Helpers II

Today I was telling my daughter about the sidewalk chalk activity I wrote about here. She told me that someone in their neighborhood left affirmations on the sidewalks, such as:

You’re smart.

You’re brave.

We can do this.

Anyone who walked the neighborhood would be able to have a little message to boost their spirits.

While my daughter was walking with her children this morning, they passed a neighbor just returning from Walmart. The neighbor greeted them and asked my daughter if the children could have an ice cream. Keeping proper physical distance and not touching, Maggie and Johnny were treated to ice cream “drumsticks” at 10:30 in the morning. The neighbor was missing her own grandchildren and just wanted to give.

People are good.

Helpers

She came out in the afternoon sun
wearing yoga pants and a fleece jacket.
With sidewalk chalk in hand,
she added the last box.

I asked if I could take a picture
of this gift she said she made
for all the children who walked
by her home.

She just wanted to help.

Just showing up

I have read that the secret to improving writing is showing up everyday. I’m here. I’m showing up, but I don’t really have a story because…

I didn’t heed my own advice. I was on screens too long today. It rained and I didn’t get outside. I watched several sessions of the VSRA conference, FaceTimed with a friend, researched distance learning to alleviate my anxiety, and watched Ralph Fletcher teach writing on Facebook. He made it look so easy and natural.

It was my son’s 40th birthday. That meant more time on the phone as my family brainstormed 40 ways for him to celebrate this significant birthday when he couldn’t go out to eat, or see a movie, or have friends over. Some of them were pretty funny. We actually came up with about 50 ways he could celebrate. I hope he did.

Too much screen time today. More conference sessions and a google hangout for school tomorrow. This teacher needs to set some boundaries on screen time. At least it’s not supposed to rain. A walk is needed!

Face Masks and a Shirt with Buttons

I was raised in a family that always went to Church. We marked time from Sunday to Sunday. We had Sunday clothes and Sunday shoes that we wore the whole day, not just to go to Church. Now, not being able to go to Church has been an adjustment.

My sister, Evelyn, is the “keeper of traditions” in our family. She’s the one who hosts for holidays, remembers birthdays, calls our elderly aunt and uncle, and goes the extra mile to serve. She always makes a “Sunday dinner” and while her kids were home, there was always a special dessert.

Evelyn sews beautifully and has made a new “Easter dress” nearly every year. This year, she sewed face masks instead.

This past Sunday, I smiled when Evelyn announced her “Sunday” clothes outfit–a shirt with buttons.

Little things to make life seem normal.

Face Masks by Evelyn

A Day to…

This is a day to be gentle.
This is a day to be quiet.
This is a day to process.

3/23/2020 at 2:00 p.m. Governor Northam announced we would not go back to school this year.

This is a day to try to understand.
This is a day to surrender for a time.
This is a day to balance sadness with gratitude.

May we be well.

Book Choice

I was trying to figure out my position in relation to the coronavirus. I wondered, “Am I on the inside looking out, or on the outside looking in?”

It doesn’t really matter, does it?

However, there have been different times in my life when I have felt on the outside looking in. It’s not a very pleasant feeling, but I won’t go there.

For now, while I’m on the inside looking out, I’m finally reading:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I’m on page 94. (I read Book 1 two summers ago.)

Who knows? I may be able to read them all before school starts again.

Birthday Books

A few weeks ago, I was looking around on Amazon and saw a cool fort. “Four-year olds like forts,” I thought, but before purchasing I gave my daughter a quick call. With some hesitation she said, “Sure. He loves forts.” Pause. “But we have several fort-type things. Why don’t you pick out some books. He always loves the books you send.”

“I can do books!” I felt so relieved. I have quite a few grandchildren in many stages of growing up and I’m not much of a shopper. But books are my love. I was so happy that I didn’t have to keep searching for the “right gift.”

We had a book fair at school just before the school closed on March 13. I bought a stack of books I thought he would enjoy.

These are the books that were in the stack:

The Old Truck isn’t really for four-year olds, except that my grandson loves vehicles of any kind. So I bought it.

I’m hoping that someday he’ll know me better because of Bear Came Along. I adore the story, the illustrations, and all the implications about identity and community.

He loves funny books; hence, the Jack books and Monkey & Cake.

Where’s Waldo was pure nostalgia of hours with my own children on the couch searching for Waldo.

Google Duo has been a lifeline, especially this past week of being home and feeling a bit alone. Today, I got to share as my grandson opened his birthday present with his mom and got to hear my daughter read to her son. Happy doesn’t begin to describe all the feelings of that moment.

Trees

We often blame the weather for the various shapes, sizes, angles, and health of trees. As I walked through the woods at River Bend today, I wondered if there was something more than weather to explain why trees so near each other grow in such different ways.

Why are some so straight and tall while others seem to have struggled, twisting, almost writhing toward the sky? How do some trees thrive with their roots exposed? Some seem to require so little to survive from just a crack in the rock.

Today I saw trees, broken and decaying. Today I saw trees, choked by heavy vines. Today I saw trees with cancerous growths. Today I saw trees persisting, living, growing. All beautiful. In every stage of life. No matter the weather.

I can learn so much from trees.

Maggie's Story

Ping.

Text message incoming.

Swipe up.

There it is.

Maggie’s story.

It read:

I was skipping. I saw a mountain. Then I wanted to climb up it. Then I found a stone and sat on it.

Exactly what I’d like to do.

by Maggie 3/19/2020

Wonders and Worries

As I went on my walk today, I started to think about how quickly things can change and how quickly my feelings can change. Two days ago, I walked the same sidewalks and turned the same corners. Two days ago, I saw beauty and my spirits were lifted. Two days ago, I was able to get out of my head and could enjoy the sensory wonders around me. That didn’t happen today, even though I tried.

Instead, I started thinking about the word “wonder.” Here’s what the dictionary says:

My sense of wonder two days ago was very different from the wonderings of today. The world is full of wonders. But today, those wonders are clouded by my wondering.

Like everyone, I’m wondering, “How long?”

“How can I help?”

“Are the families of my students okay?”

“Is my daughter safe in Utah where there was an earthquake today?” (5.7!)

“What if. . .”

And “what if. . .”

When wonder becomes worry, it’s time to just stop.

Breathe.

Trust.

Love.

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