Challenge Complete

Really, again

Bells for sale

A silent protest

Sometimes one has to work hard to crack the code

Happy first birthday Wally

An invitation

On this very date

Reaction

Stories from the backseat

Walking on eggshells

WordPress for free

My weekend joy

Okay with okay

A weekend sleepover

Swerve

Over the edge

A love story un-sliced

A virtual table

To bring or take, that’s the question

My comfort diet

I almost got away

3-word story

Fifteen minutes

List at the end of the day

Morning chorus

Friday Lenten meal

1, 2 . . . 3, 4

Trypanophobia

Levi’s Men’s 505 Regular Fit Jeans

A love story sliced

Challenge complete

Until next year

 

A Love Story Sliced

Mary Shamon & Solomon Ganem

On St. Patrick’s Day, I was hoping to capture the story of how my mom and my dad met.  My mom wanted NOTHING to do with being the character in a slice (A Love Story Un-Sliced).   With the help of some Slice of Life commenters, Stacey Shubitz, Karyn B, Cara Wegrzyn, Susan Ganem, and Melanie Meehan, I was able to convince and capture a snippet of her story.

click

A Love Story Sliced

Mary Virginia Shamon married Solomon Edmund Ganem

January 5, 1957

Of my 119 posts to the Slice of Life Community, this is hands down, my favorite.  


Blooper

Levi’s Men’s 505 Regular Fit Jeans, 34W x 32L

REALLY?!!!

The finish line is in sight and yet it seems so far away.  While I really only have to write three more slices (including today’s), if you are one who finds no pleasure in the writing process, you can empathize with me.  

Like so many days this month (and last March, and March of 2019, as well as March 2018), I am sitting in front of my screen having absolutely NOTHING to write about.  Perhaps it’s because I don’t feel well after yesterday’s emotional and physical trauma ~ receiving my second Covid vaccination, or maybe it’s just because I am so frustrated with my continuous struggle to write.  

So bare with me as I use this space to capture my notes while on hold with Amazon.  

Back Story

December 29th

Zach brings two bags to Kohl’s.  One bag contains a pair of Levi jeans which were purchased for him on Amazon.  The other bag contains a vest, purchased for him at Kohl’s.  Neither item fit Zach so both needed to be returned.  

Zach uses the Amazon kiosk to make the return.  He learns that he can only make the Amazon return at the kiosk and that he needs to go to Customer Service to return the vest.  Let me just say that Zach is not a shopper and would rather have a tooth pulled than exchange clothing (even if it’s for him!).  By now, Zach has reached his shopping limit and only makes the Amazon return.

January 30th

I look in the back of my car and discover a mysterious Kohl’s bag.  Curiosity gets the best of me so I open the bag and find . . . Levi’s Men’s 505 Regular Fit Jeans, 34W x 32L.  Assuming that Zach purchased the jeans, I simply brought the bag into the house and added it to the collection of things we were planning to ship to Zach.   

February 2nd

Zach and I are having a conversation on the phone and I happened to ask him about the vest. “Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, I didn’t return the vest. I left it in your car. I figured you could do it.”

I swear I remember seeing jeans in the bag. Perhaps the vest was buried beneath the jeans.

The Kohl’s bag gets moved from the shipping pile to the dining room table (the table that collects anything that doesn’t have a home) waiting to be returned.

February 12th

The dining room table is piled high with randomness and has finally gotten to me. I grab the Kohl’s bag and cave. Perhaps I will find a little something for me as my reward.

I head to Customer Service (based on Zach’s directions!) and hand over the bag and the Kohl’s receipt. I apologize for making such a late return but I explain that I will be happy with store credit. I actually think to myself, I should have shopped first and only have to wait in line one time.

The service agent opens the bag and pulls out . . .

LEVI JEANS! NO VEST!

You may be confused so let me recap . . . remember at the beginning of this post Zach returned the jeans at the Amazon kiosk?! Looks like my brilliant college junior needs some life skills lessons. He returned the Kohl’s vest using the Amazon return slip for the jeans. Now I am left with a pair of Levi jeans that fit no one in my house and a return receipt for a vest at Kohl’s.

