Slice of Life: Day 24

Slice of Life: Day 24

Mowing Lessons

I have a lot to learn about teaching!  Observing my husband give first time mowing lessons today, gave me some new perspectives.  My spouse is a natural born teacher!

The first thing I noticed is that my husband didn’t just give instructions and then walk away and say, “now do a good job.”  No. Instead, he showed our son the process, walking carefully together as they both held onto the mower.  The old “modeling” idea was playing out right there in the newly verdant grass.  I think this can be a short- fall of mine.  I can get too excited and hurried and  I literally fling the student out there to do a great job having only observed the concept once.

Next, I heard these words, “You’ve got to pay attention.”  Now, this is important, because when you’re mowing, you don’t want to hit rocks or dog bones or little critters in the grass.  The same things goes with teaching students.  I need to remind them that “they need to pay attention” to the details.  It’s one thing to know a concept, and its another thing to pay attention to the nuance and the fine details of writing or reading, as the case may be.

“Always wear your shoes,” was another little tip he gave.  Boy, that one will come in handy.  Little tips mean the world in teaching.  Its the transferring of lessons we’ve learned on to the student, like “there’s a rat in separate,” or “a semicolon will give variety here,” that really impact and stay with my learners.

Finally, as my boy was feeling rather confident with his new skill, my husband said, “You’ve got to know when to let go.”  This was literally my favorite instruction and it is so important. In this case, my husband was referring to letting go of the lever that self-propels the lawn mower.   “You don’t want to hit someone,” he said, which makes perfect sense.  As a teacher, I need to be a little more in tune sometimes about when to let go of the lever, to quit driving and let things play out in a class discussion or in a creative project.

Before I knew it, my 11 year old had mowed the grass beautifully.  His dad was observing the accomplishment from the side yard with a smile.

“Another one learns to mow,” he said.  “That means I’m gonna have to start mowing the grass again one day,” he said with an air of been-here-before on his face.  He’s right.  These young mowers get their beginnings right here in our yard and then they move on to greener pastures.  If we’ve done it right, that is.

slice of life_individual

Slice of Life: Day 22

Slice of Life: Day 22

16 Sweet Scoops

In honor of my team being one of the 16 teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament today, I’m writing a list of 16 fun facts about me.

  1. Florida State University is my alma mater and I love watching Seminoles football and basketball, especially with my husband and sons.  FSU is playing Gonzaga in the tournament right now and there’s a boy sitting next to me in a pair of slippers.
  2. I love pizza, but I had to give it up when I went Paleo a couple of years ago.  The cheesier, meatier, crispier the better.  Dang! It is hard to talk about this one, because I really do miss pizza!
  3. I also love spaghetti, but had to give that up too.  Now I eat spaghetti squash and not only does it make me feel better, but it also is better nutritionally.  Zucchini squash noodles rock too.
  4. I am not a perfectionist.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve ever done a single thing perfectly, but I can’t.  I think this would be a nice trait to have.
  5. I didn’t start reading until I was 23.  Not literally, of course, but reading for pleasure and learning.  My husband introduced me to reading when we started dating.  He always had a book or two he was reading and encouraged me to give it a try.  The rest is history.
  6. At 15, I started running.  I ran my first race in a pair of canvas sneakers.
  7. We don’t eat our chickens when they quit laying.  We retire them to greener pastures.
  8. I’m a southern rock ‘n roll girl.  There’s nothing better than listening to Lynard Skynard, the Allman Brothers or the Marshall Tucker Band on a road trip.
  9. My favorite place to write is at a coffee shop with a cup of green tea.  Getting out of the house and away from all the piles of work I have here, clears my mind and enables me to focus.
  10. I head up the bookstore at my church.  On a Sunday after Divine Liturgy, you’ll find me in the bookstore talking with people about books, God and Orthodoxy.
  11. My oldest son is a techno wizard and he’s my go-to whenever I have a problem with my phone.  I have a gene that makes technological devices go haywire when I’m nearby.  So, he adjusts all my screen problems, which are many.
  12. I started this blog in the summer of 2014, so I’ve been blogging and photo blogging for 4 years.
  13. I met my husband while we were students at Florida State.
  14. My first car was a 1973 blue 2-door Mavrick, with three on the tree.  When I was a senior, it started smoking and caught on fire at a football game. Then the fire department came!! There is something profoundly weird about the spontaneous combustion of your vehicle, especially when you are 17.
  15. I would describe my teaching style as hands-on and energetic.  I like to keep the pace going so that the students aren’t bored.  I  change up our activities every week so that I keep the students guessing. On any given day, we may be debating, discussing, work shopping, pair-sharing, reading, writing, conferencing, quizzing, acting, drawing, presenting, researching or competing.
  16. I have never seen the Pacific Ocean, but I’m hoping to this summer!
2018 – Kitchen Table Reflections Prompted by iPhone Photos

