Friday, March 31, 2017

A Reflection on Eight Years of Slicing, Briefly

This was my eighth year slicing - and in reflection, it hasn't gotten any easier.  But, it's not gotten harder, either.  Just like our students, selecting a "slice" topic can be really challenging for me. As I contemplate writing - as all of you do - I question relevance, authenticity, connection to the reader...and validity of my thinking.  And then, I wonder is it interesting, funny or engaging.

I love it when Slice-able moments appear easily - and there have been a few over the years.  The words pour out of me like liquid on to the screen and very little editing has to be done.  The piece I wrote years ago about my daughter shaving her arms (hysterical), or the piece about our home-made raccoon "be-gone" tool my husband made, or the slice this month about my daughter getting into college -  these all rolled off my fingertips and into the computer and seemed to be highly enjoyed by you, the audience.

Other times it's a real struggle to focus on a slice of my life that might seem interesting to anyone. I've struggled more this month with the idea that much of what I write about in March seems repetitive.  It is the Irish month - and as the mom of an Irish dancer, we have many activities which spotlight my daughter's dancing.  But, how many years have I written about Irish stuff now?  How redundant are the slices? Perhaps over spring break - which is in another week - I will reread eight years of Slices and analyze my redundancy.  It is interesting to contemplate just how cyclical our lives (perhaps especially in education) really are.

Ultimately, I'd like to shout out to - and thank - my writing group members, without whom I would not write regularly - certainly not for the last ten years.  I truly love our discussions about writing, our philosophical discussions about teaching and learning, the pieces of writing we have shared, and our friendships.  Thank you:  Tracey, Mary and Leah.  Can't wait to share my favorite piece at writing group next month.

You are the best.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


We had a swim meet this afternoon - so after a normal (read: crazy, it is middle school, after all) day I hopped into the car and headed over to the local high school pool to watch and cheer.  I must admit - going to the pool is not my favorite...I hated bathing suits (still do), have had little (if any) personal experiences with swim meets, and the heat and humidity of the pool always cause me to wonder if my struggle with menopause is well under way.

As I rolled into the parking lot, and raced towards the pool, I could hear the crowd cheering from outside of the building.  I scrambled up to the spectator seats - and posted myself where I could cheer the swimmers as they headed to their blocks.  I cheered for our Yellow Jackets - and really for all of the brave students who got into the pool to compete, and, there were some students that could barely get to the other end of the pool.  I cheered loudest, though, for my sweet nephew, against whose team we were competing.

After his first race, I waved at him and he flashed me a huge smile of recognition and pleasure.  A few minutes later I was flattered to hear him call, "Hey, Aunt EM!" I glanced below and there he was with some of his teammates.  He had mentioned to me recently that he thinks it's cool that I'm a Middle School Assistant Principal, and I'm so thankful, as not every middle schooler would think that was great.  As I waved, he turned to his friends and said, "See, I told you so!" They all smiled up at me, slightly awed, and waved.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Good Dog News, Thank Goodness

Dog lover friends - I have good news.  The adorable beagle I sliced about on Sunday - (remember, with the poopy butt) has been diagnosed with a curable urinary tract infection and major hindquarter discomfort because of this.  The vet suggested that an antibiotic would take care of this, but I would also need to cleanse her private parts daily, with a medicated wipe.

Gulp.  Losing weight will help too apparently - so both of us (the dog and I) are going to work on that.

And, yes, friend Leah, I learned about Anal Gland expressing. I learned quick when the vet asked me to step to the head of the dog, because "sometimes this stuff squirts and I don't want you to get hit," she said, pulling on her purple latex gloves.  "My assistant and I keep our mouths shut during this part of the process," she stated, through gritted teeth.

Eek.  Putting more fiber in the beagle's meals will help apparently - so both of us (the dog and I) can work on that as well.

My daughter and I grimaced at each other, but a few minutes later I happily paid the hefty bill - grateful for this vet's skill and expertise.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Anyone Want Videos?

