Slice of Life: Day 19

Slice of Life: Day 19

Some Questions About Relevance

Right now, I’m preoccupied with the idea of relevance. Everybody wants to be appurtenant or congruent in their various situations.  My son begs to hold a cell phone, like his peers, so that he will look cool.  We bloggers want our readers to think our words are pertinent and weighty.  I avoid wearing what my daughter calls “mom jeans,” so my kids don’t laugh at me. All this so that we can carve a place in this world.  We want to fit in and possibly get more likes or have more friends,

So, what if I’m not relevant?  I ponder this as I sit at my local coffee shop.

Wearing my 5 year old t-shirt and reading glasses, two bottles of nail polish sitting next to me, I look up to see all the relevant people around me on their laptops.  Some are meeting and discussing business.  A 20-something with face shaved to his chin, dons a trimmed, narrow beard. He looks relevant.  Another middle-aged man reads his tattered real estate manual. He was here last week in the same spot, a few more pages finished in his reading.  Two women sit in the corner, each on their phones.   Are these people relevant?  And why do I find myself juxtaposing myself with these around me.  Probably because I’m seeking confirmation of  my own relevance.  I look for it in the most unlikely places, coffee shops, social events, even church.

When I was in my early 20’s, I was unemployable because I had no experience. In my 30’s and 40’s, I was inapplicable because I had too many kids.  In my 50’s, I figure I’m unsuitable because I’m too old.

So, who then is relevant?  Maybe none of us, at least in the way we want to be.  Looking around is no good either, because the people I see are either self-contained and not worried about relevance or looking at me to see if I’m relevant, a vicious cycle!

The conclusion I’ve come to in this place, and I’m sure somebody could’ve just told me this, is that I have to be fine with my own relevance or irrelevance, as the case may be.  How do I do this?  I’m not sure.  Coffee shops are good places to contemplate such hefty issues, especially with a hot cup of Matcha  and when you are procrastinating because you have a pile of papers to grade.

Slice of Life: Day 17

Slice of Life: Day 17

Not growing up in high school band culture, I wasn’t quite sure what a morning at my ninth grade son’s band evaluation would entail.  This morning was the annual band festival or LGPE (large group performance evaluation).  A great deal of  dedication goes into preparing a band like this to perform and reach a top score at LGPE, the band equivalent of a city-wide soccer tournament or a regional mock trial competition.  LGPE is big stuff in the band world.  My son tells me that a high school concert band strives to score a # 1 or # 2  in the evaluation, with one being the highest.  Attending the LGPE was a real eye opener for me and I’m going to share some amazing highlights.


First of all, these band competitions get going early.  I was up at 6:15  this morning and fairly dysfunctional until I had a gas station cup of coffee at 6:50 am.  By 7:05, having only taken three sips,  I dropped my young trombonist at the school where a bus was waiting to transport 60 + band members across town to a concert hall.

An hour and a half later, the musicians were warming up on stage.  I’d finished my coffee by now so I remembered my camera, but forgot my glasses. The band members, decked in formal black tie attire, looked the part of a professional symphony orchestra, only slightly younger!  The sound was checked and a last minute kid came on stage with a chair.  “He overslept the alarm,” I heard someone say. Once rehearsed and situated, they played three impressive pieces: “America Forever,” Alligator Alley,” and “Dies Irae” by Verdi.

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Standing Ovation!

Now, as soon as the formal competition was complete, the musicians fled the stage, hauling their heavy instruments and percussion pieces across the school yard to a smaller choral room.  This room was the location of the Sight Reading Competition.  I was able to snap a quick photo of this very brief transition from stage to choral classroom.  No one took a bathroom break and not much conversation occurred in the interim.  These students were laser focused on their next task.  All were attentive as folders were passed and placed on each music stand.


A judge came to the front of the room.

“Once you open your folder, you will see a new piece of music, one that you have never played and which you will be required to sight read and perform in exactly 6 minutes.  Your director will prepare you and you are not allowed to play your instruments until the starting time,” the judge stated.