February 12th

I call Amazon and explain the entire story to Agatha #10022. Although confused at first, Agatha #10022 explains that the return that was made back on December 29th had just left Kohl’s. She took all of my information, assured me that they would actually find the package (with the vest), and would ship it back to me so that I could return the vest to Kohl’s and the Levi’s to Amazon. I thanked Agatha #10022 for her patience.

February 14th

I return a call from Amazon and speak to Chrystal in Kentucky. Chrystal in Kentucky explains that she received notification of the package and will be looking for it in the warehouse. In about 4 weeks (I’m not sure why it would take that long) I would receive an email with directions.

March 29th

I search through my unread and read mail, my junk, my trash, and my spam; no sign of any email from an Amazon return.

So I make the call. Now remember, I am not feeling well and I have a slice hanging over my head. After punching a bunch of different keys and getting trapped in a vicious cycle of automation, I finally reach a human. I go through the entire story with Customer Service Rep Kelly who says, “You’ll have to speak with my supervisor” and before I can even say, “Wait!” I am entertained by elevator music.

I wait for about three minutes and then decide that I should make good use of my HOLD time. I log onto the blog and begin my story . . .

I won’t admit how long it took to come to an agreement but I’m not sure it was worth the $65.00 credit that I was placed on my Amazon account.

Now that I think about it did I just earn $65.00 for this slice?

Trypanophobia

Another day I’m up way before dawn, unable to fall back asleep.  This time, it wasn’t my over-filled anxiety backpack getting in my way or my ‘Got to Do Now’ list that was preventing me from getting an adequate amount of sleep.  But instead, it was the anticipation of . . . 

Pfizer vaccine

Hours before my appointment, Pfiz (the name of my anxiety), began to bubble. I confronted Pfiz head on, and told it to back off; but Pfiz didn’t listen. As each minute passed, Pfiz got louder and louder.

I arrived at the armory, hair disheveled, sweaty palms, and dizzy. I could feel my heart rate racing; pounding, whooshing, throbbing in my ears. “Pfiz, leave me alone!” But Pfiz continued . . . “It’s going to hurt! You’ll feel the burn! Haaaaaa, you’re going to be SO sick tomorrow! Look at all my victims. They look fine now, but all of them will be begging for relief really soon.”

Waiting in line, I shook my head fast, attempting to shake off Pfiz. One hand on my belly, the other hand on my chest. Victims are moving through the line quickly. Eight stations of stabbers administering the vaccine. Breathe . . . closer and closer. A deep breath in through my nose, watching my belly push my hand out. Breathe . . . Breaths that were deep and long are getting shallow and faster, in synch with my place in line. Pfiz is blocking all sound around me. All I can hear is whooshing and throbbing.

A gentle tap startles me. I suddenly lose all feeling in my legs and feel myself falling . . .

down . . .

down . . .

down.

The voice behind the gentle tap asks if I am okay. I respond softly and with that she helps me up. She guides me to a chair.

I extinguish Pfiz blowing a long deep breath through pursed lips, making a soft whistle sound.

4 – 7 – 8

I take a deep, slow breath – 1, 2, 3, 4 – – – and slide my shirt just below my shoulder.

I hold my breath – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 – – – feeling a cool damp swipe on my arm.

I breathe out completely – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 – – – “You’re all set.”

The woman behind the gentle voice guides me to the waiting area.

After a full 20 minutes and an entire bottle of Vitamin Water I left the Armory feeling quite empowered.

1, 2 . . . 3, 4

I had just enough time to change out of my school uniform and into my swimsuit, grab a towel, and throw together something for dinner. On only 6 hours of sleep, I knew it was going to be a challenge to stay focused for two shifts; the 4:30 – 6:30 family swim and the 7:00 – 9:00 varsity practice. I was banking hours that month, trying to pick up as many extra shifts as possible, saving money to buy Billy Joel tickets being released that weekend.

It was a fight to keep my eyes open. The warmth of the pool room, smell of chlorine, repetitive sound of “Marco, Polo . . . Marco, Polo!” and the constant hum of the fans was enough to lull me to sleep. The 4:30 family swim typically wasn’t very busy. Usually the same four or five kids would come to this session. They would swim laps, take a few dives off the diving board, ask me to judge their cannon ball competitions, and have a few friendly races. Regardless of the activity, they never failed to include Alejandro.

