Slice of Life 2013

Slice of Life 2013 Day 31: Easter Surprise

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

Life is full of surprises, isn’t it?

We were planning on having a quiet Easter at home, just the two of us. Neither of our kids could make it home this year, and we made plans accordingly. Last night after making my orange-carrot-pineapple jello salad and ice-box cake, I settled into my chair and had just dozed off when there was a loud knock at the door. I wasn’t too alarmed as my daughter had told us that a friend of hers was going to be stopping by to pick up a pair of boots. Husband answered the door and guess who was waiting out there on the porch?

You guessed it: both of our kids!

Matt (our oldest) is a fight instructor at Embry Riddle in Florida. He had a flight student with him who had just flown from Daytona Beach to Raleigh to complete a cross-country flight for his instrument rating. They needed to fly a certain distance and they decided (at the last minute) to fly to Raleigh and surprise us. Of course Matt called Katie and convinced her that she needed to come home, too, to complete the surprise. Being the trooper that she is, Katie made the trip (again!) and met up with her big brother and a few other friends.

Within minutes, our formerly empty nest was full once again : )

Today has been a lovely day starting off with a beautiful Easter service at church (sang the first few words of “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and was in tears), a delicious meal (good thing I decided to cook!), and some precious time with my little family of four. We are a tight-knit group, we are. Our time together in the past few years is so precious, as it’s rare we are all in the same state at the same time.

I have never been big on surprises, but I am learning to embrace them as gifts.

As I wrap-up this last post for the Slice of Life Challenge, how fitting that it was not what I had planned to write today. But since we are talking about surprises, it does fit in that category. It has been a delightful surprise to be a part of this writing adventure with all of you. Thank you to those who took the time to read my posts and especially those who responded to so many of them. It really means so much to me. This experience has been so much more than I ever expected and I believe has started me down a new path.

Congratulations to all of you slicers who made it to this 31st post!

Thanks again, Stacey and Ruth, for hosting this life-changing event.



Slice of Life 2013 Day 30: Orange-Pineapple-Carrot Jello Salad

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I find myself in the midst of preparing a holiday meal for my family (correct that: husband). The kids were not able to be home this weekend, so it looks like it is just the two of us, plus Rosie, of course.

Since it was just going to be us two, I suggested that we go out to eat for Easter dinner. Husband wasn’t feeling it. Thought it “would not be right if we didn’t have our Easter ham” and lo and behold guess what I’m making for dinner tomorrow? You guessed it : ham!

This isn’t surprising as we all have our dearly held holiday traditions. Some are our own, some handed down from family.

Tonight I am making my mom’s orange-pineapple-carrot jello salad, and for dessert her “ice-box cake” which is not a cake but does reside in the “ice-box” (remember when we called it that?).

My mom died this past October, and I find that one of the ways I keep her close to me is by making some of the dishes she loved and looked forward to, especially around the holidays. If it’s Easter, you must make a ham, little red potatoes, fresh asparagus, and orange-pineapple-carrot jello salad (served with the meal, even though husband feels this is actually a dessert). The ice-box cake is a nice addition for dessert (which mom ate at every meal and never had to diet her whole 85 years!).

So, Mom, you will be thrilled to know that your daughter (who you thought didn’t cook enough “real meals”  for her family) is making you proud by serving your favorite Easter meal.

I miss you, Mom.

me and mom


Slice of Life 2013 Day 29: Time to Dream Again

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
I had the day off today as my Spring Break has officially started. After all too many days of cold temperatures and dreary weather, the sun finally came out here in North Carolina. We are still not seeing normal temps but it was warm enough to sit outside in the sun. First time in a long time.

To add to that sweetness, one of my closest and dearest friends came over so we could catch up and enjoy the freedom of a day off.

We sat out on my back deck and soaked up the sun and just talked and shared what was on our hearts today.

We talked a lot about dreams and how important it is to keep dreaming, especially as we get older. We talked about how this stage of our lives has left us puzzled, not sure what to do next, what’s left for us.

Can we still have our own dreams at this stage of life and if we can, what would they look like?

In the last few years I have had a few of my dreams die. This is never easy and it can be difficult to bounce back from these losses. My desire to dream was dampened by my fear of more loss.

From our discussions today, I realized that when my children still lived at home, it wasn’t as important to have fresh hopes and dreams for myself as it was easy to live vicariously through theirs. When you have young people around you, it is easy to get swept up in all of the “firsts” that they experience, and not notice that you aren’t having as many in your own life.

After your children leave the nest, your steady diet of new and exciting experiences dries up. If you aren’t doing new things and taking risks yourself, your life is probably predictably stable and relatively unchanging (translated: “safe”).

What am I trying to say? I think I am beginning to see how important it is for me to shake things up a bit…take some risks…upset the apple cart…if I am going to truly live and dream again.

I do not want my life to be defined by my losses.

It’s time to dream again.


