Slice of Life, Day 28: Head above the water

We’ve all been there, felt like we’re sinking (sinking in papers, meetings, decisions).  Right now, just trying to keep my head above the water. Treading as fast as I can.  Piles of papers and reports to write are pushing me down.  Just wrote most of one, head above the water. 8 more to go…for now.  Then 10 more short ones. Then 3 more shorter ones.  Then 6 more of the same.  Then 30+ of longer, much longer ones.

I hate this time of year for this reason.  The reports. I’ve paced myself well so far this year and have everything done that needs to be done to write these reports.  And yet, it is weighing on me.  It’s pushing me down.  The piles are staring at me from across the office. I’ve made a plan, a to-do list, in order to keep my head above the water. I’m planning to do 1 long report each day until the first 9 are done. I’ll sprinkle the short ones in, so I can begin moving them from the “to-do” to “done” pile.

It always gets done and it will. And when it does, I’ll feel accomplished. But for now, I’m just trying to keep my head above the water.

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Slice of Life, Day 27: Libraries

I went to the library with my daughter today. It’s something I try to do with my children at least once a week. They enjoy checking out DVDs and books.  As a newly confident reader, my daughter is starting to explore chapter books.  Our library had a suggested reading guide for young readers suggesting series that were good for young girls and young readers….PERFECT!  So, together we picked the first book of a series and decided it would be our “read together” book.

As a child, my mother always took me and my brother to the library. I remember loving to bring home new books.  When I began reading chapter books, I loved getting hooked on a new series – getting to know the characters and watching them grow over the course of a few books. The best authors always left you wanting more!

As an adult, I still love reading books in a series or books by a favorite author.  When I find a favorite author, I tend to read lots of his or her books quickly – relishing the fact that I’ve found a new author to enjoy.  I’m in a lull right now…maybe because I’m busy, but maybe because I need to find a new series to remind me that there is always time to enjoy a good book.

Slice of Life, Day 26: Bravado by clothing

My daughter put on a “Girls Rock” t-shirt this morning. She felt immediately empowered, running from room to room to show it off to her dad and brother.

This weekend, we bought my son a NY Yankees baseball hat for T-ball. He wore it all weekend, feeling important.

It’s amazing how the right piece of clothing can determine how confident, smart, happy you can feel.  As a child who struggled with my weight (still do), I had a pair of “skinny jeans” that made me feel so confident as a middle schooler. I can remember finding them at the store, trying them on and feeling exhilerated by them.

Sometimes its the color of the clothing, sometimes it’s the fit, sometimes it’s the comments you receive when wearing something – but clothing does have the power to improve your spirit, give you confidence and boost your self-image.

Of course, it goes the other way too, because I have lots of memories about being defeated in a dressing room, but for today, for now, I’ll focus on the positive power of clothing – the power to empower.

Slice of Life, Day 25: Spring Sun

The warm sun on my head through the open sunroof in my stopped car says

“Spring is here.”

The cool wind that forces the sunroof closed when the car begins to move says

“Not quite.”

 

I long for the days (and they’ll be here soon) when the

warm sun

and the

cool wind

agree.

 

Slice of Life Day 24: Hand-me-downs

A colleague of mine, who has a daughter who is older than mine, has been giving me hand-me-downs for a few years now. Last week she gave me another bagful of goodies for my daughter.  Upon hearing that new clothes from “M” were in the car, my daughter insisted that I get them out so that she could pick out what she wanted to wear immediately.  I brought the bag in and took each piece of clothing out.  For each article of clothing she’d say,”I LOVE that!” or “That is so me!” or “I think I’ll wear that one today,” “or maybe that one,”  “or maybe that one, I can’t decide!”  It’s lovely to get the gift of hand-me downs and it’s lovely that what’s old for someone else is new and exciting for the recipient.  For me, I know that I so appreciate hand-me-downs and also know that nothing compares to being able to give or lend something that you don’t need to someone who does.

 

Slice of Life, Day 23: Zooming In

In my office are 8 frames of black and white pictures that I took in college. I took the pictures, developed the film, enlarged and printed the images and matted them.  I remember spending hours in the dark room that semester trying to get the blackest black and the whitest white in my prints.  I remember finding a theme of children playing (before I even knew that education would be my profession) and enjoying the time spent at playgrounds zooming in on shapes of equipment, facial expressions and catching childhood games in action.

I’ve had a camera in my hand for as long as I can remember. My parents are avid photographers too, so once we started taking over their camera, they gave my brother and I each one of our own.  Looking through the camera lens helps you to become an innate editor, zooming in on what’s really important and what really needs to be in focus.