Ed told me to keep a close eye on Alejandro. I was never specifically told what Alejandro’s disabilities included, but even at 16 years old, I knew he had many challenges. Alejandro’s speech was hard to understand. He walked with a certain gait and he was socially uncomfortable. But I always looked forward to Alejandro swimming while I was on duty. It brought me such joy to see how comfortable he was in the water. This was his special place. The place where his physical disabilities weren’t obvious. The place where he he was included with his peers. The place where he was not so different.

During my Lifeguard & Water Safety class, I learned to continuously scan the pool, looking at all four quadrants; rotating between the four so that all areas of the pool were covered. I always kept a closer eye on Alejandro; I made certain of that. I scanned the first quadrant and two kids were bobbing up and down. The second quadrant was empty. In the third quadrant, two kids were searching for hidden toys. 1, 2 . . . 3, 4. The fourth quadrant was empty.

1, 2 . . . 3, 4. I repeated the cycle accounting for swimmers in each quadrant.

1, 2 . . . 3, 4.

1, 2 . . . 3, 4.

5?! I stood up from my chair.

1, 2 . . . 3, 4. My heart began to race.

5 at the bottom.

I blew my whistle and dove into the pool.

With all my might I pull 5 to the surface. Just a few months earlier, in this very pool, I had practiced the safety moves.

This victim was so heavy. This victim was lifeless.

I heaved him up and over the pool edge. “Call 911. Get help.”

I yanked his mask off his face and tossed it aside. I put my ear next to his mouth, while looking at his chest.

I heard nothing, felt nothing, saw . . . nothing.

I grabbed his wrist; so heavy, so cold. I felt nothing. I moved my fingers slightly lower.

Still . . . nothing.

I was going to throw up. This is not how I practiced. Where is everyone? I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do next. I need someone to coach me.

I take a breath and remember; find the nipple line and go to the center of the chest. One hand on top of the other and push; push two inches, no more.

Push, push . . . push, push! Push, push . . . push, push! Push, push . . . push, push!

Again, I put my ear next to his mouth, looking at his chest.

I heard nothing, felt nothing, saw . . . nothing.

I tilt his head back and lift his chin. I pinch his nose. Where is help?!! Where is help?!! I take a breath, cover his mouth with my mouth and give two steady breaths. Move chest MOVE!

Two more breaths . . . nothing.

I remember the center of his chest and repeat . . .

Push, push . . . push, push! Push, push . . . push, push! Push, push . . . push, push!

With each push I notice droplets falling. Perhaps they are from my hair or are they from my eyes. Where is help?! Where is help?!

He starts to cough and I slide my body to his side using it as leverage to roll him onto his side. I can hear my own pulse thumping and whooshing following that same steady beat.

Help arrives and I am pushed aside.

I never worked that second shift. I tried to visit Alejandro at the hospital, but his parents wouldn’t have me.

I never bought the tickets for that Billy Joel concert; instead I attended a funeral for a friend.

Friday Lenten Meal

Mujadara

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 cups green or brown lentils
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 onions (5 chopped and 1 sliced)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the lentils, strain and place in a large pot with 5 cups of cold water.  Bring this to a boil, simmer, and cook covered until the lentils are tender but not fully cooked (about 15 minutes).  Most of the liquid should be absorbed.
  2. Rinse the rice, then transfer to the pot of lentils and season with salt.  Add 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and and cook covered until the rice is tender (about 18 minutes).  Remove the pot from the heat.  Allow the rice  to rest in the pot for about 5 minutes (without opening the lid, to absorb all the liquid and steam. 
  3. In a separate large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and fry the chopped unions until golden brown.  Transfer the onions on top of the lentils and rice.  Toss to combine. 
  4. In the same large pan that was used to cook the onions, heat the remaining olive oil and fry the sliced onions until golden brown AND caramelized (about 15 minutes).  In the last couple minutes of frying the onions, turn up the heat to high to get a crispy texture.  
  5. Serve the caramelized onions on top of the Mujadara.   
  6. Plate the lentils with a heaping serving of salad on top. 