At that, the director, Mr. Flood immediately began to prepare the students: “Now clarinets, look out for the change in key signatures and trombones, watch out for the technical eighth notes at measure 25.”  He gave more instructions to the percussion, the low brass and the flutes.  Then, the judge said, “30 seconds.”  And the band did a soundless rehearsal, or a “sizzle” where they blew the notes and time into their instruments without making a single sound.  It was riveting.

“Time,” said the judge.

With that… they began.  The song was called, Chronicles of … I didn’t have enough coffee to take in that second word.  But, the band was amazing.  They had never seen or played the piece before and it sounded absolutely perfect.

Lots of parent applause!

When the applause was finished, the judge came back to the front of the room and said, “That was outstanding.  You have quite a balanced ensemble.”

A couple of announcements were made and everyone jumped up and went out the door.  I was able to take a couple of group shots outside and then the bus whisked them all away to breakfast.  And all of this before 9:45 am!

This was truly and eye opening experience.

























































































Slice of Life: Day 16

Slice of Life: Day 16

Word Hoard for Daily Slicers

laundry in the washer

laundry on the floor

dishes in the sink

dishes at the door

papers ungraded

dinner’s not bought

but the slicing keeps on going

written well or written squat

kids are talking ’round me

someone’s ringing the bell

but, I’m clicking at my laptop

come high water or come knell

there’s places to go

and people to see

but at table and keyboard

is where I’ll be

commenting and liking

and posting oft too late

I’m growing as a writer

and developing my traits

I’m meeting other bloggers

and noting all their skills

I’m reading all announcements

and charging up the hill

slicing and dicing and responding

dusk to dawn

I greet my sleeping husband

each night with weary yawn

it’s is a daily grind

heavy wedges on my plate

but I’m doing SOL March challenge

and I’m doing it first rate

Slice of Life: Day 14

Slice of Life: Day 14

These students are ardently writing about Animal Farm, a political satire written as a cautionary tale against the evils of totalitarianism.  For a writing teacher, this is a beautiful sight:  sixteen energetic students writing and typing with confidence, using transitions, making connections between the text and the outside world, and working heartily right up to the bell.  They have opinions and they aren’t afraid to share them.

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They came to class with their books all marked up and tabbed.  They brought in stacks of paper and laptops.  They had outlines and graphic organizers ready to attack the topic.  When we started the essay, they jumped right to it with a few questions, but plenty of confidence. You could hear pencils and pens scratching and keyboards clicking.  It was a joyous sound.

To prepare for this day, we read the novel, held a Socratic-style debate about the nature of leaders, tracked the characters and their role in the allegory, and closely read for propaganda and irony.  They marked their books as they found catchy slogans, repetitive messages and spin.

Once we finished the book, I gave the students their topic for the in-class writing assignment.  They had a week to organize their thoughts into a graphic organizer, gather evidence and ponder more on the topic.  Because they had been marking their books all along, they were armed with all kinds of evidence to support their opinions.  They were ready and I could tell.

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When they finished, they turned in some weighty essays, nice and thick, double spaced.  No one seemed to be at a loss for written words, another bonus!

What a wonderful writing teacher kind of day!

Now I have 16 hefty essays to grade!  I’ll need to inspect these to see if they are as good as they look… to see if the proof is in the pudding.  Better get right to bed.  I’ll need some rest to tackle these.





























































































Slice of Life: Day 13

Slice of Life: Day 13


We have been homeschooling  our kids for 18 years and that’s a mighty long time.  Maybe it’s too long!  Maybe it’s not long enough because I still doubt myself sometimes.

I never had a burning desire to school my children at home.  Those people always seemed a little fringy to me and I definitely thrived more in the main stream.  I wanted to be a business executive, work in a high profile office park, and wear fashionable clothes that demonstrated my good taste.

All of those visions changed the day I met a homeschooling family dining at our local Chick-Fil-A restaurant.  I was in there having lunch with my three young children.  Back then, it was a financial stretch for us to eat at Chick-Fil-A and we did it rarely.  Somehow we were there and I had a baby on the hip and two more climbing on the indoor playground.  Around noon,  I noticed a family of four well-behaved, articulate school-aged children.  They were playing and interacting in such a delightful way.