2018 – Kitchen Table Reflections Prompted by iPhone Photos

Today is a rainy, February, gloomy sort of a day.  I am at my kitchen table letting the gloom settle in on me like loose silly putty on an upholstered couch, getting depressed about the weather and my blog and my to-do list.  My favorite green tea is out and Monday is the first day of Lent!  With perturbation, I open my blog page to see that the last post here was November 26. Ouch!

I love writing here so much; yet, I haven’t been here in months.  I have literally pages of topics I want to write about and explore and share here with you.  So, what have I been doing that has kept me away?  A million things in a million directions.  And, since I haven’t been able to get myself back here in months due to, well you know, life… I am just going to start again.  I’m dusting off these keys and jumping in. These nimble fingers will bend to my will once again.  It is time!

Winter weather, childhood milestones, marches, sickness and parish life: These are the themes so far this year.  These iPhone pictures show where we’ve been and what we’ve been about.

From the get go, on day ONE, January 1, change was upon us. We had only a few days at Christmas to say goodbye to Ben who left for the Hermitage of the Holy Cross Monastery on Jan 2.


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Then, there was getting the # 1 daughter set up in her new apartment at UGA.  Mattresses, a desk, and a succulent collection were all important things to be hauled into the shared space on a 27 degree day.


Then, there was a nasty sickness that managed to hang around our house for 2 weeks!  Coughing, sneezing, tissues, Tamiflu, ibuprofen, charting, and echinacea were all common vocabulary words around the fire those weeks.


Then the snow came.  These southern chickens would not go out into their snowy run, so I had to bring the water bucket to their covered space.  Of course, having multiple days below freezing meant this urban farmer had to haul thawed buckets of water out to replace the frozen buckets twice a day.  Somehow, in spite of the bitter 7 degree temperatures, these 10 chicks laid a half dozen eggs in one day!

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With snow, came our favorite snowy past time, sledding!!  By the way, if you don’t have a Zipfy, like the green one my husband is holding below, you need to ask Santa for one next year.  Zipfy is the best, safest, most resilient sled known to man!  It works great on pavement, hills, ice, snow, even pine straw.


Unfortunately, with the snow came a bitter frost that burnt the camellias and froze beer on contact in 20 minutes flat.



Somehow, we managed to get some school in during January, but it was difficult.  I had an idea:  Let’s see if these jade plants will revive if we use fertilizer!  I figured, these jades were on their last leg, so nothing to loose.  So glad we’re studying botany!


On January 19, with most people healthy in our house, we made our way down to the Atlanta March for Life.  So glad I phoned Father Tom to join us.  He represented the Orthodox clergy in the area and gave us an anchor as we walked the streets of downtown.

Atlanta March for Life

The first week in February, our Riley had his Eagle Scout Court of Honor! He’s in the middle, literally!  He’s our middle child, # 3!  So proud of his Eagle Scout accomplishment and glad that COH weekend is over!!

Eagle Court of Honor

Pinewood Derby is always a rowdy activity in the winter!  Especially when you make your Pinewood Derby car into a taco.  Note how this slightly dramatic competitor is putting hot sauce on his taco car to make it “go faster.”


Thank God Father Paul has come to bless our house yet again in 2018.  We always have him do a double blessing on the teenagers’ vehicles, which he is doing here with a flourish of holy water.

house blessingWhich bring us to last weekend, which had us on a college visit to Georgia College on another wintry day …


and Meat Fare!  Goodbye meat.  See you in April.

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So, you can see we’ve been pretty busy with all sorts of wonderful things and most of this business is just pretty typical at our house.  2018 is going by in a hurry as evidenced by these cell phone pics.   And since this is standard fare, I will just have to adjust my schedule slightly to get some more time at these keys.  That’s the goal, anyway.   See you very soon.


We Got the Grad!

We Got the Grad!

There’s a lot of hype associated with getting that perfect graduation picture.   You know, that intense feeling that you need a perfect memory of you with your first born child wearing  his college regalia right after the ceremony.   Throw in some traditions like, “your grandfather had his picture taken from this very spot” or “all graduates take their pictures by the this campus feature” and you have the perfect storm.