When I taught Kindergarten in NYC, I gave disposable cameras to my children when we went on writing walks. I developed their film and had them use their photos to create books.  Now, when I teach writing lessons, I compare zooming in on a small moment to zooming in with a camera lens.  I hope they have that opportunity. The connection between writing and photography is so clear to me.

In my adult life, I’ve taken to creating photbooks and photo-stories for my own children. Instead of photo albums, I’ve created our own non-fiction versions of our adventures and milestones.

As we teach, and now have more digital tools at our fingertips, using photography might be the way to unlock writing for those who are reluctant or it might be the way to inspire a writer to try another angle.

Slice of Life Day 22: Life, reconnected

Computer files recovered today.

E-mail reconfigured.

Newsletter refined and ready to send.

Reconnecting to work life…

relieved.

Temporary computer hooked up.

New computer ordered.

Work life, reconnected.

Slice of Life, Day 21: Life, interrupted

My work computer crashed today.

Life, interrupted.

My files, my projects, my letters, my photos…

on hold.

My power cord sits unplugged and lonely

on my kitchen counter.

My work e-mail awaits unanswered.

My weekly newsletter unedited and unsent.

My work life, interrupted.

Slice of Life, Day 20: Eyepatch

When I was little, I had to wear a patch on my eye for a few hours a day to help strengthen the muscles in my “lazy eye.” I hated it. Back then, the patch was like a band-aid made to go over your eye.  The other option, which I preferred, was opaque contact paper that stuck to my glasses lens. I remember my mom tracing my lens and carefully putting it onto my glasses. I still hated it. It was hard to see, uncomfortable and all around just not a great fashion statement.  I remember I had to do some other kinds of eye exercises too, but I don’t think I was very good or consistent at doing my “eye homework.”

Interestingly enough, my  husband also had a lazy eye and had to wear a patch when he was little.  I haven’t asked him how he felt about it, but I’m sure he hated it. Unless he felt like a pirate, and then, in that case, maybe he liked it.

Both my children now also have to wear eye patches for 2 hours a day.  Their patches are much more fashionable:  made of felt with embroidered pictures on them like hearts or dinosaurs, they slip on and off of their glasses easily.  I have to admit though, that I’m having a hard time enforcing their “eye homework”.  I know they need to wear the patches to get their eyes stronger and I know it will help. I also know that the younger they are, the more likely the patching will help.  I try to patch them when we are home or in the car.  Sometimes they are good about it and wear it for the entire two hours.  Most often though, they wear it for a while, find an excuse to take it off and don’t put it back on.  I try to find the strength, the encouragement, the patience to coax them to wear it for just a little longer.  Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t – somehow it seems too close to my own memories to make them go through the same discomfort – even if in the end the results will be worth it.

Slice of Life Day 19: To wear fancy clothes or not to wear fancy clothes

My daughter loves to dress up. My son doesn’t even like to get dressed!

My daughter’s godmother buys her a very special fancy dress for her birthday each year.  This is a tradition started on her 1st birthday and continues still.  Now they consult with each other on the dress, but the result is the same…a gorgeous, fancy dress that twirls and twirls.  My daughter smiles from ear to ear when she puts it on.  After her birthday, I try to find other occasions for her to wear the dress.  She just loves the twirl, satiny feel of a very special dress.  She’s now almost 7 and learning to accessorize. So now we need to add fancy shoes, purses, hats, etc. to make the outfit just right.

 

My son, on the other hand, doesn’t even own any fancy clothes – well, one argyle vest currently.  On Christmas, Thanksgiving, picture day and other occasions I’ve tried to get him into his “Christmas clothes” or “picture day clothes” to no avail. In fact, if you witnessed the scene with my husband and me getting him dressed, you’d for sure think that something torturous was happening.  For my mom’s recent award event, I barely managed to get him into his argyle vest with a while long sleeved shirt underneath and jeans.  He looked adorable, but my oh my, it wasn’t without coaxing and a major tantrum.  When I dropped him off at school later in the day, he reminded me that I had promised that he could take off the vest and wear only his white shirt the rest of the day.

It’s funny how their personalities really show in the clothes they wear. My son is comfortable in pjs and jeans.  My daughter is comfortable in many outfits – but jeans are not even part of her wardrobe and until recently, she rarely wore pants, only dresses or twirly skirts.  I remember being amazed that even as young as age 2 my daughter had a very strong opinion about what she would and wouldn’t wear.   My son does too, it’s just his opinion and her opinions are very different.

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