Mujadara was served most Friday nights during Lent . . .

. . . and whenever a little comfort was needed.

Morning Chorus

American Robin (the spruce.com)

This morning I got out of bed before dawn, refreshed and motivated to check off at least three things from last week’s ‘Gotta Get It Done Now!’ list.   As I slipped out of bed, I was careful not to wake my husband (he will often use the early morning as an opportunity to enjoy coffee and conversation before the day’s chaos begins).  The house was completely quiet; still.  I grabbed a cup of coffee, opened up my computer, and started reviewing the music lesson from an informal I completed six days ago.  The only light illuminating came from my screen.  Such peace.  

Through the darkness, I could hear soft, beautiful songs.  As the morning brightened the songs were louder, livelier.  

“cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up”


This morning I got out of bed before dawn, refreshed and motivated.  Although I did not check off even one thing from last week’s ‘Gotta Get It Done Now!’ list, I attended the most beautiful morning chorus. 

 

List at the End of the Day

Family

Friends

Faith

Job

School Families

School Friends

Financial Security

Health

Health Professionals

Vaccine

Dogs

Opportunities for Learning

Memories

Spring

Exercise

Cheerleaders in my Life

Laughter

Hope

Empathy

Patience

Books

Sunshine

Colleagues Who Challenge Me

Warmth

Nature

Activists

Advocates

Coffee

Slice of Life Challenge

Slice of Life Community

Slice of Life Complete

Sleep

Fifteen Minutes

Transitioning to the classroom after staying at home with my children for ten years was not easy.  Technology BK (Before Kids) consisted of telephone calls to parents, a very large desktop computer, mimeograph machines, overhead projectors, and VCR’s.  Technology AK (After Kids) involved communicating with parents through email, laptops/tablets, fancy photocopiers, SmartBoards, and CD’s.  Let’s just say, I was more than overwhelmed.  

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my first class AK was quite challenging.  My morning kindergarten was  filled with high-energy ‘ber-babies’ (children born in October, November, or December who entered kindergarten as 4-year olds).  As I was adjusting to this new way of teaching, I was also trying to manage a wide range of behaviors.  

If you have ever taught kindergarten, you know that kindergartners say anything and everything.  As I was just about ready to launch my Word Study lesson, in walks a group of seven school administrators completing state-wide Instructional Rounds.  My inner-voice reminded me to remain calm.  My young learners loved Word Study and they were always engaged in the lessons.  Besides, what could go wrong in fifteen minutes?

Things were going great.  My kinders remained so focused on me.  Two words done, three to go.  “Elbows up!” and 20 little elbows flew into the air.  I was not overly worried about the one lonely elbow that was gently stroking my leg; poking at my stockings.  Although Linus didn’t raise his elbow in the air like his peers, I could hear him ‘tapping’ and blending the sounds orally with great ease . . .

/m/  /o/  /p/  ——- mop

In the air waves Linus’s hand.  Assuming that Linus was going to share something off task, I looked right over his head and continued, “Let’s build the word.”  Students quickly searched for the corresponding letter tiles, moving them to the bottom half of their letter boards . . . 

Linus’s hand continued to wave like crazy.  All I could think of were the seven set of eyes in the back of the room.  So I simply continued, “Great job Boys and Girls.  You built the word mop.  Let’s spell it!”  

As if he was about to bubble over, up go both of Linus’s hands.   The class spells, “m…o…p” and I continue to forge ahead and say, “Spell it away!”  

And this is when Linus could no longer contain himself,  “Mrs. Aufin, Mrs. Aufin! I have an important question.”

“Hang tight Linus.  I’ll be with you in two words.”  

“No! No!  It’s important; really R.E.A.L.L.Y important!  I can’t wait two words.  I can’t wait one word!”

I think . . . seven administrators . . . fourteen eyes . . . seven really R.E.A.L.L.Y important people.  And yet, I surrender to the wave, “Okay Linus.  What is it?  What is really R.E.A.L.L.Y important?” 

And as serious as any five-year old can be, Linus bursts out, “Mrs. Aufin, how do you get whiskers on your legs?”

And with that, seven really R.E.A.L.L.Y important people couldn’t contain their laughter!