Slice of Life Challenge Day 28: Post Slice Pondering

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

We are down to three more days of the Slice of Life Challenge. I must admit that when I started this challenge (albeit late!), I went into it thinking I would try to blog every day, but if I didn’t then it wouldn’t be a big deal. At least I gave it a shot (there I go always giving myself an easy out…).

I am happy to say that I’ve been able to post every day since I started and I have truly enjoyed every bit of it (well, everything except the posting part…my computer does not like WordPress!).

But I feel myself growing anxious about the end. What happens next? Do I keep blogging? Will anyone read my posts? Does that even matter?

I am curious to know what other slicers are thinking right now and any plans you have for the post-slice challenge.

I’ve so enjoyed reading the variety of slices, and even though I haven’t commented on all of them (believe me, I’ve tried!) I have really enjoyed getting to know you.

Thanks, Stacy & Ruth for hosting this Slice of Life Challenge! It has been a blast!




Slice of Life 2013 Day 27: A Father’s Love

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

Today after lunch during what our school calls “homebase,” a 20-minute, sort-of- study hall/holding area for students, one of my girls pulled up her chair to chat with me. “Donna” will often come and talk to me when she needs a listening ear. She has confided in me about lots of different things: parent problems, drama with her friends, her grades, her obsession with shoes, etc.

I could tell she wasn’t in need of advice today, as she had the biggest grin on her face.

“I’m having the best day, Mrs. Stevens!” she said. She was absolutely beaming.

“What’s up?”

“Well, I have a visitor I’m going to see tonight and I am so excited! You will never guess who it is!”

“Give me a hint?” I asked.

“Well, it’s someone I haven’t seen in a really long time…” she said shyly.

That’s when I knew it was her father.

I don’t know Donna’s father other than what she’s shared with me. Right after Christmas break she was in tears one day and she shared with me about how her father is always promising things and he doesn’t deliver. At the time I knew he lived far away and she didn’t see him very often. She was sad that he had promised her certain things for Christmas, and here it was January and no packages had arrived. She was so tired of being disappointed.

My heart broke for Donna that day as I know just how important a father’s love is, especially to a young girl.

So, when Donna shared that her father was in town and she would see him tonight, I was a bit surprised.

One of Donna’s friends was listening in on our conversation and she overheard that her dad was in town.

“Wow, Donna, you haven’t seen your dad in what, eight years?” Joanne piped in.

“Yeah, it’s been about eight years since I’ve seen him,” Donna confirmed. “I think I was about four years old the last time we visited.”

Wow. I had no idea it had been that long.

I can’t imagine what that must be like for her. But I do know that just the thought of seeing her “daddy” after so many years…he was finally coming through for her…had this girl absolutely radiating happiness.

A father’s love can do that to you.

My heart breaks for girls like Donna who grow up without the constant and steady love of a father. A father’s love is so important to a young girl’s development of self-esteem, and self-worth. When you are a young girl and you have a dad that adores you just as you are, there is no greater gift.

I did not have that kind of relationship with my own dad, but I did know that he loved me. He just wasn’t that sort of dad.

But I have seen how transformative a father’s love can be with my own daughter. Her father adores her and she has always known that love. She knows her dad would do anything for her and that he will always love and support her, no matter what. That’s a powerful love.

So when I see girls like Donna, sweet, wonderful girls like Donna, who have to make do, accept less than they deserve, it truly breaks my heart.

I hope Donna’s visit with her dad is all she hopes it will be and more. I know that her dad can’t make up for the years he has missed or the promises he has broken…but it’s a start.



Slice of Life 2013 Day 26: Full Moon

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
I’m limping along tonight, trying to muster up the strength to write my daily slice.

I have almost made it to the (temporary) finish line: Spring Break.

I have one more day with students before I am let loose for 11 glorious days of freedom.

I can make it through one more day, right? We have a busy day planned. We can do this!

Just when I thought I might make it, look what I discovered:

Full Moon Dates 2013

Year Month Day Time Day of Week
2013 Jan 27 05:38 Sun
2013 Feb 25 21:26 Mon
2013 Mar 27 10:27 Wed
2013 Apr 25 21:57 Thu
2013 May 25 06:25 Sat
2013 Jun 23 13:32 Sun
2013 Jul 22 10:15 Mon
2013 Aug 21 03:44 Wed
2013 Sep 19 13:12 Thu
2013 Oct 19 01:37 Sat
2013 Nov 17 16:15 Sun
2013 Dec 17 10:28 Tue

If you are a teacher (especially a middle school teacher), there is no need for explanation, is there?

Oh, the fates can be cruel sometimes!




Slice of Life 2013 Day 25: Slow to Transition

Slice of Life


I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

“Slow to transition.”

That is what it should say next to my name.  Especially on Mondays. 

You see, I don’t do transitions well.  Weekend to weekday…school schedule to vacation schedule…Saturday to Sunday, I struggle to adjust to the change.