It was the morning after my son’s graduation.   All smiles, we approached the quintessential grad photo location on Florida State’s palm studded campus:  Westcott Fountain.   Dozens of happy parents and students were waiting for their “moment” to take a picture with their grad in front of the historic fountain.  Both my husband and I had our pictures taken here some 30 years before.   Of course we would wait forty five minutes in the heat for our perfect picture moment.  This was “what you did!”


There was plenty of joking and playing around while we waited.  It was a glorious day; that North Florida heat was beating down on the bald and the young.

peake & chase

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regina & peake

getting a photo

I nervously tinkered with my aged camera, checking out my lenses in the sun, working my filters.

Finally, we were up.  I told the folks behind us, ” We may be a minute. There are quite a few of us.”  The group behind us looked at their watches, “No problem.  We’ll give you a couple of minutes.”

Yikes!  A couple of minutes to get four grandparents, five kids, an uncle and a best friend into a picture, all looking the right direction, all in focus, all smiling.  This is going to be fun.

grad in the sun

riley w grad

wait i dropped it

First, we got the graduate.  That was easy, a few lens changes and the lighting was fine.  Then more joined.  Finally, we got the whole bunch and had the best friend take the family group shot.  Whew!  What a relief!

We can use these for our Christmas picture…what a great looking family…so proud of our graduate…isn’t she a neat mom with her camera set up… you go girl…now we can get out of the heat…isn’t that lady together! These thoughts and more went through my mind.

By now, we had been moved off to the side for the next group’s time in the sun.

“Momma Naz,” I heard Chase say.  “I think I got some good pictures.”

“Thank you for taking ’em!” was my reply.

“I didn’t happen to hear a shutter click though.  You must have a really quiet camera,” he added.

“What?” my hyped-mamma, camera ears heard the words you never want to hear.

“There was no click? What do you mean you didn’t hear the shutter?”  I ran over, grabbed the camera and scrolled to the most recent shot.  There were no family pictures.  No pictures with grandparents.  No picture with my Uncle who had driven up from Port Richey.  No Christmas card shot!  My heart sunk.  Chase had taken the cell pictures first and, after the delay,  the camera had automatically shut off!


Ugggg! What are we going to do now?   I had to think fast.

The older family members were melting.  Tempers were flaring.

“Well get ’em off the cell phone,” said the graduate.

The grandparents and the favorite uncle left.

Tears were starting to come.

“NO!!”  I suddenly felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!  We would get that damn picture.

harder than we thought


I took a side angle of our group in front of the camera hoping no one would get too upset with us.  I prepped Chase on how to turn on a camera.

Round two was shot, with mostly smiles but a few growls.  I ran to the camera.  Better to check just in case.    The horror!  Every frame was blurry!!


“Let’s get out of here!” was the agitated command from the rear.   The graduate gave an evil eye.

“NO!”  Clark Griswold snapped again.  We will do this!   I prepped Chase on how NOT to turn the camera to manual focus.  “Keep it on AutoFocus,” I barked.

Round three. Half grunts, twisted lips and mangled brows, but we got it in focus.  Strangely, I felt vindicated, like someone had done me some wrong and now we were even.  Maybe it was my sun-baked brain telling me that taking pictures is my only important role in the world.

The truth is, no one did me wrong and I’m not a great photographer.   I just got too hyped up about getting some stupid graduation photos.  And, of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in to remind me that my priorities were all wrong.

Of course, there are more important things!  We got the grad!  Whether I captured a decent picture or not, he’s still a grad. He finished it and I am so proud of him!

family with grad

peake mom &

Throw it!

throwing a cast net

It’s time you learned how to throw the cast net!


Grab the rope with your right hand and coil it up so that you have all of it together.


Then, move the coiled up rope to your left hand.


Hold the neck of the net along with the coiled rope with your left hand.


Hold the edge of the net with your teeth and your right hand.


Spin clockwise so that you can open up the net.  Then drop it right over a wave.




Throw it! You know what to do.


You might just catch a fish on your first try!


…or two!


Careful.  You may want to do this again and again.


My husband is a natural teacher.  I only dream to be as awesome as he is when teaching a new skill.

Here’s what he does…

He gives an overview.  “Let’s learn to throw the net.”

Then, he breaks it down into bite-sized chunks.  Little pieces. “Hold the neck of the net along with the coiled rope with your left hand.”

Next, he shows how its done.  Really shows it, with his body or with his words.

Thereupon, he says “Go!” And you do it and you feel amazing.