in about 23 minutes my first batch of mini pumpkin muffins will be coming out of the oven.

Can pumpkin muffins qualify as dinner?

Priorities, people.

What prompted this, you may ask? Well, here in Phoenix our high capped out at 97. It is currently cloudy and 88 degrees with a steady wind. There is a high chance of rain this evening. I am declaring this moment in our weather, even if it is simply a blip on our otherwise hot weatherscape, pumpkin muffin weather. Just because I can.

If those clouds don’t say “pumpkin spice” then I don’t know what does.

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Simple Sunday – Cookie Cat

Eagerly watching

Baking is more entertaining with an orange cat. Note: he was not impressed with the length of the bake time.

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Simple Sunday – When Life Imitates Art and Other Nonsense We Do

We went to the Phoenix Art Museum a couple weeks ago, trading our long-time Science Center membership for a bit of culture.

I love that Cody and Carter still humor me with such things.

Carter enjoyed the scavenger hunt, checking off the found items with minimal art appreciation.

I did capture a bit of appreciation and one of us reflected right-side up and upside down in a shiny sculpture of some sort.

And then there was Carter, finding art where art did not exist. Or at least it was not defined as art in the eyes of the curators.

Not art. Not a door. Some sort of electrical access panel, maybe? Carter spun a tale of art gnomes living behind the scenes. I rather loved it.

I was drawn to pieces that incorporated lots of empty space. Perhaps it reflects my want for less clutter in both my physical and mental spaces.

Calming.

I am not sure we left there more cultured than when we started, but we conversed about art and enjoyed our time together. That is more than enough for me.

Hope you are having a lovely Sunday!

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Pandemic Teaching (again)

Our first day of school picture

We are two weeks into our new school year. The boys are in person this year as they are vaccinated. They also ride the city bus to and from school, a new experience they have already mastered. I am so proud of them for being flexible and brave.

I am teaching, in person as well, still wearing a mask. My school district, deciding to follow CDC guidelines and science backed research, went against our state’s no mask mandate for schools. It looks good from the outside, but there is an “anyone can opt out” form that does not require a reason, just a signature. 20% of my class is unmasked. There have been 31 confirmed COVID cases on campuses throughout my district so far, nine days in. There are five at my school, compared to not a one for all of last year. (Last year, we had a population which were on campus all year, as well as in person learning for over a quarter – fully masked.) These are positive COVID cases of children, unable to get the vaccine. I feel it is just a matter of time that I will have students quarantining or we end up back online. I have already prepped my students so they know how to access our Google Classroom and open assignments. It makes me sad. And it makes me tired.

I am simply focusing on what I can do. I mask. We wash our hands or use hand sanitizer every time we enter the our classroom. I have adjusted my seating chart to optimize safety.

First day of school picture in my classroom.

And then I teach on. My class is already mine in my heart. I adore them all, even the ones who struggle (struggle to not blurt out, struggle to focus, struggle to keep their bodies to themselves, struggle to be respectful, struggle to socialize, so much struggling) . Perhaps I adore those kiddos even a little bit more because they need it.

The six guiding questions students answer that help us create our Essential Agreements for the year.

Last year, in order to keep going and stay somewhat sane, my mantra was “Next school year will be better.” But I am not sure that is going to be the case.

I stumbled upon this quote last week that I think will be my new mantra for this school year:

“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Lena Horne.

I know nothing about Lena Horne, but those words stopped me in my tracks and made me really think. I need to readjust my load so that it is evenly distributed and does not leave me hunched over, looking down and not forward.

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This One is Beyond Cute Kids and Cats

Imagine for a minute that you are a parent and you receive a digital message from your child’s teacher stating that one of your child’s test scores was well below the typical range of “normal” and that further testing was needed. You go ahead with this, allowing your child to take several other tests to determine the underlying problem that surfaced in the original test.

The additional tests confirm that your child does indeed have a deficit. You call and ask to speak to the teacher. Your teacher, again in a digital message, tells you that your child needs to enroll in a tutoring program, one that your independent online research shows that children in your child’s similar situation, need to stay in for life otherwise they will return to this “deficit level”. Oh, and this tutoring service may or may not have some adverse side effects for your child.

You would want to talk to your child’s teacher. You may be surprised that they have not reached out to you to discuss the matter. You would call. And if you called and the office told you that she was busy but either the teacher or the teacher’s aide would call you back to answer your questions, you may politely wait, although it is getting hard for you to both be polite and to wait.

The next day the aide calls you and almost verbatim reads back to you the digital message from the teacher, adding perhaps a little bit more information. When you ask questions, ones that want to get to the root of the problem, ones that want to know what would happen if you simply did not go forward with the tutoring, the aide gets abrupt and angerly tells you that you need to schedule an appointment with the teacher (something you had already asked to do). You are proud of yourself for keeping your composure and continuing to remain polite.

So you call to set up an appointment. You get a 15 minute appointment scheduled a couple days out. Oh, and you have to pay $40 for this appointment.

Of course, this would not happen in my teacher/parent scenario (at least I would hope not!), but it did happen to me in a doctor/patient dynamic.

My $40, 15 minute appointment is today. I have not started the medication I was told to start a week ago, because I still have unanswered questions. I feel there is value in actually discussing a treatment plan, one that is lifelong, with my medical provider instead of just rolling with it using information gleaned from the internet. I did, however, schedule the ultrasound.

The C word was very tentatively mentioned, almost as if it was a footnote in tiny font at the bottom of a multiple paged document. The situation revolves around my thyroid, of which there is a family history of treatable and not scary diagnoses, so I am not terribly concerned about that, yet.

In order to make sense of it, to rationalize my feelings and to convince myself that asking to talk to my doctor is not crazy, I tried the scenario out using the teacher/parent model, because it is what I know. I am a teacher, a professional with a master’s degree. I do not know of a single teacher who would conduct “business” in this way. I know I certainty wouldn’t. I am also a parent and have never been treated this way by an educator.

It is the impersonal, almost authoritarian feel of the way all this has been handled that has me bristled. If I were a dog, my hackles would be up and my teeth would flashing. But my tail would also be tucked in fear.

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Fur Friday – Couch Cats

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Fur Friday – Lounging on the Counter

Chloe, just hanging around.

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