Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Nintendo Elevator Music

 On Tuesdays I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22:
Nintendo Elevator Music

"Do you want to listen to music as you work on your projects?" I asked a group of engineering students. It was a group that I have subbed for before.

"Elevator music!" A senior shouted.

I smiled, "Really?"

"We usually listen to awful jazz elevator music. It's comical." Another student shared.

Using the View Sonic, I logged onto YouTube for a music selection. I asked students to help me select music. I was surprised to see all of the options for elevator music. Nintendo Elevator Music appeared.

"NINTENDO ELEVATOR MUSIC!" A group of students cheered.

I clicked on Nintendo Elevator Music. An image of Nintendo characters appeared on the screen. For the rest of the class hour we listened to elevator music from Nintendo games. For the class hour, most of the students were on task. They were a great group to substitute for today. 

To me, it's amazing at how a little choice, like selecting music, can set a positive tone. 

What kind of music do you listen to with your students?  


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Happy 98th Birthday

On Tuesdays I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22:
Happy 98th Birthday

"Happy Birthday, Grandma!" 

Last night I was delighted that my grandma picked up the phone so that I could wish her a happy birthday. At times, Grandma has a difficult day and she cannot quite figure out how to get her phone to work. She does not consistently remember how to check voicemail on her cell phone, so I would not have been able to get birthday greetings to her. (Grandma also has an Echo Show to help communicate. Sometimes she thinks that the Alexa voice is an operator "patching us through." I think that this is adorable.) 

Unfortunately, Grandma's Alzheimer's disease robs her of clarity. As usual, I reminded her that I was her granddaughter. Often I try to ask her about experiences from long ago. She seems to remember events from her childhood, time as a young adult, and from her marriage and when her children were small the most clearly. 

Yesterday was Grandma's 98th birthday. Yes friends, 98 years old! Since Grandma lives more than four hours away in an assisted living center, I was not able to visit her on her birthday. However, I visited her a few weeks ago with my kids.

A visit with Grandma at the end of March

Yesterday's conversation was a gift. I could almost hear Grandma smiling through the phone. 

As always, our conversation ended with these two phrases, "I love you and I am so proud of you!" These phrases always fill me with joy and deep gratitude. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Day 31 : Hello/Goodbye

For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22: Day 31/31

When my kids were little, each time we crossed a border from one state to another, we would yell goodbye to the state we were leaving and hello to the state we were visiting. 

Although my children are now teenagers, I cannot resist our hello/goodbye tradition. As we arrived at the bridge connecting Wisconsin to Minnesota on Monday, I yelled, "Good bye Wisconsin, hello Minnesota!" My son, who was sitting with me in the front seat, briefly looked up from the Nintendo Switch, but my daughter did not look up from her book. 

"Come on! Join me!" I pleaded with my kids.

"Don't you remember when we used to do this?" I inquired.

"Yeah," Isaac said, "It was kind of fun. But we were like five."

"Do it with me? Please?" I again pleaded with my kids. It's a good thing that I was concentrating on the road so I could not see my daughter roll her eyes.

"Let's do it once we get to the middle of the bridge. Like old times." Isaac replied and then added, "You have to do it too, Alaina!"

"Fine," said my sulky teenage daughter. 

"On the count of three!" I yelled.

"One. Two. Three!"

"Hello Minnesota! Goodbye Wisconsin!" The three of us chanted before we officially entered Minnesota. 

Once again, this little tradition made my heart happy. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Day 30: A Visit to Grandma's

 For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22: 
Day 30/31: A Visit to Grandma's 

"Oh, for goodness sake!" Grandma's familiar, welcoming voice greets us as we enter her small room. With the assistance of her walker, she lunges forward to meet us. Before I can say much, she leans over her walker to give us each a hug.

"Hi Grandma! It's Trina, Kathy's youngest and my two children." Throughout the visit, I will share who I am and who the children are several times. I feel a twinge of sadness each time I make introductions with Grandma. At nearly ninety-eight years old, often Grandma's Alzheimer's robs her of her clarity.

Since Grandma gets easily tired, we spend a little less than two hours visiting with her at the assisted living center. However, the short time we spend with Grandma is rich in conversation. She asks her great-grandchildren what's keeping them busy in school. She's curious about what my sixteen year old son wants to do beyond high school. She reminds both of her great-grandchildren how much she loves them. A few moments later Grandma tells us a vivid story about when my mom was small and ruined her white dress after picking strawberries in the neighbor's garden. Next, she tells us that she met my grandpa when she was just four years old, and he lived at the neighboring farm. She talks about how much she misses Grandpa.

Just like each time I talk to her, Grandma wonders when she will get to drive her car again. Although she hasn't driven for years, she is focused on getting her car back. As a distraction and persuasion why she wouldn't want a car, I share how much gas is and how busy the traffic is. No matter.  She reassures me that as soon as she gets permission to drive again that she will hop in the car and drive the four plus hours to visit me and the kids. 

For a good part of our visit, Grandma's tender hand holds mine. It is my favorite part of the visit. If I could bottle this tender exchange, I would. 