We took a ginormous step this weekend.  In moving "into" our new TV console, from a piecemeal shelving unit, we didn't have space for our VCR, so we eliminated it!  It didn't really bother me when my spouse ran the concept by me - it wasn't until he asked me to discard about 40 VHS tapes that I got worried.

Going through the stack of videos I found my kids' first "long" movie, Dinosaur, that we watched over and over again in those early years of  G-Rated TV watching.  Then I found the classic duo, Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews were my kids' heroes back then, and we all love a good musical now because of these two amazing actors.  There were a few more modern movies, like October Sky, (labelled with my mom's name...sorry mom, I'll return it now) as well as Amadeus (my personal favorite) and Shawshank Redemption. I got really nostalgic, however, when I found a short VHS tape called There Goes an Airplane, an educational video that we used to show the littles, a very long time ago.

Looking through these videos gave me a chance to re-live the Friday Movie Nights at our house. Traditionally the evening began with pizza and ended with a movie in the basement, all members of the family snuggled together on the couch.  For close to fifteen years, I'm pretty sure, most Friday nights we all curled on the couch with pizza and a movie.

I sure do miss those movie nights.  This past Sunday evening my daughter, who had been helping her dad reorganize the DVD collection, found Pitch Perfect and put it on the TV.  A few minutes later she asked if we wanted to join her, then if we could eat dinner downstairs.  For a few precious hours more I relished the special closeness of Family Movie Night.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Don't Want to Go!

I was out of the office today for a conference thanks to  Learning Forward Virginia!  Loved Joellen Killion's presentation on Feedback, and I got a new book - which I am excited to read.  But, the point of this slice is...I don't want to go back to the office tomorrow. I'm kind of filled with dread about what I have to face there.  

Already a boatload of referrals have been emailed to me.
Two emails with phone messages that I don't recognize the numbers for.
And I have loads of observations to do.

I just want to put my head under the pillow and escape.

Two weeks until spring break.  C'mon, Ellen, you can do this.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dog Lovers - Help!

Our little beagle has been remarkably healthy - for which I am so grateful, however she has been smelling funny this week.  When I walk into the house in the afternoons and she runs over to greet me, I run over to the back door to let her out quick and air out the kitchen.

The smell has seemed to come and go in the last week.  But finally I tasked my daughter with bathing her - just to see if that helped.  Maybe she had rolled in something outside...a bath would help regardless.

She is not a dog that loves to bathe - in fact, she really doesn't like water much.  So when my daughter hollered from the bathroom, "Mom, c'mere," I assumed she needed help getting her into the tub.  When I opened the bathroom door, though, she was scrubbing Canela, the Beagle's, backside. "Mom, she has poop all over her rear end."  I didn't know "Poopy Butt" was a thing, but Google gave me lots of information about it.

I took her back to the groomer today, as the smell continues, hoping that perhaps something was blocked back there and they could fix it.  They scrubbed her again and recommended a trip to the vet. So, next on the list is to get an appointment with the vet, which I will visit with my fingers crossed. We'd like to keep this perky girl around for a while longer - 12 is still young for a beagle, isn't it?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Aging Gracefully

I don't ever feel a day older, well, except for the pain in my hip; however, this day I experienced the passage of time as I attended a colleague's daughter's baby shower.

We used to tease Tom about being "older than dirt."  In fact when my husband and I were new teachers we used to take every opportunity to remind him that he was older than we were.  In pictures from camping trips we took, when we were "Dinks" and he had two small children,  we look relatively calm - and he looked slightly harassed.  These pictures happened yesterday - except for the twenty years that quickly passed us by.

Today we celebrated his daughter's baby shower - the little girl who, when we were camping, was certain to make sure that the dog was taken care of and really everyone was taken care of, she is having her own child.

I came across a picture of my husband and I on one of these camping trips.  I am wrapped in a dark blue sweatshirt, proclaiming my allegiance to Western Washington University - despite being on the East Coast; and I am pregnant.  My face shines with the same joy that I saw in Jess today - healthy, happy, and hopeful for the future.

I'm sure I'm not older, well, that much older.  She has aged wonderfully.  I look the same.