Being an extrovert, I decided to talk to this mom.  Where did her kids go to school, I wanted to know.  School was just a year away, so that topic was continually on my mind.

I walked over and inquired boldly, “What delightful kids you have.  What brings you here today?  Did you have an appointment?”  I never considered that this family may not have their kids in any traditional school.

The mom responded with a welcoming smile, “We home school and today we took a little break down here to meet some friends.”

Now, that brief dialogue was all that was needed to plant a little mustard seed of possibility:  The possibility that people can do things differently and its okay.   I am sure that more words were exchanged with this nice mom, but these are all that I remember.  It was a providential moment in my life, a moment that has shaped so much of our days here.  I dare say that moment influenced our decision to have more children.  That moment changed the way I think about education and learning.  It changed the way we designed our current home.  And, it changed the way I viewed my own future. Somewhere in there, I began to embrace the idea of just being a woman, a wife and a mother.  In the course of all that, God gave me other little successes that I could not have imagined 20 years ago.

Don’t get me wrong!  It hasn’t been all roses.  It has been snails, beetles, skunks and praying mantis’s.  But, it’s been a journey worth taking.  At least my hubby thinks so, and I love that.

I bet many of us can pinpoint pivotal moments like this in our lives.  It is a healthy exercise to think back. In doing so, I realize that these crucial, paradigm-shifting moments often stem from a simple kindness given by another.  A smile, a simple response, or even just being present in the moment can affect those around us in a profoundly positive way.

Alright, enough of the melancholy nostalgia.  It’s time for lunch and time to mount our praying mantis nest outside before those little critters hatch in my kitchen!

Slice of Life: Day 12

Slice of Life: Day 12

Household Conversations and a  Door Prize

Its Monday.

…and when my 11 year old came home from art school, he came right to me with this announcement:  “Mom! Somebody said the D-word up at Masters today!”

“Oh really?  How’s that?” I asked.

“Well, a kid in my class was working at one of the tables and he blurted it out.”

“He just came out and said the D word all by itself?” I asked again.

“No, Mom. This is what the kid said:  ‘These problems are so d**n hard!'”

“Then what happened?” I asked.

“Well, the whole class took a deep breath and just stared at him.  Then everyone started laughing,” my boy told me as he chuckled and curled his lips up in that cute way when he’s tickled about something.  “It was so hilarious,” he added.

“I bet that teacher didn’t think it was hilarious,” I said.

“No she didn’t.  She sent him straight to the office!” he said still laughing.

“You enjoyed that way too much, didn’t you?” I said slapping my leg.

He looked at me and we both laughed.

These are good days.

About that time, I looked at my watch.  It was time to drive  to the Garden Club meeting.

Eight years ago, when all the grass died in my front yard and the deer ate up all my hostas, I decided it was time to join the  Garden Club so that I could learn not to kill stuff.  Mostly, this plan has worked.

I walked in a little late, but wasn’t too late to get in on the door prize drawing.  Quickly, as the president called for all the drawing slips, I scribbled my name onto a small, blue piece of card stock.  I handed the slip to Margaret, and she dropped it into the jar.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Garden Club meetings aren’t the most exciting meetings in the world. Not that I don’t love plants and all.  It’s just that when I sit still in a chair after 6 pm, in a warm, dimly lit room, the possibility of getting drowsy goes way up for me. And, sure enough, I was nodding off right through the talk on Aesculus sylvatica.

Amazingly, I survived the talk without drooling. Then I was startled awake when I heard my name called. I’d won the door prize!  Guess what it was?  A praying mantis nest.  Hands down, the coolest door prize of all time.

These are good days.



Slice of Life: Day 8

Slice of Life: Day 8

Band happens on Friday.

Practice happens on Thursday night.

Books, instruments and stand go into the truck Thursday night.

Mom crawls into her bed Thursday night with her laptop to write a slice of life.

Dad has been asleep every night when mom has gotten into bed.

Mom has sliced every night instead of going to bed.

The alarm is set for 6 Friday morning.

This scenario will repeat.

In 24 hours.