Yep, I’m slow to transition.

So, you can imagine that today being Monday I have been fighting the change all day. This resistance is particularly difficult if it’s been a good weekend.  I am slow to let go of the fun and good feelings I associate with my time off.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I show up.


Mentally, I’m in another sphere altogether.

Not surprising, this sounds very much like the students I teach. Many middle schoolers are notorious for having “difficulties with transitions,” as I’ve read on more student records that I care to admit.

Does that make me a middle schooler at heart?

I think it might. I suspect that I am not alone.


Signs Warning of Approaching Curve


Slice of Life 2013 Day 24: Life in a Shelter

 Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

I recently finished Blue Baillett’s latest novel, Hold Fast. It was a very moving story of a young family who ends up homeless and are forced to live in a city shelter. Life in a shelter is experienced through the eyes of our 11- year-old protagonist, Early Pearl.

As I mentioned in a previous post, several of my students this year are homeless. My heart goes out to them as they struggle to care about school and learning, when so much of their young lives are spent with worries and burdens no child should have to carry. Early’s story made me even more aware of what these kids deal with every day.

I wrote this found poem using a page from the novel because it deeply moved me and I think it best captured the reality of shelter life.

Life in a Shelter

A Found Poem

Unpredictable and


Blanket-heavy, round with


Fast and sharp

A horizontal sting

Laced with ice

People get distracted by

Worries and sadness

Work hard to hold on to


Hold fast to

Dreams and words

Grow more fragile with

Each passing day

Time to think about the

Hard choices

People make in life

Work hard to hold on to beauty,

To hold fast to dreams and


So much beauty

Goes unseen


Slice of Life 2013 Day 23: There’s Something about Weddings

Slice of Life

I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.
Today I find myself thinking about weddings.

Katie, my daughter, is the bridesmaid in a wedding of a good friend of hers from church. This is her first wedding where she is a part of the bridal party. It reminds me of my bridesmaid experiences, the first being the wedding of my sister, Jane, when I was 15 years old.

When I was Katie’s age and a senior in college, two of my roommates got married within two weeks of our college graduation, and I was in both weddings. It was a crazy time for all of us as we were wrapping up our college lives and getting ready to move on to whatever life had to offer us at the time. I remember feeling completely adrift at the time. No job prospects, no boyfriend (my college boyfriend and I had broken up in February of our senior year), no plans. It was a scary time for me.

I envied the security my friends who were getting married seemed to have. No need to worry about the fact that they didn’t have teaching jobs yet (it was 1982 in New Jersey and teaching jobs were almost non-existent). They had husbands who would provide for them. At the time, they seemed to have life all figured out. I felt like I had no clue.

Several of Katie’s friends have gotten married in the past year. A few more will probably get engaged within the next few months. They are all so very young.

Seeing Katie’s friends getting married reminds me that my little girl is not so little anymore and it could (and will) be her one day walking down the aisle. So hard to believe.

Still, I know these weddings can be hard when you are young and feel like maybe you will never find that special person for yourself or maybe you will never find that perfect job. It seems like there is so much to figure out about life and you have no clue where to begin.

Weddings…they bring up so many mixed emotions, but they remind us that life is about new beginnings, about starting out with very little direction and a whole lot of hope.


Slice of Life 2013 Day 22: Change in Plans

Slice of Life
I’m participating in the March Slice of Life Challenge, hosted by Stacey Shubitz and Ruth Ayres at Two Writing Teachers.

This has been a long week. We don’t start our Spring Break until next Thursday, so we have three more school days to go before we are set free. It is so close, yet so far.

I was very much looking forward to my Spring Break. Not because I am going anywhere special, but just to have some down time. Last year during break I was in the process of writing new curriculum for our county and spent eight to ten hours a day writing every day of break. I was extremely productive, but it wasn’t relaxing to say the least.

This year I thought I would just enjoy being off, spend more time reading and writing, as well as get together with friends for lunch and long walks in the park. Since I have a young pup, I thought we could spend some more time at the dog park and go for walks together.

Looks like that’s not going to happen.

Took Rosie to the vet tonight and she recommended that we have her spayed as soon as possible. Seems all of her adult teeth have come in and the vet is concerned that she could go into heat at any time. She recommended that we spay her at our earliest convenience.

Since we both work, using my vacation time to do this makes sense. Rosie will be on house arrest for a week—no playing, no jumping, no walks, no running: no fun. She must also wear a “cone” for a week.

This should be interesting.

I was told we need to “keep her calm” and not to let her get “excited.”

Rosie is a five-month-old golden retriever.

If you look that up in the dictionary, I am pretty sure it will say “always excited” next to the definition.

Anyway, I have decided to have her spayed on April 1st. I will be home all that week and can tend to her needs. It’s not the spring break I was looking forward to, but it seems like the best for Ro.

Who knows? Maybe she will let me read to her.