Although Grandma knows that I am one of her eleven grandchildren, she doesn't call me by name. No matter. Being by her side and holding her hand is enough for me. I feel fortunate that I got to visit her. I am grateful that my children got to visit her, too.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Day 29: Rambling Autobiography of a Pastor's Kid (PK)

 For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22: Day 29/31:
Rambling Autobiography of a Pastor's Kid (PK)

As a child of a United Methodist minister, I was a PK - that is, a pastor’s kid. I grew up in parsonages. This meant that we lived in a house owned by the church my dad served. Most of the homes were nice and well-maintained, but we had to go through a church committee to make changes (for even simple things like painting walls). For this reason, I couldn't tack Bop posters of stars like Kirk Cameron on my walls like all of my friends did. Mom and Dad were insistent that we took care of the parsonage as best as we could and to leave it nicer for the next pastor and their family who lived there. We moved about every five years, and I forever felt like the new kid. 

In church, we usually had to sit towards the front of the sanctuary. As a kindergartner and well through third grade, I was often told to sit like a lady and to stop my incessant chatter. I was scolded not to turn around and look at others during service. As Dad delivered the weekly sermon, my mom kept me occupied by handing me a church bulletin and a pencil. She would select a letter. Next I circled as many of said letter that I could find. Later she taught me the Dots game. When I got to be around fifth grade I was able to help out in the church nursery during the church service, which I gladly accepted.

Our family sometimes had church members over for dinner. It was not unusual for my parents to host a church meeting in our living room. On those occasions, my siblings and I were required to be on our best behavior and made polite conversation with folks decades older than we were. Sometimes I was asked to play the piano or flute for guests. 

I was raised on huge potluck dinners and ice cream socials following service in the church basement. At least once a month we stood in a long line that snaked all the way back to Sunday School rooms. We began nearly every potluck dinner with the Johnny Appleseed Grace. I particularly enjoyed all of the marshmallow jello salads, homemade breads, and tater tot casseroles. 

My dad was rarely home on weeknights since it seemed like he always had meetings at church. By the time I was school age, if my mom had something going on, I was sent to church with my dad. This meant that I got to play hide and seek or race with my siblings or friends in the sanctuary, trying not to get scolded by the elders. When I was asked to hang out in my dad's office, I loved looking at the collection of Bibles, crosses, meaningful gifts and handwritten notes from parishioners. An assortment of stoles were always hanging in the corner of his office. I liked to feel the heavy fabric against my skin. 
This was a cross that hung in my dad's office, a cross his mother gave him soon after he was ordained.
It now hangs in my house. 

From about second grade through eleventh grade, I went to church camp for at least one week every summer. By far, it was my favorite week of the year. I loved camp fires, swimming in the lake, singing songs, and taking hikes. Each year I returned home with tons of mosquito bites, sunburn, and religiously themed crafts. From the summer after my senior year of high school to the senior year before college, I worked at the same church camp as a summer staff member. I still have the best memories of spending my summers on staff. 

There were definitely times that I didn't appreciate being a PK. I didn't love that most people made unfair assumptions of who I was. I was often held to a higher standard than many other kids who went to the same church. I didn't love that nearly everything was influenced by the church schedule. However, both of my parents were (and still are) loving and generous people. I was surrounded by kind families and easily saw what being a part of a community meant. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Day 28: Coffee Date

 For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22: Day 28/31: 
Coffee Date

If we were having coffee, I would share with you that I have only gone out for coffee a handful of times during the pandemic, most of them when it was nice enough to sit outside. Even though I am fully vaccinated and boosted, I still feel odd when I am at a cafe, bar, or restaurant. I wonder when this feeling will go away. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how grateful I am to be on Spring Break, even if that means that I am not traveling on any fancy vacations like many of my friends/colleagues are doing. I am enjoying time that is not so rushed and stressful. Slowing down is something that I constantly need to work on. 

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about how I got my haircut last week by a former student. She is learning how to cut hair, so it took a long time. However, it made me feel such joy to see her so confident and happy in this new role. I was so proud to see her thriving. I would tell you that one of my favorite parts about teaching is seeing former students thrive beyond high school.  

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about Words Hurt, an annual event at our school that I was a part of organizing. I would share powerful student responses before and after the event. I would tell you how my friend Jesus spoke about his experience being queer and biracial in a not always accepting community. I would share how I was blown away at how many of my students shared their daily stories of what it was like to identify as LGBTQ+ at our school. I would share my thoughts on the importance of giving the most marginalized individuals a safe space for sharing their stories. 

If we were having coffee, I would share how stunned I am that I have kept up with blogging during the Slice of Life Challenge. Prior to March 2022, I hadn't published one blog post all year. Slicing has made March pass by quickly and reminds me how much I notice when I am blogging. 

Thank you to Elisabeth, who first introduced me to this format of writing. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Slice of Life #22: Day 27: Tech Support

 For the month of March, each day I am writing and posting a slice of my life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. 

Slice of Life #22: Day 27/31:
Tech Support 

"Why are your notifications silenced?" Mom texts me.

"They are?" I immediately went to the phone settings on my iPhone, perplexed. I didn't recently update any of my notifications. Nothing seemed off. How did THAT happen? 


"Go to settings. Then go to Focus." My mom texts again. I nearly dropped my phone. My tech support is coming from my mother, who is in her mid- seventies. The same mom who thought that her Apple ID was the same thing as her Gmail account just a few months ago. The same mom who could not figure out how to open a document on her iPhone. 

"It also helps to completely turn off your phone." Mom continues. 

"Haha! You are giving me text support?" 

My mom responds back with 🤣.

I giggle some more and take a look at my settings again, this time looking at Focus. My mom was right. I didn't expect that she would teach me something about technology today. 

Slice of Life #22: Nintendo Elevator Music

  On Tuesdays I am writing and posting  a slice of my life , hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  Slice of Life #22: Nintendo Elevator Music &qu...